The Value of Anthropology in UX Research and UX Design

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

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

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

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

How Anthropology is growing and influencing UX designs

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

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

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

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

1. An approach centered around humans 

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

2. Methodologies used 

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

3. The ability to adapt 

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

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[Fireside Chat] The UX Landscape: Present and Future

In this webinar, our experts, Lam Huynh and Matthew Gessler discuss where things currently stand and emerging trends in the ever-evolving world of UX.

The conversation will explore:
UX Evolution
Role Specialization
Service Design


The Essentials to Acing Remote Design Teams Management

The ongoing pandemic has led to the growing trend of working and managing teams remotely. UX managers need to manage distributed teams in digital industries while facing complex challenges like ensuring efficient development, selling the UX vision to the key stakeholders, getting work done, and studying the varying customer needs. Teams need to ideate, design workflows, organize insights and gather feedback in real-time. What becomes a threat to the UX design collaboration environment is the ‘disconnect’ between participants.

The time spent for decision-making and achieving alignment, if more, translates to dollars lost in the process. Remote UX design teams work with diverse people who bring unique skills to the table. Many companies are switching to remote work to lower operational costs, improve work-life balance, retain talent, and reduce carbon footprint. This has led remote teams’ management to become a sought-after skillset for many managers.

While there are many monetary and operational benefits, remote teams’ management comes with a few drawbacks and challenges that include:

  • Collaboration and communication lags
  • Diminished focus and productivity
  • Scheduling shortfalls
  • Complex task management
  • Work culture disparities
  • Scattered data storage
  • Difficulties in tracking performance and revisions
  • Project workflow(s) streamlining issues

If you’re leading a remote team, you’ll need to figure out:

  • The tools your design teams need to keep work moving forward.
  • Ways to stay in the loop about everything impacting the team and their work.
  • Methods to make design team collaboration and communication seamless.

As a remote-first company, Radiant Digital builds tools and offers team management plans that enable distributed design team collaborations. This blog discusses the different aspects and considerations that influence streamlined remote collaboration for design teams.


Critical Elements for Managing Remote Design Teams like a Pro

Design Systems: Almost always strive to build Design Systems for larger projects. This is essential if you work for multiple long-term clients.

Design Systems help keep everyone honest as they act as the single source of truth for developers, designers, and other involved parties. They also help make onboarding new team members a snap.


Team L&D: Learning influences personal and professional growth, so prioritize spending on employee upskilling. In many cases, with cost savings, team leaders can achieve funding for employee development, especially for remote teams. New design skills’ development and training inspire “Design Thinking” in UX design teams.

It's essential to provide employees with the flexibility to embrace learning based on their interests and the most effective method for the best design outcomes.


Collaboration Software: This goes without saying that collaboration software tools are essential to remote working. Video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Teams, Slack are just scratching the surface of what is needed to make remote teams work effectively. Project management, collaborative design, and prototyping such as Figma are all the rage these days. Make sure you're always looking beyond the horizon to see the latest and effective tools and platforms to help take your game to the next level.


Whiteboard and Cloud-based Tools: Peer review and feedback are essentials to design work collaborations, and physically conceptualizing ideas filters out a lot of the guesswork and uncertainties.

We recommend using digital whiteboards to accomplish better understanding and decision-making when in a remote space. Cloud-based tools help share notes, documents, and digital resources to keep everything accessible across the team and improve transparency. They even help in the concurrent access of data and instantly implement changes at a centralized file location remotely.


WIP Tracking: Communicating work-in-progress (WIP) for active projects is an essential yet painful task. Images shared in project tracking tools can get lost in the noise, feedback can fade away while you can't measure the context or sense of progression easily.

We recommend using a single Paper document created by the designer to track their progress. The entire team can access this document. The designer will have to make an entry for work and share it with the team. They can quickly slide in a few screens and annotate some of the areas for discussion. This can be accompanied by a short walkthrough video as well.


Tips for leading Remote Design Teams with 100% Confidence

Collaborate Cross-functionally: A design lead can prevent the fragmented communication between engineering, PM, and design departments using an Artboard with instant messaging features and task tracking features. With cross-functional collaboration, decisions and clarifications come out in the open rather than being buried in JIRA comments and Slack threads.


Design Reviews: (or critiques) are essential to put design teams on the right track and fine-tune their work. Individual projects often establish a review cadence, but design teams can also host comprehensive reviews. This would help build trust and strengthen communication channels. We suggest doing it weekly. This allows for the sharing of best practices, learning, and recognizing work overlaps. It provides a significant touchpoint where you can assess people’s moods, behaviors, and general approaches to different design tasks.


Remote Design Approvals: Managers must request a review from key stakeholders and designated project reviewers. When everyone gives the go-ahead, the team manager can ask designers to merge their branches. Once all the required components are integrated into the master, everyone gets access to the latest data.


Track Metrics: When leading a distributed team, focus on the metrics that matter like turnaround, effort estimation, cost-to-effort valuations, etc. Instead of worrying about how someone works, focus on objectives, outcomes, and behavior in a quantified manner. The goal would be to ensure that a remote UX designer completes their tasks promptly, within the set cost thresholds, and does so professionally. It is essential to focus on what is being accomplished than on how it is completed.


Prepare Beforehand to Prevent Poor Performance: Encourage your teams to prepare as many ‘known’ factors in advance to reduce the chances of a poor presentation. It is essential to document what you can control ahead of time.

  • Communicate meeting details like Dial-in information, participant instructions, and video links ahead of time to reduce delays or interruptions during the presentation.
  • Prepare the team: Set a meeting with each designer or group before the presentation to review all necessary information.
  • Have a backup plan: If you're facilitating a live demo, have a plan in place for team members to take over or step in if another is unable to present at that last minute.


Create Appropriate Leadership Infrastructure: Depending on how large your remote teams are, UX design team managers may need leadership assistance. Here are some questions to ask before helming the responsibility.

  • Are you the most suited person to lead the team?
  • Are you able to keep up with various design team members and their roles?
  • Do you prioritize your design tasks over management responsibilities?
  • How do your team members perceive your leadership?

The remote delegation of tasks and leadership responsibilities requires careful planning. Giving other team members a chance to advance is an excellent quality in a leader. Additionally, there are other effective ways to accomplish your project's design milestones remotely.

