Augmented Reality is gradually overtaking virtual reality. With AR, users are able to interact with the overlay objects, immerse in games, and mend information around them. The evolution of 3D displays is gradually shifting gears as augmented reality designers change how users communicate with apps. While this is just the beginning, revolutionising user experience with AR is quite possible now. Here’s how!
Giving real-time feedback
What AR does to woo users is that it blends the digital information with the physical world, instantly offering real-time feedback to users. AR enables interacting with information rather than merely consuming it. On the other hand, we have Internet of Things aiding AR-driven businesses with real-time data simulation.
A recent study indicates the perks of real-time feedback in mobile augmented reality for smartphones. This report concludes that AR comes handy in reducing the need to shift focus between the instructions and real, physical objects.
Take a look at how AR helps users to cook, right from holding the pan to tossing the items and manoeuvring them as and when needed.
Here, the pan is equipped to simulate the food weight and allow users to interact with it through actions like flipping, etc. With apps enabled to read temperatures it can actually mimic various cooking stages. This elevates the user experience as they are assured of whether or not they are on the right track.
Making common tasks easy
There are basically three major ways to equip AR for enhancing user experience.
1. Setting up interaction cost
Any interaction through AR will involve users to either command verbally, tap on the virtual buttons or navigate through the menu. This involves costs associated with every gesture that yield results. The cost of interaction largely defines the user experience, and one way to gauge it is to have a user flow in place.
Nothing harms user productivity like working extra to access information or an unintuitive layout. Performing real-world tasks will need AR app designers to identify a way to communicate with the end users and vice versa. Using augmented reality to minimise or eliminate the interaction cost is one way to leverage the technology. Another way is blending the in-app features harmoniously with the real world so that the interaction appears almost seamless.
Another aspect of AR is limiting the occasions for users to strain their memory. This means, users won’t be communicating keeping in mind the previous step or the next. This frees them to naturally flow with the simulated environment.
For example, any researcher testing drugs on animals will use plenty of substances based on certain rules. Such a sensitive task involves observing drug reaction, dosage, and recording the data in real-time. Users need to perform such tasks with utmost precision and will require augmented reality to mitigate the perils of breaking protocols or missing out on an important step.
3. Managing Attention Switching
Augmented reality app development spare users from switching their attention back and forth – screen to the task and vice versa. The users don’t have to go past multiple screens for retrieving information.
With seamless integration of both the worlds, the user manual is now on the user’s visual field. AR enables users with detailed and guided information, without losing them at any point. High retention and ease of performing a task are bound to balloon the user experience to the next level.
Driving Conversions through Branded UX
These AR apps add value to user journey by simplifying their purchasing decisions and bring in the ‘fun factor’ which is otherwise missing in the conventional apps. You have an opportunity to promote the use of AR as a crucial brand differentiator. You’d be able to strengthen brand loyalty and drive revenue. There’s a reason why engaged consumers are 90% more likely to come back to your mobile app and willing to spend 60% more per transaction.
With technology allowing more seamless interaction and hands-free 3D devices, incorporating gesture and gaze control can make way for mixed reality. This drives conversions by heightening user expectations as well. The objects turn more real anchoring in the real-world around the users. Offering more ways to interact with the objects including voice control, hands, palms, and other everyday gestures. This goes out to an extent of creating a distinctive feature-rich identity that users can associate with. Engaging multiple ways to blur the line between augmented and physical world till it completely fades out is an end result to aim for.
Breaking Conventions by Transforming UX design
UX designs are bound to stay agile to this ever-evolving augmented reality. User experience will vary depending on how the technology progresses over time. Users will be demanding a lot from app design especially with 360 degrees control and bringing in more depth to augmented objects. The trends in mobile technology play a larger role as an interface to play around with the AR UI.
Radically altering the interface and filling up spaces around the users will enable them with more control and information in a given time. AR apps designers can balance the functionality with ease of use to open up spaces in dimensions by throwing a lot more to users. This will declutter the AR app and make the entire experience less cumbersome.
Try creating a more novel experience using the 2D screen with augmented reality by tying virtual objects to multiple physical locations. That’s exactly what Pokemon Go did a couple of years back. Transforming UX design will need you to place more reminders and virtual tools at different places within the scope of the field of view. Enabling users to interact with real conditions will drive users towards putting in richer contextual input.
