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.


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.


Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists

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

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

Dropdown Lists

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

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

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

Listboxes

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

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

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

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

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Dropdown Lists

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Listboxes

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

Using Listboxes and Dropdown Lists in Your Designs

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

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

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

 

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


White Space in UX Design

White space is a technique used when creating design layouts to ensure that your page's important elements and content have room to breathe. Using white space is quite simple. Whether you want to emphasize an image, a graphic, or some text, all you need to do is leave blank space around the particular item you want users to focus on. Space is an important and often underrated design element that significantly influences the user experience.

Below we’ve highlighted a few types of white space and what makes white space so crucial for effective UX design.

Types of White Space

When designing for websites and applications, smartphones, or tablets, negative space is key to the usability and visual appeal of the user experience. Which elements are drawing the user’s eye? Are their items on the page that are partially obscured or easily ignorable? These are the kind of questions you need to ask when thinking about your use of white space.

There are two types of white spaces:

  1. Macro-space: this refers to the empty space between the main elements of the web page or app interface and the space around each element.
  2. Micro-space: this refers to the small gaps within each element, such as line spacing in the text, and the gaps between images, graphics, and logos.

                                              

       

Both types of white space can help draw the eye, improve the readability of the content, and direct users to the critical elements on the page.

The Importance of White Space in UX Design

It can be tempting to cram as much information as possible onto the page or screen. Indeed. Many designers will be afraid of losing their user’s attention. As a result, they may overcompensate by making their pages cluttered, and they will neglect the value of whitespace. Users do not need to see everything all at once. White space can create a degree of separation between content and ensure that the page or interface is visually balanced. White space is all about the area between design elements.

Even though it is called white space, it does not have to be white. White space can be any color, pattern, background image, or texture as long as it is distinct from the foreground content. The three vital elements to consider when designing negative space are Legibility (Can the user read the content?), Focus (Does the white space guide the user through the content?), and Tone (Does the white space contribute to the tone of the overall design?).

Let’s look at some of the advantages of white space, which will help illustrate the important role in UX design.

Key Advantages:

  • Improves legibility

When white space is used effectively, it ensures that all elements on the page are easy to read and understand. Micro-spacing is particularly important to legibility. Macro-spacing can also separate paragraphs, headings, and key graphics.

  • Connects multiple visual elements

White space allows you to create a balance of content throughout the page and connect various visual elements. With white space, you lead the reader’s eye from one place to another and make the whole reading process feel natural and linear.

  • Ensures the page is clean and uncluttered

White space helps the page feel clean and prevents the user from getting distracted. It is key to balance information, style, and freedom to ensure the page feels purposeful and aesthetically pleasing.

  • Add style to the page

White space can help create a tone and establish your brand’s style. Designers have been using negative space to create atmosphere and emphasize visual elements for years, and this same ethos can also apply in the digital realm.

  • Directs user attention to the main elements

Where do you want to direct the user’s attention? White space can help UX designers create a coherent user experience that guides readers from one main visual element to the next. In general, the more space you have around an item, the more attention it can attract. With this technique, designers can encourage users to focus on clickable items, important features, and logos.

Making the Most of Your White Space

White space is key to enhancing your online content. By paying attention to exactly how much white space is used and where it is used, you will be able to design a user experience that is engaging and visually appealing. Every UX design decision, including those related to white space, should be informed by a purpose and a willingness to make something that engages and grows your user base.

To learn more about using space in digital design, feel free to contact our UX experts at Radiant digital.


Why the User Experience Inside the Car is just as Important as Outside the Car

Electric vehicles have been around for a long time. Still, they have experienced somewhat of a renaissance in the last ten years with the emergence of industry-leading companies like TeslaThe number of electric passenger cars used globally increased from close to zero to 10.2 million between 2010 and 2020. Owning an electric vehicle has become more affordable, practical, and fashionable. In electric cars, several topics draw particular attention within the industry. One of the most critical issues for manufacturers, designers, and users is charging stations. In this post, we wanted to highlight how the user experience of EV charging stations has evolved and how it can improve in the future. 

