22 Research Terms You Need to Know as a UX Designer

Below we’ve listed some of the most common research terms you’re likely to come across in the world of UX design. While you probably already know some, we’re hoping that by discovering some new terms here, you’ll be able to grow as a UX designer.

1. A/B Testing

A/B testing, a common practice in the world of design, is when you test two different versions of an idea, design, or function with users to see which one they prefer.

2. Accessibility

Accessibility refers to the ease with which people can use and understand a piece of software, a design, a website, or an app. This term is also used in relation to how websites and apps are adapted for those with disabilities or special needs. For example, many websites include settings to assist those who are color blind.

3. Active Listening

Active listening is a conversational and interviewing technique where the person pays careful attention to what is being said and provides feedback to encourage the conversation.

4. Analytics

Analytics provide vital information about the traffic and engagement with your website and app. Through analytics, you can understand where your traffic comes from, where they move, and what is/isn’t working with your design.

5. Card Sorting

Card sorting is a technique that enables you to design or evaluate the information architecture of a site. During a card sorting session, participants can organize topics into a variety of categories. They may then label these categories. Then to do a card sort, you can use a number of methods, including cards, pieces of paper, or an online card sorting tool.

6. Clickstream Analysis

From an online perspective, clickstream analysis (or clickstream analytics) is a method of collecting and analyzing data pertaining to the pages a website visitor visits and in what order. A visitor’s path to navigate through a website or online design is called the clickstream.

7. Competitor Analysis

An overall assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors.

8. Context of Use Analysis

The context of use analysis is about collecting and analyzing information. Most of the time, this information will be centered on intended users, their tasks, the physical environment of the product, tools to support user goals, and the other technical aspects that’ll affect the UX.

The data for a context-of-use analysis can be obtained via surveys, site visits, interviews, workshops, focus groups, and observational studies.

9. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is whether your users are taking the desired action on your website or design. For e-commerce purposes, the conversion rate provides you with the percentage of visitors that complete a targeted transaction online.

In e-commerce, conversion marketing is the act of converting site visitors into paying customers. The process of improving the conversion rate is called conversion rate optimization.

10. Diary Study

This is a research method that can be used to collect valuable qualitative data about user activity and behavior. Often users self-report their activities at regular intervals to create an account of their activities. Commonly, diary studies can range from a few days to a couple of months.

11. End Users

The end user is the person who uses the website, app, or design.

12. Engagement (User Engagement)

User engagement is about retaining the user’s attention. It also measures whether users find value in the website, app, or design.

13. Entry Field

The entry field (also known as a data or text entry field) is the place where users can enter or modify text.

14. Error Analysis

Error analysis, as part of a broader task analysis, is used to identify the errors that may occur during a set of tasks.

15. Error Rate

The error rate is all about the frequency with which errors occur during a given period of time. 

16. Ethnography/Ethnographic Research

Ethnography is the study of people in their own environment via observation, face-to-face interviewing, and other research techniques

17. Eye Tracking

Eye tracking involves the measurement of eye activity on a screen or an environment. The software allows you to track what users are looking at, how frequently, and in what order.

18. Hick’s Law

Hick’s law is about the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has. Increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time.

19. Minesweeping

Where are links located on your page? Minesweeping is an action that involves the user quickly moving the cursor over a page and watching to see where the cursor changes to show the presence of a link.

20. Three Click Rule

The 3-click rule is a theory that users will lose interest and quickly leave a website if they can not navigate to the page they want within 3-clicks.

21. Five-Second Test

The 5-second test is when you show users the visual interface of a website, design, or software application for 5-seconds. The user must then remember and recall what they saw on the page. This test allows designers to determine whether the key visuals or calls to action are instantly engaging and memorable.

22. Eighty/Twenty Rule

The 80/20 is based on the Pareto principle, which states that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. When applied to a website, web app, or software environment, the Pareto principle explains how 20% of the features and functionality will be responsible for 80% of the results.

Summary

As a UX Designer, you are likely to come across many of these terms. If you want to fulfill your responsibilities and achieve as much as possible in your role, you need to know how and when to deploy these terms. Ultimately, staying informed is the easiest path to success in UX design.

To learn more about UX design terms, feel free to get in touch with our UX experts.


Understanding Behavioral and Attitudinal UX Metrics

UX metrics are a set of quantitative data points. These metrics can be used to measure, compare and track user experience. They are, therefore, vital for ensuring that UX design decisions are informed by relevant facts and measurable data.

Is your design strategy working? How are your designs working over time? Are your designs serving your user base? The number of UX metrics is always growing, so you may be tempted to ask, “Which metrics are most valuable for my project?”

Below we explore two of the key UX metrics and how you can use these metrics to inform your designs and products.

Behavioral Metrics

Behavioral metrics tell you how users interact with your product and the issues they may have had. Many of the behavioral metrics mentioned below are relevant to a design’s usability, which is an integral part of UX.

Good usability is key to ensuring that users are happy with your product and don’t start looking for alternatives. Behavioral metrics can be collected using digital analytic tools or during lab usability testing.

1. Time on Task

Time on task is the time that a user spends doing a particular activity. It is usually measured in seconds, minutes, or hours. This metric is ideal for task-focused activities that need to be efficient. For example, you can track the time it takes for users to complete an online shopping experience.

