Web and Mobile – working as a UX designer with different platforms

In many ways, if you do your job correctly as a UX designer most people will never notice. That’s because when the UX is great, everything runs smoothly and intuitively, and thereby never rises into the conscious awareness of the user. In fact, if they do become aware of something, that’s normally a sign something has gone wrong and your layout is suboptimal.

This might make UX design seem a thankless job. It is anything but. You see, just because people don’t notice doesn’t mean it doesn’t influence them. Tiny changes, even if people are utterly unaware of them, can make a world of difference to a person, in terms of their experience, enjoyment and even what choices they ultimately make.

Check out these examples from the realm of food

  • When strawberry-flavored mousse is served from a white container rather than a black one it tastes 10% sweeter.
  • If you change the volume and pitch of the crunch of a chip as a person bites it, they’ll think it tastes
  • If you make the container (not the contents) heavier the yogurt inside makes people feel fuller after they’ve eaten it
  • People will buy a juice with an abstract line that looks like a smile twice as often as one that has one that looks like a frown

Now this is the food we’re talking about! You’d think we’d have a pretty good idea of how our bodies work in terms of something so essential. And yet, as can be seen here, simple little alterations to the environment that the people don’t even notice can dramatically change how they perceive the product. So imagine what is possible with online design?

This is an important thing to always keep in mind when you’re designing. Great design can change a person’s day – maybe not immensely, but enough to set off a cascade positive changes that ultimately can make a massive difference. 

Of course, to do that you do need to make certain you’ve got a design down to a tee. I’m sure you’ve already studied the UX design checklist. Today we’re going to look at how to create great design across multiple platforms.

Know thy users

The first step to creating the right experience is knowing who you’re creating it for. That means understanding them, their interest, their values and why they came to your site in the first place.

This will allow us to create workflows that intuitive, simple to use and are free of obstacles. A workflow that has been well designed will make sense to users as it builds on ideas they are already familiar with, so that they can anticipate what they should do next based on their experiences of previous experiences and sites.

And for that reason, it’s vital that you’re aware of what kind of sites they usually use and what kind of conventions are the shorthand there, so that you can then apply and tweak these in your designs.

Mobile optimized

Mobile optimized

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The vast majority of people prefer surfing through their phones while on the move. That means that if you’re creating a web page for people, it has to be mobile compatible.  For that reason, you’ve got to be aware of some of the fundamental constraints of mobiles versus desktops.

The first factor, which we’re all well aware of, is that you’re working with a massively reduced real estate. That means we’ve got to make informed decisions as to how to use it. Also, remember that most users prefer holding their devices horizontally.

Secondly, when people use their mobile phones they’re far more likely to be distracted, switch to something else or want to come back to your page later. That means you have to make it easy for them to come back and take up the task where they stopped the last time. So make sure they don’t have to start all over again.

Thirdly, as mobiles make it harder for people to interact with what’s on your page, it’s vital that you spend as much time as possible to reduce the time and clicks that they have to go through to have a good experience. For that reason, use auto-fills where possible and try to reduce typing to a bare minimum.

Multiple Screen Size design

Multiple screen size

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There are a number of design types to choose from when designing your site. A responsive system is built on a flexible grid system. This makes it possible for pages to scale depending on what screen is being used.

The adaptive design works by way of progressive enhancement so as to create optimum screen sizes.

A responsive mobile site works similarly on a responsive website while it will be designed differently and uses a different URL on an adaptive site.

And obviously, a native mobile app will have its home on a user’s phone. 

Which works best depends on the user’s goals and where they’re coming from. Are they coming to you from a social media platform? Then you should create a native mobile app as people largely surf mobile media on their phones. Also, you should have an idea what people use what platforms.

Whatever you use, make certain that you maintain parity or similarity across the different platforms that might be accessing your site.

Work to create likability

Even though we all know that our phones and our devices are not real people, it is hard for us not attribute agency to them. After all, computers are evolutionarily novel and anything that responded that way in the past was either an animal or a person – in other words, something with its own mind.

This is why we often get so emotionally involved with our device, yelling at them one minute and laughing with them the next.

You can use this to your advantage as a designer. What you’re after is to create a likable personality for your page. So:

Remember your user: This means that if they’ve given you information before, you fill it in for them again. This will both make the user experience smoother as well as create the feeling that your site remembers who they are.

Give feedback: When we tell people something, we expect them to respond. When we interact with a device we expect the same. So give feedback to the user when they interact with your device to enhance the experience. 

Create great content: Your words shouldn’t just be interesting. They should also convey the values that you and the user share. For this reason, make certain the writing style matches their expectations and connects with them so that you can build trust, respect, and likability. 

The color is influence: realize what colors users expect and how they are influenced by them. Then use this to communicate what your users expect and to steer them to the right sections of your website. 

Remember we’re not all experts: Not every user that comes to your site is an expert so make certain that the page is usable by others as well. That means putting the more basic structures and decisions on top and putting the stuff that the advanced users need deeper in the navigation where they can find it. Don’t overwhelm users with too many choices right from the bat, because, as the tyranny of choice teaches us, then they might just run for it. And if they do something wrong, use error messages to inform, not just frustrate.

Be Ethical

Finally, be ethical in what you’re doing. Remember that what we’re doing here can subconsciously influence users to a great degree and make them do things they otherwise might not have. That gives you a lot of power, which you can use to make people’s lives worse rather than better.

What’s more, those people who are the most vulnerable to such manipulations – e.g. the gullible, the less educated, or those with lower intelligence – are likely the ones who are the least able to deal with the consequences of having been manipulated. They might not have a safety net, they might already be deeply in debt, or they might have been manipulated by other people already.

So please try to do some good. Instead of creating yet more problems, make people smile, feel special and brighten their days. Because, even if you nudge a person only a little, when you reach out across enough people those nudges can cumulatively make a world of difference.

So please use that power to make the world a better place. After all, we’re all in it together.


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