  • Show appreciation for excellent work: Remote teams miss out on receiving positive visual cues from the in-person conversation. It's this important to praise sincere efforts on a stand-up call explicitly. After all the dust has settled, take time to reflect on the wins, innovations, and triumphs. Celebrating even the most minor victories can have tremendous effects on team morale and attitude.
  • Incentivizing high performance: Designers can feel detached from work when away from their work environment. Introducing material incentives for high performers can help designers feel invested in the quality of their work.
  • Providing constructive feedback: Leaders need to be explicit when requesting changes or adjustments from employees. Professional feedback and a work-oriented approach enable better cooperation and faster deliveries. Just as crucial as recognizing accomplishments is identifying the shortfalls and devising a plan to tackle them. Constantly challenging everyone to improve helps to keep the team growing and engaged.
  • Maintaining a culture of open dialogue: A manager must foster transparency to avoid employee disconnect with work and colleagues. Take ownership to facilitate the free flow of design, information, thoughts, and ideas.

As much as you can, get everyone involved in running meetings, planning projects, conducting research, etc. Allow your team to develop the skills to take their careers to the next level.


Play to your team's strengths: Every UX design team is different, and team members have different styles and approaches to work. Empowering them to do better rather than forcing them to conform to your preferred method is a leadership virtue preferred in remote interactions.

Carefully planning your remote design team management increases design productivity and assures desired outcomes. By doing this, you can:

  • Create the ideal space for creativity.
  • Foster new ideas.
  • Help your team absorb different perspectives.
  • Provide a professional work environment where deadlines are met with shared workloads.
  • Ensure continuous project success.


Wrapping up

Remote presentations are convenient and enable seamless communication in different time-zones at a magnitude in-person presenting does not afford. Leading a team that thrives in a creative, collaborative, and visual environment can be extra challenging remotely. With the right strategies and approach, remote management can help set the stage for smoother execution or a call to action. This will improve the mission and vision of your UX design projects.

Your team's output doesn't need to suffer because of distance. You can meet all your daily goals without compromising on work quality. Ask us how.

Ten Must-Have Qualities of a Compelling UX Designer

The UX design domain is demanding and constantly changing because of the evolving technology trends and creative needs.

To cater to the dynamics of UX design, hiring the right UX talent is paramount. If you're a designer looking for a career switch to UX design, it's essential to understand what makes you a good fit to pursue a UX career.

As a recruiter, hiring a UX designer can be quite challenging with shrinking budgets but growing skill demands.

Even after getting some qualified candidates into the interview queue, what characteristics should you look for to determine the right hire?

Looking for these qualities can help evaluate a potential UX design candidate while letting your team provide relevant and constructive feedback to someone.

Aside from the apparent practical knowledge and skills that a designer needs on the UX principles, research fundamentals, and techniques, there's a flip side to the coin related to a person's traits and mindset.

This blog will discuss the must-have traits of a UX designer sought by every design-first enterprise.

Solving Problems

The secret to succeeding as a designer is to love solving problems in design. Designers must recognize that the present reality is changeable through reasoning and the right technique.

Great designers look at a problem from multiple angles and regularly question things. If something doesn't make sense, they'll ask more questions with a liberal frame of mind. They would also persuade the end-users to engage in the design.

A UX designer puts himself/herself in the end-user's shoes and goes beyond just checking off a task. They would probe further to understand the actual user need by testing the design in multiple environments.

They go even further to suggest alternate solutions or are quick to determine if a specific problem needs solving.

Prioritizing problems is another unique trait of a UX designer. UX designers are more of the explorer with the motto "never take the straight line," driven by curiosity.

A good designer is a continuous learner that is focused on holding the bull by its horns.

User-centric Disposition

A self-centric UX designer can never see the ocean beyond the shores. An empathetic designer always wins the end-user support and comes up with a successful design.

They must not fear criticism and be egoistic for the best outcomes.

The end goal should always be the best product for the end-user and for the business creating it.

Practical UX designers would understand where research, prototyping, and testing fit the design process and user's needs. They would add value to the user's digital design journey through generative vs. evaluative research.

An intelligent UX designer would listen to the end-user, provide valuable inputs, and empower the customer by applying user insights to their designs.

Here's what empathetic UX designers do.

  • Practice listening more.
  • Allow conversations to be as open and detailed as possible.
  • Empathize with people with whom your ideas may not align.
  • Validate others' viewpoints/perspectives with examples.

Strategic and Analytical Thinking

This includes the systems thinking approach, where they look at the big picture while working through details.

A design-conscious designer would demonstrate where a product fits into a design ecosystem in multiple scenarios. An analytical mind can solve problems faster and make ad hoc changes to a design based on customer demands.

Good designers explore the quantity and quality of ideas with information as a valuable asset.

They should be critical strategists who are visionaries in the design domain. They think of using proven patterns and interaction models before using new and untried ones.

A compelling UX expert always works on calculated risks instead of shooting in the dark.

The considerations to make while grooming an analytical mind include:

  • Set aside time to determine how data affects design.
  • Gain experience in providing design rationale.
  • Use patterns and user data to design digital products.


In addition to being engaging presenters, an ideal UX designer must clearly articulate their design rationale.

Since communication is a two-way lane, customers look for UX designers who are good listeners.

Customers prefer subject matter experts who would answer their questions directly without reservation.

Team communication is another critical area that contributes to the success of design projects.

Here are some tips that would help:

  • Look for common ground and build a connection.
  • Listen actively.
  • Keep track of deadlines and work allocation.
  • Assign responsibility and accountability.
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Be genuine with communication.
  • Embrace the art of storytelling.


The one who leads the pack leads the design. Leading by example is a fundamental quality of a UX designer that is respected by all.

Leadership is a rare quality that is a necessity in many UX design teams. UX designers must lead a team to consensus instead of letting them hang by a thread.

They would take ownership not just of their actions and decisions but of the collective team as well.

Taking tough decisions and smart risks would entitle the UX designer to become a good leader at work.

A UX designer with crucial leadership skills would steer the ship in the right direction while being responsible and responsive.


Many UX designers start well but lose focus somewhere along the way in their design journey.

Catering to mission-critical projects open-mindedly is a great plus. Just focusing on meeting deadlines could kill the creativity of a UX designer.

The main ingredient for a mission-oriented approach is the passion for design and experimentation.

A UX designer must understand the core values of the company and its mission.

Pulling in the right resources, techniques, and people to enrich a design project comes with a mission-oriented approach to design.

Cultural Contribution

Setting into and representing the company values are essential traits of a successful UX designer.

Being culturally-oriented and paving the way for cultural unity through design is crucial in a global business environment.

UX designers must contribute unique skills to the team. This requires a unique blend of multiple cultures that inspire. A profound respect for corporate and personal culture will help a UX designer understand a person's background and merge it with a company's vision.

Through valuable cultural contributions, a UX designer can inspire the best in his/her team.


What is design without innovation? The real value for innovation in design is derived from its designer, who puts his/her best foot forward.

