Micro-interactions Matter in UX Design

What are micro-interactions?

Even if you didn’t realize it, you’ve likely encountered several micro-interactions to get to this article. Micro-interactions are tiny, satisfying reactions people get from interacting with a web page or product, showing the user that their actions impact the digital landscape. Loading screens, click animations, and pinging email notifications are all cleverly conceptualized micro-interactions designed to keep a user entertained and optimistic about a product.

However, when poorly designed, micro-interactions can achieve the opposite and seriously damage the overall user experience. Think about how you’d feel if clicking ‘Add to Cart’ had no result. The likelihood is that you’d click again. And again. Before you know it, three unwanted duplicates would be in the basket, and you’d feel frustrated. Would you want to shop there again? Probably not.

Where do you see them?

Many micro-interactions happen without us registering them, including distinctive notification sounds, loading animations, and the haptic feedback, or short vibration, users get when pressing keys on a touchscreen keypad. Micro-interactions are so ingrained into a technology that successful implementation should leave a positive impression on the user, especially if they don’t notice it.

Some common and not-so-common micro-interactions examples are:

  • Sounds or animations when toggling volume up and down.
  • Micro-animations when clicking, scrolling or
  • Loading screens.
  • Payment refusal or acceptance animations.
  • Error code.

Finding a successful and user-friendly product that doesn’t take advantage of micro-interactions in one way or another is a rarity. Being so easy and practical tools, it simply makes sense to use them.

Why are micro-interactions important?

Daniel Saffer famously said, “It’s the details that make systems feel more human and humane.” When considering how individuals interact with and use their devices, the truth of this statement is unavoidable. One of the pitfalls of product development is that in the pursuit of creating a valuable and in-demand product, it’s easy to lose sight of the essential humanity in UX design. UX developers need to consider people’s behavior when creating digital products for repeated use.

Depending on the target audience, developers should distinguish what impression they want the product to have. The micro-interactions on a gaming app will differ significantly from those in video conferencing software. Fears of unprofessional-seeming software can dupe product designers into creating impersonal and cold products which lack a human element. Micro-interactions are an essential way of bridging the gap between technology and man.

According to Daniel Saffer, an Interaction Design Lead in Smart Design, the key components of a micro-interaction are universal and include:

  1. Trigger: which instigates an action. This includes user-initiated triggers, such as clicking, pushing a button, or swiping, and system-initiated triggers, like an exit-intention pop-up.
  2. Rules: decide what happens after the trigger is engaged.
  3. Feedback: this is how you know an action is taking place. For example, clicking a ‘Pay Now button is a trigger, and the device buzzing is the feedback.
  4. Loop and Modes are needed when there are multiple feedback options. Perhaps the page can’t be found, so the appropriate feedback would be to change it to a friendly error code.

The figure above showcases the elements of micro-interactions coined the Process Cycle. If any part of this process fails, Saffer claims the micro-interaction will be unsuccessful, and most people will not react to the product as the developers intended.

Here are some great micro-interactions in practice:

Let there be light

 

At first glance, this Dark Mode button by Aaron Iker looks like any regular switch. Still, if you look closer, you’ll notice the crescent moon micro-interaction triggered by engaging and disengaging Dark Mode. This subtle detail tempts you into trying out Dark Mode and leaves you pleased you did. It’s a brilliant example of practical and attractive user design.

Sign me up!

Take this Notify Me button by Oleg Frovlov; it makes a usually unattractive task (signing up for an email list) seem light and rewarding. People are likely to feel like they’re signing up for useful

emails, not spam and the friendly ‘Thank You!’ notification afterward leaves them feeling positive.

Rewarding purchases

The more time a user spends staring at a motionless payment processing button, the more likely they will get bored, reconsider the purchase, and click away. This ‘Pay Now’ micro animation by Paarth Desai keeps users interested while the payment is secured, and the tick symbol feedback reinforces that they’re done the right thing.

Miro-interactions, a marriage of form and function

Ultimately, the truth is undeniable; Micro-interactions shape the user experience. Such a little thing can make a difference to users and drive home the importance of form and function in successful user experience design.

Still, want to know more? Get in touch with one of our UX experts to explain how micro-interactions can improve your product.

 

 


How to Create Useful Personas: Making an Impact

What are UX Personas?

Carefully moulded to feel realistic and believable, a UX Persona is a collection of target user data shaped into a character for designers to connect with and design for. But some companies struggle to understand the point of putting so much effort into creating an accurate but fake user.

Think about writing a birthday card. If you were told to write a card for a person who is upper-middle class, in their late thirties, and likes little dogs, you could probably write a generic but acceptable greeting. It would be ok, but nothing special. Now, if you were given a sheet with the same person’s photograph, demographic, goals, and preferences, it’s likely that you’ll find writing that birthday card much easier. Even if you’ve never met the person, you’ll begin to arrange these details into a personality you can connect with, allowing you to see that person’s needs more clearly, and write a better message. Persona work in the same way by allowing the designer to stop trying to empathize with an impersonal data sheet and instead consider the needs of a plausible user.