AR is gradually moving towards bringing in more reality and eliminating the need for digital inputs. Ultimately, UX will depend a lot more on app offerings than simply relying on AR for gimmicks. The real test of an app depends on how it offers more usability and solve problems through augmented reality. With time, users are bound to demand more of it and relying on maximum augmented assistance.
Dhaval Sarvaiya, one of the founders of Intelivita, a customer-centric mobile app development company, helps enterprises and startups overcome their digital transformation and mobility challenges with the might of on-demand solutions powered by cutting-edge technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
The science and practice of web design goes far beyond building visually appealing websites. It’s more about offering an easy and enjoyable experience to the users. Above all, a good website design means ensuring that the visitors understand how the website works, navigate it smoothly and encounter no difficulties in finding exactly what they’re looking for.
In other words, this means that web design today is mostly about user experience, and for websites that sell products online, all visitors are (potential) customers, so providing a flawless buying experience should be of utmost importance for web designers.
In this context, a minimalist approach to designing your site can be hugely beneficial. There are multiple advantages of making your website simple, neat and straightforward instead of swamping it with unnecessary elements that will overwhelm the users.
What does minimalist design mean?
In essence, building a minimalist website means that you keep things as simple as possible, both visually and functionally. More particularly, it includes a limited color palette, well-spaced elements, smart use of white space, clear hierarchy, proper alignment, straightforward navigation, as well as consistency of all these components.
Most importantly, it means avoiding all redundant elements. Every single design feature needs to serve a purpose or convey a message. Otherwise it’s useless and is considered a distraction and a time-waster. This highly-focused approach is in accordance with what users want today and with the common worldview that pushes our civilization forward. Minimalist design is the design of today and tomorrow, and here are a few reasons why you should consider making it a part of your customer experience strategy.
1. Focus on content and products
First of all, omitting all the superfluous details helps the content of the website to truly stand out. With no distractions, visitors will have no trouble focusing on what’s important – products, descriptions, prices or content of your blog posts. Minimalist design makes content easy to consume, ensures that the users recognize the key components of the page and helps direct their attention towards these components.
There’s a limit to the number of different things people can focus on at a given time. Famous research conducted by George A. Miller in the 50s proved that our working memory can normally store between 5 and 9 elements. This means that flooding the users with numerous different sensations can effectively distract them from what actually matters, and this is obviously bad for your conversions and sales.
This is something to have in mind when dealing with the appearance of your website. Getting users’ attention online is extremely difficult and once you get it, you don’t want it to be disrupted by a flashy animation or uselessly flamboyant font. Even opt-in, contact and checkout forms should be kept simple – eliminating just one form field can increase your conversions by as much as 50%.
When asked about what’s the most important factor in a website design, an overwhelming majority of consumers answered that it should be easy to find what they are looking for on the website. For 76% of them, this is the top priority.
There’s no better way to achieve this than by a clean, flat, minimal design that concentrates on what’s practical and useful. With the minimalist approach, you reduce the chance to confuse or mislead your customers. The first concern when laying out the design and structure of the website should be to make the life of the users easier, not to demonstrate the artistic competence of the designer.
Simplicity of structure and navigation can provide users with a natural and intuitive way to move around your website. Also, minimalist design makes it easier for people to scan the page as there’s nothing to interfere with the content and divert the users’ attention. This is very important since almost 80% of people tend to scan written content rather than reading it word-by-word.
3. Professional visual appeal
As it was mentioned, the visual appeal of your website itself is not the most important aspect of its design, but it’s still far from irrelevant. It can tell a thing or two about your brand and it does contribute to providing an enjoyable experience for your customers.
In this respect, minimalist design also does a great job. This approach can build trust and confidence in your company. The very fact that you choose not to distract your visitors with flashy looks and focus on content, products and business instead demonstrates a professional approach. It suggests that you’re putting essence before form.
In fact, putting too much effort into unnecessary design elements and details can have an undesirable effect. Your website could end up radiating a cheap salesy vibe that you definitely want to avoid.
4. Speeding up your website
The performance of your website is surely among the most important UX factors out there. Just a couple of extra seconds can make all the efforts you’ve put in your website and even your business come to nothing.
It’s already become a well-known fact that almost half of the users are not ready to wait for more than 2 seconds for a web page to load. In addition, bad performance will directly hurt your sales. It won’t take much until an average customer loses patience and decides to give up on your products. A 1-second delay may decrease your conversion rate by 7 percent, and if you make your visitors wait for 6 additional seconds, that could literally cut your conversions in half.
