User Experience

Design

Multiple devices, ever-growing customer expectations and increasingly complex sales & service journeys are creating new challenges for retailers. Our UX design experts help you navigate the new digital playbook and quickly turn complex functionality into beautifully intuitive, digital designs that delight customers, and grow your business.

WE HELP YOU

  • Grow your sales by inspiring customers with beautiful, robust, intricately responsive digital designs
  • Gain competitive advantage by evolving the right design quickly via our proven, rapid ‘test & learn’ approach
  • Drive customer satisfaction by embracing digital design thinking in your products & services
  • Embed UX design skills in your team

OUR APPROACH

By blending compelling creative visuals with pragmatic UX design thinking, we can help you create something truly special – an efficient, integrated design with intuitive interactions across every digital touchpoint. Our iterative, research-driven ‘test & learn’ process mitigates risk and delivers tangible results you can action quickly.

Newt’s agile user experience design services include:

  • Rapid prototyping
  • Responsive web design
  • User interface design
  • Interaction design
  • User centred design
  • Experience design
  • Creative design
  • Digital design

“Newt landed quickly, bringing highly skilled and passionate resources with deep industry knowledge.”

CHARLOTTE FAIRBAIRN
HEAD OF DIGITAL, MY-WARDROBE.COM

THE NEWT DIFFERENCE

Usability and usefulness are the linchpins of any successful digital product and service. Our team of UX experts understand the trends and standards of modern interface design and work with you to find the best solution for your needs. Every design we create is tested in detail – both internally and with customers – to ensure it meets the highest standards in quality, efficiency, usability and accessibility. And because we don’t believe in heavy paper deliverables, we deliver innovative user-centred and engaging designs in a fraction of the time.

OUR UX DESIGN WORK

It’s not rocket science, it’s smart design

Helping Tesco Drivers Deliver to You

Fashion, Flows and Mobile First

OUR UX THINKING

Seven steps to more effective design

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Seven steps to

more effective design

Take a look at how our unique approach to problem-solving and UX design can boost your business.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

Our best practice design process

1. Comparative research

Comparisons are good. They let us explore how other people have approached challenges, what works, and what doesn’t. Before we start any project, we look at a range of existing designs to similar problems. Then we draw up an initial framework and highlight the things that were missing. We add in the unique needs for the specific project, and include elements we have not seen elsewhere. Finally, we look at the added layer of the visual design and keep that inline with any existing style or brand guidelines.

2. User research

Once we’ve got a sense of the problem, we look at how our design would be implemented and the people that will use it. Talking to users and understanding their needs is crucial – and we go guerrilla style and get out there meeting people. We’ll visit stores, talk to managers and customers and get a real sense of who we designing for.

3. Initial sketches

Next we develop initial sketches and integrate the complex needs that were uncovered during the research phases. At this stage, we are able to understand the size of the project and what’s possible in the set timescale. We identify where time could be of most use and which challenges are integral to the functionality of the application or service.

4. User stories

User stories put requirements into context and help us make judgments about the core challenges to be resolved. They also give us a frame of reference to evaluate our work and make sure we tick all user needs.

5. Iterative process

Weekly client meetings let us show progress, respond to the points discussed the previous week, and make changes if desired. This iterative approach reassures clients that we’re on target and producing something they want, and it reduces project risk.

6. UX and visual design collaboration

Our interactive workflow builds incrementally on the visual design and UX. We initially use hand drawn and whiteboard sketches, as these are quick and easy to develop. From here, we develop initial designs in Sketch, a great platform for designing web applications and sharing assets. Sketch assets can be used to build a rapid Axure prototype, which helps to eliminate ambiguities and improve functionality ahead of the perfected visuals.

7. Outside eyes

We work to tight deadlines, at a rapid pace, so it’s important to get a fresh pair of eyes to sense check our work. This is crucial not just to test ease of use and understanding, but also for proof-reading.

These steps show how we generally run projects. However, every project is different and there may be times some of the steps aren’t relevant, or extra steps are required. The important thing is flexibility and a close working relationship. We will adapt processes to meet our clients’ needs, and liaise closely throughout the design process. This helps to ensure our clients are happy with our work, know what they’re going to receive, and where our time is being spent.

