Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists

Listboxes and dropdown lists are neat UI tools that enable users to select options. They have been used across websites and designs for many years, and they are one of the easiest ways to facilitate online navigation.

Listboxes show the options right away and support multi-selection. On the other hand, dropdown lists require a click-to-see chance and usually only support single-selection. In this blog, we’ll be exploring the debate between listboxes and dropdown lists, and we will try to help you understand which option is suitable for you.

Dropdown Lists

In its most basic form, a dropdown list consists of four main parties: a container box, a downward-pointing arrow button, a list of items, and an identifying label. Undoubtedly, you will have come across dropdown lists while browsing a variety of websites.

Users can click on the downward-facing arrow button, which will reveal a list of items. Users can then select just one option from this list. It is a simple mechanic that has nevertheless become a staple of many websites, especially those requiring information inputs, filling out forms, and item selection.

As with listboxes, users can scroll depending on how many items are revealed when the options have been clicked on and expanded. With a dropdown list, the selected option continues to be visible in a container box while the other list items are hidden until you click on the down-arrow. Following on from this functionality, when a user selects an item or clicks outside of the section, the dropdown list will close.

Listboxes

A listbox contains only three main parts: a container box, a list of items, and a label. Users must click on the items within the container box to select one or many items from the list. Most listboxes have a scroll functionality, but this will depend on how many items are contained within the list and the available, viewable area.

Occasionally, listboxes will include checkboxes. This checkbox tool clearly shows that a user can access a multi-select functionality. If there is further complexity, listboxes can also be designed to resize and expand, and users will be able to reorder the list of items.

In general, there are four main types of listboxes that can be distinguished by how they allow selection:

  • Single-select list boxes - Users must select only one item from a list of options.
  • Multiselect list boxes - Users can select or deselect one or multiple items. They can do so by holding down the Command, Shift, or Control key while clicking on these items.
  • Multiselect listboxes with checkboxes - This listbox has checkboxes to emphasize the multi-select functionality.
  • Dual, multi-select listboxes - With this listbox, users can see available options in one listbox on the left and their selected items in another listbox on the right. Then users can add and remove items with a simple touch of a button.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Dropdown Lists

Dropdown lists are one of the most common UI tools, more so than listboxes, because they take up a small amount of screen space but can still contain a number of options.

Advantages

  • They are the familiar option. Don’t underestimate the value of habit and familiarity when thinking about digital UX.
  • Allows you to set defaults and prioritize certain options over others. With a dropdown list, you can downplay alternatives and ensure users can select the best option.

Disadvantages

  • They can slow users. Sometimes it’s easy to type the information rather than select an option, e.g., birthdates or card expiration dates.
  • They can be overstuffed with options, and this can make scrolling arduous or annoying.
  • They are sometimes easily overlooked because they are compact and discreet.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Listboxes

Advantages

  • Minimal interaction - Listboxes don’t require clicking to reveal options; everything is available, and users only need to scroll to see more.
  • Overview and simple reordering, multi-select, and dual listboxes enable users to control how they want items to be ordered and displayed.
  • Item visibility - With listboxes, you can choose multiple options at once very quickly.

Disadvantages

  • Unfamiliarity - Some users may not instinctively know how listboxes work. For example, they may not know how to choose multiple options if checkboxes aren’t included.
  • Screen space - Listboxes often take up more space than dropdown lists.

Using Listboxes and Dropdown Lists in Your Designs

Hopefully, you now know more about listboxes and dropdown lists and how the two UI tools can help to improve simplicity and overall UX across your website.

When including a listbox or dropdown list on your site, you must always display the options in a logical order. This may mean grouping related items, highlighting specific items, or organizing options in alphabetical order.

Whether you should use listboxes or dropdown lists will depend on your personal preference and the objectives of your digital design. Ultimately, both kinds of lists are useful digital UI tools to help you improve your UX.

 

To learn more about listboxes and dropdown lists and how you can use them to improve your digital designs, get in touch with our UX experts.


Communication Between the Design Team and the Client

Communication is crucial to the overall success of your UX creations. One of the most important relationships in the creative process is between the design team and the client. When there is good communication between these two contributors, the likelihood of success is enhanced.