Very often, what causes your website to slow down is simply the fact that it’s too “heavy”. This means that there are either too many files that need to be loaded or that they are too large. These issues can be resolved in numerous different ways – for instance by cleaning the code, compressing the files or resizing the images. But sometimes none of these will do the trick and the only way to make your website lighter may be removing unnecessary design elements.
Going for a minimalist design reduces the chance of having to encounter this problem. Obviously, it’s no guarantee that your website will display flawless performance, as speed depends on a number of factors. However, a minimalist design naturally means avoiding redundant design tricks and features that normally slow your website down. A fast website is absolutely essential for quality customer experience.
Simpler is better
All in all, the main virtue of minimalist websites is that they leave no room for elements that don’t serve a purpose, or features that are not functionally justified. In this respect, they are appealing because they perfectly exemplify the way the modern world works, and that’s where their modern, elegant and even futuristic appeal comes from. And most importantly, minimalist design is perfect for all those who actually wish to put customers and their needs first. In this case, less definitely is more.
Daniel Bishop started off as a content consultant for small SEO and web design companies, and now works as a junior editor for ReallySimpleSystems. Always searching for new opportunities, he loves sharing ideas with other professionals in the digital community.
Enhancing what the end user sees and experiences while using the app
The most important tools a front-end designer will use are frameworks.
Frameworks are the modules, APIs, and tools designers use to streamline their work. They are more than just pre-made, generic code modules that you pick from a library and plug-in, although you can find those too. Reliable frameworks make web design faster, boost the performance of apps, and extend the capabilities of designers by eliminating the need to hand-write code. This also eliminates a lot of bugs, glitches, and errors, which shortens the amount of time needed to get from concept to launch.
What should you look for in a front-end framework?
Frameworks can include:
To ensure you choose the right tools for the task at hand, think about:
Your skill level
Though beginners might be tempted to go straight for all the bells and whistles and feature-laden modules of a particular framework, simplicity is a good strategy until you figure out what you’re doing and get a few projects under your belt. More importantly, as experienced designers realize, is to make sure the technology and the project are a good match.
Your app or website should function appropriately regardless of the platform users access it from. When creating a website, choose a responsive framework that ensures your site or app is visually appealing and functionally sound no matter what device it is viewed on.
Make sure that your framework can help you achieve the appearance you want with as little hassle as possible.
Although most design is done using Sass or LESS, there are several others. Make sure that the framework you choose supports your preferred CSS pre-processor.
Keep in mind that the following list of front-end development frameworks is not populated by website builders like Wix or SquareSpace, though all yield a website as the final result. The latter are template-based visual designers that allow practically anyone to publish a website in a color-by-numbers approach.
Framework packages are a collection of tools used by actual web designers to code a website from the ground up. It's important to note that a website builder is not the same thing as a front-end development framework.
Our Top Five Contenders
With all the above considerations in mind, here are our top contenders for front-end frameworks that will make your life easier, especially if you're just beginning your career as a designer.
This may be the ultimate tool for newbies. Created by the techs at Twitter, it's very popular with designers of all skill levels. In fact, it's the most-used open source framework available. Continuous updates mean you'll always have the latest tools. This framework supports the most common languages and pre-processors, and it adheres to the latest standards for responsive app design.
Plenty of documentation
Considered the best for responsive design
Easy to upload/install through the cPanel (use Softaculous)
Excessive number of HTML classes and DOM elements create clutter
Materialize is a front end development framework that comes pre-loaded with a large number design components like buttons, cards, forms, icons and CSS that are ready-to-use right out of the box. The pre-loaded CSS is a great tool to simplify typography, coloring and other aspects of website layout and design. All of these features make it perfect for newbies who need to be guided through Google’s material design specifications. It comes in both a standard version and one that runs on SASS (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets).
Enormous selection of design components
Responsive support team that can guide beginners through any features or problems that arise
Works with SASS
File sizes tend to be large, making this framework rather bulky
No Flexbox support
Milligram is an extremely lightweight development framework that’s ideal for creating simple websites. It takes a no-frills approach with the underlying philosophy that beginning designers are probably not looking to create complex websites with extensive set-ups and intricate design features. It uses the CSS Flexible Box Layout Module standard for its grid system and comes with essential site design components, like typography, buttons, forms, lists, tables and blockquotes.