Sticking to elementary design principles and practices is essential. But, customers always look for something new or fresh.

Research is the primary catalyst to design innovation. Functional designs are born from innovative thinking from UX designers.

Having an aptitude for learning new things and applying them makes UX designers pioneers in their field.

User experience is a broad and cross-disciplinary domain. Continual learning and upskilling is key to mastering new design tools and techniques.

Copying a design is a subconscious tendency but coping with innovation needs a conscious application of knowledge.

Paying Close Attention to Detail

A UX design is all about detail and functionality, in addition to aesthetics and appeal.

A good design takes effort, concentration, and time. Detail-orientation gives designers the ability to dish out compelling designs in less time without much negative feedback from critics.

The resultant design becomes more effective while the risk of making significant mistakes is minimized.

Employers tend to expect deeper and quicker attention to detail from their designers. This trait helps designers churn out accurate and high-quality designs.

A right eye for detail is a gift that helps deliver ROI-generating designs in less time.

Developing attention to detail is easy with the following:

  • Use checklists often.
  • Iterate ideas and review work with the team more often.
  • Practice dividing big tasks into smaller ones.
  • Channelize your positive energies in the right design endeavor.
  • Practice shutting off distractions.


A UX designer's strength is his/her capability to collaborate because UX design is a team effort.

A UX family that designs together succeeds together.

Understanding colleagues, peers, and managers and responding to their needs help UX designers remove doubts, inconsistencies, and fears.

UX designers must gauge what their primary contributions are to their team.

A good UX designer would be a team player with a good understanding of vertical and peer communication.

This includes high levels of transparency in communicating with product managers, engineers, and researchers.

Being flexible at work and open to feedback are the two significant traits every manager looks for in a designer.

Dealing with conflicts and navigating team challenges would make for a promising UX designer capable leader at heart.

With team collaboration, you can:

  • Understand how others think and reason with a design process.
  • Understand how effective your design is.
  • Open up to new experiences.
  • Gather valuable inputs from experienced and skilled people.

Wrapping up

Being a UX designer is a lot of effort, but it's a rewarding experience.

To chase your dreams as a designer, we recommend mastering the design and the traits mentioned above.

You may never know how these qualities would inspire a genius design.

At Radiant Digital, we evaluate a designer with 1-on-1 interviews, team presentations, in-person work sessions, reference checks, cover letters, and emails. 

Above all, we work with passionate designers who check the boxes for these essential qualities.

Why Data Privacy Matters - An Inside Look

As the world becomes more digitized, billions of internet users provide personal information or sensitive data like credit card details online. Though some online businesses provide a secure channel on their websites for transactions, data privacy issues are still enormous. This is causing unprecedented privacy incidents and inconveniences.

The darker side of not handling privacy thoughtfully includes data loss, identity theft, personal information misuse, cyber threats, and significant financial losses.

The poor handling of customer information or compromise could impact a business’s reputation and how customers trust it.

Data privacy is the fundamental right of all in the digital universe. But is it of any real value to the business and the customer?

It is imperative to understand if data privacy is just a hassle or a compliance checkbox exercise that benefits a business’ reputation, customer, and the data protection agency.

What is data privacy?

Why data privacy matters?

Data is a digital asset that provides significant value for making informed decisions for a business. These decisions help mitigate risks, streamline operations, and drive quality and revenue generation.

Businesses need to be open about how they are storing, using, and protecting customer data. This transparency is also essential to business stakeholders and competitors.

Data privacy is paramount to the safety of our digital economy today because of these two reasons.

Ideological reasons – These include how data privacy perceives an idea by businesses and customers. Some of the considerations include:

  • Your privacy is a right that you were not always given or exercised.
  • Privacy is a fundamental human right on any real-world or digital platform.
  • Having nothing to hide is a myth.

Practical reasons - These include the implementation reasons for data privacy based on its implications.

  • Information in the wrong hands becomes dangerous.
  • It can’t predict how non-compliance to data privacy regulations can impact the business’ future.
  • Context-based privacy data compromise could become a digital weapon.
  • Any sensitive information has value and is directly associated with business revenues.

Important data privacy insights

  • Some of the recent data privacy trends that focus on the importance of its compliance include:

Three factors influencing data privacy

  1. Consent - This has to do with receiving the customer’s consent when data shared with third parties or other entities outside of a data privacy agreement between a business and a client.
  1.  Notice - This includes letting the customers know about the legal collection and storage of their personal data.
  1.  Regulatory restrictions - Remaining compliant with national and international regulations protects businesses from fines and criminal charges and their customers’ right to privacy.

There are many moving parts regarding data privacy, making it imperative to design a website based on the direct approach. Data privacy contributes to the success and longevity of any business through compliance.

Some of the data privacy practices that help website/application designers include:

Privacy by Design

Privacy by Design (PbD) is a design framework (every UX designer must know) under VSD (Values Sensitive Design) developed by Ann Cavoukian initially for systems engineers.

This framework largely and proactively embeds privacy into the design and operation of products and services for non-IT and IT systems, networked infrastructure, and business practices.

In brief, it states that one should minimize the personal data collect by default, keep it secure, and destroy it when it is no longer needed while promoting transparency with users and customers.

Privacy by Design means that organizations need to include privacy from the initial design stages and throughout the complete development process cycle of any new products, processes, or services that involve personal data processing. They also need to ensure there is no zero-sum trade-off between privacy and other interests.

Every UX designer needs to be familiar with the factors and inclusions of data privacy in each of the abovementioned phases.

The seven foundational principles of Privacy by Design (PbD)

1. Proactive not reactive; preventative not remedial

The Privacy by Design approach helps anticipate and prevent privacy-invasive events before they happen. PbD prevents privacy risks and infractions in physical design through organizational practices and regulations. This includes:

2. Privacy as the default

Privacy by Design seeks to deliver maximum data privacy by ensuring that personal data automatically protect in any IT system or business practice. Even if an individual does nothing, their privacy remains intact since it is in-built into the system.

3. Privacy embedded in the design

When embedded in the design and architecture of IT systems and business practices, privacy doesn’t bolt as an add-on. Instead, it remains an essential component of the core functionality deliver without diminishing it.

4. Full functionality – Positive-sum, not zero-sum

Privacy by Design does not merely involve declarations and commitments; it relates to satisfying all legitimate objectives in addition to the privacy goals. Privacy by Design is doubly enabling in nature, permitting full functionality − real, practical results and beneficial outcomes for businesses and customers. It accommodates all legitimate interests and objectives in a positive-sum “win-win” manner and avoids making unnecessary trade-offs.

