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Icons in Design – Why They’re So Damn Useful!
Have you seen an icon today? I bet you have – they’re everywhere!
We see them every single day, and sometimes, we might not even realise we’ve seen one. That’s the beauty of them...
20th September 2018 / 4 minute read
Around five-thousand years ago, the wheel was invented. It wasn’t perfectly spherical, but it served a purpose. Over the next thousand years it was carved, smoothed and repurposed. Originating as a potter’s wheel, humans started to use it for other purposes; mobility, transport and automation.
Around 2000 bc, the spoked wheel was created, allowing for swifter and more mobile vehicles and inventions to be made, including chariots and the water wheel.
4000 years later, we’re unicycling down roads for amusement, driving at 70mph (on average) down motorways and powering extraordinary feats of machinery like turbines and jet engines.
Making something better is an instinct that has been hardwired into our brains since birth. The coined phrase, ‘UX design’ hasn’t always existed, but you could say that the belief behind it has – to make products and experiences the best they can be.
Ease of use, time, satisfaction. These are arguably some of the main reasons we might strive to make ‘things’ better. Today however, there’s a new driving force to our trial and tribulations; rival competition.
Similar to flight engineers in the war, designing and crafting better planes to command the air, businesses thrive in competition. We as UX designers are dedicated to making sure your product wins. We don’t just reinvent things (exhibit a – wheels) we refine them (cough cough, wheels) to make them better, do more for their money, and give you more back in return.
At Equals Creative, we develop creative solutions through user testing, user feedback and data analytics. The key is to use this data to design experiences that users can relate to, easily understand, and reuse. We want your product to outdo the competition. Do bear in mind, that we could be fighting in a saturated market – which certainly makes it a little more difficult… it just makes us more determined!
The refining aspect of our UX process comes into play when a product isn’t working as predicted. These can be resolved through dedicated design sprints:
Understanding the psychological aspects of design is fundamental to creating good experiences; just as much as it is to being creative. We focus on user emotions and combat any areas where tension may exist. Using software like Hotjar, we can track user movement across specific site pages and analyse drop off points and where to funnel users.
Global sites for example will need to perform well for a wide variety of audiences, this means we need to think about language barriers, visually impaired users, and even cultural differences. If a proportion of our target demographic resides from China, using the colour red as a negative symbol might be a bad UX decision, as red is the colour of luck and good fortune in China… just a thought.
Ensuring users have the right amount of control over their possible actions is key. The level of control, however, does depend on circumstances. This is a valid point in UX.
Let’s use an ecommerce checkout as an example. Imagine getting to the end of the checkout to find out there’s an unexplained service charge for £10, taking your total from £45 to £55. Not only should this have been communicated earlier in the process, but the user might lose all trust in your brand once reaching this point of tension. Ultimately making the user feel out of control and more than anything, frustrated.
Excessive amounts of choice across a website can lead to user anxiety and forcing them to focus on the negative aspects of your website. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University published a study about jams and how sales can be improved by offering fewer options.
Context of the experiment: it takes place on a regular day at a local food market. Those attending the market were presented with a table of 24 jam types. On another day at the same food market, people were given only 6 different jam options.
The conclusion: more interest was generated on the day where there were more jams on offer. However, the day with less jams actually generated more sales. Choice is very appealing initially, but an excess of options can actually have a negative impact. In this experiment, people were far less likely to purchase a jar of jam when there was an overwhelming amount of options.
By decreasing the amount of options for a user, the more comfortable they will be browsing your website. Sometimes less is more. There are many other ways a certain experience can trigger negative emotions; for example, too many CTA buttons on a website or an overload of content across a site.
Good UX not only relies on the aesthetics of a website, but the information on it too. Your content must fit your user’s typical browsing habits. Overloading a user with information can be extremely harmful to their experience and could turn them away. Which is why a very common first step for us when refining one of our clients’ websites is to refine the excess content.
Most of the time, the web copy can be reduced to become impactful and compact, whilst retaining the same informational value. Users aren’t interested in reading reams of content unless seeking it – providing them the information in a succinct manner is always far more effective.
The competitive nature of businesses consistently helps drive our UX forward, allowing us to push the boundaries of experiences. From virtual reality to automated Google phone calls, humans are learning and their expectations are growing. This means businesses must work harder to ensure customers stay loyal to their brand. People only stay loyal with their favourite brands – so make sure you’re doing all you can to be their favourite!
Businesses should constantly review and refine their digital experiences – research your competitors, run design sprints, and find out what your users/customers really think. Falling short on this front could negatively impact your reputation, customer numbers and most importantly, sales.
Our team at Equals Creative will help you compete and win at UX. We take a scientific and proven approach to designing experiences that people love.
We’d love to hear your aspirations and work with you on creating an amazing experience for your users and customers – both existing and potential.
To schedule a call with our UX team or just to say hello, drop us an email to: email@example.com.