2. Average Session Length

This metric measures user engagement. Normally, the more time users spend using your design or product, the more engaged they are.

3. Abandonment Rate

The abandonment rate is the ratio of the number of abandoned purchase attempts to the overall number of initiated transactions. This metric is relevant to the online shopping experience. A high abandonment rate is a key indicator that something is wrong with your checkout experience.

4. Error Rate

The error rate is the number of users who make errors while completing a task. If users accidentally choose the wrong option or enter data incorrectly, this can be tracked. These kinds of errors often relate to usability issues. Once you know more about the kinds of errors users are encountering, you can start solving them.

Attitudinal Metrics

Attitudinal metrics will give you an idea of how users perceive your product. Examples of attitudinal metrics include Adoption (Which features do people use?), Satisfaction (Do users enjoy your product?), Credibility (What are the levels of user trust?), and Loyalty (Do users want to return to use your product or service again?).

1. Daily/Monthly Active Users (DAU/MAU)

Measures-Loyalty

How many users do you have? Tracking the number of users you get on a daily or monthly basis will help you measure user retention. The DAU/MAU ratio, also known as stickiness, is about how many users engage with your product on a regular basis. For example, an MAU ratio of 50% means your users engage with your product or service 15 out of 30 days.

2.Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Measures-Loyalty

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is measured using a survey that asks users one question- “How likely is it that you would recommend our product to a friend or colleague on a scale from 1 to 10?”  Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 = are detractors. Those who respond with a 7 or 8 = are passive. And those who respond with a score of 9 or 10 = promoters. Then a final NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

3. User Retention Rate

Measures-Loyalty

User Retention Rate is the percentage of users you have retained over a period of time. It is an indicator of whether your retention strategy is working. It is calculated by subtracting the number of acquired users during a period from the number of users at the end of the period divided by the number of users at the beginning of the period.

4. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Measures-Loyalty and Satisfaction

The CSAT is an indication of how satisfied a user is with a particular interaction or with the overall experience. A CSAT is gathered using a survey or questionnaire. This is a measure of a specific part of your product rather than the more generic NPS metric. The downside to this metric is that many users will not take the time to fill out the survey.

5. System Usability Scale (SUS)

Measures-Loyalty and Satisfaction

The System Usability Scale (SUS) is a set of questions that you allow to assess the usability of a product. It usually consists of 10 to 12 statements that users need to rate on a scale (Strongly Disagree - Disagree - Agree - Strongly Agree). SUS requires a relatively small sample size but can still provide you with some valuable user experience data.

Summary

Unfortunately, there is no universal set of UX metrics that works for every project. The best way to explore UX metrics is to understand your business model, your business goals, and your ideal user base. What are the models and KPIs that your company tracks? What do you need to pay attention to? Learn what has a significant impact on your bottom line and use metrics to help you grow your knowledge.

It is also important to tie these UX metrics to design decisions. You will then be able to track changes over time, benchmark against iterations, and measure your product evolution. You will also see whether your design and product designs have reaped the results you expected.

Finally, remember that data only tells part of the story. Data allows you to understand what’s happening, but it may struggle to tell you why it’s happening. Alongside data, it’s essential to conduct qualitative studies such as contextual inquiries and user interviews. Together, UX metrics and qualitative research will help you create a comprehensive vision of your product and how it performs.

To learn more about exploring UX metrics, feel free to get in touch with our UX experts.


The UX Researcher's Mindset

Stepping into a researcher’s mindset can be overwhelming for some individuals. There aren’t any firm rules for achieving this; however, by building your own researcher’s mindset, you can ensure that your findings are valid and reliable. This article aims to answer any questions you may have about the researcher’s mindset, helping you achieve success in this field.

How do you move into the mindset of a skillful UX researcher?

There is a time for exploring and a time to focus. When you’re ready to move on to creating real documentation and assets, focusing on the end goal is paramount.

First, you need to think about the interview process. Interviewing different users and clients can be customized to meet the tone and mannerisms of the individual, but this does take quite some time to master.

There are a few things you need to be thinking about when cultivating a researcher’s mindset when asking questions.

Is a repeatable and verifiable process being followed?

A detailed process is necessary in order to ask the right questions; if this is not done, it cannot be repeated and loses its authority as a valid resource. 

Are you confident that the questions you’re asking are right?

You need to ask the right questions to be a great researcher. This means unbiased, neutral questions that will give you the factual information needed for the UX research.

Are the questions staying on target?

It is not uncommon for answers to take a turn down a different route, and it often derails the interview process. Make sure this doesn't happen by steering the questions in the way that will most benefit your research.           

It may be necessary to give the participants room to answer or talk through their thinking. If the question doesn’t give the participant room to talk about the real issues, they may go on a tangent, and you can then understand the real issues they face. As a result, you can reevaluate your questions to address them better.

What’s more, feedback is key. It’s often a waiting game while the clients fill it out, so patience is always important, especially when the results come in and the research can be seen in full.

After all of this has been done, you now need to look at the feedback and see what can be improved when questions are concerned for next time.

User research is not a new invention

It’s no surprise for you to learn that user research and how we conduct user research are not new. It began to gain traction in the early ’90s when Don Norman, working at Apple, came up with the term ‘user experience. He predicted that by 2050 there would be over 100 million UX professionals. And with the UX industry growing by the day, this prediction doesn't look far off.