5. End-to-end security – Lifecycle protection

Privacy by Design is embedded into the system and extends securely throughout the entire lifecycle of the data involved. This ensures that all data is securely reserved and destroyed at the end of the information management lifecycle in a timely fashion.

6. Visibility and transparency


PbD is necessary to establish accountability and trust. It assures all stakeholders that whatever the design practice or technology involved operates according to the stated regulations and objectives, subject to independent verification.

7. Respect for user privacy

PbD helps designers maintain firm privacy defaults, appropriate notice, and user-friendly options that consciously design around individual users' interests and needs. Respect for User Privacy is made possible by the following FIPs:

Designers need to implement human-centered, user-centric, and user-friendly UX designs to reliably exercise informed privacy decisions.

What does PbD mean for designers?

Nailing Privacy on your Website or Application

Here are some key tactics to balance privacy and design principles perfectly on your website or application.

Cookie banners

While free-to-read ‘journalism’ needs ads to support their business model, it is vital to consider how much data you need to provide the best user experience. The cookie banner is the first thing a user interacts with when he visits your website.

Privacy hub

Using the privacy hub feature, the user can change his cookies settings in detail, request his data, or learn more about your privacy policy. The website design should ensure that,


Designers must use tracking tools like Google Analytics for quantitative data that tests and validates ideas and quantifies user experience as a metric.

Technological infrastructure

Designers of privacy-first websites should choose a technical system that is fully GDPR-approved. An SSL-certified website always garners user trust, primarily when third-party technologies use.

Transparency and trust

Transparency is design influences trust. Designers need to ensure that the design and content of a website are open and communicating in a clear language, look, and feel.

Wrapping up

Together with the seven principles of the Privacy by Design framework, these steps will dramatically change the way UX designers around the world manage data on websites and applications that are GDPR compliant.

Not sure about the GDPR compliance of your UX designs?

Count on Radiant Digital for a quick evaluation and help in championing privacy-first designs.  

by Lam Huynh, Radiant Digital
Principal UX Designer

All rights reserved. © 2020 Radiant Digital Solutions

Enhancing the Information Architecture of your UX Design with Card Sorting

A good UX design gains popularity because of its visual appeal and how easily users can find what they’re looking for. A website’s top usability problem is that content is structured based on what makes sense to the company and not the end-users.

Card sorting is one of the primary ways to sort out the navigation scheme or structure of an app, website, or prototype that best matches the users’ mental model or conditioning.

It represents how they navigate and expect content to be categorized and grouped.

This helps with quicker transactions and reduces the bounce rate on a website.

What is card sorting?

Card sorting is a UX research method that involves studying participants grouping individual labels written on notecards based on criteria that seem sensible to them.

It helps understand their attitudes, values, preferences, and behaviors related to the domain under study. This method helps uncover how the target audience’s domain knowledge is structured, and it serves to create an information architecture based on the users’ expectations.

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Information Architecture defines how all the content of a site is related and fits together as a coherent unit. It refers to the structure of information on a website and is depicted with site maps, spreadsheets, and diagrams. Card Sorting helps understand the user’s perception of the information space in the IA planning stage.

The grouping or naming of objects and concepts may be represented on physical or virtual cards on computer screens; or photos in either physical or digital formats.

Sorting is usually performed by the potential users of an interactive solution providing,

  • Terminology (what people call things)
  • Relationships (proximity, similarity)
  • Categories (groups and their names)

This information is used by designers to decide which items should be grouped in displays, how the menu elements should be organized and labeled, and, more fundamentally, the words to describe the objects that need user attention.

Card Sorting is useful to:

  • Design a new website or enhance an existing website or section update
  • Discover how your customers expect to see your information grouped on your website.
  • Get the user’s familiarized with the information architecture and the user-centric design.
  • Prevent the confused organization of content on a website or webpage.

Benefits of Card Sorting for UX Designers

  • It is reliable, cost-efficient, and easy to set up.
  • Help in designing an optimized navigation structure for a website/app.
  • Promote smoother interactions between users and the system by presenting a user-friendly interface.
  • Help define a clear content strategy for a website.
  • Help scientifically evaluate and fix website structural problems in the early stages of design evolution.

When to use it?

Card sorting is used in the following situations. It is typically useful in improving the labeling, grouping, and organization of information.

  • Information or content has to be grouped by type, subject, or category.
  • Group your content or products in a way that will make sense to your user base.
  • Untangle complexity in information depiction (sitemaps).
  • Sort or organize content in a particular order (FAQ section).
  • Decide on a structure for your website.
  • Find the right words for navigation.

Types of Card Sorting Models

Open Card Sorting

In this method, participants receive specially prepared cards, sort them into the categories provided, create their self-defined categories, and name them. They are free to name groups they’ve created with the cards in the deck using labels that best describe them.

The open card is commonly used for new/existing information architectures, organizing products on a new site or app, or creating a new IA from scratch.

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It helps explore how your target audience understands content headings, topics, and their tags. It is worth noting that users suggest each category based on how they think of these topics. Open sorting has the following advantages.

  • Promote participant-driven discoveries, limiting any preconceived barriers by the designer.
  • Lend the participants more flexibility.
  • The chance of identifying criticalities is higher.
Closed Card Sorting

Participants are provided with the content cards and the category cards and asked to place them in these given categories (which are pre-defined and cannot be modified). This method is usually used when adding new content to an existing site or reworking an open card sort's insights.

Closed card sort helps gain better clarity of how the participants’ target market perceives these pre-defined headings. This ensures obtaining the confidence of adding content appropriately on a website or app.

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Participants are not free to rename cards or make suggestions for new cards like open card sorting.

Closed card sorting helps with observational probing for the researcher as the pre-defined criteria for categorizing different items into groups have been set.

Remote Card Sorting

Here, an online software tool that provides the cards can work independently on sorting with their computers. This online software tool allows the user to set up and distribute it to as many participants as required.

Remote Card Sorting is unmoderated, which means there is no contact with the participant, so there is no way of understanding why the user has arranged the cards in a certain way.

These online software tools provide different ways to analyze the data. Many tools also enable recording the user’s screen and spoken feedback to facilitate the collation of qualitative data supporting quantitative metrics.

Reverse Card Sorting

Reverse card sorting (also called reverse lookup or tree testing) is a variation of closed card sorting where cards representing content, tasks, or navigation items are placed onto a predetermined hierarchy (or another type of structure). An assessment of how often users put the cards into the “right” categories on the hierarchy is done.