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations 

The history of electric vehicles is longer than most people expect. Since the 1800s, electric cars have been used worldwide, but the 'Charging Station' concept didn't become apparent until the 2010s. Today, EV Charging Stations, otherwise known as Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, are sprouting up everywhere across the U.S. and the world. In the past, you would have had to swap your battery out for a whole new battery for your electric vehicles to run for an extended period. Tesla wanted to break that mold. So they developed the first charging station for electric cars. It works just the same as a gas or petrol station. Drivers pull up to a charging station, pay, and plug in their vehicle. 

Nowadays, with thousands of charging stations across the United States, it's hard to imagine not seeing this simplistic approach to building a network of charging stations. But that wasn't always the case. Tesla had to make the first step and got a headstart on many other electric vehicle companies. This has been reflected in how different companies currently run their charging stations and how many struggles to keep up with Tesla's EV charging station experience. 

Image: Tesla Model S

Emerging Problems 

So what problems are companies experiencing in their attempts to keep up with the established UX of Tesla's charging stations? 

Many companies struggled with identifying users early on and did not know how to manage their user base to hold an RFID card to pay at their stations. This was one of the old pain points of EV charging stations, but plenty of pain points still emerge today. For example, today, many EV charging stations are still excessively loud during the charging process. Additionally, the cable lengths at the charging stations are often inconveniently short, and it can be difficult for users to even plug in their vehicle. 

On top of these problems sometimes even the charging station is broken and it's impossible to charge up your vehicle. Many charging stations also lack weather protection. Although this is not a vital issue, it still dramatically impacts the user experience. There are several problems with EV charging stations, and currently, the charging network in many countries is fractured.  

Tesla dominates the world of EV charging, and in 2020 they will own 7,600 supercharger stations compared to 1,400 owned by ChargePoint in North America. The good news for EV owners is that many proprietary networks like Tesla's charging stations are opening up to all EV owners. This increased accessibility is key to the future of electric vehicles. So, how can companies improve their network and make better use of previously proprietary networks that are now becoming more accessible? 

Solving the Urgent EV User Experience Problems

EV owners' central pain point is finding a place to charge their vehicles. In the past, it's hard to imagine owners not having to worry about where they might charge up. Many car companies have struggled with this dilemma since creating the cars themselves. Tesla has spent time perfecting the user experience of their charging station, and their work has been groundbreaking. A massive benefit for Tesla is that they are a software company more than a car company. This has a significant impact on how their EV charging network is displayed and run. They have a system that is attuned to modern user sensibilities, and they understand how the details of their interface impact their customer's experience. 

Tesla has solved the big user experience problem ("Where can I charge my vehicle?") by allowing drivers to set GPS routes and auto-populate the closest charging stations to help drivers never feel lost when they need to charge up. Furthermore, Tesla also provides users with detailed information on how fast a station charges, how much it costs to charge at a particular station, whether it's out of order or occupied by another car. Finding an EV charging station navigation represents all this necessary and valuable user experience information. Other electric car companies must take a cue from Tesla regarding designing their user experience for EV charging stations. They'll succeed by being open, connected, and informative about what is happening on a station-by-station basis. The EV companies that will endure for years to come will make their charging point experience transparent, interactive, and effective. 

To learn more about creating a first-class user experience, feel free to contact our UX experts here at Radiant Digital.


Dark Mode vs. Light Mode: Which is Better?

We spend a lot of time staring at screens. Our reliance on digital interfaces has increased during the pandemic, and our screen time has also arisen. Half of the respondents to a survey taken earlier this year stated that, on average, they spent five to six hours on their phone daily, not including work-related smartphone use. Today, you now have a choice for how the interface on your phone looks. One of the simplest choices that can significantly impact your user experience is whether to go 'Dark Mode' or 'Light Mode.'

In this post, we've explored the debate between Dark Mode vs. Light Mode.

What is Dark Mode?

