Every designer we know has a scattered selection of images, Evernote clippings, or bookmarks of inspirational design elements. We think collecting and curating UI elements on webpages can be much better and easier. That’s why we are happy to announce Usabilla Discover.
I can remember a presentation in 2007 from Jonathan Arnowitz with the title Innovation and Design in a World of Engineering. In his presentation Jonathan warns us about the quality of a design process within an engineering environment. He also points out the differences between developers and designers. When I saw this presentation I couldn’t agree more. I think this was because I noticed that a lot of professionals with a developers mindset were calling themselves designers. Or even worse, a devigner, which often meant that they were neither good at programming nor at designing.
We are happy to say we are working on a new tool for designers. Usabilla Discover lets you clip, rate and save design elements on websites. We are currently in closed beta, but you can request an invite here. As a sneak peak, let us show you some nice discoveries already made. The thumbnails take you to the discovery page.
A couple of days ago I came across the following quote on Web Design Mash. I couldn’t help but pausing and thinking about these words. They are so true. A design itself seldom goes down in history, but the idea behind it does.
To create a memorable design you need to start with a thought that’s worth remembering.
— Thomas Manss
Where do these memorable thoughts come from? Do great designers just naturally have great ideas or is there more to it? A while back, I talked to our head of design, Yoeri Hokken, about his personal approach to design. This chat was very interesting and we got a bunch of insights into how Yoeri goes about a new design. Now, I pulled Yoeri away from his sketches once more and asked him to help me solve the mystery of inspiration. Here are some questions I asked and again, very insightful answers.
Fashion is a reflection of the times, and by definition, it is constantly changing. Social events, technological advances, and political movements all shape the spirit of our times. Designers from across the various creative industries try to capture the mood of our times through their creations.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
— Coco Chanel
How important is it to be fashionable, or trendy, in web design? I would argue that it is of great importance. The look and feel of a web page or mobile app directly affects how users perceive your brand. Keeping a web page looking fresh and updated is key to maintaining the customer’s interest and attention; instilling in the user a sense of credibility and trustworthiness; and letting the professional world know that you’re at the top of your game. Consequently, as a web designer it is important to move with the times, to continually push yourself and maintain a forward-thinking and fresh style.
In web design, getting the usability right used to be major goal. Now that most designers seem to master this goal, usability has become like a commodity: As basic requirement for a functional website, we find its presence throughout the Web. This shift of attention has created space in the field of web design and visual design has regained its central position. However, visual design in its new definition embraces more than just looking pretty. Don Norman split it into three levels; visceral design, behavioral design, and reflective design. Together the three can reveal the full power of visual design and guide you to a successful website.
Which approach to design works best for you? Design is a delicate matter. It is not only a question of taste, but just as much a question of approach. How designers go about their work is highly personal. Almost every approach will be different. At the same time, there is one thing I see all good designers do. They use pen & paper and digital media interchangeably, and they know when to switch between the two. Read the rest of this entry »
Does our life become easier with every new invention on the market? I don’t think so. New technology presents us with great possibilities and limitations at the same time. Let’s have a look at this quote:
The same technology that simplifies life by providing more functions in each device also complicates life by making the device harder to learn, harder to use. This is the paradox of technology.
— Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (1988)
What Norman said about technology in 1988 is still valid today. Our economy, educational system and our social interactions have changed dramatically with available technologies. In order to stay competitive, products become more and more ingenious, their features adding up. The idea is to make our lives easier. But does it work?
Cultural characteristics, such as norms or values, influence product design. Most people can give an example of cultural influences when it comes to tangible products. For instance, toilet seats are designed differently in the US and Thailand. Online, these cultural differences might be less explicit, but this does not mean they don’t exist. Just as with other products, the way we interact with a website is in large part defined through our culture.
In order to ensure that web sites are globally accessible and equally appealing to different cultures around the world, user experience designers need to be aware of how culture affects the way we think, communicate, and consume information. I’ll explain how culture affects us in terms of visual design, navigation design, and information design.
Cultural UX differences - Worldwide Internet Usage
NU.nl, the biggest news network in the Netherlands, redesigned it’s website this year. The main objective of the redesign was to improve the overall user experience and retaining the clear presentation of content, which the website is known for. One specific goal was to direct more visitors from the homepage to the content that the news network offers on different topics. Annemarie Boon, usability specialist at Sanoma Media, used Usabilla in the process to achieve this goal. Thank you Annemarie, for being so kind to share your findings with us.