Why Create a UX Persona?

Generating a UX Persona is a process that requires a considerable investment of both time and money, so why do companies create them? When using a UX persona, many designers find the persona will naturally guide the designer's choices towards the target user group, making decisions feel more structured and logical. This steers companies from spending needless time and money trying to appeal to user groups with no interest in the service or product and attract users who are likely to benefit from it instead.

This is not to say that creating a character out of nothing but thin air and speculation will help focus a project. Creating a UX persona representing only the designer’s idea of a stereotypical user can do more harm than good. Without proper research and consideration, creating a persona in one’s image is risky. It sometimes feels logical to ask questions like, ‘What would I look for?’ when creating a product, but sadly, more often than not, the intended user group is not UX designers.

Creating a useful persona for product design

So, your team has weighed the pros and cons and decided to invest in a UX persona. Where do you start? There are hundreds of UX persona templates and guides online, but it’s difficult to choose the information to fill them. Perhaps none of the templates fit your product completely, so creating your own UX persona may be preferable.

A standard UX persona generally contains the following data:

  • A Persona name that is age and demographic-appropriate.
  • A photograph gives designers a face to match the character’s personality.
  • Demographics, such as age, gender, location, civil status, and career.
  • Behaviours, like where a user goes first to find help or usage by time of day.
  • Goals and needs to focus on the designer.
  • Dislikes and frustrations to be wary of.
  • A Spark of personality, like a favorite saying, quote, or value that expresses the personality.

Now, how do companies find the data if this information can’t be made up? Research and analytics, to put it simply. The guide below is a more in-depth template for creating a UX Persona for your own company:

Step One: Gather user information

The most useful UX personas are formed using field research, specifically collecting data such as demographic information, goals and needs, and behaviors. The character can be built on interviews, prior research, and communicating with company stakeholders from a large sample of the target audience. It’s important to make the persona as true to life as possible and avoid using baseless assumptions.

If the option of conducting this much research doesn’t exist, UX Personas can be created using customer support logs or web analytics. Although not a fair comparison, this ‘Provisional Persona’ is a useful proxy until a research-based persona can be made.

Step Two: Analyse and Collate Research Findings

Next, the collected research must be analyzed to find trends used to identify promising user groups. You can select the most appropriate user group and weave the accrued data into the UX persona. If multiple users are in the same age range, make your persona an average of that age. If most of your users are single, make the persona single, and so on, until you have a document that feels like a natural person. Choose a stock photo that matches, settle on a name, and that’s it! Your UX persona can be distributed to the team and put to work.

What if the research conducted identified several potential user groups? The guide above is for a product with only one target user demographic, and the likelihood of designers finding themselves in the position of having multiple target user groups is high. In this case, it is recommended to create one primary persona and up to three secondary personas. Any more than four personas can make decisions more complicated and confusing for designers than having no persona at all, which undermines the whole process.

Making an Impact

When made well, UX personas are the focal point for human connection. They make empathizing with the user, making informed decisions, and designing a helpful product simpler. Eventually, these fictional characters will start to feel like active members of the design team.

Although the process of creating a persona can be confusing to navigate, our UX experts would love to talk if you need any further guidance.

UX Personas are now standard tools for UX Designers, but what makes them worthwhile? Radiant has put together a helpful guide on creating exceptional UX Personas and how they can help give design teams an edge.


The Design Language of Dance

Although it might sound strange, there are quite a few similarities between UX design and dance. UX design requires highly creative thinking and expert problem-solving skills when creating great experiences that users love.

Dance, in comparison, is much the same. Practicing new moves requires great communication skills, problem-solving know-how, and creative thinking skills to overcome any issues. So, let’s go into more detail about other similarities between dance and design and how learning about this can help shape great UX experiences.

Why Learning About Dance Is Fundamental to Great Design

Simplicity is Key

Simplicity is key when it comes to dancing. Dancers need to look as graceful as possible, making it look extremely easy for the audience. When it comes to UX design, it’s the same. The design should be easy to use, and the user should know exactly what to do and how to find the things they want to find without stress. It’s no wonder that one of the key tenets of UX design is ‘choosing the path of least resistance for the customer’.

Focus Less on Invention and More on Perfection

Another great lesson that dance teaches us is creativity. Rarely will a dancer create a brand new dance that no one else has seen before. Instead, they will often look at classic dances made by professionals and look to perfect them as best as possible.

This philosophy should be the same for UX. Getting all the fundamentals and best practices perfect ensures that the design is easy to understand and use, which is more important than brand new UX design that users might not know how to use properly.

