Day 2 of UXI Live 2011 was a day of talks in Tel Aviv’s Kfar Maccabiah. Four morning keynotes and one closing keynote were the wholesome bread around the tasty meat of the four-track afternoon talks.
Design Principles: The Philosophy of UX—Whitney Hess
Whitney started out her talk by explaining that UX is establishing a philosophy about how you treat people (just as visual design is establishing a philosophy about making an impact). And just as visual design has principles (contrast, emphasis, variety, balance, and so on), so user experience design has principles.
She went on to lay out her ten principles of UX design. They are in the slides below, so I won’t waste space by repeating them here.
Are these enough? Probably not—each organization and each project needs its own principles to supplement these. She gave some interesting examples, ranging from Charles and Ray Eames to Starbucks, and gave some guidelines for creating your own design principles:
- Look at what your competitors are doing.
- Gather business goals, user needs, and brand attributes.
- Brainstorm across functions/capabilities.
- Limit your list to ten tops, preferably no more than seven.
- Make sure they do not conflict or overlap.
- Make them pithy and memorable.
She recommends using Jared Spool’s checklist to evaluate your design principles.
OK then. Now you’ve got a set of design principles. When should you use them? According to Whitney, always. But they are especially useful in project kickoff meetings, for prioritizing features, for brainstorming, for stakeholder presentations, and for resolving conflicts.
User Experience for Websites Designed for Smartphones—Barak Danin
Barak gave an insightful and entertaining talk about designing websites for smartphones. He started out by giving some statistics about the changing landscape of Internet use, and in particular the place of smartphones in this landscape. They are getting cheaper all the time (you can get a Chinese Android phone for $80) and the number of people using them is rising commensurately.
He talked about the stereotyped “mobile context” and how it is a mistake to make assumptions about context. (There are usually multiple contexts of use.) He advised looking at what smartphone users are doing right now on your regular site before thinking about building a site for smartphones.
When designing for smartphones, you have to prioritize carefully because of limited screen real estate, and bear in mind the many limitations (for example, no hover, finger size, availability of gestures, platform-specific expectations, etc.).
He finished by showing us Old Navy’s regular and mobile sites, pointing out the mobile site’s flatter hierarchy, lack of ads, store locator prominence, search box location, and link to the full site. There are a number of things here that are becoming conventions and we need to be aware of them when designing such sites.
How to Make Them Click—Amir Hardoof
How do we get people to do what we want them to do? How do we persuade them to part with their money in return for the product or service that we are offering?
According to Amir Hardoof, it is a process. And there are things we can do to to make it smoother. First off, a confused user will not buy. So we must not offer too many choices. People buy want they want, not what they need. He spoke about AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. He referred to a three-stage process:
- We need to catch their attention. To do this, we first need to figure out what they want.
- We need to decide what the one action is that we want them to take (and only offer this one option).
- We need to figure out how to lead them emotionally from desire to action.
People act emotionally, not rationally. Amir explained that the most important motivating emotions are love, pride, fear, guilt, and greed. And that we need to be asking questions like:
- What is the user afraid of that will disappear when they click that button?
- What guilt can they assuage by clicking?
- What can they get for free or save by clicking?
- What are others saying? (Success stories)
- How many other people are doing it? (Herd effect)
People will pay good money if they believe that clicking that “buy” button will eliminate a negative emotion or increase a positive one.
The Psychology of Decision-making—Dr. Chaim Shapira
Dr. Shapira is a brilliant man, a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University, and an expert on game theory. But above and beyond all this, he is a comedian. As one person put it, he is “a stand up comedian for the intelligentsia”. For a full hour, he regaled us with hilarious stories and anecdotes from the worlds of economics, psychology, and current affairs. The only problem with his talk was that we were too busy laughing to pick out the serious points that he was making. Here are just a few:
- People tend to trust those that they consider to be “above” them (though this trust is rarely justified).
- We ignore events that do not support our existing beliefs and find proof that confirms them in insignificant, unrelated events.
- The less people know about an issue, the clearer and more obvious the solutions seems to them.
- People are very bad at thinking long term. Ditto for organizations and states (because they are run by, you got it, people).
- People are under the illusion that they are in control, even when they are not.
- People lack vision.
- In negotiation, to be rational when your opponent is not rational is not rational.
- People are prone to giving quick answers from intuition without actually thinking.
- People often mistake correlation for causality.
- The media are as guilty of these as anyone else, and they exacerbate them. They also concentrate on the negative and ignore the positive.
What can we take away from this as UXers? Apart from the need to be aware of these traits in ourselves, it’s the importance of keeping an open mind and to be willing to seek and accept advice.
UX Design for News Sites: Behind the Scenes at the BBC—Tammy Gur
Tammy Gur is a senior creative director at the BBC and is responsible for UX for the BBC World Service website, which has 127 million users across the globe, with content in 27 languages and 8 different scripts. The website is predominantly a news site. The challenge is to generate UX for a constantly-changing environment in a generic way that will fit each day’s news. The content is not separate—it is and must be an integral part of the design.
She took us through the recent major redesign of BBC Mundo, BBC World’s Spanish language site, serving the whole of Latin America (except Brazil), and which has fierce local competition in various different countries. This started with an “understanding phase”, where they gathered new business requirements, performed a deep competitive analysis, interviewed both journalists and users, and established a vision that was consistent with the BBC’s existing goals and values.
From their research, they concluded that the site must be up-to-date, include video, have clear navigation that exposes additional and related content, incorporate improved picture navigation, have an improved layout that allows for easier scanning, and reinforce the brand.