Talk shop

Get in touch to see how we can your help your business. Call us on 020 3515 1030 or email us at info@newtidea.com

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Five steps to designing complex timelines

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Five steps to designing

complex timelines

Simplify the intricate with our guide to designing beautiful, intuitive and multifunctional timelines.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Since social media exploded into our lives, navigating timelines has become second nature. When a timeline has been done well, we use it without pausing for thought. We don’t need detailed explanations and guides; it’s completely intuitive to our needs. This is testament to the brilliant UX that has gone into creating the timeline. But not all timelines are the same – and there is no set rule on how they should be designed.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have spent a lot of resources getting their timelines right, and are constantly updating their designs to factor in new needs and desires. But as timelines go, these examples are fairly basic, focusing on singular entries rather than the continuity of events in time.

Some timelines need to summarise a great number of events and information over varying time periods, ranging from one hour to over a year. For example: digital calendars, personal planning apps, and business, delivery or shift planning programs. The entries in these timelines can belong to different categories, have different states and contain multiple details. They might also require users to take actions, filter or re-organise information in different views, or any other function relevant to the task.

So, what’s the best way to deal with complex timelines? Here are five suggestions based on our experiences.

How to design a complex timeline

1. Find your “pivot”

It might seem obvious, but you need to figure out your main data set – a conceptual pivot around which the corresponding events can be organised. What’s the unit of measurement of your timeline? What’s the set of data your users can use to orient themselves?

With an office planner you might need to list, see and edit your employees’ day schedules. In this example, employees could be your ‘pivot’, and their tasks move the corresponding information.

Example of employees used as “pivot”

2. Show only what’s necessary

Complex timelines usually show numerous events for each screen. Each event can include information like dates, times, places, people, descriptions etc. Displaying it all at once would be overwhelming, so you need to focus on the essential information. In most circumstances, this will be enough for users to understand and differentiate events. If you do need to show more, use progressive disclosure to enable users to easily access secondary information.

An example of a calendar showing essential information. Clicking on single events reveals more information

3. Choose your style

Timelines come in all shapes and representations. There’s no general rule for how they should look.

The style you choose depends on the data you need to show. Your design should provide users with the easiest way to navigate through the content.

For example, if your reference time span is one day and your timeline caters for up to 200 employees per day, it should be organised vertically. In general, vertical scrolling is easier and more familiar than horizontal scrolling.  

Timelines come in a variety of shapes.

4. Differentiate content

Colours are an easy and powerful way to differentiate content, especially when using familiar colour-coding, like green for positive and red for negative. Colour coding can be helpful in distinguishing between different categories e.g. holidays, meetings, project work and/or different states e.g. started, scheduled, completed or cancelled.

However, colour alone is not enough, and not only for accessibility reasons. Using too many colours can become confusing and ambiguous. Always accompany colours with labels, icons, initials or whatever tools you have to make the content clear and easily scannable.

An example of using colours and labels to categorise events.

5. Use animations wisely

Animations can make interfaces look more appealing – but use them wisely, especially for services which are meant to be efficient rather than beautiful. Make sure animations help rather than obstruct your users’ interactions. Use them to highlight changes and important content or save users some work. Keep it simple, and let your users move around as they wish, without being restricted.

Conclusion

The general rule for designing complex timelines and services is less is more. This doesn’t mean hiding important information for the sake of beauty. But it does mean making life easier for people and lightening users’ cognitive load. Showing too much is not only overwhelming but it’s also unproductive. We’re not designed to consciously process too much information at once. While it might be tempting to display as much content as possible and let the user decide, this is not always the best call.

Talk timelines

Get in touch to discuss how we can help your business, service or product. Email us at info@newtidea.com

Image references

Fig 1: Allocate 
Fig 2: Square up
Fig 3: The Evolution of Western Dance Music
Fig 4: Harvest Forecast app
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Get emotional about your design

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Get emotional

about your design

Article 4 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

Use the science of emotions to trigger customer responses and improve your UX design.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Emotions. Like them or loathe them. There’s no getting away from the fact that they play a fundamental role in how users perceive their experiences with services and interfaces. Data from IPA compared the outcome of campaigns that relied primarily on emotional appeal vs those that used rational persuasion and information. The results showed that the emotional campaigns performed twice as well, and delivered twice the profit*.

These are not results to be sniffed at. But to successfully tap into people’s emotions, you first need to understand how they work.

By gaining a greater understanding of how emotions work, you can increase the effectiveness of your designs.

The science of emotions

1. Emotions are grounded in rationality

Emotions play a crucial role in how we react to situations. Without them, we wouldn’t run away from danger, behave soberly in serious situations or be protective of vulnerable people. Emotions have the evolutionary advantage of triggering actions we wouldn’t make otherwise. They activate us.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Emotions aren’t the enemy diverting your users in unknown directions. They are an opportunity for you to lead users the way you want them to go. For example, if you’re selling bungee jumping sessions, build excitement from the start. Show the sheer joy of bungee jumping and awaken their sense of adventure. You’re selling a lifestyle, not a jump – so make visitors want to part of the action.
  • Use UI elements like images, videos, text and colours to set the right tone. For example, dark colours for vehicles or minimalist fonts for luxury brands.