Research can be carried out in many different ways. Which is the right way?

The way you carry out research is done in a contextual manner by viewing the way users and clients interact with their environment and the decisions they make.
You might have a step-by-step approach to performing research. However, many people often wonder if you need to perform every step during the process.

One thing you should know is that research is not a linear process. Some steps need to be done again if there is an error or an anomaly; being flexible with your methods can be useful when the interview doesn’t go as planned or the participants respond unexpectedly.

Become an expert in UX research and the subject you need to research

All the best UX researchers know everything there is to know regarding UX research. This includes becoming extremely familiar with the subject that’s being researched so the best questions can be asked to users and clients.

Sometimes you need to take a step back from a subject and look at it from a different angle. This will allow you to research, ask questions, and perform your duties more objectively, providing more reliable research than if you had not done this.

However, this isn’t all you need to do to adopt a researcher's mindset. It would help if you also thought of things outside of research. Problems are likely to arise, and you need to find a solution for all of them without them affecting your research. At the end of the day, you are there to give your users and clients a voice of how they believe things to be and come to a conclusion about how things are and what can be done to improve the UX design.

To wrap up

Although there is not just a single approach to performing user and client research, by adopting a researcher’s mindset, you can create a repeatable and reliable process to ask the right questions and come up with the right results for your research. 

Are you in need of seasoned UX designers? If so, contact us today.


The Value of Anthropology in UX Research and UX Design

If you haven’t come across anthropology before, it’s simply the study of what makes us humans, human. For a long time, the science of anthropology has been connected to the world of academia. Those specializing in it tend to progress to jobs in universities and community colleges. However, things are changing.

There has been a noticeable shift in the last couple of decades as anthropologists use their skill sets outside of higher education. For example, business and organizational anthropology, medical anthropology, government policy, and NGOs (non-government organizations).

Different goals can be achieved by integrating anthropologists into these industries, such as action-oriented, result-oriented, and life improvement. And if we dig a little deeper, we can see that these skills can help improve.

  1. The quality of care and life in healthcare
  2. Enhance sustainability
  3. Improve equality, problem-solving, and overall quality in policymaking
  4. Increases individuals and communities’ lives in some aspects

How Anthropology is growing and influencing UX designs

To start, we can determine some key similarities between UX research and how anthropologists are trained. Let’s look at how information is collected, for example. This typically consists of differently structured interviews, surveys, focus groups, participant behavior, and transcription.

Alongside this, it can be noted that the main skills learned from anthropology can be transferred to leading roles in the UX industry. These types of skills include.

  1. Quantitative research skills (as surveys mentioned above, focus groups, etc.)
  2. Great communication and presentational skills
  3. The ability to learn independently
  4. Amazing listening skills to understand all stakeholder's needs and wants
  5. Able to navigate ambiguity
  6. Building good business relationships with everyone involved in the industry and users
  7. Undergoing high levels of research
  8. Identifying how culture, ideas, beliefs, and motivations impact decisions
  9. Having a holistic worldview
  10. Knowing how social systems play a role

Top 3 ways that show how anthropology can enhance UX design and research

1. An approach centered around humans 

Although we’ve already mentioned a few of the skills that achieve these above, other features assist in a human-oriented approach. For instance, a clear understanding is that humans behave differently, and their motives aren’t always straightforward, with many layers involved in the process.

2. Methodologies used 

Research gathering and observations are crucial elements of UX research. Anthropologists are adept at asking the right questions during research, whether through interviews, surveys, or other sources. Reviewing the data collected is just as important. Therefore, many in the anthropology field are trained to identify step-by-step processes, find issues, and determine what’s missing from the research. This is followed by triangulating results and testing new users to confirm that their theory is proven.

3. The ability to adapt 

By doing so, many things can be achieved. Creative solutions can be used to tackle problems, patterns in behavior can be identified, group analysis can run smoothly without complications (as group sessions are common in academia), and more.

Need UX experts for your business?

The power of UX design cannot be underestimated. If you’re interested in enhancing your interfaces, then feel free to contact us today to learn more.


How & Why Storytelling is Vital for UX

What is Storytelling?

In today’s day and age, brands are selling much more than a stand-alone product; they’re also selling potential realities. Companies make subtextual promises when marketing to potential consumers, and people buy products because they want to embody the brand’s story. Successful activewear companies sell items by showing potential buyers a paragon of fitness and health, not to shame them into buying, but to emphasize, ‘This could be you!’. Belief in this story begins long before the end user; it starts with interdepartmental teams, stakeholders, and clients.

“I’ m writing my story so that others may see fragments of themselves,” Lena Waithe, screenwriter.

Design is the birthplace of a company story, which can find its beginnings in User Experience (UX) storytelling. To create an exceptional product, designers must consider the experience or story they want to unfold around a product. Every production level uses this story to help the collective vision of the product.

How to use Storytelling, and why?

The benefits of storytelling are best showcased by examining the elements of creating a story for design. When reduced to its basics, there are three key things to consider.