In the world user interface, 'Contrast Polarity' describes the contrast between the test and the background on a screen. In this context, 'Positive Contrast Polarity' refers to dark text on a light background (Light Mode). And 'Negative Contrast Polarity' refers to light text on a dark background (Dark Mode). Since digital screens first emerged on the market, devices have flicked back and forth between dark and light modes. For a long time, the light mode was the default on modern smartphones, but the dark way has made a strong resurgence in recent years. Dark mode displays produce less light than light mode displays which may affect both power consumption and how we perceive the information presented to us on the screen. To understand the impact of using dark mode compared to light mode, we must look at how the human eye works.

Sensitivity and visual performance

The pupil is a gateway through which light reaches the eye's retina. The human pupil changes size depending on ambient and direct sunlight in the environment. When there is plenty of sunshine, the pupil contracts, and when it is dark, the pupil dilates to let in more light. These biological elements are something that UI and UX designers and developers have to consider when putting together interfaces. For example, when the pupil is smaller, the eye is less susceptible to aberrations and increases the depth of field. In this context, the eye doesn't have to work as hard, and it is less likely to tire.

However, if the pupil is too small, which sometimes happens as we age, not enough light will enter the eye, and our ability to read the text and perceive images on a screen in low ambient light will be impaired. Equally, as we get older, we often become more susceptible to glare, a frustrating element that is more likely under bright sunlight. Beyond a stylistic desire, the creation of dark mode seems to be an attempt to accommodate a wide variety of sensitivities to light. Even though people with normal vision are well catered for with positive contrast polarity, dark mode is a valuable way to broaden the accessibility options for the user interface.

Dark Mode

Advantages

  • May use less energy than light mode allowing your phone battery to last longer.
  • It can potentially lessen eye strain in low-light conditions.
  • Suitable for low-light conditions, especially when you don't want your phone to be a beacon of light, e.g., in bed or a cinema.
  • Preferably to light mode before you sleep because it emits less 'blue light.'

Disadvantages

  • The dark mode is not always suitable for eye strain, as text is sometimes washed out against a dark background.
  • Less valuable if you are surrounded by bright ambient light

Light Mode

Advantages

  • Many web pages, apps, and interfaces will have been optimized for the standard light mode.
  • If you have standard/normal vision, light visual performance is usually better with light mode.

Disadvantages

  • May drain your battery faster than dark mode, depending on your screen.
  • Not discreet.
  • More likely to keep you awake if used before sleep because of the amount of 'blue light' emitted.

Your choice: Dark Mode vs. Light Mode

Ultimately, visual performance tends to be better with light mode for most people. However, some people with cataracts and related disorders may prefer the visuals provided in a dark mode. The advantages of dark mode over light mode also depend on the type and duration of usage. For most people, the decision will come down to personal preference and habit. Additionally, the overall effectiveness of either mode can be modified, on the iPhone, by switching on Night Shift or by utilizing True Tone. With every new release and new phone, the accessibility options are growing. This is true for Apple, Samsung, and Google regarding hardware and software.

To learn more about digital interfaces and visual performance, feel free to reach out to our UX experts.


Five Stages of Design Thinking to become a UX Designer

UX designers are under constant pressure to innovate and solve complex user problems with empathy. In addition, they need to foster product design innovation to gain a distinctive competitive advantage, including infusing a design-driven culture with a customer-first approach. Radiant Digital implements “Design Thinking” to connect the dots between human desirability, economic viability, and design feasibility. Read on to understand the principles of the Design Thinking process and its five stages of implementation.

Defining Design Thinking

Invented by Stanford University’s d.school as an approach to technical and social innovation, Design Thinking is an ideological process that seeks to solve complex problems and derive solutions in a user-centric way. It focuses on achieving the following results and practical solutions with a designer’s mindset and user’s perspective.

  • Technically feasible: They fit into the technical specifications of functional products or processes.
  • Economically viable: Businesses can afford to implement them.
  • Desirable for the user: They cater to fundamental human needs.

Design Thinking is all about getting hands-on and converting ideas into tangible and viable products or processes at the earliest. The Design Thinking Process entails steps that materialize ideas by building prototypes that leverage designer empathy for users.