2. Emotions are subjective

Behind every emotion there is a personal concern. This means that an event can trigger a certain response in one person and a different or no response in another. Emotions are strictly connected to personal knowledge, beliefs, experience and personality.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Focus on your target audience and don’t expect to have the same impact on everyone.  In the bungee jumping example, some people will never want launch themselves off a bridge, however fun you make it look. That’s fine. Focus on the people your product or service will appeal to.
  • Use images or messages that are highly shared and sharable. Avoid anything that could be perceived as offensive or partial.

3. Emotions are also mostly social

Many emotional states are triggered by social events. Judgements or compliments affect of us. Most of our unspoken social life is regulated by the empathetic ability to understand other people’s emotions and react appropriately.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Empathise with your users. Try to foresee their emotive and motivational states when using your service – and react accordingly. Conveying positive emotions is an obvious choice for attracting and engaging visitors. But other emotions can also trigger responses, for example, awareness campaigns might use imagery and messages to raise feelings of compassion or guilt.
  • Give users emotions that will make them feel socially satisfied.  For example, Luxury brands underline the scarceness and uniqueness of their products to make their customers feel special.

4. Emotions are culturally defined

While basic emotions, like fear or joy, are relatively independent from culture, complex emotions like embarrassment, jealousy or guilt are connected to culture.

For example, being chatty and friendly with strangers might be considered normal in some countries and awkward and inappropriate in others. Laughing in Japan might be interpreted as a sign of confusion. In India, giving a gift with your left hand might be considered offensive. Being late for an appointment might be fine in Italy or Latin America but unacceptable in Germany. Jealousy might be considered very differently in polygamous cultures.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Keep in mind the specific culture you’re designing for, if there is one, and its belief system.
  • If your service is global, adjust content and messages for different countries. For example, Netflix has different programmes for every country.

As with the other cognitive processes covered in the previous articles of the series, emotions can be unpredictable. It’s difficult to know or foresee what customers are going through and what they’re feeling. What we can do is learn more about how emotional states work and the role they play. Then apply that knowledge to design better products.

Find out more:

* Read ‘Powerfully emotional advertising’ by IPA

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve your UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve your Design
  3. Three ways to influence customer decision-making
  4. Get emotional about your design
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Three ways to influence customer decision-making

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Three ways to

influence customer

decision-making

Article 3 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

Apply the psychology of decision-making to your design process to inspire customer loyalty and increase conversions.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Customers make choices all the time, from picking products and using services, to downloading apps and buying upgrades. An understanding of what drives decision-making enables you to adapt your design process and encourage more people to choose your brand.

Key decision influencers and how to apply them to your design

1. Logic and emotions

Decisions are guided by logic and emotions to varying degrees. The amount of conscious effort (i.e. the logic side) depends on the perceived importance of the decision. Bigger decisions like buying an expensive product or selecting a bank account will require more logical thought. More simplistic decisions, like choosing between similar websites, are mostly guided by emotions and unconscious snap judgements.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Use design to influence your customers both consciously and unconsciously
  • Give your customers the tools to make rational choices, especially when deciding about an expensive purchase or a long-term commitment
  • Use design to convey positive emotions and shape the path you want your customers to follow
  • Don’t overwhelm and confuse customers with too many choices – prioritise and streamline vigilantly

2. Heuristics and biases

As discussed in the first article of this series, our brain filters out certain information to be able to function in this over-complicated world. Another trick it uses is heuristics. These are mental shortcuts that allow us to make snap decisions and judgements based on what we already know about the world. For example, people have a tendency to choose recognisable brands and believe expensive products are better quality. Despite being essential, this over-simplification may lead to systematic errors that can affect decisions. For example, an over reliance on limited information, or a tendency to spend more on multiple small items rather than one larger purchase*.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Design for snap judgements. Before even considering a new product, people will unconsciously scan in search of familiar information and known characteristics they can trust. They will form quick judgements based on their beliefs, prejudice and experience. For example, a tech website is supposed to look fresh, professional and appealing
  • Don’t underestimate the power of first impressions and gut feelings. Make sure the first message you convey is the right one
  • Don’t overestimate the time people will spend making decisions about your service. Win their hearts quickly or lose them forever

3. Social influence

Society plays a huge role in the decision-making process. Whether we like it or not, we’re all influenced by societal expectations – even if our decision is to go against the norm. Every day we put great effort into preserving a consistent image of ourselves. We tend to be influenced by other people’s decisions and try to behave in a way that makes an impression and lets us stand out.

