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 & Why Storytelling is Vital for UX

What is Storytelling?

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

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

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

How to use Storytelling, and why?

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

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

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

Rules for Storytelling

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

Design for the user’s needs.

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

Speak the user’s language.

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

Use data, not speculation.

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

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

Techniques for Visual Storytelling

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

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

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

Tying up Storytelling in UX Design

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

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

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

 


The Psychology of UX Design

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

The Relationship between Cognitive Psychology and UX Design

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

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

How Considering Cognitive Load can Enhance UX Design

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

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

There are three types of cognitive load

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

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

Five Common Psychological Laws, Theories, and Principles in Design

1.   The Schema Theory

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

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

2.   Von Restorff effect

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

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

3.   The Gestalt Principles

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

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

4.    Hick’s Law

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

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

5.    Serial Position effect

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

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

In Summary

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

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


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

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

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

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

So, how do designers achieve social media success?

Understanding the numbers

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

Allocating resources

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

Community developments

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

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

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

Concluding thoughts

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

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

 


How to Create Useful Personas: Making an Impact

What are UX Personas?

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

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

Why Create a UX Persona?

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

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

Creating a useful persona for product design

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

A standard UX persona generally contains the following data:

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

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

Step One: Gather user information

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

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

Step Two: Analyse and Collate Research Findings

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

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

Making an Impact

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

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

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


The Design Language of Dance

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

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

Why Learning About Dance Is Fundamental to Great Design

Simplicity is Key

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

Focus Less on Invention and More on Perfection

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

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

Timing is Everything

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

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

Critically Evaluate Everything You Do

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

Utilize Patterns and Rhythm

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

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

How Balance Can Help

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

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

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

Working as a Team to Achieve Success

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

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

Use the Design Language of Dance In Your Next UX Project

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

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