The Process of Design Thinking and Why it Matters

The Design Thinking process is a non-linear solution-focused framework that encourages creative thinking to develop products that address diverse user problems. The five crucial stages of Design Thinking enable designers to develop ideas and perspectives, design innovatively, and test prototypes for existing and novel concepts from the user’s perspective. Each stage may spark new ideas or findings in the user journey, inspiring new iterations for the completed phase. The five stages of the Design Thinking process would induce creators to examine new and untested angles constantly. But first, it’s essential to understand the core principles that shape these stages.

Design Thinking Principles

Design Thinking processes are built on these five foundational principles.

Empathy and User-centricity: Design Thinking focuses on user empathy to design an innovative product and organically meet users' needs. Thus, understanding and empathizing are critical to ensure that the solutions resonate with the users’ perspectives and needs.

Collaboration: Innovation is possible when diverse ideas, opinions, and perspectives converge. The Design Thinking approach encourages heterogeneous and multidisciplinary teams to work cohesively.

Ideation: Ideation is a core design principle and a step in the Design Thinking process. Designing thinking is all about bringing multiple ideas to the table without judgment to find as many solutions as possible instead of focusing on results.

Experimentation and Iteration: Design Thinking, an iterative approach, requires experimenting with different ideas, converting them into prototypes, testing them, and making changes based on the user’s feedback. In addition, design iterations help uncover and fix loopholes in your proposed solution.

A Bias towards Action: This principle of Design Thinking shows that the approach is inclined towards action rather than discussion. Instead of hypothetical assumptions on what users want, Design Thinking encourages engaging in interactions. It involves testing prototypes in the real world for various user contexts.

Five Stages of the Design Thinking Process

1. Empathy

This stage involves sitting down with real users and noting their perspectives, points of view, and expectations. Then, designers can get unbiased introspections into human-centric problems to build a crucial bridge between the target user and the solution being designed. Some of the actions Designers can take during this stage are:

  • Consulting SMEs for insights.
  • Handling an issue personally for a better understanding of a user’s POV.
  • Having profound conversations about a topic with users and peers.
  • Finally, immersing oneself in a user’s environment.

Empathy helps uncover a user’s motivations and experiences that will ultimately blend with a designer’s product.

2. Define

Here, designers can succinctly articulate a design challenge or problem using Analysis and Synthesis. Then, after understanding the user’s perspective through empathizing, the designer can integrate it into the human-centric issue at hand and outline the problem statement. This stage involves:

  • Analyzing the gathered data from empathy and synthesizing the information for problem definition.
  • Second, defining what the user needs in line with the problem statement, their challenges, and solutions.
  • Third, outlining the solution based on company-centered thinking and human-centered thinking.

3. Ideate

This stage leans heavily on how creative and inventive a designer is in solving the defined problem. Without concerns over scalability and budget, designers need to think out-of-the-box. At this point, designers will get a workable understanding of their user base without focus on the limitations. Brainstorming, continuous discussions, and idea-sharing with team members prepare designers to taste success by garnering trust and confidence. Some of the methods include Brainstorm, Challenge Assumptions, Storyboard, Creative Pause, and Crowdstorm.

4. Prototype

Here, an idea is converted into scaled-down and inexpensive prototypes like sketches, models, or digital versions. The testing ground is set where many facts and truths come to light in the virtual environment. Better decision-making involves designers working using target individual problem-solution scenarios and advanced knowledge of limitations and roadblocks. Designers gain clear visibility into user behaviors, reactions, and expectations.

5. Test

Testing allows designers to understand how the prototype works with real users and data. Then, you can run the test, observe the results, take feedback from users, and make the necessary improvements. Testing is often iterative and involves designers rolling out multiple prototypes for different datasets and change factors within an idea. Without extensive testing and refinements, user experiences and solutions will have difficulty scaling. Testing may also “restart” other design thinking processes such as creativity, as new ideas may spark additional proposed solutions.

Implementing Design Thinking in Design Sprints

Design sprints allow teams to finalize their critical business goals using a compressed version of these stages to efficiently design, prototype, and test. During a sprint, designers run through the end-to-end design thinking process within a week. This is useful since sprints don’t necessitate full feature-building or a product launch. Sprints help gain design visibility from quick prototype iterations instead of waiting for the final product launch to initiate testing.