A participant is presented with a hierarchical diagram and a pile of cards representing information on categories and subcategories. The participant must place the cards at the correct level of the hierarchy. The cards are sorted into the right hierarchical location. This method helps validate changes to website navigation, hierarchical menus, or other task flows. It also helps compare the new navigation structure of a website to the old one.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Card-sorting_20201009_4-918x1024.png
Modified Delphi Method

This method relies upon the agreement of a group of participants in sequence to complete the card sorting exercise. The first participant provides their categorization based on the traditional open card sort methodology. Then the next participant can make any modifications to the first participant’s result or agree with it. The process is repeated in the loop with multiple participants until they reach a consensus on the result, and no further significant modifications are required.

The downside to this methodology is that any participant making significant changes to previous participants' work can lead to an outlier, compromising the whole study’s results.

In-person Card Sorting

This method includes studies where an observer or researcher is physically present when the participants sort the cards. The researcher can ask further questions based on the participant’s choices and clarify any observations.

Participants are provided with a set of cards to move around and asked to talk through their thoughts and reasoning behind their decisions.

What are the generic steps in card sorting?

1. Choose the Medium and Topics

The first thing you need to determine in card sorting is how to perform it based on the type of card sorting chosen. Like on software or paper.

Each card should represent important content for the site; experts recommend 30–60 cards with no more than 70 topics.

Tip: Avoid the same words while naming topics because participants will tend to group those cards.

2. User organizes topics into groups

Shuffle the cards and give them to the participant. The participant must look at one card at a time from the pile (large or small). If the participant isn’t sure about a card, or its meaning, it can be left off. A set of “unknown” or “unsure” cards can exist rather than random cards.


  • The number of piles is not pre-set or predictable. The size depends on their mental models.
  • Users can change their minds as they work: they can move a card from one pile to another, split a pile into several new piles, merge two collections, etc. Card sorting is a bottom-up approach, and false starts are common.
3. User names the groups

After the participant has grouped all the cards, blank cards are handed over where he/she writes down a name for each group created. This step reveals the user’s mental model of the topic space. A few ideas for navigation categories may be sought, but it can’t be expected from participants to create useful labels.

Tip: Naming is essential after all the groups have been created so that the user doesn’t get locked into categories. The participant should be given the freedom to rearrange groups at any moment.

4. Debrief the user (optional but highly recommended)

Participants can be approached to explain the rationale behind the groups they’ve created. Helpful questions would include:

  • Which items were especially easy or difficult to place?
  • Did any items seem to belong in more than one group?
  • What thoughts do you have about any items left unsorted?

You can also ask the user to express their thoughts while performing the original sorting. Doing so provides insights, even though the analysis is time-consuming.

This information could push you into crosslinking from one category to the other or maybe also assigning the item to a definitive category if other reasons are leaning in that direction.

5. Get more Practical Group Sizes from the user 

The participant should not influence personal wishes or biases during the original sorting (steps 1–3). Once you define the user’s preferred grouping, and after the initial debrief, you can ask the participant to break large groups into smaller subgroups or vice versa.

6. Repeat with 15–20 users

The more the number of users, the easier it becomes to detect patterns in users’ mental models. We recommend a minimum of 15 participants for card sorting.

More number of users means getting diminishing returns for each additional user. The opposite means you won’t have enough data to reveal overlapping patterns in organization schemes.

7. Analyze the Data

After you have all the data, look for collective groups, category names or themes, and items frequently paired together. Other steps include:

  • Note the most grouped topics and unused cards
  • Understand the type of tags that are suggested by most of the participants
  • Figure out the logic participants use while they group the cards.
  • Review the participant comments, particularly regarding any other items of interest they may have brought up.
  • Combine patterns based on qualitative insights from a debriefing.

This will leave you better positioned to understand what the organization system will be most successful for your users.

Wrapping it up

Card sorting is highly recommended for a deeper understanding of the information architecture in UX design. It decodes the users’ understanding of your content.

Card sorting can be added with other information-architecture methods to identify issues in your category structure. Because at the end of the day, a well-structured Information Architecture promotes site/design/prototype popularity among end-users.

Are you interested in incorporating this technique for engaging UX design? Connect with our experts today.

Cracking Dark Patterns on Interfaces Designed to Trick You

The internet is full of webpages and resources that lure users into inadvertently doing something like signing up for a purchase or subscribing to a service.

Dark patterns lead users to deceptive interfaces and can be a cause of privacy concerns. Techniques that promote obscurity over clarity (of course without the user figuring it out) grab attention and eventually transition into a business advantage.

Apple's iOS 6 came with a few new features that the brand did not promote enthusiastically. For example, the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) assigned a unique identifier to each device to track browsing activity. This personal information proved useful for advertisers to target ads and caused significant privacy concerns among users.

Although Apple did include a way to disable the feature, it was not readily accessible in the privacy settings. Instead, the user had to go through a series of obscure options in the general settings menu.

The user has to select "About" in the "General" menu, then navigate next to the terms of service and license items and click a menu item listed as "Advertising."

Here, the only option in the advertising menu is "Limit Ad Tracking," set to "Off" by default.

If we take a closer look at the wording, it doesn't say "Ad Tracking – Off," but "Limit Ad Tracking – Off." Users are taking a gamble since ad tracking is actually on even when this switch is off. So, here 'off' really means 'on.'

Image Source: theverge

This scenario is an excellent example of the Dark Pattern we're talking about in this blog.

What is a Dark Pattern?

A dark pattern is a user interface craftily designed to trick users into doing things they might not otherwise do. This pattern may include buying software with their purchase, signing up for recurring billing, or even offering sophisticated options to sign out of this subscription.

Ill-intent fuels dark patterns; they are not mistakes. Implementing Dark Patterns might be morally unethical, but it is not illegal. Many marketing companies take undue advantage of this fact.

Dark Patterns have evolved with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they disregard the user's interests.

Surprisingly, Dark Patterns that play mind games with the user spring from the same rulebooks that enhance usability.

How do Dark Patterns Work?

People often skim websites and apps and make assumptions instead of reading every word. If a company wants to lure you into doing something, they can take advantage of this impatience by loading a page with misleading terms.

You can defend yourself by learning about some common Dark Patterns tricks used on the internet.

Playing with the Visibility of System Status 

Instead of displaying the critical system status info, many companies hide it. They achieve this with misleading labels, obtuse navigation, unwanted looping, and untimely messages. In short, 'beating around the bush.' 

A Message Doesn't Mean Every Word it says 

Messages with Dark Patterns are not direct. Instead of "speaking the user's language," the system uses "weasel wording." This phrase means that the message appears to say one thing while it says another without taking any responsibility.

Manipulate the User's Control and Freedom 

Dark Pattern designers take advantage of a user's natural capacity to make mistakes. Users accidentally complete actions that are beneficial to the host's objective.