They also carried out a content hierarchy workshop with journalists, which resulted in the site’s structure hierarchy.
The site design had to fit into the same universal grid that all BBC sites use (part of the organizations’ Global Experience Language (GEL), which also includes things like typography). The final homepage consists of a main title, the current top story, rolling news with time stamps, video, in-depth articles (if any), popular articles, and topics. Exactly the same content is available via mobile (mostly not on smartphones in Latin America)—the content areas are ranked by importance, and the mobile rendering is based on this. The design and flows were validated against the needs of research-based personas.
The most important conclusion from this whole process? You must know how the content is written and published. For more, see Tammy’s recent Johnny article, User Experience and the design of news at BBC World Service.
Being John Malkovitch: Getting Inside the User’s Head—Ami Rotter
We don’t have a magic tunnel for getting into John Malkovitch’s head. But according to Ami Rotter, we do have tools like GotoMeeting that let us get into our user’s head, at least to some extent.
He showed us how at MediaMind they have used remote usability testing to test various new features and proposed interface changes. Most UX practitioners will already be familiar with this stuff, but it provided a good primer for the many attendees from other disciplines.
One interesting point that Ami made was that in addition to finding problems that you can then fix, usability testing sometimes generates positive feedback, which is great for team morale.
Future UX Trends that Will Affect the IT Space—Adina Hagege
Adina is director of information experience for Windows Server at Microsoft. She distinguished trends from enablers. Enablers are the technology behind the trend. A trend itself is an area where specific growth is taking place that is attracting sustained attention from our target audience. The trends she highlighted are:
- Gamification—using traditional aspects of gaming to make routine tasks more fun and engaging. (Principles: achievements and goals, competition, ongoing feedback.)
- Better together—the power of many people to share and co-create content. (Principles: shared content, simultaneous work, instant answers.)
- Power to the person—dynamically adapting a design to the user and not the other way round. (Principles: natural user interfaces, context is king, fun and productivity, identity.)
- Anywhere—do anything from any device, anywhere. (Thanks to cloud computing, powerful personal devices, and universal connectivity.)
- Insight not information—increasing quantities of information create a need to reduce cognitive load by providing processed and visualized data that can actually be taken in. (Principles: visualizations, decision engines, relevancy sorting.)
- Experience economy—people have learned to expect more from their purchases. (Principles: beyond point of sale, genuine interaction, customer care (people, not machines).)
How to Design for Facebook—Oren Shamir
Oren Shamir of McCann Erickson Israel talked about the research they have been doing about user behavior on Facebook. He started by giving us some statistics about Facebook usage patterns. For example, the average user has 130 friends and spends more time looking at pictures than anything else. They only create content once or twice a week. (But beware of averages! They can be misleading.)
Less than 28% of users have liked a brand page. But a small segment of users like lots of brands. Users who do like a brand usually do so to get discounts and coupons and to give feedback.
He went on to explain what companies can do in terms of fan pages and applications. In a fan page, more of the page is taken up by Facebook itself, but you get the wall and five tabs (which, unfortunately, are easy to miss). In an application, you get more screen real estate, but the user needs to authorize it, which is a barrier. And the longer the list of actions that the application needs to be able to do, the fewer people authorize it.
Their research was based on eye-tracking followed by immediate debriefing interviews. Some of the findings:
- In their feed, people mainly look at the feed itself. For an individual item, they read the text and only glanced briefly at the avatar.
- In brand pages, people are very content-driven. People looked at the tabs a lot, but usually because they didn’t understand them. apart from that, they focused mostly on the wall.
- Facebook search is terrible. People found the search box just fine, but often ended up on fake brand pages. It is hard to find a brand page and just as difficult to re-find it.
- There is a lot of inconsistency between different brand pages.
- There are lots of distractions, which makes it hard to complete tasks.
- Lots of people ignore the notifications.
There are several strategic questions that you need to be asking:
- Should you have a Facebook fan page, a regular site, or a mini-site?
- A tab or an application?
- A new page or a tab on the main page?
- How are people reaching us?
- How does it look on mobile?
He finished by giving some specific advice and recommendations:
- Keep flows short and focused.
- Use pictures wisely.
- Keep the order of your tabs consistent.
- It’s better to have a number of sub-pages than one brand page with lots of tabs.
- Give people content that they can share (short content, pictures, videos, etc.).
- Be social—respond immediately, look for friends.
- Put the value that you provide to the user front and center.
Oren finished up by showing us some examples of brands that are doing a good job on Facebook: Coca-Cola, Asos, Starbucks, and Samsung Mobile IL.
For more, see our recent interview with Oren.
The Right Way to Wireframe—Russ Unger
Russ’s started out by stating that unlike visual designers, we don’t usually show our work (specifically wireframes) to each other, at least not in public. And that this is a bad thing. We all have a lot to learn from each other, even if it’s just “Hey, that looks just like what I make. I guess I don’t suck after all.”
He went on to talk about a challenge that he took on with three other designers: Fred Beecher, Todd Zaki Warfel, and Will Evans. They took a good-cause site, Lend4health.com, which helps people lend money to people who need it for autism-related medical expenses, and which was being run with no budget and no design help, and designed the flow for making a loan. Each designer based his design on the same personas (researched and created by Gabby Hon) and found a visual designer to help him.
Each one selected a different tool to work with, and got to work figuring out the IA, creating a sitemap, sketching, wireframing, and then handing over to the visual designer to work their magic. They were not allowed to talk about the challenge until they were finished. Three of the videos that the designers created to show their process are available here.
Russ ended with some important principles:
- Sketching is thinking.
- Critique is essential.
- The best tool is the one you know.
See you next year!