Very simple and does not overwhelm beginners with long lists of complicated features and difficult functionality
Perfect for the types of small websites likely to be constructed by beginners
Uses CSS Flexbox as its grid system
Relatively few design components available
This is another standout tool for designers of any skill level. It supports a range of pre-processors, and contains a library of more than 30 modules with extendable components. In addition to your standard buttons, badges, and overlays, you'll find tools to create custom nav bars, HTML tables and forms, JS off-canvas bars, and advanced components like nestables.
Very modular and nimble
Works well with several hosts
Lots of advanced features
Recently launched so has incomplete documentation and support
5. Semantic UI
This newer framework is set to give Bootstrap a run for its money. It uses natural language so even non-techs can understand it, and the entire interface is simple and easy to learn. The number of reliable, vetted third-party libraries is so extensive, you'll probably be able to find everything you need without leaving their website.
Easy for beginners to get up and running right away
Each module has its own JS file and stylesheet
Makes customization a snap
Small file sizes and fast page loads
Large packages may be more than new designers need
Lack of advanced features makes it too simple for complex designs or prolific designers
Closing Thoughts for Newbie Web Designers
The demand for apps will only continue to grow, especially with the exploding mobile market. Learning about the design aspect is the next logical progression for everyone from graphic artists looking to expand or update their credentials to business ownersworking to build brand awareness.
Choosing state-of-the-art tools and frameworks makes the job more efficient and rewarding. The result will be an appealing, hassle-free interface for users without requiring a lot of technological skill from the designer.
Dan Fries is a freelance writer and full stack Rust developer. He looks for convergence in technology trends, with specific interests in cyber security, micromobility, and smart cities. Dan enjoys snowboarding and is based in Hong Kong with his pet beagle, Teddy. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
In 2019, the sales of mobile apps are likely to skyrocket, making it crucial for startup founders to launch the mobile versions of their products.
Here are some other reasons for having a mobile app:
rapidly growing number of mobile users worldwide
personalized channel for communication with the target audience
valuable source of analytics
customer loyalty growth
Because of the lack of money, time, and resources, we tend to forget about UX prototyping. But, the truth is that prototyping actually helps to reduce your expenses as it costs less than redesigning.
Another “pro” argument is that a UX prototype minimizes the risk of building an app with poor user experience. Research by Experience Dynamics shows that a bad mobile experience prevents 52% of the users from further engagement with a company.
In this post, you will learn the benefit of user experience prototyping and why it should be an integral part of any mobile app lifecycle.
What Is UX Prototyping?
A prototype is used in software development as a proof of concept to approve a user interface idea. It is also an opportunity to test the existing design before the final product is released.
A prototype is often confused with a wireframe or a mockup, but the three terms have different meanings. Wireframes and mockups do not have any interactive elements while prototypes can be interactive. Prototypes are often used to get feedback from users.
Further differences include:
Being an initial static representation of the design, a wireframe may also contain hand-drawn sketches of the app’s screens.
A mockup is also static but unlike a wireframe, it is closer to the app’s final version - something like an “in-between” variant of the design. UX designers typically use mockups to repeatedly iterate UX ideas.
Prototypes are clickable, fully functional models that look almost like the final product. Due to their tangibility, they are ideal for the UI and UX testing.
For complex apps with several navigational options or non-standard faetures, try using a prototype instead of a wireframe or a mockup, and interactive prototypes can be used for the apps with a multi level design process.
So why is UX prototyping so important? Here are the key reasons:
Prevention of misinterpretations
Your teammates may misinterpret their perception of the app as it may be difficult for them to understand all the specifications of the app’s. Without seeing a prototype, they will miss out on interpreting the complete picture and making any suggestions or adjustments.
With prototypes, you build fewer unnecessary features, spend less time on meetings, and make fewer changes that can occur because of misinterpretations. Prototyping gives you more room for creativity, and you can afford to make mistakes at this stage.
An interactive app prototype will show the dev team what should happen during the user’s interaction with a specific UI element. This will result in more efficient collaboration with the design team, and help avoid conflichs between developers and designers
The users can go through the app that you are building and provide valuable feedback. As a result, you will not miss any feature that the users consider to be important or, on the contrary, build something useless. Ask the users to explain what they are doing within the app, why they are doing that, and what they are trying to achieve. They should be free to explore, interact, and react by using the prototype.