Timing is Everything

Dancers need to get the timing perfect, or they will become completely out of sync with the music and their fellow dancers, ruining the dance.

You could apply the same principles to UX design. Designers need to constantly time how long it takes for a user to complete their goal. If it takes too long, the user inference will need to change in order to accommodate a quicker and easier way for them to complete the action. If this is not done, the user will get annoyed and may even switch to a competitor that has a more user-friendly UX.

Critically Evaluate Everything You Do

One of the reasons that dancers never make mistakes in live performances is that they are also critically evaluating what they did in previous sessions to ensure nothing goes wrong. The same applies to UX designers. By gaining feedback from every design you do, both negative and positive, you can learn to improve to reach perfection in your designs as professional dancers do.

Utilize Patterns and Rhythm

Pattern and rhythm are vital for dancers. Without it, their performance would be out of tune with the music and look drastically wrong.

UX designers also need to look at patterns and implement them in their designs. If a UX shares patterns in its interface, it allows users to navigate through it much more easily, as they recognize where they need to go next due to them identifying patterns throughout the design.

How Balance Can Help

Dancers, and especially ballet dancers, know the importance of balance. Sometimes they only balance on their toes with one foot!

UX designers can take some tips from using balance like dancers in their UX designs. Although having cool and flashy animations are great, at the end of the day, you need to make it easy for the user to navigate through to find what they are looking for.

That’s why balancing complex visual designs with simple, easy-to-read content is key for your users to enjoy the experience, whether it is for a website or an app.

Working as a Team to Achieve Success

To ensure the performance is one the audience will remember, dancers have to work well in a team. Constant communication with everyone from fellow designers to production team members is required to ensure they put in a top-shelf performance.

UX designers need to work with their fellow team members in order to stay on track and ensure the overall UX works without error. Like dancers, constant communication and feedback are necessary to achieve success here.

Use the Design Language of Dance In Your Next UX Project

So, as covered above, dance has a lot of similarities with UX design, and designers can improve massively by taking some of these lessons on and implementing them into their next project.

Need UX designers for your project? Send us a message!

 

 


Service Typologies every Service Designer should know

Service Typologies, or the business models used in the service industry, are core sources of reference for Service Designers. Picking a suitable Service Typology is essential for a project’s success, and picking the wrong typology can ground a project before it gets the chance to try.

But how do we do that? This article will discuss the different typologies and help you decide which would be the most suitable for your product.

Why do we need to know service typologies as Service Designers?

Well, consider a mountain bike. It’s reliable, robust, and perfectly designed to navigate rough and stony terrain. However, if you switch environments to a city center, the mountain bike will be quickly outpaced by a road bike, which is simply better suited to the territory. Service typologies are the same. Each approach will thrive when applied well but underperform in the wrong conditions. To provide the best service experience to customers, we must consider each specific business's needs, environment and foundations.

What are the business models used in the service industry?

1.    The Ticketing Model

The Ticketing model is a classic, simple business model that relies on service users buying a one-off pass to enjoy the resource. By purchasing a ticket, the customer gains access to a specific service or experience. Examples of businesses that use this model include concerts, trains, airlines, and all-you-can-eat restaurants.

For service designers considering using a ticketing service model, it’s important to consider whether the service will be perceived as a unique, stand-alone experience. Users search out low-effort methods of acquiring service and will find daily, repetitive purchases of a single ticket frustrating. For example, a commuter will prefer buying a season ticket to buying a return ticket five times a week.

2.    The Subscription Model

A popular, relatively recent service typology is the subscription model. This type is commonly used by companies selling services banking on repeated use or visits and enjoying the luxury of having reliable, repeated payments. Subscription business models are used by online gaming services, gyms, and video streaming companies.

If considering a subscription model, it’s important to ensure subscription-based services have frequent updates. If users think the system is constantly improving, they will feel satisfied with their investment and maintain their subscriptions. On the other hand, if nothing changes, users will grow bored and most likely cancel. If you are offering a fixed experience, the ticketing model may be more appropriate.

3.    Ads Model

When the service makes its main revenue through advertisements to users, the service type will be considered an Ads model. The goal is to increase user traffic through a system, mine data, and offer users the most suitable advertisements. The most profitable group here are not the people using the free service but the companies paying for advertising space.

Experienced service designers in search engines, radio shows, and newspapers all recognize this and consider both the advertiser and the service user when designing the ideal product. In 2021, Google made approximately 209.49 billion U.S. dollars (over 117 billion pounds) in ad revenue. However, be wary of oversubscribing advertisements. If the user feels like the inconvenience of the adverts outweighs the benefits of the service, they will look to a competitor.

