User experience is so much more than just design. It’s about the way you interact with a product – how you use it, how it’s structured, how you navigate around a site, or an app, and so much more. It’s not simply a case of making something look “pretty” – it’s about improving the way it works to the point where it’s intuitive and obvious, and using it feels like second nature.
There are a lot of designers out there who already work hard to improve the user experience of websites, apps – and pretty much every other interface. And while there is still room for improvement, we can also find a lot of very creative and innovative ideas for improving the UX.
Whether it’s a big, revolutionary UX idea that forms the entire basis of the product, or a tiny, easy-to-miss detail that makes the user experience just that little bit more intuitive – we should look closely and get inspired for our own projects.
Let’s take a look at 8 innovative UX concepts and just what it is that makes them stand out.
Deal In’s Skeuomorphic Menu
A skeuomorphic approach to a slide-to-reveal menu on mobile.
Deal In is an iPhone app that helps you find interesting products to buy – or helps you to find deals on things that you want to get. The designers behind the app wanted to experiment with a new slide-to-reveal menu that uses a design that’s slightly more skeuomorphic than most app menus. It mimics a real-life paper fold instead of a simple slide, which helps to give it a grounding in the real world. While it’s not necessarily the right choice for every menu, isn’t it interesting to see the things that other designers are experimenting with?
Creative, skeuomorphic approach to revealing the menu.
Above is another slide concept from designer Álvaro Carreras, which also uses a skeuomorphic approach to revealing the menu. Instead of the menu sliding into view like with most apps, the main screen moves almost like a curtain to reveal the menu underneath. It’s an interesting touch – but again, it should be noted that this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for your app – it’s simply a very interesting approach.
Unlock Phone Concept
Why not place the lock screen “above” the desktop, rather than making it a separate screen.
This slide to unlock concept from designer Guillaume Gaubert almost follows Apple’s style of having screens that shift into view – which happens when you switch desktop spaces or when you use the gesture control for Safari on Mac. The idea is that you can peek at the desktop of the phone without having to slide the whole way – and sliding with the regular unlock swipe will unlock the phone as normal. While it doesn’t necessarily change how the phone is used, it is an interesting concept that helps to visually suggest that the lock screen is “above” the desktop, rather than just a separate screen.
iPad Keyboard Prototype
What text editing on the iPad should look like.
While Apple has thought about almost every aspect of the user experience on iOS, there’s one big feature that’s still horrible: text editing. Editing text on an iPad is a frustrating, slow and cumbersome process – but this concept for how the keyboard could work for text selection shows just how much better it could be. By dragging the screen over the keyboard with two fingers, there’s all sorts of nifty text selection and updates that could potentially be done. Check out the video to see it in action.
Basecamp Next features a method of drilling down into task lists, individual to-do items, comments and more by using page stacking.
I’m a huge fan of the latest version of Basecamp, the project management software from 37signals. Their latest version, which they nicknamed “Basecamp Next”, features a method of drilling down into task lists, individual to-do items, comments and more by using page stacking. Instead of moving to a new screen when you click on an item, that item would instead be displayed on a sheet that overlays the project you were looking at.
While this could be awkward if you had a lot of sheets overlapping each other, with Basecamp you can never really drill down more than three or four pages. This is an interesting alternative to breadcrumb-based navigation, and it adds a visual depth that makes using the app easy and intuitive.
TAT’s Eye-tracking UI
3D eye-tracking UI
TAT is the design studio that helped to create the first ever Android phone, the Motorola G1. Back in 2009 they created a proof of concept for a mobile user interface that used eye-tracking software to add a 3D element to the UI. Tilting the phone (or your head) would allow you to peek around corners and catch a glimpse of what was on other screens. It would allow you to see underneath dialog boxes, and it would reveal hidden sections at the top and bottom of the screen, displaying things like notifications and the time. It was an interesting proof of concept, and it seems a bit of a shame that they didn’t develop it further.
Microsoft IllumiRoom – Extended demo
Microsoft’s research labs – makers of their touch-screen coffee table Surface and the Kinect – have created a concept mainly designed for games consoles that changes how users perceive the game. By scanning the room, and using HD lighting projectors, they can change the peripheral vision around the viewing area to augment what’s happening on the screen. This can result in amazing effects like turning the room into a cartoon, and can make the entire gaming experience seem much more immersive and room filling. IllumiRoom isn’t quite ready for release yet, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting and unexpected user experience concepts.
The Future of Airline Websites
A new concept for an airline website that uses a ton of different design and usability decisions that are all centred around the user.
Design firm Fi created a concept for an airline website that’s designed to take the pain out of exploring holidays and then booking convenient flights. Every detail has been thought of, and the concept uses a ton of different design and usability decisions that are all centred around the user. Whether it’s from getting inspiration for where to go on holiday to quickly seeing how long flights would be, what route they’d take and how many stop-overs there would be, every interaction appears to have been carefully considered. Check out the video on their concept page to see it in all its glory.
Did these examples inspire you to improve the user experience of your site or app? Or do you have ideas of your own that you would like to share? Then let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear all about it!