It is crucial that you test your prototype as many times as possible until each bug is spotted and fixed. Use a prototype at each phase of the design to be aware of how your audience will interact with the app. Frequent testing will give you more information and help you release a flawless product.
Mary Atamaniuk is a digital content strategist at YouTeam, a YC-backed marketplace that helps companies to build remote teams of world-class engineers in less than a week. Mary’s areas of interest include digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, and influencer blogging.
Constant updates can be a serious sore spot for users. How many times have you opened Facebook and thought to yourself, “Again?!”
But the truth is brands change – sometimes it’s to stay relevant by adding new solutions and other times it’s simply reworking existing services to better suit the user. At the end of the day, your app design should reflect your brand, and that means it has to go through its own changes.
The Best App Design Rebrands
An app design rebrand without rhyme or reason is a waste of time. All of the brands listed below made big changes with a specific goal or outcome in mind.
Instagram cleaned up its user interface with a fairly sizeable overhaul, including the logo. The app stripped out color in favor of a black and white display. This allowed users to focus more on the images in the feed, and not draw the eye elsewhere. The updated logo did the exact opposite, in fact the brand opted for a vibrant icon.
While users were resistant to the change at first, the general consensus was that the rebrand was more modern and minimalistic. Plus, at the end of the day, the app still functions exactly the same – just needed a little facelift. Since this major redesign, Instagram has tweaked its UI slightly, such as swapping out the send and inbox icons. They have also enhanced many aspects of the UX, including the addition of Instagram stories and other features.
New York Times
The newspaper’s digital transformation kept its readers around. The New York Times has both a mobile app and a web app, to capture as many mobile readers as possible. The web app redesign focused on consistency across devices.
The new home page groups similar stores together, such as “Top Stories” and “Editor’s Picks.” This makes it easier for users to quickly find what they are looking for, time and time again. The app has a considerable amount of white space, allowing the headlines and feature images to breathe. The result is a very simple, straightforward brand design.
Announced late last month, Facebook’s redesign will be “the biggest change to the app and website in the last five years,” according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The massive undertaking will happen in stages. Facebook’s Messenger App gave us a sneak peek of the new interface last year.
The new ‘FB5’ design will place more emphasis on Facebook Groups, allowing users to better connect with people that have shared interests. The mobile app and web app will feature clean lines and more white space. With this total rebranded identity, Facebook will also update its logo. The rounded square will become a circle, keeping the same essence with a younger feel. Stay tuned to see how this one shakes out.
Google rebranded its many productivity apps as G Suite, to reflect its “total package” offering. The biggest issue being the eight apps, Google Drive, Forms, Docs, Hangouts, Slides, Sheets, Calendar, and Gmail, looked totally different.
Google identified this problem and came up with a plan of attack – focus on consistency and cohesion. Leveraging internal resources, the G Suite team worked closely with the Material Design team. A major pain point for users was that they were learning each individual interface over again when jumping from one app to the next. That’s not productive. The redesign aimed to tidy up elements across the different apps, and streamline these processes. Even the logos and brand font got a makeover.
Spotify made some tweaks to make browsing and searching simpler and faster. The app’s navigation used to features five options – Home, Browse, Search, Radio, and My Library. Spotify has cut that down to just three – Home, Search, and My Library – in an attempt to declutter the interface.
All of these options are still accessible but are housed in different locations or within one of the three broader options (i.e. “Browse” is now inside “Search”). One of the biggest updates is that the “Search” page is now personalized, to show your own “Top Genres” below the search bar. This app redesign was a hit because in the end it still allows the users to access the music they know they want or discover new artists, just quicker.
Uber’s rebrand was more about function than fashion. The UI is built around a solid UX strategy, first asking the user “Where to?”. That is now the jumping off point for interface fly-ins, route overviews, and more.
New Uber Rider App, 2016 | Uber - YouTube
As the brand expanded its service offerings, with additions like UberPool and the ability to schedule future rides, the screen wasn’t big enough to accommodate all of the options at once. Through user research and many rounds of prototyping, Uber started to realize that not everyone wants everything. By asking for your destination first, and then giving you pricing up front, the app now makes you a more informed, and happier, buyer.
The Amazon Alexa app is used to set up and manage a variety of smart devices within its smart home ecosystem. As the product adoption took off, first with the virtual assistant itself, then to other devices it could control within the home like smart lights and power outlets, the app desperately needed a rework.