4.    Platform Model

Services like app stores, auction sites, and department stores all make revenue through commissions from the sellers they host. Successful platform businesses choose one high-value benefit they offer over competitors, whether it be price, quality, or customer service.

Building a profitable platform model can be challenging, as it requires service designers to consider equality, quality, and quantity when selecting sellers. If any one factor is unbalanced, the business will suffer.

5.    The Franchise Model

Who can hear the word franchise without thinking of fast food? This association proves the power a well-developed franchise model can have, but it’s not just burgers. Coffee shops, pizza parlors, and pubs are all examples of services that make successful franchises.

When designing a franchise, service designers must consider growth and scale. This includes defining the company’s ‘blueprints,’ which will let new branches replicate themselves while staying true to the brand voice.

6.    The Hybrid Model

Some business models are challenging to fit into a single one of the models above. Look at companies that offer both free and paid versions of a service, like Spotify. Would this company fit into the Ads Model or the Subscription Model? It actually fits into both.

These hybrid business models are found in all Big Tech companies and are very successful if done well. They are complex and require a lot of market experience and research to make, but if successful, they are staggeringly lucrative.

How to design a winning business model

So, you’re prepared; you’ve chosen the best business model for the service; what else do you need to consider? Aside from company-specific needs, there are a number of other factors whose influence service designers must consider:

  • Interaction with other businesses: includes competitors, suppliers, and buyers. It’s unlikely that your product will be the only one on the market.
  • Adapt and learn: Business is dynamic, and there will be opportunities to improve, so don’t think you are designing a static product.
  • Know your strengths: Recognise your business model’s advantages, and work on strengthening them. This will be what attracts and retains users.

To Conclude

No one business model is better than another; they are only more suitable. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses in all Service Typologies will help identify areas for improvement and drive service designers towards the ultimate goal - making users happy.

Want more guidance on service typologies? Don’t be afraid to reach out; our service designers are always happy to help.


What role does the Hierarchy of Needs play in Design?

One of the most influential psychologists in the 20th century, Abraham Maslow, released a paper in 1943 called, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation. The paper’s central idea was that human needs could be categorized into a pyramid-shaped hierarchy called the ‘Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a revolutionary theory that is still referenced by researchers today, but what does this have to do with design?

In 2010, Steven Bradley created a modified version to guide designers, called the ‘Design Hierarchy of Needs. This updated hierarchy takes the psychological theory and turns it into a tool to help designers create a more useful, targeted product. With an overabundance of saturated markets, applying a psychological framework can be the edge a product and designer needs to succeed.

Background

Before explaining the modified version, it is necessary to understand the original hierarchy. In ‘A Theory of Human Motivation,’ the basic, most essential needs are at the base of the pyramid, the second level represents the second-most important needs, and so on to the tip of the pyramid. This structure highlights that the higher levels can’t be properly addressed unless the most basic needs are met.

As shown above, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes 5 tiers. From the base, these are:

  1. Physiological needs, such as food, air, sleep, and water. These are basic things humans need to survive.
  2. Safety Needs, such as physical safety, mental safety, and financial security. Maslow considered these the next most basic elements of motivation.
  3. Belongingness and love needs, like friends, family, and other relationships. This involves feelings of belongingness or being part of a group.
  4. Esteem Needs, including self-worth, respect, and accomplishments. The fourth tier involves constructs such as status or reputation.
  5. Self-actualization is a state of achieving one's full potential, whether that be peak creativity or efficiency. Maslow stated this could not be achieved unless the preceding four tiers were met.

Maslow argued that higher tiers could technically be met before a lower one, but the fulfillment is not sustainable. For example, even the world’s leading UX designers will struggle to repeatedly produce excellent products if they are overtired or physically unsafe.

Where Maslow’s Hierarchy Meets Design

Of course, designs don’t need physical or mental safety to succeed; they’re concepts and don’t need air or water to survive. So how does this translate? It follows the same basic structure.

As detailed above, Steven Bradley’s design mirrors Maslow’s hierarchy’s rule of tiers, so to progress to the next stage of the pyramid, the basic needs of the design must first be met. In Bradley’s theory, the five tiers are as follows:

  1. Functionality - Does the product work?
  2. Reliability - Is the performance of the product stable and consistent?
  3. Usability - Is the product easy to use?
  4. Proficiency - Can this product help the user do a task better?
  5. Creativity - What makes this product well-designed?

1.    Functionality

The service or product has to function before any other elements are considered. This means the basic functions of a product must work before any further steps are considered. If you’re designing a smartphone, it must meet all the defining requirements of a smartphone before any additional functions are considered (to make and receive calls, send text messages, browse the web, etc.). The design has already failed if it doesn’t meet these requirements.

2.    Reliability

At this level, the designer should now focus on offering stable and consistent performance. It must not only work once but work time and time again. The product must already function or achieve the base tier in the pyramid before examining reliability, which supports Bradley’s hierarchical model. Once again, design should have little influence on this tier, as reliability is more important.