Tricking Choices 

Marketing emails leverage the "tricking choices" technique all the time. After registering to access something on the web, it asks if you want to be included on a mailing list. This particular approach is tricky because users have to take explicit action to opt-in.

Chances are users who will be in a hurry, and a proportion of them won't even notice this text. Some websites make this choice for the user with the radio button for 'yes' preselected. Some sites don't call attention to this choice, tricking users into choosing something they don't want.

WTF is dark pattern design? | TechCrunch
Image Source: Techcrunch
The dark side of UX
Image Source: Newtidea

Forced Membership

Image Source: theverge

Opting for a 'FREE' basic membership is common on job sites that let users' benefit' from their services. After this, the job seeker goes through a few sign-up steps and starts searching for a job. When the search results are displayed, some not-so-appealing job postings appear along with one that looks appealing (based on your inputs for job parameters).

The weird thing is when the user clicks on "Apply," the job details and the application form don't appear. Instead, a payment page stares the user in the face asking them to upgrade to a premium membership.

Though this job search text may be available for free elsewhere, the portal discourages people from bypassing the payment page, copying the job description, and pasting it into a Google search to find the real source.

Another problematic direction is making the unsubscribe process simple but formatting the unsubscribe button to be invisible.

The dark side of UX
Image Source: Newtidea

Confusing the Reader is at the Helm of Everything 

Humans naturally hate boredom and confusion. There are countless ways to frustrate readers purposely; for example, one could publish reams of impenetrable legalese in tiny greyscale lettering, so no one delves deeper into the content and set the default to opt-in when people click 'ok.'

Image Source: Techcrunch

Adding in intentionally confusing phrases or confusing button/toggle design makes it impossible for the user to determine what's on and off without a closer look. Even opting out could mean opting into something you don't want.

The Fake Rush 

The notifications that appear just as you're contemplating booking a flight urging you to "hurry!" as there's only X number of seats left seem like an offer you can't refuse.

These persuasion and optimization tricks in the online marketing gameplay on people's FOMO, trying to rush them into transactions they didn't want in the first place. Thwarting the more rational and informed decision they might otherwise have made.

Exit - Best Western Hotel Universo
Image Source: online-metrics 

Leading enterprises' PR teams often claim to care about privacy immensely. They allege that they give people all the controls needed to manage their personal information, but there is no control with dishonest usability instructions. Opt-outs that look like a mirage in a desert feel more like a lock-in.

Companies indeed remain firmly in the driving seat and control the levers to user decisions. Since these tech giants dominate ad services, they can propagate consent-less data-mining that risks erosion of user rights on the internet.

Here are five friendless dark patterns our UX experts at Radiant Digital often notice online.

Bait and Switch 

Here, the users set out to do one thing but experience an undesired consequence instead. Microsoft’s misguided approach for Windows upgrades is a classic example.

Stop the Cap! » Time Warner Cable Customers Bait and Switched to ...
Image Source: Stopthecap

Forced Continuity 

This is similar to the Forced Membership we've already mentioned. Forced continuity is when a user is prompted for their credit card or payment information to avail of a free trial or a web service/benefit. The 'subscription auto renewal' option is hidden or is very hard to cancel. 

b: Forced continuity hiding the free offering deep, shown in red ...
Image Source: Research Gate 

Price Comparison Prevention 

The retailer makes it hard to compare an item's price with another, so buyers cannot make an informed decision. Retailers typically achieve this by creating different bundles where it is not easy to work out the unit price of the items within the bundles. 

price comparison prevention
Image Source:

Expanding Shopping Basket 

Also known as ‘negative option billing’ or ‘inertia shopping,’ this dark pattern sneaks an extra item into your cart when shopping online. This is established using a well-hidden or confusing opt-out button. This pattern can take the friendly form of shopping recommendations on some sites. 

Not giving the user control over what they add to their basket and not making the full price evident at every step of the buying process is a shopper’s nightmare. 

Image for post
Image Source: UXPlanet

Hidden Costs 

You get to the last step of the checkout process to discover some unexpected charges that have appeared, e.g., delivery charges, tax, care, and handling, etc.

Image Source:

Final Thoughts 

At Radiant, we believe the user comes first, and pages should be designed for an experience with transparency about the UI's intention instead of short-term profit.  

A shady UI leaves the user feeling defrauded, costing a company in the long term.  

At Radiant Digital, we help businesses design product or service interfaces that win over customers through delightful UX design and credibility, not through dark patterns. 

Here are some user-friendly alternatives to UX dark patterns that may interest you. 

Connect with our UX experts today to combat dark patterns in web design or keep your web pages dark pattern-free.

A Deeper Look at Design Consistency and its Influence on User Experience

Consistency is the most fragile design principle that influences user trust and familiarity with your UI design or product.

Improving consistency polishes the look and feel of your design. Additionally, it purges imperfections, unwanted content, or navigation flows that mislead the user.

Design consistency drives coherence and creates a harmonious uniformity among discrete UI elements. Consistency is fundamental for a good UX because it creates an experience that users can rely upon every time they interact with your brand or product.

The look and feel of a design make up the first layer of this trust relationship. Design consistency goes even further into interaction and behavioral patterns that users encounter as they utilize your products and services.

Creating this comfortable and familiar environment promotes continuous usage of your products & services and customer retention for your business.

Projects, at some point or another, run into consistency problems for various reasons. In this blog, we discuss the benefits of design consistency and some of its guiding principles.

Before that, let us take a step back and understand exactly what consistency means.

Consistency is when all the design elements behave similarly or follow the universally set pattern (content, navigation, actions, responses, etc.).

Why is Consistency Important?

There is more to design consistency than meets the eye. Ensuring consistency means developing a detailed and well-thought-out approach during the design phase of your site: defining, planning, designing, and testing with consistency in mind can save many setbacks during various stages of the design process.

Design consistency improves usability and learnability, especially when similar elements look and function similarly. When consistency is an integral part of your design, people can grasp new contexts quickly without pain or confusion since they know what to expect next with your design.

Contextual consistency is key to ensuring that users can focus on executing the task instead of learning how the UI works whenever there is a context switch. Consistency creates a balanced sense of security and reliability, which fuels a better user experience.

Benefits of Consistency

Image Source: Laura’s Design Studio

More effective Memorization leads to faster usage

Consistent designs add clarity and render frictionless user experiences on your interface. A user will instantly identify the brand and what it represents. A consistent UI is like a universally understood language.

Users execute tasks faster once they get the hang of your design (due to its consistency).

Consistency is synonymous with instantaneous memorization, which is essential to appeal to users emotionally and gain their trust.