The Take-Away

In essence, the Design Thinking process is focused, flexible and iterative, where the designer-user collaboration will define the success of all stakeholders.

If you want to know how the Design Thinking process can be applied to your customer context and solution, connect with our experts today! 


Relating UX Design to Visual Design for Meaningful Interactions

In the world of design, UI and UX are often used interchangeably. However, designers have to merge aesthetics, usability, component placement, layout, spacing, and typography to create meaningful and functional interfaces. All these factors of visual design influence significant interactions and drive conversions for a business. All of this sums up to User Experience (UX), a broader term in design. UX Design is a designing process that supports the user’s behavior and includes usability, desirability, and relevance to improve the interactions with a product. On the contrary, visual design is about enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a product/service. The common approaches to improving visual design include adding a new color, layout, spacing, etc. The problems with visual design can discourage users from discovering all the intelligent choices for navigation or interactions in a design. Therefore, a visual design should focus on the essential elements and actions that a user is expected to perform. It should make designs balanced, fresh, robust, and functional. In recent times, designers are leveraging UX design more than visual design to deliver exceptional design quality.

Don Norman, the inventor of the term “User Experience,” emphasized its importance with this quote. “No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” This blog will help you better understand UX design and virtual design, how they’re related, and why UX is stronger than Visual Design.

Visual Design – A Closer Look

Visual design focuses on increasing the aesthetic quotient of a product/service. The focus of visual designers is more on placing all the elements carefully so that the user experience is optimized. Visual designers want to drive as much traffic/conversion to an app/website by uplifting the visual representation. Users/website visitors don’t like to spend much time on a website that takes too long to load or is not visually appealing enough. Hence, visual designers also play a critical role.

Visual Design Elements

The fundamental elements used in the visual design space include:

  • Lines: (straight/ geometric/curved/organic) are used to create divisions, shapes, and textures.
  • Shapes: Created using lines, colors, gradients, shadows, etc., to form enclosed areas.
  • Negative space/whitespace: Designers can use the blank area around a visible or “positive” shape to create a figure or calm the design overall.
  • Volume: This is used to display the fullness of three-dimensional images on two-dimensional screens.
  • Value: This is used to relate lightness and darkness utilizing a light source to create shadows and highlights.
  • Color: Using different colors can help set the tone/theme and grab the user’s attention.
  • Texture: This helps provide different variants of an object’s surface.

Guiding Principles of Visual Design

Unity – This relates to the harmony between various page elements. They need to be cohesive and related to ensure that the users aren’t challenged by chaotic (misaligned or disconnected) layouts.

Gestalt – These principles define how people perceive objects and use your design based on their interpretation.

Hierarchy – The most important elements are highlighted using placement, font, color, etc., while the related or less important ones are displayed using a different color/font/placement scheme.

Balance – This ensures the even distribution of elements based on the screen space, orientation, and other factors.

Contrast – This is used to accentuate and emphasize some aspects while dimming the others.

Scale – This helps increase or decrease the emphasis of an element to signify its importance or depth by making it larger or smaller than other elements.

Dominance – This helps use a component’s size, color, shading, etc., to make it stand out.

Defining UX Design 

UX design is about designing an entire process with the intent to improve users’ experience. Some of the essential activities that are part of the UX designing process include integrating products, adding critical branding aspects like logo, theme color, improving the usability of the apps, and so on. UX design is a vast area, and UX designers cover many more activities at once. They always focus on ensuring that the users acquire relevant experience while using an app and their needs are also fulfilled.

Fundamental Principles of UX Design 

Higher Focus on User Needs: It is the most fundamental principle of UX designing. According to this principle, users’ convenience and relevance should be the most crucial aspect of any UX design project. We often observe that designers get influenced by competition, and they end up designing complex websites/apps to impress fellow web designers. What they forget is that the primary aim of UX design is to fulfill the users’ needs.

Consistency: The secret to creating any successful website is consistency. UX designers should ensure that the design and functionalities of all the web pages are the same. Users most often come to your website or download your app with some pre-defined expectations. It is a designer’s responsibility to respect them. And consistency is something most users expect. Consistency saves their time and helps them navigate your website without any confusion.