3.    Usability

Now, we must assess the products' accessibility. How easily can people accomplish basic tasks? Take the smartphone example. Can users figure out how to turn it on or access the homepage? This is where UX designers often come in to optimize the service provided and keep customers happy. This is the first level in which design is considered to influence whether or not the tier’s criteria are satisfied.

4.    Proficiency

This segment is where designers must consider how the product can help users do tasks more proficiently. What sets this product apart from others in its field? Every product entering the market must have a feature that gives an advantage over its competitors. This tier is where designers isolate and highlight that quality. Consider the smartphone. Perhaps it has a superior camera or battery life - showcase it! This is where design becomes a significant contributor to the fulfillment of the tier and can make the difference between a good and a great product.

5.    Creativity

This is the final, crowning achievement of design. Using the running example involves asking questions like ‘How can your design interact with users in new and innovative ways?’ or ‘Can it function as a debit card or rail pass?’

Bradley notes there is little point in considering what makes a product excel if it isn't functioning, reliable, user-friendly, and proficient. This final level is limited only by the designer and allows room for features that expand on the product itself, which makes it the playground of truly excellent design.

To Conclude

So, the product you’ve created meets four of these hierarchical criteria but misses out on one or two in the middle, is this a deal breaker? No, not necessarily. In reality, most users will be forgiving if the product or service plays up once in a full moon, and there are systems like beta-testing and quality control to catch any significant faults pre-launch. What's important is to listen to feedback and make improvements when needed.

Most of the time, designers will intuitively solve lower-tier needs before attempting to add higher-tier ones. However, the framework provided by Bradley’s ‘Design Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful point of reference that can simplify an overwhelming or complex project into its basic needs.

 

Are you thinking about design from a psychological standpoint? If you’re considering a new approach or want to stay up to date with current design approaches, this article is for you.


Unearthing the Discovery Phase in UX Research

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.” Alexander Graham Bell

Discovery Phase in UX Research

Discovery Phase in UX Research is one of the first quintessential steps in the User Experience Journey.  During this phase, the UX Researcher partakes in uncovering the fundamental and preliminary aspects, such as initiating conversational meetings to understand and develop rapport with the associated stakeholders in a preeminence way. This engagement process will help contribute to a successful UX design implementation product.

Let’s unearth how and why this phase is an important part of the UX Research journey.

What is Discovery Phase in UX Research?

To begin working on the UX Design of any commodity/product, whether as a new launch or enhancing an existing feature as a UX researcher, we should first lay the foundational base to the UX Research Roadmap, which is often referred to as Discovery Phase.

Definition

“Discovery phase is a preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem(s) to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.”

Prepping up

To begin with, as a UX researcher, one has to gain insights into the current scenario and the project's strengths and weaknesses. This is done by initiating communications with the stakeholders. The next process to perform would be identifying and mapping key stakeholders. This is followed by recruiting and scheduling research interview sessions. Next, UX researchers dive further to read/learn the subject matter of the related project documentation and vital user data information.

What Happens Next?

Once the groundwork is readily set, there would be one high-level Discovery session conducted by the UX Researchers with a core group of members. That would include Client team members such as Project Managers, Architects, IT team members, Business Stakeholders, and end users. This is to understand the main objective and get the ball rolling. The high-level agenda comprises-

  • Team Introductions
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Project scope
  • Formalities
  • User requirements
  • Observations
  • Justification for the work
  • Deadlines
  • Constraints (Budget, Technical tools, Company guidelines)
  • Attaining key contacts list
  • Questionnaires
  • Additional cardinal features

Discovery Phase’s Analytical Approach

Analytically, being a part of the qualitative research method Discovery phase provides insights into the user's behavioral and attitudinal perspectives, observations about tools, and other related activities. Once the analyzed information results are mapped and documented accurately, the UX Research team will start working on the next steps.

By brainstorming, prioritizing, selecting, and shortlisting the core features, this analytical approach helps execute the UX Research & Design process by

Fundamental Checkpoints in Discovery Phase

Listed below are basic fundamental checkpoints that are most commonly followed in a typical UX Discovery Phase scenario:

  1. Study / Read / Understand
  2. Identification / Classification
  3. Recruitment
  4. Scheduling User Interviews
  5. Building Rapport
  6. Observations
  7. Gaining Insights
  8. Consolidated Analysis
  9. Planning UX Strategy
  10. Next Research Phase Journey

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Run Contextual Inquiry
  • Understanding the target audience
  • Competitive Analysis - Comparing with other companies/organizations
  • Investigate user experience hypotheses
  • Assumption Mapping - Validate initial user experience assumptions

(Resource reference - Bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/ux)

What Next?