Consistent Designs Eliminate Confusion

Clear communication minimizes confusion in the users’ minds, improves their use of your UI, and leads to better achievement of their goals through streamlined actions.

Consistency Saves Time and Money

When consistent designs are built with predominantly predefined components, designers and stakeholders spend less time disagreeing over the UI design's nitty-gritty.

Consistency adds standardization, reduces the number of design iterations, and keeps unwarranted expenses at bay.

Consistency Helps with Universal User Feedback

A branding message or UI design needs to reach out to diverse users with varying preferences and goals. However, with a consistent design, collecting user feedback and implementing changes is simplified since users' experience is universal.

Consistency makes it Easier to Reach Specific People

By applying the same design rules and principles when creating new promotional materials for your brand, you can reach out to the previously determined target group.

You gain the confidence of your target group by pursuing coherence for your design’s visual identity.

Evokes a Strong Emotional Response

An impeccably designed UI evokes users' right emotional response, which allows them to make a strong connection with your UI and stay on your site for longer. Emotions drive user decisions, which is why it is vital to design an impactful and relatable UI while maintaining visual consistency.

Types of Consistency

Designers often work on design projects that have a real-world (bricks-and-mortar) presence. The brand message, font, color scheme, content flow, etc., must be consistent on your website and in the bricks-and-mortar location.

Here are the different types of consistency that users look for in a design:

Visual consistency

5 benefits of consistency of the visual identity | Lukas Ociepka ...

Image Source: lukasociepka

Similar visual elements make up for visual consistency, which increases product learnability. Fonts, buttons, labeling, sizes, naming conventions, and the like must be consistent across the product mediums (business cards, collaterals, calendars, etc.). Some of the elements to be considered include:

  • Typefaces (colloquially “fonts”)
  • Colors
  • Whitespaces or negative spacing
  • Illustrations / photos
  • Shapes
  • The arrangement of individual elements
  • Proportions

Functional consistency

Controls that work similarly make up for functional consistency; they impact how the user predicts the control's usage and its outcome. Predictability leads to users feeling satisfied and trusting the product design.

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Image Source: uxdesign

Internal consistency

Image Source: Newt Idea

Combining both visual and functional consistency in your product design improves your product usability and learnability.

External consistency

External consistency pertains to design consistency across multiple systems/products/branding platforms. The user’s knowledge for one product can be reused in the same context for another. Ultimately, this type of consistency eliminates a lot of friction and enhances the user experience.

Image Source: Newt Idea

For example, the user interface of Adobe products is externally consistent. This makes it easier for users to apply the same knowledge and start using Illustrator or other applications.

Where should you be consistent?

Many elements of a website’s design are shaped by their overall interaction goals and differ in various circumstances.

While there are no hardcoded rules, design and branding consistency can be applied for the following:


These include the location, orientation, placement order, and sequence of the footer, sidebar, search bar, or navigation buttons. Users get familiarized with these elements' location, so they should be kept in the same place on different pages.

Image Source: UXpassion 

Highly successful websites have elements placed logically for the users to predict, identify, use, and rely on.


While a website's design can be rehashed, UX designers must be sure to use the same templates, logic flow, and branding theme everywhere.

For example, users will associate a particular color on your website with a link or action.

Mixing up color themes on different pages is a bad design strategy that confuses. Maintaining consistency in these areas will contribute to an attractive design and even standardize how users will get familiar with your design.

Design Example
Image Source: uxbooth 

Using three distinct typefaces in one part of your site confuses the user and is an incorrect design practice in the above image.


Designers must define the typography, space, logo, colors, grid, size, and positions in one central place and then use them across the system/branding portfolio.

A strong visual hierarchy that distinguishes between the most and least important elements is paramount.

Using the same color palette across the product is a part of this endeavor. Ordering everything in a grid of your choice allows for all components' arrangement in a uniformly aesthetic way.


Interactive elements should be consistent too. Although each user will choose to interact with your website differently, how your website responds must be consistent.

Things like external links opening in a new window, displaying images, displaying a status message, etc., are examples of user and page elements interaction.

Here are some of the design principles we at Radiant Digital swear by for perfecting UX design consistency.

  • Visual consistency & simplification – Make the design more fundamental at the planning stage, using more uniform fonts, colors, shapes, etc.
  • Behavioral consistency – Reuse design patterns that have been proven to work positively with your users. This can help retain customers or have them coming back.
  • Behavioral optimization – Design to make users perform tasks with either less or more effective work by eliminating redundancy or unnecessary work overload.
  • Unified experience strategy – Reconsider the ideal workflow for individuals working on the design project.
  • UX Culture – Understand and make other designers familiar with the core UX culture of your organization. This may include maintaining a handbook or a key process with priority levels for each design step.
  • Use Familiar Patterns – If people need to stick with your UI, design familiarity plays a pivotal role. This means they have experienced and learned your design and know how to use the patterns to their advantage.
  • Preserve Consistency yet Drive Change – Finding the right balance between keeping the design consistent and innovation-based change is key to hitting the right UX experience notes. The “secret” lies in understanding your users’ needs and reflecting them in your design decisions only when necessary. Small changes will help with the product evolution while keeping design consistency intact.

Ways to Build Design Consistency

Style Guides

A style guide documents the specifications of various design elements. Style guides go deeper and relate the essential styles and elements of the intended UI design. The detailed schemes relate to the sizes, typefaces, colors, proportions, and rules influencing coherence, which should be used when creating new material.

Pattern Libraries

A pattern library is a voluminous version of the style guide with more details on every possible design element. Pattern libraries usually come in three flavors:

  • Design Patterns
  • Markup Patterns
  • Content Patterns

These detail the design elements with guidance on their usage, including styles for headings, icons, texts, etc.

It is difficult to predict all the types of content you might use in the future. However, delivering content patterns to customers ensures that your designs are in line with their standards.

CSS Frameworks

You can use a CSS framework to help deliver consistency in a design using one-dimensional and two-dimensional structures. Some of the best CSS Frameworks we recommend are useful for maintaining consistency effortlessly.

Final Thoughts

Consistency can be bent but not broken for your UX designs. Having visually and functionally consistent UI elements is always a win-win for designers and users.

Some flexibility and creativity merged with responsiveness and consistency go a long way in making user experiences top-notch.

Want your users to feel comfortable, satisfied, and confident with your designs? 

Capture these emotions on-point and make user interactions with your brand exceptional. Rely on Radiant Digital for iconic designs. Call us today to learn more.

Understanding Resilient UX Design and What Shapes It

Talented designers flocked to the web when it started taking over the world in the 90s. Innovation boomed while migrating from paper to pixels.