Context Alignment: Any UX designer must interact with the target users before the designing process. That helps them understand the app context and assists them in the ideation and designing phase. UX designers should consider running user surveys as a “must” activity before starting any designing process. That helps them build a broad idea of what the users need, what they are missing, what they don’t like.

Accessibility: Another essential principle is developing designs that are accessible. By accessible, we mean designs that are available to everyone. The list of “everyone” includes people with disabilities as well. An app that is equally accessible to all groups of people can quickly become a success.

Usability Testing: The final UX design principle is about constant usability testing. The intent is that designers should never stop collecting feedback from the users and run their usability tests even after the website or application goes live. UX designing is an iterative process.

What do UX Designers do? 

UX designers do much more than simply User Interface designing. Apart from designing an entire process, UX designers are also involved in doing the following:

  • Conducting detailed user research
  • Validating the UIs from time to time to ensure users’ needs are met
  • Writing UX copies
  • Presenting the UX design to the marketing team/board members

In short, the responsibilities of a UX designer begin long before the users get hold of the website/app.

How UX Design and Visual Design (UI) Differ?

A virtual design is all about making an application or website look good. It includes creating appeal and organizing elements to:

  • Lead users to a component’s functionality.
  • Improve aesthetic consistency.
  • Remove uncertainty.
  • Reduce cognitive on the user and improve memory.

Alternatively, UX design takes care of website mapping, planning the website flows, focusing on user journeys, and most importantly, help the users navigate across web pages with ease and a logical flow.

To summarize:

  • UX design helps identify and solve user problems, while visual design helps create aesthetically pleasing, intuitive, and interactive interfaces.
  • UX design is the first stage in the product development process that UI follows. The UX designer works on the user journey map (blueprint) while the visual designer fills in the details of the visual and interactive elements.
  • UX refers to a product, service, or experience, while visual design is specific to digital products and experiences.
  • A UX designer needs to consider solving practical design problems (using tasks, user pain points, user research, steps, etc.). In contrast, a visual designer needs to focus only on the various aspects of a design.

How are UX Design and Visual Design Related?

The reality is that both UX Design and Visual Design go hand in hand. Both of these are crucial parts of successfully launching a website or an application. Visual design is an aesthetic extension of UX design. Modern users need more than beautiful and compelling animations on a website. They also seek top-notch functionalities and features. Similarly, users don’t like working on a website that may function as per their expectations but doesn’t look good. So, UX design and visual design are the same tree branches and complement each other. Here’s how UX designers and Visual Designers can work together.

Advantages of UX Design over Visual Design

Better Visibility on the User's Problems: Unlike Visual Design, UX designers have excellent prospects to understand the problems and issues faced by users. UX designers can directly connect with the users to encounter their concerns and to offer them effective solutions. Visual designers don't always get the chance to interact directly with the users. This can create a communication gap. This communication gap often creates roadblocks, and they may not always stay updated with the industry trends.

UX Design can validate the Underlying Concepts: There is no place for any conjecture in UX design. UX designers are constantly testing different products and designs to validate the underlying designs and concepts. However, for visual designers, validation or iterative designs are not part of their job bucket. As a result, their jobs may seem monotonous at times.

UX Design can also Improve Sales and Engagement: Some parts of sales and design may depend on visual designers as individuals can sometimes make decisions based on the visual representation of a website/app. However, in most cases, UX design has a more significant role to play when it comes to increasing sales and engagement. UX designers have a deeper understanding of the users' perceptions, and accordingly, they plan the website template, its projections, its features, etc. It makes their jobs interesting to interact with audiences and to improve a product's longevity based on the interactions.

Concluding Thoughts 

Both UX design and visual design equally contribute to a website or application's professional and successful development. Nevertheless, UX design does have the edge over visual design. UX designers interact closely with target audiences, understand their emotions and expectations, and get a better picture of what to create. That's why they get several chances of skill improvement. On the contrary, visual designers are concerned about the creative aspects, and audience-interaction is not a part of their jobs. That can be a disadvantage at times. Other than that, UX design and Visual design rely on each other to make designs meaningful and exceptional. Connect with Radiant's UX design team to learn more!