Setting standards in the Post-Discovery phase, we are now well prepared with a clear vision for the future UX Research Process. We can begin the next phase in the Research phase series with great tenacity- The Empathy phase.

To learn more about the process of in-depth investigative Discovery Phase and other important phases in UX Research, please reach out to our dedicated UX Research Professionals at Radiant Digital.

 


Empathy That Goes Beyond User Experience Research

Empathy is an important human attribute to have in your personal and professional lives. But how does empathy work? And why is empathy a vital part of any user experience research?

In this blog, we explore what it means to incorporate empathy into your business life and how you can use empathy to become a better User Experience Researcher.

What is Empathy?

In practice, empathy can take many forms. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that empathy is the “action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Empathy is about understanding the people around you and responding with emotional intelligence. It is something that you can practice every day and never truly master because empathy will differ with every person you interact with. While it is important to bring empathy to your personal life, it is equally important to understand the role empathy can play in business environments.

Empathy in User Experience Research is All About

Empathy is a big part of User Experience Research because it is about seeing the problems and experiences through the eyes of the users’. It is not easy to accomplish, but if done correctly, this approach can produce extremely valuable information about your users. This data can then be used to help design teams make decisions that are informed by their product users’ needs, likes and dislikes.

When you operate with empathy at the forefront of your mind, you can dig deeper, learn more, and derive more valuable insights. The idea is not to simply solve a need; empathy in user experience is about fully enhancing user lives by taking away unnecessary barriers.

For example, you are building a website, and a quarter of your users are students who are dyslexic. How should you approach your UX design? Instead of designing a standard website and adding an extra font to cater to people with dyslexia, you should design with accessibility in mind right from the beginning.

Consider a range of options like the text to speech, speech recognition, and spell checker. Use your empathy skills to see from the perspectives of dyslexic people and see how your website can be improved to accommodate everyone.

How Can Empathy Enhance Our Daily Lives?

Empathy has tremendous power to enhance our daily lives. With empathy, we can connect to others at a deeper level and understand a variety of perspectives. We can relate to each other with more honesty and learn to be less judgemental. Some people learn empathy from an early age, and it becomes more than just a character trait; it is an integral part of who they are.

Empathy is powerful, and therefore it needs to be treated with caution. As with most things, it is all about balance. You need to have a healthy amount of empathy for those around you, but you also need to take care of yourself, or you will suffer from empathy burnout and fatigue.

If empathy doesn't come naturally to you, there are plenty of ways to develop your empathetic side. In an article by Clair Cain Miller in the New York Times, Miller suggested a number of ways people can improve their empathy:

  • Talk to New People: Instead of staring at your phone, start conversations with strangers while waiting in line, while on a train, or at the grocery store. Fully and actively listen. Be curious about people with different backgrounds than you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Get Involved With a Shared Cause: We are more alike than different. Volunteer and get involved with something that is close to your heart. In doing so, you will not only help yourself, but you will also learn about yourself and your capacity for empathy. Learn about all the different people involved in making a difference and join in.
  • Admit Your Biases: We all have biases. They are an innate aspect of our human nature. Acknowledge your biases and move forward with curiosity while actively working on avoiding making conclusions about people, places, and things around you through mental shortcuts.

Takeaways

You can learn plenty from making empathy a significant part of your daily business life. A team aware of the power of empathy will more often than not be able to work better together and create products that address real consumer issues.

Who knows? If you want to have a long and fruitful career in User Experience Research, you have to work on your empathy skills all the time actively. If empathy doesn’t come naturally, you can always test Claire Cain Miller’s suggestions and see what happens.

Ultimately, working on empathy beyond user experience research will make you more aware and appreciative of others. This will improve the way you live your life and the way you do your work. Why not give it a try?

To learn more about how empathy informs user experience research, please contact our UX experts.


UX Design Principles for Augmented Reality

What is UX design for Augmented Reality?

User experience design is the process of designing a product, service, or website that takes the real needs of the users into account. Excellent UX design places the user at the center and enables a seamless flow of information or interaction. It is about intuition, empathy, and human psychology.

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that allows designers to enhance the perception of the real, physical world using computer-generated content. With augmented reality apps, UX design offers a seamless blend of software and hardware. AR experiences depend on the user’s natural environment, so the UX must be spatial, interactive, and contextual. This is quite a hard balance to strike.

To create a great AR experience, it is helpful to follow a few key UX design principles that we’ve highlighted below

The Five Pillars of Great UX for Augmented Reality

Interaction and visual interest are at the heart of every UX element for augmented reality. Users want to enter a virtual, augmented space and do not want to be distracted by unimportant or unappealing details. Keep these five principles in mind when designing UX for AR:

1.   Environment

AR experiences are spatially and intimately connected with the real world. The UX experience must therefore be tailored to the environment and capable of adapting to any environment the user finds themselves in.