This significant move is still relevant today when designing for resilience.  This carefully orchestrated design move isn’t just about helping people prepare for disasters; it’s about shifting a designer’s cultural mindset to reflect the ways users think about business strategy and collaboration.

Resilient design is not limited to those designing major infrastructure. It relates to a shift in culture that applies these concepts across the spectrum of design areas while factoring in everything from seemingly minor product-level decisions to significant policies and systems on a societal level.

With design trends changing like seasons, it’s important to consider practical and evergreen creations (even if minor tweaks are required). Although Apple launches niche product models every year, recall the core of what keeps their products relevant - usability, design, simplicity, flexibility, and resilience.

Many factors influence resilient design aspects, but the significant ones are demonstrated in the image below.

Leveraging the Power of Prototyping in UX
Image Source: 

The Impact of a Resilient Design on Businesses

In the world of web design, designers are preoccupied with the here and now. Thinking beyond the present moment is reserved for contemplating the future—imagining the devices, features, and interfaces that don't yet exist.

In such a situation, businesses understand the risk of placing their bet on a bad UX design. On the other hand, robust design can be at the heart of both disruptive and sustained commercial success in physical, digital, and service settings.

Brilliant and resilient designs such as the Google Home Page or the Swiss Army Knife logo set the perfect example of lasting impact.

Compelling designs stand out from the crowd given the rapid change in consumer expectations driven by exemplary brands like Amazon.

Resilient designs blur the lines between hardware, software, and services and stand the test of time in business.

McKinsey recently evaluated 300 publicly listed companies' design practices over five years in multiple countries and industries. They collected more than two million records of financial data and recorded 100,000+ design actions.

Four themes of good design form the basis of the McKinsey Design Index (MDI), which rates companies by how resilient their designs are and how it links up with each company's financial performance.

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Image Source: Mckinsey 

The business value of design resilience is directly proportional to the revenue growth it brings and, to some extent, its impact on business continuity. Thus the four significant areas of a resilient design affecting business outcomes are shown below.

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Business leaders further responded to the McKinsey poll and delved deeper into aspects impacting these 4 key areas of a resilient design.

What Makes for a Resilient Design?

Since resilience is more of a quality than a requirement, a few features and design patterns contribute to UX design resilience.

Resilience to Use

Any digital or physical product needs to withstand use and changes that drive its usefulness. Anything that doesn't withstand heavy use, misuse, or even occasional carelessness ultimately adds to a design's burden.

Thus any resilient design should be characterized by,

  • Durability - This includes long-lasting and robust materials, construction, or code that naturally contributes to resilience.
  • Repairability - Durability becomes less concerning when a loss of quality can be replaced. For example, restarting your phone might fix a persistent software issue. Similarly, a small tweak in design would enhance its performance.
  • Improvement through use – Only a non-fragile design can get better with increased usage. Even a design that can be improved can add a burden to its user experience. The ultimate form of resilience in design is for a product to get better with use. This will obtain user feedback while familiarizing the user with the design and checking all the boxes for a seamless user experience. The more a user gets used to design, the more the design is appreciated.

Resilient designs can be appreciated based on how well the product handles imperfection. Imperfection stands out in a perfectly smooth area. Organic shapes, textures, and naturally imperfect designs often make added imperfections look better, a form of resilience to use.

Timeless Form and Function

As trends change, so should a design's ability to withstand that change. Any change that makes the design lose its value over time diminishes its resilience.

For most software products, like Apple’s, a platform standard is defined by the Human Interface Guidelines, for example.

Software products stay in vogue by using established and sustained patterns. In some cases, following platform standards can automatically help in the product evolution process and automatically adapt to new trends and updates to the platform.

Using Proven Technology

Sometimes, a design must pass the test of time to prove its resilience. PDF, for example, is as resilient as ever, despite lacking many features compared to web browsers. The program serves its purpose with simple features and has not accommodated drastic changes, like web browsers.

Reliability is critical and leads to the long-term use of a design. Testing a design through sustained use over time by a big group of actual users is crucial to its resilience.


Adhering to a set of standards, especially an open one, simplifies designs and promotes resilience. Readily available tools and knowledgebase/literature make designs that meet standards more workable in a standard environment.

Standardized designs can also enable products to adapt and have their functionality extended beyond the original purpose.

An example is how a standard design for a bright user interface can turn dark at night on your iPhone and Android phones.

The Fundamental Quality

There is always a fundamental, underlying quality that determines how good it is at doing its job for many design categories. These are qualities that genuinely benefit all forms of use of resilient design. These tend to reveal the level of dedication and craftsmanship of its designers and engineers.

This fundamental quality makes the design more purposeful while revolving around that universal purpose that is genuinely beneficial to all forms of use. So, if a design needs to be simple, it has to revolve around simplicity.

If it needs to be more intuitive, the fundamental quality governing the design would be intuitiveness.


Universality is the primary design principle that impacts a product’s (web/mobile) usefulness and growth.

As suggested by Time Berners-Lee, a design that is usable by people with disabilities and others is a benefactor of resilience.

The design must serve any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and any quality information. And it should support any hardware for stationary or mobile, and screens small or large.

Techniques that Contribute to a Resilient Design

In his book Responsive Web Design, Ethan Marcotte focused on three primary methods for resilient design.

Fluid grids - The option to use percentages instead of pixels has been fundamental since TABLE layouts.

Flexible images- Research carried out by Richard Rutter demonstrated that browsers were becoming increasingly adaptable to varying image sizes and automatically resized them. Thus, the innate dimensions of an image were never a limiting factor again.

Media queries- The error‐handling model of CSS lets browsers add multiple features over time. One of those included CSS media queries that drive the ability to define styles based on specific parameters, such as the browser window dimensions.

Here are some Key Takeaways that will help you Shape a Design Resilience:

  • Breaking away from fragile design requires a shift in your thought process. It means considering less-than-optimal scenarios and putting in the effort to address them.
  • The chances of failure increase when growing businesses work to align design, systems, and strategies to eliminate (or acquire) competition and centralize their offerings based on a specific market.
  • Making a design work across multiple devices and operable in different environments and situations makes it genuinely resilient.
  • Resilient design is present-focused while being considerate towards future changes.
  • UX designers can create a design more resilient by factoring in the blind spots and dramatically widening their design process to account for the unhappy paths.
  • Resilient designs can help products successfully operate outside of the best-case scenario (in their “happy path”) and under a broader set of scenarios to make products more robust and valuable.

Want to know how to make your UX designs more resilient, robust, and responsive? The design team at Radiant Digital can help evaluate your designs and add clarity to your design strategy. 

Connect us today to learn more.