How to apply this to your design:

  • Consider trends along with best and most familiar practices
  • Discover the norm – what do your competitors do? What do people like and react to? Find out what works and don’t stray too far from that
  • If your product or service allows, make customers feel special and exclusive

A final note – prepare for the unpredictable

Humans are just that – human. We’re can’t be programmed and our decisions are not always predictable. We can react completely differently to the same situation from one day to the next. It all depends on how we’re feeling at any given time or if anything has triggered certain memories or past experiences.  

What can you do about it?

In truth, not much. After all, no one can predict the unpredictable, but there are a few things that will help.

  • Do your research – some behaviours are more recurring than other, rules of thumb and heuristics will work in a good percentage of cases, but not in all
  • Don’t be bossy – telling people how you want them to behave is a no-go. It doesn’t work and can be counter-productive. Instead, play on emotions and be persuasive rather than prescriptive
  • Observe how your design functions in the wild – track how it’s doing, and make sure there is an opportunity to revisit and redesign later on

Find out more:

*How a razor revolutionised the way we pay for stuff

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve your UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve your Design
  3. Three ways to influence customer decision-making
  4. Emotions
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Five SEO tips to improve organic search

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Five SEO tips to improve

organic search

Having a fantastic website that is easy to use and meets your customer needs is not a differentiator anymore, but a necessity for any business. However, first your customers have to find your website. And while you can spend a lot of money on AdWords and other search engine advertising, investing a little effort in getting the basics right so customers simply find your website pays great dividends. Simply finding your website through a search engine, rather than clicking on paid for online ads is also called organic search.

 

BY
PHILIP BONHARD

Design Director

Discover how you can increase organic search traffic with these simple five tips.

1. Optimise your metadata and content

When Google indexes your pages it checks the metadata and first paragraph to find keywords.

Therefore ensure the following:

  • Your first paragraph contains the important keywords naturally but avoid keyword stuffing
  • Publish valuable content on a regular basis
  • Add image titles, ALT tags and descriptions

2. Create powerful content on a regular basis

Writing relevant articles / insights that are useful to customers will increase the chance of people finding your site. Content is king, right? Make sure that your content is relevant and better than that of your competitors, so don’t publish just for publishing sake.

3. Descriptive URLs

URLs that contain relevant keywords are generally higher ranked than those that are non descriptive.

So:

www.mywebsite.com/findoutaboutcustomerexperience

Is better than:

www.mywebsite.com/pageid=32

4. SSL

Google has started ranking sites that have HTTPS / SSL higher. While getting a SSL certificate used to be complex and expensive, it isn’t anymore. Some of them are even free!

5. Be mobile friendly

Again, while Google is secretive about its search algorithm, it is well known that Google search prefers sites that are optimised for mobile consumption. After all, a significant proportion of users will use their smartphones to browse the Internet.

Conclusion

SEO is a science in itself and there are many professionals and businesses that make a well deserved living out of it. The above is only a starting point, but the key is to start with some basics and optimise your SEO strategy based on analytics data.

Get further information and advice on how you can increase organic search traffic with these sites:

https://blog.monitorbacklinks.com/seo/increase-organic-traffic/

https://www.matthewbarby.com/seo-tips/

https://www.smartbugmedia.com/blog/8-ways-to-increase-organic-traffic

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Four ways memory can influence and improve design

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Four ways memory

can influence and

improve design

Article 2 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

Use the psychology of memory to create experiences that will be remembered for all the right reasons.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

As mentioned in the previous article in the series, to design better solutions we need to understand the mind in order to change behaviour. Memory is involved in this and every process. When you ask users to recall a previous experience, make a decision, choose between alternatives or solve a task, memory plays a role. It’s just that most of the time we’re unaware of it.

By understanding how memory works, you create experiences that stick in your customers’ minds and encourage them to come back time and time again.

How to build experiences that will be remembered

1. Create fantastic memories 

Most memory processes are unconscious – but they form a lasting impression, even if we’re not aware of it at the time. So creating the right experiential environment for users is crucial.

When someone enjoys interacting with your brand or business, it encourages positive thinking – and research shows it’s easier for people to recall positive experiences. This in turn encourages certain behaviours, like repeat buying or friend recommendations.

Certain stimulus can also unconsciously activate concepts, images, experiences and feelings. By doing the right customer research you can find out exactly what makes your customers tick and use this to enhance your design.