So how can you improve communication between the design team and the client? And what tools can you use to enhance this key relationship? In this blog, we’ll answer all these questions and more.

Why is it Crucial to Communicate Design?

Design is all about communication. At the heart and soul of design is a desire to connect with another human being. The total object of design is to communicate, in some shape or form, an idea that you believe can be valuable.

Designers are responsible for creating an experience worth using and worth paying for. To be a great designer, you have to learn to be a great communicator. This means knowing what your audience or client desires and fulfilling their needs. The great designers go beyond this and provide their users with something they didn’t even know they needed.

Not everyone you collaborate with will be receptive to your ideas or designs. However, as a modern designer, you have to be respectful and communicate your perspective as simply as possible.

Key Points for Presenting Design

Below we’ve highlighted a few key points that you should keep in mind when presenting your designs to clients:

  1. Understand your client’s business model:
    What is their plan for the next five years? What do they like? What do they dislike? When you understand your client’s business and aspirations, you will be able to see from their perspective and cater your design to meet their needs. If you misread their needs, you will cause communication to break down, and your plans will suffer.
  2. Know your audience:
    Everyone in the room has a voice that should be valued and heard. You should also recognize that not everyone has the same approval authorities. Know who you need to impress and who will have the final say.
  3. Don’t talk over their heads:
    Speak in standard, non-technical language. Your clients, while knowledgeable in some areas, may not be familiar with the specific design language that you may use every day.
    If you speak like this, you risk losing your audience and becoming disconnected from your client. Of course, they want to know that you know what you are talking about, but they also want to understand you.
  4. Use demos and visual aids:
    Your designs can’t remain theoretical for too long. The best way to communicate your ideas is to show them through visual aids and physical demos. Don't try to explain verbally when you can offer an actual prototype that the clients can get their hands on.

Collaborative Tools to Improve Communication

There are a variety of tools that design teams can employ to help improve communication with their clients, including:

Alternatives to Emails

  • ConceptShare

ConceptShare is a software company that focuses exclusively on the review and approval process for creative teams in large companies.

  • InVision

InVision is an online whiteboard and productivity platform purpose-built for team collaboration and design to improve digital workflows.

  • Slack

Slack is a modern business communication platform developed by software company Slack Technologies. Salesforce now owns it. Slack offers a variety of IRC-style features, including persistent chat rooms organized by topic, direct messaging, and private groups.

Make Clients Teammates

  • Basecamp

Basecamp is an American web software company based in Chicago, Illinois. They provide a project management and team communication service, an all-in-one toolkit for working remotely.

  • Trello

Trello is a web-based, Kanban-style list-making application developed by Trello Enterprise, a subsidiary of Atlassian. With Trello, you can organize work to allow every part of your task to be managed, tracked, and shared with teammates.

  • Asana

Asana is a web and mobile work management platform designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. The company was founded in 2008 by Dustin Moskovitz (Co-Founder of Facebook) and Justin Rosenstein.

Track Progress in Real-Time

  • Funnel

Funnel curates and harmonizes data in real-time to present real insights. You can collect all your data in one secure place and make it analysis-ready for you and your team.

  • Timely

Timely is a business management software that allows you to manage your business, connect with peers, and access education from global industry leaders.

Enhance Your Communication

By understanding your client, actively listening, and using the right tools, you will enhance the potential for communication between your design team and the client.

Be open, honest, and available to your clients so that you know what they want. Equally, make sure that your clients are open, simple, and available to you to know that you are on the right track.

Tools like Slack, Basecamp, Timely, and Conceptshare make collaboration between design teams and clients more accessible. If you want to succeed, the process is simple - ensure you’re making the most of the suitable tools and make sure you're being proactive with your communication every day.

To learn more about perfecting communication between the design team and the client, please contact our UX experts.


UX Accessibility for Video Games

Accessibility in video games has never been more important. As games have become increasingly popular, it's important to remember to design for all of your users. By ignoring accessibility and possible accessibility settings, video game designers risk excluding many players and setting a poor standard. Furthermore, as the years have gone by, the increase in demand for accessibility to video games has become more apparent.