The user interface was redesigned to categorize the connected tech into “Groups,” like rooms for example. Now users can turn on and off all of the different devices in a single room from one screen. No more back and forth.
No risk, no reward
While there is a lot to gain from an app design rebrand, they have to be done with a
“user-first” approach if you want to be successful. Think about why they use the app to begin with and how you can tweak the interface to enhance their overall user experience. Listen to feedback, identify the pain points, and align your strategy.
Get started with these 10 design trends we’re likely to see in 2019.
Bridget Poetker is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2, with a focus on app development and design. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
You can have it in any color, as long as it’s black
In the early 1920s, 80% of all cars on the road were black, largely due to the dominance of Ford’s Model T. The Model T was famously available in “any color, as long as it’s black,” as stated by Henry Ford. Standard black cars were cost-effective as standardization helped speed up the assembly line. Colored cars, on the other hand, required custom (and expensive) paint jobs, which often wore off in a matter of months.
The problem? With the Model T dominating every city and street, drivers were known to get confused about which Model T was theirs. Some would even drive off in the wrong vehicle. There was no differentiation to help distinguish a consumer’s vehicle from the other.
General Motors (GM) released six new cars in September 1923, each one bright blue, with orange or red racing stripes; this was the result of a new kind of automotive paint recently introduced by the DuPont Company. Their “Duco” paint products were higher quality than their competitors at the time and were available in several colors.
While Ford had the competitive edge for many years, General Motors was quickly catching up. Before 1923, the competitive edge was providing drivers with functional cars that got them from Point A to Point B at an affordable price. GM was then able to mass-produce their cars in several different colors, creating a new product differentiation and option. This gave consumers the ability to choose a car that matched their preference and personal taste.
Great design performs, converts, astonishes, and fulfills its purpose.
The market is flooded with similar products, and the make-or-break decision for a consumer is often a product’s design. Smart companies are now embracing the concept that customers care about solutions, not features. As a result, companies are increasingly focusing on the intersection of form and function to create the simplest solution possible for their customers.
Great design means stripping away the unnecessary bells and whistles, leaving products more intuitive for users and cost-effective to produce. A company’s design needs to emphasize the usefulness of a product while also disregarding anything that could detract from it.
Great design is not just what looks good. Great design performs, converts, astonishes, and fulfills its purpose. Societal pressures from economic, ecological, and technological preferences are constantly altering how people feel about products. It is vital for businesses to listen and respond to the needs and desires of their target consumers. Businesses must produce creative and innovative product designs that are simple, yet get the job done efficiently.
In the Internet age, customers can do their research and give feedback to companies about what they need from a product. This presents a massive opportunity for companies to adapt and improve their offerings over time. However, failure to embrace and adapt to design feedback can result in negative product reviews and lost customers.
Design Turns a Commodity into a Specialty
Great design converts a commodity into a specialized solution that companies can charge a premium for.
Commoditization is most business’ worst nightmare. Low margins and minimal differentiation mean tough competition and small profits. Coffee, milk, and even some cleaning products perfectly fit in this category. While some companies take part in the pricing race to the bottom, others take a different route.
Great design converts a commodity into a specialized solution that companies can charge a premium for. We see this all the time with Apple – their products, such as the MacBook, serves as a specialized product in a space that is a commodity for all but computer experts.
We see this in other commodities as well. While it’s not an issue to find regular glass cleaner, bleach or dish soap for under $2 at a regular grocery store, there are similar products that tend to offer something that their competitors don’t. Cleaning products such as Method and the Good Home Co. can charge a premium because their packaging highlights their sustainable materials that are animal-friendly and climate-conscious.
Design Highlights the Value of Your Brand
Every dollar that a company spends on design or user experience generates an extra $2-$100 for their business.
Let’s look again at personal computers. Companies like Toshiba and Dell are known to offer inexpensive laptops. These laptops have the basics: good screen quality, workable keypad, easy access to the Internet and menu screen, etc. However, Apple’s MacBooks have dominated the design game in every aspect of their product design and user interface. This design advantage is the primary difference between a $300 laptop and a $2,000 one.
Many companies like Apple participate in innovative design to continue highlighting the value of their brand through their product research and development. This can both be a breakthrough product or service, and a redesign of an existing product or service. Innovative design adds never-before-seen value and function to the market and the user, while a redesign improves an existing product.