2. Don’t picture memories as photographs

We may think of episodic memories as vivid photographs in our mind. However that’s not the way they work. Within minutes, we forget most of the surrounding “unnecessary” details of a worthy-to-remember episode and only the core memory survives.

Remembering is a reconstructive process. When we recollect an episode, the gaps are filled with credible but far from accurate details. However, we tend to overestimate the accuracy because of the vividness usually associated with recalling. Not only the memories themselves, but also the way we perceive them, changes with time. Quoting the Hindsight Bias definition: when we look at a situation retrospectively, we believe we easily can see all the signs and events leading up to a particular outcome. This means that asking directly about personal experiences will often result in inaccurate memories and misjudgements.

Creating good memories, especially first-time memories, will influence your customers’ behaviour in the long run. But don’t focus only on the moment. Consider the before and after as part of the whole experience. For example, AirBnB isn’t just a booking system for spare bedrooms; it has now expanded into providing experiences around trips.

3. Design for memory fallacies

Not only are our memories flawed, they are also affected by systematic biases and errors. Because we manage to keep only the essential parts, we tend to confuse things we personally experienced with things we heard or read. We mix similar memories or remember things as consequential that, in a broad context, are inconsequential. Also, we tend to have better recall of the initial and final bits of information and forget what’s in the middle. Think about the plot of a film or book, for example.

These errors usually don’t have a catastrophic effect on everyday life, after all they’re brain-tricks to keep memory storage available and fast working. However, they can have a great influence in situations where details are important.

In design, this means avoiding asking people to remember. Instead, remind them what to do, how to do it, and why. Use situational clues and familiarity to lighten the cognitive load. A good example is a video game where users can play the game in training mode first, and then get reminders during actual game play.

4. Reduce the use of working memory

Working memory is a part of short-term storage and is the process that assists us in everyday problem solving. It’s an accurate and conscious process, but incredibly time and space constrained as well as extremely consuming. It’s the memory we use, for example, when we need to dial a number without reading it. We mentally rehearse the number until the task is solved and as soon as it is, we forget it. This kind of operation is conscious, tiring, and delicate. Not only is the storage limited to 7 ± 2 items at a time, but every distraction can interfere and disrupt the task.

The best designs limit the use of working memory. This means prioritising tasks into short step processes, with visual guidance and progress bars.

More examples of different types of memory:

Prospective memory

This refers to what you intend to do. For example, you know you need to take the rubbish out, so leave it by the door – and then forget it. This is your Prospective memory playing up.

Episodic memory

This refers to the memory of autobiographical events. Episodic memory is the one responsible for totally or partially forgetting certain experiences. This is usually because the episode was not important enough for us to be stored or we were not paying enough attention. An example might be a funny anecdote your friends still laugh about but you can’t remember, even though everyone is positive you were there.

Semantic memory

This refers to your ability or inability to remember a historical date, the name of a politician or the capital of a country. We’ve all had times when we can’t remember the name of a certain actor, you know, what’s his name? He was in that film about an alien.

Procedural memory

If you’ve ever blamed your memory for being unable to drive a car or play guitar properly, you’re on to something – as that’s a form of memory too. Procedural memory is the things you’ve learnt that you don’t forget, like riding a bike.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and would love to find out how you’ve applied it to your User Experience. Let us know at info@newtidea.com

Find out more: 

Cognitive Psychology, Sternberg & Sternberg 

Cracking our elusive System 1

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve your UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve your Design
  3. Decision Making
  4. Emotions
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Top five ways to strike a balance between digital and human interaction

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Top five ways to strike

a balance between digital

and human interaction

We may live in a digital era, but the best customer experiences embrace the human touch.

 

BY
ZOE LESTER

Visual Designer

A recent talk from renowned customer experience expert, Adrian Swinscoe highlighted the power of insightful, customer-centred research in building exemplary experiences.  The underlying message was a need to balance digital and human interaction. Technology alone isn’t the answer, and human interaction should never suffer at digital’s expense. Only when technology is coupled with insightful human-centred research, can truly innovative ideas emerge.

With this in mind, here are our top five practical tips for a more powerful, humanised, digital experience:

1. Understand the value of cultural research

It pays to have a deep understanding of your different markets as fashion e-retailer, Zalando demonstrate. As one of Europe’s biggest online retailers, Zalando has a huge international following, and they’ve adapted their business model accordingly. In Italy, 29% of people don’t have a bank account. So Zalando offer their customers the option to pay cash on receipt. This unexpected adjustment gives customers the wow factor and has the potential to increase sales and create brand loyalty.