  1. UX personas play characters. They help the audience empathize with the user and create more valuable products. Perhaps the persona is a young businesswoman called Hannah, who struggles to leave her pet at home during the workday. She worries about something happening to them at home while she’s away, which creates stress.
  2. The Plot is why a person needs the product we’re designing. Take our example, Hannah. She sees an advert for our product, an app-based home camera designed for monitoring pets. She buys the camera and tests it out throughout her workday. Her phone buzzes if there’s a loud noise, or lots of movement, which lets her concentrate on work, assured that her pets are fine.
  3. The Setting is the envisioned place for users to use the product. In Hannah’s case, this is probably in her office, where the app must have a long-range video stream that she can access anywhere. What if she uses it on the train? Or abroad? Consider how this would change the design.

Having characters, a setting and a plot is half of the storytelling process; the other half lies in rules and techniques.

Rules for Storytelling

The next things to consider are rules, which ensure the story is useful for the team. Without them, it’s easy to overlook necessary details or be tempted into including useless information.

Design for the user’s needs.

Creating a product that doesn’t meet the right needs will ground a project before it hits the runway. To be aware of what a user wants from a product, we must focus on meeting the persona’s needs and avoid their dislikes. Our example persona, Hannah, needs to trust her camera and have a good video stream throughout the day. If she doesn’t feel like the product does this, she’ll stop using it and look elsewhere.

Speak the user’s language.

Using UX design terms when making a product for non-design professionals will alienate potential users and dissolve the credibility the potential user places in your company. To avoid this, we should use the language the customer uses appropriately. We need to take a pet-focused approach with Hannah, and notifications should use mild language like, “We’re playing!”. If we were designing a home security app, the language needed would be more direct.

Use data, not speculation.

Like designing a UX Persona, when storytelling, designers must base the plot, setting, and characters on accurate data; this data can be drawn from in-depth interviews, market research, or customer service logs and should be used to create a story that mirrors the actual customer experience as much as possible.

Equally, UX designers should create physical references and data logs throughout the storytelling process. Resources like storyboards, mood boards, and team brainstorms can be raised in later meetings as a point of contact or to refresh a colleague’s memory on a story element.

Techniques for Visual Storytelling

Creating a resource for other departments, executives, and clients can take time to approach, even with the above rules and aspects of storytelling. As psychologist D. L. Butler highlighted, visual aids like diagrams, flow charts, and other graphics help communication. If we’re struggling to find the words to explain a concept to another person, we can defer to a visual storytelling resource.

Visual storytelling is a story told through visual media, such as graphics, videos, or pictures. They can be used in-house or shown to clients to help them visualize the product in their daily lives. Two examples of visual storytelling resources are mood boards and storyboards.

The table above is an excellent demonstration of the impact visual aids can have when conveying information. It makes comparing the two techniques easy to understand and eliminates unnecessary and confusing words.

Tying up Storytelling in UX Design

When creating a tailored user experience, there is no better tool than Storytelling. It’s inclusive, research-driven, and forces the designer to empathize and create with a solid user in mind. Done well, storytelling can elevate an excellent product to a great one, and it’s fun!

To find out more about storytelling in design, get in touch with our UX experts; we’d love to chat.

Knowing the story of the user and their need for the product is at the heart of great UX design, but how and why do we write that story? Please find out the rules and techniques we use when storytelling below.

 


The Psychology of UX Design

Providing a positive user experience is inherently psychological, and the number of theories related to UX design reflects this. Choosing the right approach is far easier when understanding the behaviors that drive each idea. A strong background in the psychology of UX design makes balancing functional and attractive design second nature.

The Relationship between Cognitive Psychology and UX Design

Cognitive Psychology is the branch of psychology that thinks of the brain as a biological computer. It focuses primarily on motivation, problem-solving, decision-making, memory, and learning, all of which are important for UX design.

When navigating software, users are constantly running cognitive processes in their subconscious, and the outcome of these processes dictates whether they feel positive about the product. If they have difficulties with accessibility, navigation, or comprehension, they will have a less positive user experience. A basic understanding of cognitive psychology can prevent this and have a huge impact on the outcome of a service or product.

How Considering Cognitive Load can Enhance UX Design

The mental stamina needed to process and retain information when using a digital product is called ‘Cognitive Load.’ Each person only has a fixed amount of processing power, and demanding too much of the system can have unpleasant consequences.

Giving a computer too much to do at once will overburden the processing system and cause a dreaded computer crash. The same thing happens to the human brain if we try to make it do too much at once. This biological system failure is called Cognitive Overload, and if it occurs during the use of a digital product, it is unlikely to encourage the user to keep using it.

There are three types of cognitive load

  1. Intrinsic Cognitive Load is how difficult a task is to complete. Designers consider Intrinsic cognitive load when developing registration buttons, like ‘Sign Up, by removing all additional options and stimuli.
  2. Extraneous Cognitive Load is how non-essential issues affect the brain. Difficult typefaces or faulty micro-interactions all increase extraneous cognitive load.
  3. Germane's Cognitive Load is the organization, construction, and implementation of learned behaviors, called ‘schemas.’ When learning a new process, the brain instinctively compares it to its already-known processes.

If users are faced with a complicated feature early on, they will likely feel overwhelmed or unequipped to deal with the product. Cognitive overload can be avoided by presenting users with small chunks of information. This process of breaking up news is called progressive disclosure and will improve the user experience.

