Category Archives: Theory

featured Design

Flat Design was just a Trend, Apparently

There is no doubting Flat design is the current darling of the design world. Flat, simple patterns provide a clean and fresh look. Minimalist designs perfectly adapted to the surge in mobile usage. Even a company like Apple, a longtime supporter of skeuomorphic design, has joined their contemporaries in the design switch up.

Flat design burst onto the scene in late 2012, heralding a new era for design. Windows proved the vanguard for these new principles. Implementing their Metro interface first on Xbox and Zune, before unveiling Flat to the world with Windows 8. The Windows shake up carried with it plenty of controversies, yet Flat Design has only grown from strength to strength.
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featured Theory

Consistency Counts: Never Forget Your User

“Reinventing the wheel” is a common trend in the UX field, as is it within the majority of creative disciplines. Keen designers want to leave their mark; to prove their creativity and talent through fresh concepts. Fair play to them. How else are we to ensure trends evolve and continue to keep us interested and excited?

UX however, is a strange beast. A place where boundless creativity must be kept in check. Where any hint of misplaced arrogance can, and will, break a design; where “Reinventing the Wheel” is a trap best avoided. UX is about consistency.
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trafficlights Design

Idiot Buttons: The Placebo in UX Design

Users love control. Even in an automated world, our user wants to control the machine. To know that it is under their bidding, and to know it is serving their needs.

Yet, in an age of ever more intuitive interfaces, control is slipping out of the user’s hands. Reduced inputs leave our user only a bystander.

The placebo prevents this. The placebo places control back into our users hands. Yet, the placebo does nothing.
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armour_sets Theory

User Engagement: Learning from World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft will be 10 years old this year. Having dominated the gaming landscape this past decade, and with a new expansion due later this year, it is difficult to see any sign of major decline on the landscape. With over 6 million players, (down from a peak 12 million in 2010), WoW – its common acronym – continues to draw more than triple the players of its nearest rival. With each of these players paying around $15/month for the privilege, the numbers are huge.
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ID-10069792 Theory

Innovation and Usability: Striking a Balance

In a sense, success in online or software product management comes down to one word: innovation.
Discovering and implementing ideas is what drives success. The very word “innovation” is on the rise; as a recent comparison by Scott Burkun shows, the word “has undergone a steady and sharp increase in its appearance in print formats over the last fifty years”.

But does innovation come at a cost? Innovations can only be useful if they reach customers. And the key to reaching, and onboarding, these customers, is not only innovation – it’s usability.

New and returning users of your product don’t want to deal with constant updates or fixes – they want a product that works. If they already know how to use the service, they don’t want to have to learn something new.

So how to balance innovation with usability?
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freatured Theory

Why UX may kill UX

Those of us in the UX industry have never had it so good. It’s an industry buzzword. Companies are opening new UX departments left-right and centre. Supply is struggling to meet demand – it’s great. Great to be riding the wave of this acceptance and subsequent growth.

This change of focus to user centred design with UX at its core – together with ever improving technologies and development standards – has created an online experience more alive and immersive than ever before.
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Cortana Theory

The effect of ‘Digital Assistants’ on UX and UI

These past weeks have seen the Beta release of Cortana. The sidekick heroine of the Halo series represents Microsoft’s foray into the ever more sophisticated digital assistant field. Cortana, like Apple’s Siri, is intended to support Windows users through a complex mix of AI and audio recognition software.

Virtual sidekicks were long confined to the realms of science fiction. Complex digital (personal) assistants such as Halo’s Master Chief’s Cortana, and Samantha in the recent film “Her” have always seemed much too complex to bring to reality. However, with each passing year and iteration we take one step closer to making that fiction a reality.

What implications does this voice-activated future have on the field of UX – and more specifically it’s counterpart, User Interface (UI)?
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featured Theory

Profit Centered Design vs User Centered Design

A month ago, Facebook revealed another redesign. Just as we’d gotten used to their last iteration, in came a fresh new look. Though fresh is perhaps the wrong choice of term. The news feed redesign initially took many aback, holding a somewhat retro feel. Current trends all point towards flat and minimalism. Facebook had done the opposite.

Out of a cacophony of outcries – a standard reaction to any Facebook change – came one interesting article from Dustin Curtis. His article claimed Facebook had originally planned to move towards the generic flat design. However, decreased ad impressions in this new – beautiful – design had led to a design reversal. A reversal towards something more ‘practical’.
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jams1 Theory

Juggling Jam: Applying Hick’s Law to Web Design

Choice is a strange thing. The decisions we make shape everything we do, everything we are.

We deem choice a luxury. Liberating people with added choice was the running theme of the last century. Giving women the choice to vote. Removing racial segregations, opening up a plethora of choices for minorities across the world.

It seems only logical then to presume that offering an increased amount of choice is a great thing. Liberating people, allowing them to choose exactly what they want.

You’d be wrong.
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