As designers, one of the best ways to learn about how to use the environment effectively is by getting out of your office and experimenting in the real world. In general, the environment can be categorized in four distinct ways regarding the distance from the user:

  • Intimate Space
  • Personal Space
  • Social Space
  • Public Space

Designers must try to think creatively about each type of environmental space and how the UX will change in each one.

2.   Onboarding

Making your AR user experience friendly and engaging can be pretty challenging. By focusing on user onboarding, you will give yourself the best chance to make your UX enjoyable and practical. Often, you can’t just rely on basic markers and overlays to deliver the information. You must complete the onboarding experience more interactive, intuitive, and, most importantly, fun!

3.   Movement

How does your product or service integrate with your users’ habits and needs? Movement is the key to engaging your users’ minds and allowing them to understand the experience physically and psychologically.

An AR experience should make full use of the space around the user and enhance the way users interact with the real world. To understand movement as a designer, you have to get out of your seat and experiment with how your experience works in real space.

Your AR app may visually guide the user, but it’s important not to dictate specific directions and instead grant the user some freedom with the way they move.

4.   User Interface

User Interface (UI) in AR can consist of augmented reality elements and traditional screen space. As a designer, you may need to design different yet interchangeable UI experiences for both. This presents a significant but exciting challenge to designers and developers.

How can you use UI in the augmented space to boost immersion and deliver new experiences? Alternatively, how can you use screen space UI to provide crucial information and enhance the AR experience? These are some of the questions you should be asking when thinking about the interaction between UI and AR.

5.   Interaction

In the world of AR, interaction is different. In regular apps, there are quite a few limitations on the user experience. With AR, you can expand the user experience and experiment with your interactions.

Users can move the entire device to initiative functionalities and move between various spatial interactions. It is important to make these interactions as intuitive and responsive as possible to ensure users get the most out of your features and continue to engage with your designs.

Excelling in the Realm of Augmented Reality

Paying attention to these five pillars will give yourself and your team the best chance of succeeding in your augmented reality pursuits. The potential for AR development is exciting. So, anyone involved in design and UX should be looking to AR as a new avenue to be explored.

To learn more about UX design principles and augmented reality, please contact our UX experts.


Understand the Role of UX Personas in Digital Design

In the world of UX and design, a ‘Persona’ is the embodiment of a particular user type. If you work in user experience, you may want to create personas based on the research you’ve done into your customer base to understand who uses your service or product and who might use it in the future.

By creating personas, you will be able to understand your user’s experiences, desires, goals, and behaviors. In this blog, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about personas in design and how you can create your own engaging personas.


Personas in Design Thinking

As a designer, it can be quite easy sometimes to forget the big picture. You might become so consumed by the minutiae that you lose focus on the user. And the user is the most important part of any design process. How are you solving your users’ problems? How are you making their lives easier? What is the next step on the user journey?

These are the kinds of questions you can answer when you start creating personas. A persona will provide you with meaningful archetypes that will help you formulate your design development process. Then you can start asking the right questions and make the most of your customer base.

It is common for designers to start creating functional personas during the second phase, the ‘Define’ phase. In this phase of the design process, designers can synthesize their research from the first phase and start progressing with their large perspective on the end product. Using personas is one method that can allow designers to move easily from the ‘Define’ phase to the ‘Ideation’ phase. The personas will be the link and allow ideation sessions to be more focused and productive.

Different Perspectives on Personas

1.    Goal-Directed Personas

This perspective is pretty straightforward because it’s also about what your users want. “What will the typical user want to do with my product?” That’s the key question you want to be asking yourself if you’re interested in a goal-directed persona.

The objective of a goal-directed persona is to take a close look at the process and the workflow that your user is likely to use to achieve their goals. This perspective can help you discover whether there are design elements that hinder the overall flow of interacting with your product or service. This perspective helps you get right down to the nitty gritty and examine what really matters to your users.

Goal-directed personas are largely inspired by American software designer and programmer Alan Cooper who is recognized as the “Father of Visual Basic.”

2.    Engaging Personas

Approaching personas from an engaging perspective is about the ability of stories to produce connection, insight, and understanding. Humans have a great capacity for empathy when we are presented with a story. Through stores, it is possible to create vivid descriptions of fictitious people, things, and ideas.

The purpose of the engaging perspective is to use stories to help designers move beyond generic stereotypes and allow them to envision real personas interacting with their product, service, or site.

If you are struggling to understand a particular persona, you can adopt an engaging perspective to try to feel more connected with them.

3.    Fictional Personas

The fictional persona is about using your past experiences with your customer base to create a picture of what a typical user looks like today. This process will be based on assumptions, data, and personal experience. As a result, these kinds of personas can be quite flawed and may show you exactly what not to do. They can be used as an initial sketch and, after more research and data collection, can adapt over time.