Ready to start taking your product design seriously? Learn more about our design services to see how we can help you build your competitive advantage.
About the Author: Emerson Stone is a product-centric design agency based in Boulder, Colorado. They help brands to take their business to the next level through branding, strategic consulting, application development, product development, and much more.
It’s time to get serious about your website performance. Stop letting little things get in the way of your fast load times and performance. Your users are expecting the best, so make sure your website delivers every time. Here are tips for improving your website performance for better user experience.
1. Minimize Your HTTP Requests
That majority of your load time is spent downloading all of the different components of a page. Things like stylesheets, images, and scripts all take time to load. The more of these you have, the more time your users will have to wait to see all of your content. Yahoo reports that 80% of a website’s load time is from these HTTP requests alone.
You can reduce this load time by minifying and combining your files. The gzip compression tool does this for you, and you can learn more about gzip here.
Compressing your HTML, CSS, and Java files is the best place to start.
If you’re using a template website builder like Wordpress, it’s more likely that you have a lot of unnecessary files and duplicates that can be combined. These templates are great for customizing your website, but they do result in messy code that takes up space.
2. Use Adaptive Images
Reducing the size of your images is a must for website performance. Images usually take up the bulk of a website’s load time. If you’re uploading photos without giving any thought to their size and space, you’re in for a reality check when you see how they impact your load time.
Instead, use adaptive images which are built to take less space and better respond to pages. Pay attention to file extensions when saving images, and don’t make your photos as large as possible. For instance, if your page content is only 900 pixels wide, your images don’t need to be any wider than that.
Going back and updating past images is a pain, so use a tool like Adaptive Images or Picturefill that do this automatically. Also, stay tuned for new image formats like JPeg XR and WebP which are shown to reduce image sizes without compromising on quality.
Your website host might also be to blame for your website performance. Choosing the right hosting option to suit your website will help you maintain a better uptime and prepare for spikes in traffic.
Most new websites opt for shared hosting, a cheaper option that’s good for low-traffic websites. While shared hosting might be fine if you’re not experiencing unpredictable traffic, it’s not nearly as reliable as VPS hosting or having a dedicated server. When you share hosting, you’re literally sharing CPU, disk space, and ram with websites also hosted on the same server so if someone is being a bad neighbor, it will affect your website as well.
When in doubt, talk to your host about the best option for your current traffic and size. Paying a bit more every month will pay off in the long run if it means more consistent and reliable hosting.
4. Cache Your Page
Caching is when a version of the website’s static resources are stored in the browser. This is why it takes longer to view new websites for the first time than to visit the pages you frequently visit. Unless your website has changed since the last time your user cached, your website will display quickly.
It’s simple to enable caching. If you have WordPress, a tool like W3 Total Cache which is a highly powerful plugin will do the heavy lifting for you. You’ll be saving your users’ browser a trip to your web server, reducing the overall network overhead and saving time.
5. Use a CDN
Finally, using a CDN is a powerful way to create a better user experience through improvements in your website performance. When you’re only using one server to deliver your content, the distance between a user and this server plays a major role in their response time. With a CDN or Content Delivery Network, your website is cached on a global network of servers. This sounds complicated, but it only means that your website files have to travel less distance to appear on your users' screens. According to VentureHarbor, you can see a decrease in load time anywhere from 20% to 51% by installing a CDN. That’s an improvement worth investing in.
As you can see, your user's experience should be a top priority for you when working on ways to improve your website performance. Small delays could add up and negatively affect your site, and you might see a positive difference from even minor changes. Today, you need any advantage you can find over your competition. Is your website prepared for anything? Make sure it is with the ideas above.
Ashley Lipman is a content marketing specialist and an award-winning writer who discovered her passion in providing creative solutions for building brands online. She continues to deliver awesome content through various niches, connect with her on LinkedIn.
There used to be a time when getting search rankings was about stuffing a bunch of keywords into content and linking to low-quality sites. SEO has come a long way since then, thanks to the rapid evolution in search engine algorithms and the wide range of SEO analysis tools available online. If a piece of content is relevant to the audience and manages to engage them, it gets a thumbs up from Google. But wait, it's not all that simple. With every business producing content, there is no limit to how far you can go to please the audience. There is content everywhere and it gets harder to earn visibility. There are more than 1.5 billion websites on the internet right now. Visual content adds value to the audience and makes it unique.
