Monthly Archives: June 2016

The UX 180 Degrees

Were you ever asked to fully change the experience and UI of a product that is used by more than 3 million people? Well, it happened to me.

Let me tell you my story and the journey of the 180-degree change of Bannersnack.

Have you heard about Bannersnack?

If you are one of our users, skip to the next section. If you don’t know what Bannersnack is, take a minute and check it out. Bannersnack is the leading banner making tool for creating static and animated HTML5 banners, Flash and various social media banners, all from one place. Find out more here, or keep reading to find out the whole story about the redesign.

Today’s world is changing fast, but the digital world is changing even faster.

More and more often, we see well-established brands, apps and services changing and adapting their look and communication frequently. Technology evolves at an astonishing speed. People want to do more things faster and they need tools that can make their lives easier.

Bannersnack began its journey in 2008, the culminating era of Flash banners. It was launched as the banner making app that helps you build flash banners within a couple of minutes. It was an extraordinary achievement and a revolutionary product, compared to other similar software.

Now, as flash is dying, our attention shifts from Flash to HTML5 banners; more and more static banners are created daily and the appearance of social media has blown away everything we learned about banner design.

Tips To Become A Great UI

images-49It’s frustrating to find job offers looking for a UI/UX designer. While these two skillsets are closely related, their skills don’t always overlap. A quality UI designer may not understand user experience psychology. Just like a top-tier UX designer might not be a master of Photoshop or Sketch.

But there is a good amount of overlap, and to be a great UI/UX designer you’ll need to dip a toe into both worlds.

In this guide I want to comb over the fundamental skills that you should learn to promote yourself as a quality UI and/or UX designer. Job security is much easier when you can alternate between both roles. And it’ll be easier for you to see the big picture in any creative project.

User Advocation

Remember that a UI/UX designer speaks for the user. But you are not the user. This is an important distinction because most people using your product will not have the same expertise.

This is why usability testing can be so important. Ask users directly what they like and don’t like. Gather feedback. Try to find the root cause of their issues and make only the necessary changes.

Every great UX designer will be a true advocate for the user. The user experience goes beyond a glossy interface to encompass how the UI feels, behaves, and responds to user interaction. Pay careful attention to the details and be willing to scrap ideas even if you think they’re great.

In a situation where you like something that most users don’t it’s generally wise to drop the idea and rework it a little.

Listen to the user’s complaints and try to understand what they’re really saying. This is true of both UX and UI designers, although most user testing involves the UX side of things.

A pretty interface means jack if it can’t operate properly.

Advocate for the user through your words and actions. This is ultimately the #1 requirement of a UX designer. It’s a tough skill to nail down because it’s not exactly a specific skill. But I’d say having an open mind and being willing to rethink ideas will help you understand the user’s perspective much easier.

Visual Communication

Perhaps the most valuable skill of any designer is visual communication. Most designers get ideas in their head and need to explain these ideas to project managers, developers, or other designers.

Being able to sketch is a great skill to have for this very reason. But you can also communicate ideas digitally by creating digital wireframes, mockups, or interactive prototypes.

Tips for Design Cyclical

images-50Note: Use of “design” largely refers to design style, specifically mobile and web, for this article.

I was recently looking through some screenshots of apps from earlier versions of iOS. It had me thinking about where design is headed over the next five to 10 years, why we continue to iterate on style, and whether design is really getting better or simply changing in a long-term cycle for the sake of change. Is design progressive or cyclical?

The first point to consider is what style is, and why it continues to change.

In the case of digital design, there is a constant desire to see and create new styles. I’d liken it to the iPhone, for example. The style of the design is difficult to fault, yet we constantly crave a radical redesign at every year’s keynote event. The style might be different but often it’s very difficult to argue it is in fact better. The iPhone 6/7 might look different compared to the 5, but does it grip in your hand as well? Does it rest on the table flat? It’s a classic case of constant desire for change that does not always yield a better product. The same concept can be applied to digital design. We love seeing new things, experiencing new things, and design is no different.

Creatives are differentiating styles in order to maintain a unique selling point for services. Again, it’s not changing styles because they are better and help the user — it’s change as a byproduct of boredom, competition and the requirement to stand out.

José Espinosa of MIT wrote an interesting essay on a similar topic but around the concept of fashion. It’s hard not to see crossovers between the industries. This was one of the most interesting sections:

“As time passes, more and more people adapt the new style, but unfortunately not all of them fully understand its underlying principles but nevertheless follow the external changes in the fashion. Thus, the new style has become mainstreamed. The pioneers get frustrated because their style does not serve as a differentiation signal anymore.

At this point new pioneers start trying to create new styles to differentiate from the current mainstream culture. The old pioneer’s values are now a target of critics. Eventually a new style will start to gain momentum and the cycle will repeat again.”

Companies are always looking for ways to differentiate through design. When one company creates a design direction that draws great appeal, others follow. As such, the style no longer differentiates, and as with fashion, this can serve as a catalyst for change