Industry leaders like Microsoft and Sony have developed adaptive controllers to enable gamers of all abilities to play video games in their way. These R&D products are helping shape the landscape of accessibility from a controller standpoint.

So, what can game designers and developers do to help create a more accessible experience from within the game itself?

 

1. Audio Disabilities:
Subtitles are probably the first thing you think about when considering accessible design for people with auditory disabilities. Subtitles are a popular accessibility option, but it is not always a simple solution with games. Sometimes it can be hard to read the subtitles and still interact with the gameplay.

So, subtitles should be large, use simple fonts, and contrast well against all the games' different backgrounds. In addition, the subtitled words need to be condensed and not stretch the whole screen so a user can stay engaged with the game and not have to move their head like a typewriter when trying to read. The words also need to stay on screen long enough for a user to be able to read them, and it should be clear who is speaking when multiple characters are present.

Subtitles should cover all dialogue and sounds a player can hear so the player can understand what is happening, even if they can't hear it immediately. Minecraft is a great example of this, allowing the sounds of in-game events to be indicated with a subtitle and a directional arrow to show you where it's coming from. Ultimately, if a player is hearing impaired, providing audio that enhances and allows the player to enjoy your game is very important.

2. Vision Disabilities:

There are many visual disabilities and impairments that will require accessibility options. One common visual impairment is color blindness. People have either deuteranopia, which affects the perception of green tones, protanopia, which affects red tones, tritanopia, which affects yellow and, to a lesser extent, blue, and the very rare achromatopsia where you see the world in black and white.

Developers can check if their games are readable by testing with color blind players or using free filter tools such as color oracle, which allows you to see static images in all modes of color blindness, or Sim Daltonism, where you can see the world in real-time.

Similarly, game engines like Unity or Unreal Engine provide filters to allow game designers and developers to check these settings as they build the game. The best way to design around this issue is to avoid using color alone when providing information or distinguishing between two different things. Instead, designers should use shapes, symbols, shading, animation, and other visual tricks to make critical parts of the game stand out from one another. Providing key ways to distinguish between different elements in your video game is very important to a player's overall experience.

3. Motor Disabilities:

More and more UX accessibility options have been developed to cater to people with various motor disabilities, such as Microsoft's Adaptive Controller referenced earlier. However, designers and developers can also implement features that help players that don't have access to accessible controllers with their own accessibility options.

For example, users can now fully remap controls to access any mechanic with any button or key. Most console games do not allow this, yet this is the most frequently requested accessibility option from games. Another great design method enables the user to different input methods if the game has fine motor movements such as a mouse or gyro, allowing those options to be turned off and accessed with one control or button.

Furthermore, reducing the number of buttons you use and making it easier to operate the game without needing to hold down or repeatedly tap a button is also a great accessible design option. Providing more granular customization for the player is important. For example, rumble has a huge impact on players with motor disabilities, and thus you should allow the player to change the rumble sensitivity. Lastly, the ability to pause a game is important for motor disabled gamers as they might need to take a break from playing because of fatigue or discomfort.

4. Cognitive Disabilities:

Many different types of cognitive disabilities require other design solutions within video games. Common cognitive disabilities recognized by video game makers include epilepsy, dyslexia, and learning disabilities.

Some of the key design features implemented to improve the playing experience of people with cognitive disabilities include:

  • Options for how a player perceives your world, such as a Field of View (FOV) slider or Motion Blur slider
  • The ability to turn off quick flashes or regular moving patterns
  • Providing simplified information and objectives to players
  • The ability to turn on navigation cues
  • Access to play tutorials whenever for a quick refresher
  • Implementing pause screens with information that reminds the player what they're doing
  • The ability to pause your game
  • Fully customizable difficulty levels

Customization is Key

Providing options to the player is the key to being inclusive and accessible. Customization options within your setting allow players to have the freedom to enjoy your game in their own way and express who they are. Whether you allow a player to customize how subtitles look, remap controls to their liking, or turn off motion blur because it makes them feel nauseous, customization enables users to unlock an extra layer of potential within your game. From a design perspective, it's a no-brainer!