Five Common Psychological Laws, Theories, and Principles in Design

1.   The Schema Theory

As mentioned above, a schema is how our brains register and organize processes, preferences, and experiences. As we grow, we choose the methods of organization that we prefer and dislike things that vastly differ from our own experience.

If we apply this to design, we have to consider if the cognitive cost of learning a new schema will outweigh the benefits of having a distinctive or unique product. We don’t want to drive users away by trying to reinvent the wheel, or in this case, the hamburger menu. To avoid this, some companies decide that a safe, familiar layout is more worthwhile than investing in a unique feature that takes a long time to adjust.

2.   Von Restorff effect

The Von Restorff effect suggests that users are more likely to remember an item if it differs from those around it.

It’s used to guide users to a function the designer wants to stick out, like notification bubbles, sale banners, and ‘Last One!’ warnings. Even a subtle change will attract a user’s attention, making this a valuable effect for designers aiming for a minimalist design.

3.   The Gestalt Principles

The Gestalt Principles are a collection of theories about human processing. Some of the most useful for UX Design include

  • Continuation, or what guides the eye from one object to another. This principle can help UX designers direct a user through a digital product.
  • Similarity and Proximity, or how our brains group similar objects. In design, this can highlight a preferred option using color, size, distance, and shape.
  • Figure and Ground, or the fact that objects in the foreground of an image will be seen before anything in the background. Designers use this when they want to draw attention to a focal point, like an action button.

4.    Hick’s Law

Would you instead scroll through a list of a hundred items or five? If users are looking for a single option, they’ll find having to search through myriad options frustrating.

Hicks Law states that the time it takes for people to make decisions depends on the number of options available. The time it takes to make a choice increases with the number and complexity of the possibilities. Here, simple is best.

5.    Serial Position effect

When displaying items in a sequence, the serial position effect dictates that the position of the item on the list affects recall memory. Ebbinghaus, the father of the theory, found that users best remember the first and last items in a sequence.

By placing the most critical information first and last, with the least important information in the middle, UX designers can decide which information the user remembers.

In Summary

The limit to the application of these principles is dictated by the designer, but that’s not to say that every project needs to apply as many principles as possible to be successful. Instead, these theories should serve as useful tools for designers when considering how to approach a problem.

Get in touch if you’re interested in learning more about the psychology of UX design; our experts are always happy to talk!


How People Read Online: New and Old Findings

The internet is a beautiful place that has a wealth of information. However, how this information has been presented has changed dramatically. But why? The answer is simple; it's because of how we humans want to receive information.

This leaves us with an interesting question: has this impacted how we read? Let's take a look.

Methodology: eye-tracking

To investigate this question, eye-tracking can be used. This involves using tools to track a user's eye movement when browsing information. It allows us to glimpse what information is read and missed and examine other things, too—for example, understanding how visual design plays a role.

The various studies we've analyzed contain quantitative and qualitative results that seem to have the same outcome. However, we'll get to that in a minute.

The quantitative observations include a large pool of data collected from many participants. The data consists of heatmaps and gaze metrics to understand key points, such as how long an individual spends on a particular element in a user's face.

The qualitative observations - Gazeplots and gaze replays are used to understand viewing behaviors. Participants were encouraged to bring their tasks (e.g., from work) for these results.

Overall, the data retrieved from the studies comes from 13 years of findings. Over 500 participants helped contribute with 750+ hours of eye-tracking during these years.

Studies that were first conducted (2006-2013)

 An eye-tracking study was conducted to research how people read online. A large number of people participated in this study, with over 300.

In addition, two more studies were carried out in 2009 and 2013, looking at qualitative findings. However, the outcome of these two did not find anything new compared to the first one. 

Next round of studies (2016-2019) 

 Two eye-tracking studies in 2016 and 2017 were conducted to identify qualitative outcomes. They happened in two separate locations.

  • Raleigh, North Carolina (46 participants)
  • San Francisco, California (105 participants)

There were two main objectives: to analyze how people read online and to check other factors, such as the effect of low-signifier interfaces on interaction design.

Moving forward to 2019 and another comprehensive study was conducted to explore this topic; the tests took place in two very different locations.

  • Raleigh, North Carolina, USA (48 participants)
  • Beijing, China (12 participants)

The premise behind picking these places was to see if any cultural differences occurred when individuals from China and the US participated in the study. If any did exist, they would be identified in the qualitative part of the study. Typically, reading patterns are similar across cultures as human behavior remains constant. Although contrasts are present, it's often found between Western and Asian cultures.

Findings observed

Dating back to 2006 and onwards, how information online is viewed has changed significantly. The introduction of responsive design played a big part in this, allowing content to adjust depending on the device it's being viewed on.

As a result, old recommendations made by the community, which suggested "liquid layouts should be used for text instead of "fixed layouts," is outdated. 

Furthermore, the rise in zigzag layouts (where the content appears next to a picture and continues to flip as it goes down the page, creating a zigzag effect) and comparison tables being used co-occurred when a new developing gaze pattern had been identified.

Following this, content put into different cells on a web page is usually read by people who use the lawn-mower pattern to digest the information. If you're unfamiliar with the lawn-mower pattern, it consists of individuals starting at the top left cell and moving their gaze to the right until they reach the end of the row; next, they move their vision downwards and back to the left until the last cell on that row, and this continues so forth (mimicking how a lawn-mower works).