2. Be conscious of generational assumption

Millennials have a reputation of being tech savvy and only interested in self-serve. However, generational trend research has suggested this may not always be the case. When millennials are faced with situations that might be more complicated, for example dealing with finances, they prefer to see someone in person. Providing a physical place for people to seek expertise lets you reassure your customers that your business is genuinely there to help.

3. Use behavioural change techniques sparingly

There are tried and tested ways to change people’s behaviour, particularly for digital and web interfaces. Some of these theories were put forward by BJ Fogg and advanced in the book Hooked: how to build habit forming products. As interesting as this is for research purposes, we recommend using caution when implementing techniques like this in reality. To truly care for your customer it should come from a place of insight and authenticity. This means basing changes on what customers actually need, not what you can make them need. To build something relevant and meaningful, you must listen to your customer first.

4. Adapt a design thinking approach

When faced with a crossroads, organisations often jump to solution-orientated thinking, churning out the same ideas again and again. For example, build a new product that may patch the issue in the short-term but leads to new or repeating problems down the line. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to break the mould and get a fresh perspective. This is where design thinking comes in. This approach brings together what your customers want and need, with what is technologically feasible. Giving you the opportunity to innovate the right way.

5. Don’t rely solely on big data for the answer

Big data is robust and thorough, but it can also be disconnected from the real world. To bring things back to reality, mix your big data with targeted user research. Taking the time to explore customer needs and behaviours before your project goes into development can mean the difference between success and failure. It lets you uncover the gritty nature of people, and create hypotheticals and personas to establish a more realistic picture of your customers. You can then use this to build something that is truly worthwhile.

Adrian Swinscoe is the author of How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways To Make Customer Experience Amazing. His interview was part of the #MRX Talks Live lecture series and accompanying podcasts hosted by Dub Is Here, based in Shoreditch.

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How to use psychology to improve your UX

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How to use psychology

to improve your UX

Article 1 of 4: Behavioural Design Series

This first article in our Behavioural Design Series explores four ways Cognitive Psychology can feed into your User Experience.

 

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Behavioural Design is a scientific approach, which applies the methodology and principles of Cognitive Science to the design process. This works to create solutions that are capable of changing established behaviours and introducing new ones.

Behavioural Design shouldn’t be confused with “Behaviourism” – a classic psychological approach that explains behaviour in terms of conditioning. This theory has since been dethroned by the so-called Cognitive Revolution, which looks at the need to understand the mind in order to change behaviour.

Why is this important to UX designers?

User Experience Design is all about user needs, but it’s easy to forget that users are people – and people are complicated, emotional, irrational and easily influenced. Shoehorning your users into particular boxes (i.e. our users are retailers so they need x, y, z) doesn’t really work, or at least only gives you half the story. To truly understand your users, you need to go beyond what they consciously say, to the processes that underlie their behaviour. This means tapping in to some Cognitive Psychology.

Focus on these 4 concepts of Cognitive Psychology

 

1. Don’t go for the easy answer 

Pop psychology loves to neatly bundle people into quick and easy brackets. Left-brained people are creative, right-brained people are logical, men communicate differently from women etc. Unfortunately, these are usually myths or oversimplifications. When it comes to the mind, nothing is simple. There are no such things as neural areas that work alone, decisions guided solely by emotions or reasoning, and phenomena explained uniquely by context or genetics. We don’t use only 10% of our brain and don’t perfectly remember events from 10 years ago.

How does this apply to your design?

Don’t jump to conclusions about your users’ needs and desires on the basis of their gender, age or job. All men aren’t sport-loving, beer-guzzlers, and all women aren’t make-up obsessed, shoe hoarders. Forget what you think about their behaviours and try to break down the barriers of stereotypes and mental schemes; you might discover unexpected things.

2. Be economical

Our brain is an amazing but limited machine living in a world of extraordinary complexity. There’s so much going on around us, that it’s impossible for our brains to process everything in detail.

To be efficient, we rely on categorisation and shortcuts to help us analyse the world in an acceptably fast and accurate way. This means our brains focus on relevant details and ignore everything else. For example, when you’re working on your laptop, you’re not focusing on the objects on your desk, as they’re irrelevant to what you’re doing. But the price we pay for selective focusing is that we commit errors, a lot of errors.

How does this apply to your UX design process?

The more complex a situation, the more details we need to ignore. This has a huge impact on design. Too much information in one place can result in people either ignoring most of it or being unable to make a decision. The trick is to prioritise, organise hierarchically, use progressive disclosure and make use of your UI tools to convey the message in the right way. Limiting and staggering information makes it easier to learn and remember. Once people internalise a concept with experience, they can use it automatically. For example, a computer game will gradually increase the number of controls and difficulty of quests as the player progresses through the levels.

