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UX and UI Developments - 08/03/2017

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are two of the most talked-about areas in web design at the moment. More and more companies are beginning to realise their importance since the focus has shifted to the customer journey, what it feels like, and how it can be improved. There are many different components of a website that have an effect on user experience. Web designers are constantly coming up with new ideas and experimenting with different trends to help improve a website. So where do UX and UI developments begin and end? And how can we tell them apart?

UX is about how website functions are designed to facilitate a customer’s online journey from their first click on a website through to their purchase and/or exit of the last page they visit. UX designs work in a similar way to how our brains work to facilitate daily functions that require us to get from A to B, including taking the quickest route to work, stopping for coffee on the way and dropping into the gym on the way home.
 
 
UI designs are about appealing to the senses throughout the customer journey. We can enhance our daily journey to and from work by wearing that feel good suit, enjoying the taste of great coffee and listening to some awesome music along the way. Ways of enhancing a website users experience through UI designs might include; designing user interfaces or webpages that incorporate spectacular use of colour, rich and useful copy, engaging images and memorable video content. We’ve compiled some pointers on how more advanced UX and UI techniques are helping companies to get ahead of the competition: 
 

Advanced responsive designs

The major push towards responsive websites is set to continue. Many people use a number of devices to search and buy, so websites need to deliver a great user experience across all devices. If web pages fail to display on a phone within three seconds, the visitor is likely to flick to a competitor site. Even small businesses are investing in responsive designs, for the simple reason that it can be more cost effective to have a website built to fit all platforms.
 
UI design patterns can be used to determine how content elements on a web page are treated and behave across different devices, potentially affecting their order of delivery, size, shape, colour, animation and more. There are four common UI patterns used to facilitate responsive designs including;
 
  • Fluid - Where columns are stacked vertically. For example, content boxes that appear to sit side by side on a desk top, might appear one under the other on a smart phone.
  • Layout changers - Where changes to elements including content blocks and image blocks are made, prior to content displaying across different devices.
  • Tweaking patterns - Where existing copy and images are slightly resized to fit different devices.
  • Off Canvas - Where only primary page content is visible. Less popular content that’s more often featured within the right hand column of a page, might only appear in the desk top view of a web page, or may only be made available by clicking on link. Most mobile versions of websites put the full navigation menu off canvas, however it is made available at the touch of an identifiable tab or icon.
 
Each of the above patterns suit different business needs. Can a combination of patterns be used to best accommodate a website? The answer is most definitely “Yes”. Ashley Pothecary (UI Developer, Freetimers) explains; “The demand for bespoke UI designs is increasing as companies are looking to further enhance their customer’s journey and differentiate themselves from the competition. One of the ways to help them achieve this, is to combine the different UI methods into new and unique configurations.”
 

Additional UX, UI developments facilitate:

  • More cohesive customer journeys on ecommerce sites (UX). Brands websites and apps often interact with other websites and apps, to help customers complete actions such as making payments etc. It’s important the customer experiences a smooth and comfortable transition across the platforms, when being prompted to complete actions online, in order to facilitate better conversion rates. Designers will need to work on mapping out clear, logical journeys for customers. There are now affordable multi-channel ecommerce solutions available to allow brands to provide their customers with a strong and consistent journey across multiple channels.
  • Advanced parallax scrolling (UX). As our scrolling techniques advance and evolve, we’re moving faster and faster through web content. It can sometimes be a little disorientating, we’re quickly taken from one piece of content to the next and the next. It can however be quite stabilising, to have consistent use of brand colours and imagery in the background of a website, as we rapidly scroll through content in the foreground. It helps a user to know they haven’t drifted too far, and to recognize where they are. New screen technologies mean that colours can be reproduced faster than ever, thus promoting brands more effective use of colours and effects. It’s important to strike a balance with this 3D effect as it can become too distracting if over used.
  • Authentic video content (UI). Social media giants have fully embraced video chat and live streaming. The combination of humanisation, visuals and narrative make this form of content more appealing and effortless to consume. Large and start up brands are more commonly using video to satisfy customers desire to receive quality information at speed.
  • The Devil is in the Detail (UI). Long Form content is overtaking light copy. Our desire to make informed choices about products and services spans across all socio demographic groups. Even school children like to know where their apple has been sourced from. Consequently, companies are required to provide vast amounts of product/service information to satisfy customer’s requirement to make an independent and educated choice of purchase. 
 
Google is rewarding companies that feed their information hungry audience by pushing them up the search rankings, as this type of information increases web user’s online time and exposure to Google paying customers.  Both small and large companies are now partnering with digital agencies to benefit from the ROI in content production that typically comprises of more than 1500 words and one or more engaging images that are valuable to the customer. 
 
In summary, the focus on web design has shifted. Customers online behaviour is dictating how websites should be developed. Market research and customer behaviour analysis are now feeding into web design more than ever before. 
 
Freetimers web design and marketing teams will be sharing a range of materials, to help small to medium sized business more easily optimise their customer’s journey. These learning materials will include:
 
  • UX and UI terminology. A comprehensive translation of common UX and UI terminologies that will help you to understand and communicate concepts ranging from your ‘off canvas’ design, through to your ‘breadcrumbs’.
  • How to run an effective customer journey mapping workshop. Hints and tips to help you select appropriate company representatives. Ways in which to take a closer look at your website to better define user journeys
  • Responsive design patterns. The benefits of common responsive web patterns and bespoke sites.
  • Wire framing and iterations. The purpose of this rapid iterative technique and tips on how to get the most from this process.

 

Receive UX and UI business support materials throughout 2017:

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