Search result pages

When SERP results are scanned, it was identified from the studies that individuals were watching them less linearly compared to old data. It's likely that the development of new SERP features on Google and other search engines has contributed to this.

The new layouts of SERP have also caused a new gazing pattern: the pinball pattern. This pattern has no linear path, with the reader "bouncing" between SERPs and results.

Alongside identifying how gazing patterns change, SERP results also significantly affected information-seeking behavior. This was down to SERPs acting as signposts. People viewing them can quickly determine if the results are related to what they want to know.

In addition, SERPs help guide an individual's attention. This is thanks to its high presence on a search result page that pulls the person's gaze to different areas. The development of the pitbull pattern is primarily because of this factor.

Additional information in SERPs in the form of the 'people who ask element' and 'the carousel' provide modified queries and tasks. As a result, this additional information closely linked to the search query can help expand on the subject. This allows users to find alternative information without needing to leave the page.

Lastly, SERPs can provide rapid answers to queries. Small snippets are sometimes included in search results that aim to answer questions, removing the need for individuals to click on a website - we call this 'good abandonment.'

Observations made in China

With one of the latest studies looking at Asian cultures compared to western cultures, the following was noticed.

Reading patterns stayed relatively the same, even when different languages were used. However, there was one exception that was identified: the pinball pattern. From over 60 searches from Chinese participants, it was noticed that the pinball pattern only occurred once on a Baidu SERP.

We believe the reason for this is due to a couple of reasons.

  • There are a reduced amount of SERP features on Baidu compared to Google.
  • Baidu SERP features aren't as visually attractive compared to Google's (fewer and smaller images).
  • Baidu has ads and other SERPs on its sidebar; however, they are less relatable to the query, especially compared to Google's.

Three distinct differences can be identified between how the US and China use the internet.

  • Culture
  • Language Characters
  • Sites and services have very contrasting designs. On average, Chinese sites tend to have higher design complexity.

Considering all of these, it's surprising that the overall result was that the reading behaviors between Chinese and U.S. participants were very similar. Therefore, this assumes that other countries and cultures will act the same way. This is further backed up by a non-eye-tracking study conducted in the Arab world that looked at Arabic sites. The result was very similar reading behaviors, apart from them being mirrored.

Content elements that have risen in popularity

Since the first study that was undertaken in 2006, 3 different types of content have grown in use due to popularity.

  • Content generated by users, including reviews, comments, and posts.
  • Inline elements, including pull quotes and ads.
  • Content Tables and comparison tables are included.

Recent studies found behaviors and preferences when these types of elements.

For instance, pull quotes and inline messages often disrupted reading and caused some participants in the study to fixate on them. Furthermore, some individuals within the study started linearly reading articles until reaching an inline ad or pull quote. Afterward, they began to scan the text rather than continue as before lightly.

What has not changed between old and new studies

It's still common for individuals to scan text rather than read it. However, scanning all of the text displayed on a web page or even most of it is still uncommon. It's rare for people to scan content linearly, even when they read all of it. Typically, you see users jumping to different parts of the page, missing certain bits of content, going back to the information they skipped, and relooking at content that has been scanned already.

Although light scanning is the most used method to view information on the web, the time dedicated to reading a web page can be linked to four reasons:

Motivation - How essential the information can affect how long is given to reading.

Focus - Focus plays a big role in determining how long a person stays on a page.

Personal Characteristics - Some individuals are detail-oriented when reading; others may scan content even with a deep interest.

The task at hand - Whether the person is looking for certain acts, wants new or intriguing information, or is researching a complete topic can play into how they read/scan content.

The earlier and newer studies point to one main outcome: individuals are less likely to read all content on a page or in a linear way. The essential information that's wanted is found and acquired. Therefore, content that makes scanning easier can be designed to meet the reader's wants by doing the following.

  • Using noticeable headings and subheadings that help break up content while clearly labeling information, so people can find what they're looking for when scanning.
  • Putting the important information first (known as 'front-loading') so individuals can quickly comprehend what is being said from scanning. This goes for the essential parts in sub-headers and links too.
  • Using formatting techniques, including bullet lists and bold texts, for individuals to obtain content that's crucial to them on the topic.
  • Make sure to use plain language for conciseness and ensure it's clear to the reader.

Gazes patterns: new and old

The more recent studies found that all the gaze patterns identified in, the earlier ones were still used. This includes.

  • Layer cake pattern
  • Spotted pattern
  • F-pattern
  • Love-at-first-sight pattern
  • Bypassing pattern
  • Sequential pattern
  • Zigzag pattern
  • Commitment pattern
  • Exhaustive review pattern

Human behavior conclusion

Earlier studies seem to show that fundamental reading behaviors have stayed relatively the same compared to the latest round of research. This is interesting, considering designs have changed significantly. Therefore, it can be said that while technology changes rapidly, humans stay somewhat constant.

However, new behaviors have been identified due to the change in online page designs, for example, the pinball pattern. As a result, the following can be said, individuals want a quick answer to their search. Designs that focus on clearly proving the desired information will meet users' wants.

Are your designs up to scratch?