3. Factor for errors

We are economical creatures and use existing mental structures, knowledge and experiences to make snap judgements about new situations. This leads to systematic errors and generalisations. We are predisposed to see events, attributes and categories as going together, even when they logically do not. For instance, the generalisation that all Italian food is good and all Italian people can cook. Biases and errors are also used to build and retain our self-image, and reduce the impact of negative feelings. For example, we tend to attribute failures to situational factors and success to personal factors.

How does this apply to your UX design process?

There are times when we all make mistakes, rely too much on impressions and irrational sensations, and are reluctant to admit when we’re wrong. Your users are no exception. By factoring this into your design, research and testing, you can improve the end experience. Observe the errors your users make and try to prevent them, as much as possible. Use visual elements like size, colour, font, icons and messages to avoid error-prone situations, and in case this is not enough, always offer a way back. For example, a brighter colour, bigger size and more reachable position to your primary CTA can improve click-through rates.

4. Be rational about irrationality

We like to think of ourselves as rational beasts that know exactly what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. But, 95% of our cognitive processes are unconscious. Even when we try to judge a situation or make a conscious decision, those underlying processes are influencing our behaviour. It’s not only the logical factors that influence our decisions but also feelings, experiences, memories, situations and sociality. We are less predictable than we might think and often prone to overestimation.

How does this apply to your UX design process?

Don’t take it for granted that your users will be predictable and act the way you want them to. Keep testing over time in real life situations to learn more about your users’ behavioural patterns and what they really do.

Also, measuring unconscious body responses like sweat, facial expressions or eye movement can give more meaningful results than conscious ones. Because body responses are involuntary and can’t be filtered, they are a valid measure of our true experience.

We hope you’ve found this article useful and would love to find out how you’ve applied it to your User Experience. Let us know at info@newtidea.com

Find out more: 

Cognitive Psychology, Sternberg & Sternberg 

Cracking our elusive System 1

Watch out for the rest of the articles in this series:

  1. How to use Cognitive Psychology to improve you UX
  2. Four ways memory can influence and improve Design
  3. Decision Making
  4.  Emotions
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Five big benefits of Rapid Prototyping

By | CX/UX, service-digital-innovation, service-technology | No Comments

Five big benefits of

Rapid Prototyping

Speed up your project success and get better designs faster with rapid prototyping.

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Rapid prototyping lets you quickly mock up a future state, validate it with stakeholders and iterate until you reach the ideal. We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”; well if that’s true, then a prototype is worth millions.

Once the domain of engineers and manufacturers, a new breed of UX designers is bringing rapid prototyping to the mainstream. And the benefits are powerful. Faster, designs, better results, increased productivity and reduced costs.

Here are the top five benefits rapid prototyping can bring to your projects:

1. Communication

Creating an efficient communication flow is perhaps the biggest challenge of any project. The more people involved, the more fragmented communication can become. A live prototype changes this by communicating intent far better than static screens and piles of documentation. It lets everyone follow the design evolutions day-by-day, give immediate feedback and play around with all the functionalities and interactions. This helps reduce costly misinterpretations and prevent last minute changes. Product teams become more cohesive, productive and efficient, and engagement increases as everyone can focus on the success of the design.

2. Agility

Projects are rarely straightforward. Errors, uncertainties, variations and changes of mind are inevitable and necessary as they help you find out what works and what doesn’t. The important thing is to implement and share changes quickly and efficiently. This is where rapid prototyping comes in. Team members can adapt at speed, easily integrating changes and creating reusable structures, which takes the pain out of reiteration.

3. Versatility

The beauty of prototyping techniques is that they can be applied to any project. For example, engineering to design, pure innovation to re-design, physical to digital (or both e.g. Arduino, Raspberry Pi etc). Prototypes can be low or high fidelity, from a simple set of screens to a pixel-perfect hyper-realistic prototype running on multiple devices. The level of detail depends on the complexity of the project and your budget.

4. Interactions and animations

Animations and interaction patterns help turn the complex into the understandable, which is crucial to digital usability and the design process. Every behavioural user expectation is shaped by an affordance, which Donald Norman defines as ‘perceived action possibilities’. In digital platforms, physical feedback is missing and must be “faked” in a way that looks natural to users. This makes the process even more challenging. Static screens are sometimes not enough, especially on interfaces that require a high number of gestures, like touch screen applications. Prototypes let designers create an exact pattern of animation and interactions for development teams to see live and reproduce without having to interpret intentions. This is indispensable for clear client demonstrations, which in turn simplifies decision-making.