4.    Role-Based Personas

A role-based perspective on personas is another way to help you focus on behavior. The personas that result from a role-based perspective are often driven by data from qualitative and quantitative sources.

Renowned computer researcher Jonathan Grudin and UX expert Tamara Adlin are both keen advocates of this approach to creating personas. By thinking about the roles users typically play in real life, designers can better understand their own roles. This perspective will also help teams make design decisions that encompass a variety of roles.

Steps to Creating Engaging Personas and Scenarios

  1. Collect targeted and relevant data
  2. Form a hypothesis
  3. Make sure everyone accepts the hypothesis
  4. Establish a number of personas
  5. Build and describe your personas
  6. Prepare situations for your personas
  7. Get acceptance from your organization
  8. Spread the knowledge
  9. Create valuable scenarios for your personas
  10. Make continuous ongoing adjustments

These few basic steps will help you create engaging personas that further your ideas and help you improve your design process. Each step is about getting to know your users and allowing your team to form a good idea of your audience.

Using Personas to Improve Design

Learning and exploring how personas function within design and UX will let you know how to get the most out of your team and your ideas. As well as engaging with the four different perspectives on personas and seeing where your view fits in, it’s worth following the steps we’ve laid out to help you create your personas and scenarios.

Please get in touch with our UX experts to learn more about the importance of personas in design and UX research.


Empathy Mapping - The First Step to Understanding the Problem

How do you understand your user? What role does empathy play in the world of design? And once you know more about your users, how do you use that data to inform your designs?

All of these questions are at the heart of the practice of empathy mapping. In this blog, we’ll be exploring what empathy mapping is and how it can help to improve UX design.

What is an Empathy Map?

An empathy map is a tool used by designers to understand and visualize user behavior. It is a simple tool capable of encompassing complex ideas, workflows, and patterns. Empathy maps can be used to work through concepts and to communicate findings to colleagues and other departments.

With an empathy map, you can unite a team under a shared understanding of a user base and start creating products and services that connect with people on a deep level. Dave Gray, the founder of the strategic design consultancy XPLANE, was the person that first had the idea to make empathy maps part of the design process, and this idea has caught on throughout the design world.

Gray envisioned that the empathy map would limit miscommunication and misunderstanding concerning users and target audiences. An empathy map should be the tool to visualize all the findings you receive from user research. It will allow designers to present data in an easily digestible format.

Ideally, it should take a designer no more than 20 minutes to create an empathy map on a whiteboard or a piece of paper. It’s a simple exercise that allows designers to gain a greater perspective on their user base, discover gaps in user research, and highlight the work that still needs to be done to understand the user entirely.

Best Practice Tips:

  • Fill out the Empathy Map
    • Review your research and fill out the four quadrants while asking yourself:
      • What did the user say?
      • What did the user do?
      • What did the user think
      • How did the user feel?
    • As you work your way around the map, you will get deeper and deeper into the psyche of your user. First, you recognize how they behave; then, you will dig into why they behave that way.
  • Synthesize Needs
    • What are your users’ needs? Remember, needs, in this context, should be verbs, not nouns. If you need help, use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to help you understand and define the needs of your users. Then write these all down.
  • Synthesize Insights
    • By exploring user actions and motivations and translating this information into a set of ‘needs,’ y’ will be able to draw various insights.
    • Often, insights can arise when you notice surprising or novel behavior.
    • Write down your insights.

Why Should You Use Empathy Maps?

 There are two key reasons why you should make empathy maps a regular part of your design process:

1. They help you to understand a user or persona:

The purpose of an empathy map is to understand the user. By understanding your users, you can make better designs and build more authentic relationships. An empathy map can help you categorize and appreciate qualitative research. Moreover, the mapping process will help you discover gaps in your knowledge and allow you to uncover hidden insights about your users.

2. They help you to communicate:

Once you have all this data about your user, what should you do with it? An empathy map is a concise and coherent way to communicate user attitudes and behaviors to people in your team and beyond. Designing anything complex, you will probably be working with various departments. An empathy map is a convenient shorthand to help you spread the message about who your users are and what they want.

Key Points to Remember

Empathy mapping is a practice that works best within a team environment. It will help you to understand the user and the thoughts of the designers within your team. You can look through the eyes of the user, empathize with their story and start creating.

Some of the key points to remember as you go on to create your empathy maps include:

  • Know your subject and decide on the scope of the empathy map.
  • Collect and simplify all relevant data.
  • Fill out your map logically.
  • Complete the outer sections of the map before moving on to the center sections.
  • Reflect on the content of the empathy map; what have you discovered?
  • Draw precise conclusions and use them to inform your designs.

Please get in touch with our UX experts to understand empathy mapping and its role in the design.