Feel free to contact our UX experts to see how these findings can improve engagement with your audience today.


Consumer Marketing Methods Insights for UX Research

It’s no secret that user experience research (UXR) and consumer marketing have been the center point of conversation in the design industry. The UX sector has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Consumer marketing is also seeing dramatic changes as research continues to improve the field.

Although UX and consumer marketing are two separate sectors, they have features that intersect, allowing researchers in both of them to learn from one another. For the purpose of this post, we will look at how researchers with a branded mindset can produce more value during user experience research.

User experience research is essential for the intended user and the client

Understanding the unique position that UXR has in UX means that different interests can be identified among stakeholders, designers, and users. However, many of these interests are interconnected. The main force connecting all of these interests is the brand.

With the UXR being located between the user and client, both benefit greatly. The user receives their wants, and the client can achieve their overall goals, creating the best possible situation for both parties.

As a result, UXR plays an important role in helping implement positive change. And it goes without saying that this type of research is fundamental in consumer marketing and can be achieved by discussing core elements connected to the brand.

Understanding that customers have a plethora of choices

Emotions and other factors can affect how users navigate certain things. Therefore, it’s essential for UX research to include brand-experience factors. If not, understanding user engagement and how long they’ll be engaged (even if barriers occur) in the product will be hard to determine.

When users interact with great interfaces that have clear connections to the brand, it’s suggested that they will be more understanding if issues occur. However, the same cannot be said if the brand isn’t clearly represented.

User experience research is so much more than just identifying pain points for users. In addition, it’s about finding the brand interface's effect in terms of a social and sensory experience for the user in question.

How brand perception impacts UXR

User perceptions of brands can determine how their products are viewed. So, brands must learn to capture users’ attention.

The consistency of the experience is also essential. If done correctly, the overall opinion of the company will likely improve. When UXR is concerned, it’s typically focused on the user’s experience with technology. However, when adding consumer marketing into the mix, it’s easy to see that the technology experience is also a brand experience, meaning that the research should include more factors.

Qualitative data that identifies pain points commonly shows a user's digital experience and perception of a brand; this data is intertwined in many cases. Furthermore, every moment reviewed could invoke different reactions due to emotions. It can be said that the cumulative response to the amalgamation of points will develop the perception of the overall brand.

To explore this in more detail, say all touchpoints benefit the user, apart from one. As a result, the brand is likely to be perceived by the negative point rather than all the good ones. This leads the user to view the brand poorly, especially if the negative touchpoint is significant. Thankfully, journey mapping, which is used a lot in consumer research, can be implemented in UXR.

This helps to understand what emotional responses are triggered from different touchpoints. Overall, it can determine how the brand is seen through users' eyes.

Looking at macro and micro perspectives

 If we draw our attention to some of the biggest global brands, you can see their identity is integrated with user experience. Take Coca-Cola, for example; the bottle is uniquely shaped and has a tint of green. Or look at Apple; the well-known brand shows the difficulty of trying to remove user experience from a brand’s identity. All interactions that users have with Apple products show that there’s no escaping brand identity.

To some extent, UX researchers look at the user experience's micro elements, but macro-level factors should also be considered. Macro aspects of the brand identity can influence micro experiences by affecting cognitive and emotional responses. That’s why UXR needs to understand how users look at the brand aesthetics of products and how the brand is viewed overall.

Need help from UX professionals?

At Radiant, our team consists of highly passionate UX designers. We help businesses connect with their audiences without the hurdles of poor interface design and more. Contact us today to learn more!

 


How content creation is becoming a full-time job for designers

2021 was the year that saw many subscription-based tools being realized for content creators on various social media platforms. The timing makes sense as people look for new avenues to make money within struggling economies. Social media platforms often look desirable whether they’re looking to increase their income, better protect themselves if their primary job is at risk, or escape a rigid 9 to 5 job.

Heading over to the design industry and the mood seems similar. There’s been an uptick in designers trying to launch online courses and paid UX communities, alongside creating and trying to sell NFTS and UI kits. When you think about it, professionals within the design industry have the skillset needed to achieve a side hustle. We work all day long building brands and turning leads into conversions.

Contrary to what some may believe, the rise in paid subscriptions can benefit the design industry. With more UX-related content being created, developing design skills can be achieved easier. Also, as experts are financially compensated for making content, the overall quality is likely extremely good.

So, how do designers achieve social media success?

Understanding the numbers

It’s often that clients are fixated on short-term metrics in the design industry. This is usually how many view metrics relating to online presence too. As a result, feeds are flooded with content to ensure engagement is high. This can lead to new influencers believing that having a large following is the same as having a career that’s successful, and it’s not far from the truth.

Allocating resources

 It’s no secret that time, money, and attention that can be given to content creation is limited, so careful consideration must be made to use this time wisely. To reduce the amount of burnout that can occur it’s recommended to take a step back and pick things up at a later date.

Community developments

With paid subscriptions rising in popularity year after year, content creators are tasked with creating a community that provides positive benefits. Therefore, content needs to focus on high amounts of research (giving the sources credit) to provide value to readers. This means it shouldn’t be solely aimed at reaching the masses.

Give us a like if you’re on board or a share if you have an opposing view

 It’s often argued that design polls that are common on social media do not provide much value, as they’re a little shallow and lack some context. However, they work very well for engagement, exactly what they were intended for.