One of the beautiful elements of video games is that they are interactive entertainment whose potential is dependent on how you approach them. This makes them uniquely different from most other forms of media. Options and customization allow players to tailor their experience and properly immerse themselves in your game. Remember to design for everyone. Test your designs with disabled players in all four categories before shipping your game to ensure the best overall experience for all players.

Want to Learn More About Accessibility in Video Games? 

Awareness of accessibility in video games has grown in recent years thanks to the efforts of a number of organizations, individuals, and advocates. There are many great places, particularly online, where you can learn more about accessibility for video games and keep up to date with recent accessibility developments.

We recommend checking out this Youtube Playlist from the Game Maker's Toolkit that features a number of videos all about video game accessibility.

You should also watch the Video Game Accessibility Awards, which take place annually, and were founded by Able Gamers senior director Steven Spohn and Sony Santa Monica writer and Youtube personality Alanah Pearce. The awards show, which is streamed live on Youtube, is a great place to learn about and recognize the video games that are succeeding with UX accessibility in video games in recent years.

To learn more about UX accessibility for video games, please get in touch with our UX experts.


Cumulative Adaptation: From Business Analyst to UX Researcher

If you want to be successful, you have to be focused on constant evolution and adaptation. If you stand still, you quickly notice your career and role in your team pass you by, and you’ll become expendable.

For business analysts and other professionals in research fields, the ability to adapt and grow is key to sustained success.

The best analysts always find ways to explore their field and broaden their skills in new areas. In this blog, we’ll be discussing cumulative adaptation and the importance of personal growth in the world of UX research.


Are you where you want to be?

Are you heading in the right direction? Would a career change improve your professional development?

For example, would making a career change from UX Researcher to Business Analyst improve your overall prospects. This would not just be a change in your current career path but also an opportunity for broad expansion to acquire new skills and knowledge.

Below we’ve highlighted a few essential insights that can be gleaned from a successful UX Research to a Business Analyst journey. Just as nature makes its transition from one season to another, moving from one role to another can be seamless and important for your overall professional life.

For example, business analysts have an opportunity to take their responsibilities a step further in the role of a UX Researcher. Within the realm of UX, you will get the opportunity to work with cross-functional partners and stakeholders.

Your vital findings are recorded and used to inform UX decisions in the research process. These findings can relate to user feedback, informational and statistical data, process flow, pain points, challenges, and good points. This data can then be a foundational stepping stone to begin a series of research journeys and improve user experience. If you’re interested in playing this role, then UX research might be for you.

Added Advantage

As a business analyst, moving into UX research is a natural next step. Adapting to a role within UX research could deliver actionable perks of surveying and individual interviewing and allow you to discover and explore new research methods. You will often have a broad remit to get involved with various qualitative and quantitative research methods. Then you will be able to use these results to inform and improve your business’s user experience.

Process Flows


There are a few key stages to pay attention to when considering UX research. These include:

  • Discovery
  • Exploratory
  • Foundational
  • Empathy
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Culminate
  • User Persona
  • UX Design

 

Each of these headings covers an essential stage within the overall lifecycle of a UX researcher. Every week you will be dealing with ideating projects, learning about your user personas, and using your insights to empower UX designers. The process should flow seamlessly with input and collaboration from several different teams. The end product will culminate all these simple processes flowing together in harmony.

            Correlation between the Responsibilities of Business Analysts and UX Researchers

Establish Relationships and Build Towards the Future

The relationships you build as a business analyst can continue to thrive as you transition into a UX researcher role. Moreover, your professional journey can serve as a connecting bridge to build a rapport across departments and stakeholders.

This adaptive approach to professional life is one of the best ways to build toward a brighter future. You can widen your perspective and the perspectives of professionals close to you. This will help on a fundamental human level, but it will also help you improve workflows, research methodologies, and a final product's prospects.

Engage and Explore

If you want to make progress in your professional life, you should always be looking to adapt and evolve. For some people, this may mean making a role transition. There is plenty of overlap between a business analyst and a UX researcher, and a move from one of these roles to another would be natural for many people.

It would help if you always kept an eye out for new opportunities within your field and beyond. Cumulative adaptation is about making the most of these opportunities, learning as much as possible, and using what you’ve learned to become a better professional.

 

To learn more about cumulative adaptation and the world of UX research, please get in touch with our UX experts.