5. Testing

Before laying down time and money it’s essential to carry out early and frequent testing with users. Rapid prototyping allows designers to create models that look and feel real to users and make it easy to gather feedback. But even before that it’s important for designers to see their ideas live, because what works on paper might not work in real life. Pre-testing the interface on the actual device and in the real context allows you to spot and correct errors at early stages.

The bottom line is that rapid prototyping can save you time, money and effort by getting you to where you want to be faster and more effectively. If you’re finding that your wireframes are only taking you so far, maybe it’s time to switch to rapid prototyping.

Check out these prototyping tools

Here are a few prototyping tools that we think are worth considering.  While there are hundreds more out there, we’ve worked with a few of the ones below and we think they stand out from the crowd.

Axure

Flinto

Proto.io

Adobe Experience Design

Invision

Balsamiq

Mockplus

UXPin

Justinmind

Marvel

See what rapid prototyping could do for you

Want to find out how rapid prototyping can boost your business? Drop us a line and we’ll quickly demonstrate the power of prototyping.

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Intranet Dos and Don’ts

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Intranet Dos

and Don’ts

Building an Intranet requires time, money and effort. Here’s how to make sure your employees are as happy about the changes as you are.

BY
ALESSIA ROMANO

UX Designer

Intranets can increase your workforce’s productivity, help break down departmental silos by enabling safe information sharing, and get your whole organisation thinking more strategically. They are designed to empower your employees, and many will be excited about your new platform. However others may be sceptical about a perceived change of work habits and new, ‘complicated’ tools they never asked for.

If you’re making a big investment, you’ll want to ensure all your employees love the result. But sometimes this isn’t easy. A myriad of information, tools and unique departmental and role requirements, can make it difficult to create a platform that satisfies and engages everyone.

Here are our six key guidelines on how to create an Intranet that’s universally accepted, utilised and enjoyed:

1. Content first

Employees will mainly access the Intranet to find information. For example, company, unit, role, people, vacancies, news, reports, holidays, policies, travels and everything else that may concern their working life. Make sure that the content is present, up-to date, clear and complete. Simplicity is paramount; a nice design is appealing and appreciated as long as it doesn’t sacrifice the content’s clarity.

2. Information Architecture is the key to simplicity

You want to enrich your Intranet with as much useful content as you can. But you don’t want your employees to drown in an ocean of information, and neither do they.

  • Categorisation and hierarchy

Categorisation is the base of cognitive economy; it’s the most efficient way our brain knows to catalogue, memorise and re-use information. Without this mental trick, the world would be too complicated for us. It’s the same for your Intranet. Develop and prioritise a logical, intuitive hierarchy to categorise information into content families that are easy to find and remember. Group together all related content to avoid confusion.

  • Navigation

Menus are like maps that allow ‘explorers’ to orient themselves; they need to be easy to read, accurate and complete but not complicated. Make the most important features easily and quickly accessible. Use intelligible and familiar icons that are always paired with appropriate labels.

  • Consistency

Define a design strategy for your pages and make sure it is adhered to, to enhance consistency. Create cognitive anchor points – meaning that recurring or similar information behaves identically, occupies the same position, has the same layout and is represented by the same icon and label. This will make the learning process easier and more effective.

  • Taxonomy

Use it and use it well to let employees effectively search for content through the search bar and the browser. It will also help you when analysing the Intranet’s traffic.

3. Allow personalisation

Customisation can be invisible and effective. Make the platform adjust for the individual role, location and usage history. Let users personalise with moderation, but you should keep control of the content. Allow small choices such as ‘favourite’ links, tools or people inside the Company. Customisation will enhance perceived usefulness and control.

4. Provide some training

You may think that the Intranet is easy to use and that employees will learn with use. However, your point of view is very different from the average user, who may know nothing about the Intranet. They can’t share your knowledge or know your efforts and intentions. Help them learn it. Training will boost engagement and adoption.

5. Test, test, test

Before, after and during… test! As good as your intentions may be, you don’t always know what users really want and need. What you think they want does not necessarily correspond to reality. Ask them, observe them, listen to them and respond to their feedback. This is the key to making them happy.

6. Mobile matters

Intranets, with all their functions, content, tools and pages are not exactly mobile friendly. Pick out the essential ‘on the go’ elements, remove the superfluous and create a stunning user-friendly mobile experience. Oh and don’t forget to test it!

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See how we can help design your digital. Let our experts set the foundations for your new designs, and uncover the quick wins that will give you fast results – get in touch today!

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