Concluding thoughts

 It’s likely that this trend will continue with designers flocking to the profitable world of social media. Skills and knowledge can be passed on from experienced designers to newbies, passing the torch, so to speak. This should help push advancements in the industry, providing clients with a better service at competitive prices.

At Radiant, we are leading the way with experienced UX designers that ensure businesses thrive online. Connect with us to learn more!

 


Minimalism with a Twist in UX

The term ‘Minimalist’ brings clean white spaces with no single-use appliances or functionless decorations. This doesn’t mean, however, that to achieve minimalism in design, we must strip a website or software of all but the barest of functions. Instead, UX minimalism focuses on simplifying complex processes into a more accessible and better processes, making better apps, webpages, and systems.

When incorporating minimalism in design, the goal is to eliminate unnecessary functions while conveying the intended message concisely.

What is Minimalism in UX Design?


With Big Tech companies like Apple and Google trailblazing minimalist websites, minimalism has become an influential contributor to the overall user experience. Synonymous with exclusivity, minimalism also has the advantage of faster loading times and good compatibility on both small and large screens.
As with all UX design, minimalism focuses on maximizing user-friendly traits. But what sets the minimalistic approach apart from other techniques? As highlighted by Darya Tronsco, minimalism keeps the basic components of a system as simple as possible, allowing the user to interact without the direction or experience needed to deal with cluttered interfaces.

Why use Minimalism?

Aside from projecting a polished and exclusive company image, minimalist websites selling a product have an advantage over competitors. There is no better approach than minimalism for highlighting products, as there is nothing on the page to distract the consumer’s attention.

Minimalism doesn’t only work by emphasizing a product; it also refines it. As UX designers, there is a temptation to include additional, superfluous elements to improve user design, which has the opposite effect. Minimalist UX Design involves relentlessly culling inessential components, which can be challenging to do with our work.

To help with this, we’ve included a list of five essential features of Minimalist UX design, compiled by Amlan Sarkar:

  1. Quick-loading Interface because fewer components make websites more responsive.
  2. Increased SEO makes the layout easier for search engines to comb and index.
  3. Less maintenance because the interface is less complex, and bugs are easier to fix.
  4. Simplicity, which is classy and enhances accessibility.
  5. Meaningful content ensures all features have a purpose and facilitates easy navigation.

If these characteristics are applied to a project well, the resulting system is sophisticated, accessible, and a pleasure to use.

Achieving Minimalist Designs with Examples

The overarching question every designer should be asking themselves when creating a minimalist website is simple:
But even knowing this question, how do we achieve this?

Achieving a minimalist design takes a lot of work, and we can’t replicate that clean website design just by removing components. To help, we’ve detailed a few research-driven techniques below:

Hick’s Law

This law was discovered in 1952 by American psychologists William Hick and Ray Hyman and stated that the time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of the available choices. When applying this law to minimalist design, it makes sense that giving users fewer choices in the form of more periodic functions will improve the overall user experience.  Customers who find a website too difficult to navigate will look elsewhere.

A great example of this is Google’s search page:

The center of Google’s search page is a search bar and two buttons. The choice is easy, creates positive user experiences, and helps make Google the leading search engine worldwide.

Whitespace

The negative space between content is called whitespace. Whitespace is essential to achieving a minimalist design because it highlights the important part of the system or page. Take Apple’s Apple Store Online page, for example:

The generous amount of whitespace emphasizes the page's important part: the Apple products on sale. This focuses the user on the product while maintaining the clean, sleek design typical of Apple.

Color and Typography

Minimalist typography involves choosing textual elements that create open, airy, and highly legible lettering. Generally, these simple letterforms have fewer curves and give the page a more modern appearance. Colour is also critical to minimalist designs, with most designers leaning towards grey, black, and white to provide a clean appearance.

Samsung’s UK website uses dramatic, white typography that doesn’t distract from the overall image. The color of the lettering matches the elements of the picture, and the size draws the eye without taking over.

Flat Design

This technique keeps everything from fonts to images as essential as possible, giving the system an aesthetically pleasing, functional look. The Winter Games Olympic Story website is an excellent example of flat design.

Everything from the black and white background to the single pop of color in the date makes this website easy to understand and navigate. The eye is drawn to two options: the hamburger menu or the Winter games button.

Visual Elements

Visual elements refer to site images, icons, or graphic illustrations. They are accessible to everyone and convey more information in a short time. However, in minimalist designs, there is a risk of pictures taking over the page and making any other minimalist choices redundant. One way of getting around this is using grayscale images or images with simple color palettes. A website that successfully uses color with a minimalist design in mind is Ikea:

Ikea’s UK homepage uses yellow in all images, which links back to their logo while giving the media a cohesive look. This maintains a minimalist, Scandinavian feel without sacrificing the joy in their products.

Minimalism in UX - Keep it Simple

The proof is in the webpage, Minimalism works. With the front runners in technology all using minimalist website designs, it is only a matter of time before maximalist web pages are a thing of the past.

Making a minimalist product as a UX designer is not easy, but our UX experts are always here to advise if needed. Get in touch to learn more about creating great, minimalist sites - we’d love to hear from you.