Let's discuss why visual content formats such as videos, infographics, GIFs, and memes are the new weapons in an SEO arsenal:
Conveys More Information
The audience today, can find any information they wish to, online. Millennials and the Gen Z’ers are habitual of using multiple devices at one time. According to MarketingSherpa, as much as 50 percent of website visitors determine whether to continue navigating a web page or abandon it within 8 seconds.
Visual content makes it easy for site visitors to learn more in less time. Images are more memorable.
When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
Sharp data visualizations, infographics and charts save time that readers would otherwise spend reading an entire blog post. Visual content is attractive, enhances the visitor experience, and just gives back your audience precious time.
Improves Average Time on Site
Studies show that a higher time spent on a website correlates with higher search rankings. This is especially true after Google implemented the Rankbrain algorithm in 2015. Having a video on your website's landing page gets the user to stick around and watch the video, for instance. The same is true of infographics and images within blog posts and product pages. Visuals add a feel-good factor to a business’s digital presence.
Quality back-linking is one of the top search ranking factors. Backlinks add to a site's authority and display its domain expertise. Linking to top sites remains a big challenge for SEO professionals. Visual content can help generate hundreds of backlinks in just a few months! Create an infographic on a trending topic – and it might turn into an SEO goldmine for your business.
The following graphic from Cognitive SEO shows a positive correlation between a site's social presence and its search rankings.
Social activity adds to a website’s credibility and click-through rate. It fetches more content visibility improving the chances of getting more link-backs on it. With evolving social algorithms, it is visual content that shows up in newsfeeds as opposed to text-based content.
Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images.
More than 500 million Facebook users are watching videos on Facebook every day.
Visual content is more likely to improve audience interaction on social channels adding to site popularity and search rankings.
Optimizing Visual Content for Search Rankings
While creating visual content is the way-to-go SEO strategy, optimizing it for search engines comes is an essential prerequisite. Let’s understand what you can do to optimize different types of visuals:
Don't forget to add meta titles, descriptions, alt tags, and description tags to visual content assets. These tags should include the targeted key phrase for Google to show these visuals up in image search. One necessary tactic is to compress images before putting them up on your site. Choose images that look good and go with your brand voice – the strategy helps to improve website experience and adds SEO value.
The first step in optimizing an infographic for SEO is to find the right topic for it. Do your keyword research to ideate a headline that draws your audience. You can survey ideal customers to know about their pain points, for instance. Make use of platforms like Feedly, Buzzsumo, and Quora to make a list of trending topics in your niche. Don’t forget to optimize the infographic content with keywords – treat it like the usual blog post. Remember, you need to consider an infographic like any other site image and include keyword optimized meta tags for better searchability. Last, but not the least, make sure your infographic is optimized for mobile devices. Here are some bonus tips:
Add an embed code at the bottom of your infographic to help easy sharing by third-party sites.
Repurpose some of your high performing blog posts into infographics.
Add at least 1-2 paragraphs of content in your infographic blog posts.
First off, you should focus on creating high-quality videos. Audiences enjoy video content that looks and sounds professional. Publishing and optimizing video content on the right hosting platform ensures it gets optimum search visibility. Use the right tags and a keyword optimized title and description at this stage. A definitive way to drive organic traffic is to integrate videos to your blog content. Video and text-based content complement each other and together, add SEO value. Social Media channels today, are a hub of video content. They allow you to benefit from social search as well as supplement organic search results. Sharing native videos on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter is a necessary SEO tactic. Live videos are in vogue too. Don’t forget to use the right keyword hashtags while publishing video content on these channels.
Over to You
“Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about PARTNERING with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users.” – Phil Frost
Online users are loaded with options. If they don't like a piece of content, they have many others hungry for their attention. Visuals make an impact while providing quick answers to searcher queries. The format enlivens branded content and entertains the audience, taking their experience one level up. But marketers should not make the mistake of taking visual content as the end all be all SEO hack. The ideal way is to tell compelling stories through visual content and optimize each piece for search.
Abhishek Talreja, founder of Prolific Content Marketing, is a passionate writer and an experienced content marketing expert. He has been published on top marketing blogs and works with companies all around the globe, helping them to earn online visibility and reputation. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
By the end of 2018, the number of apps in Google Play and App Store surpassed 4 million. On average, smartphone owners use 10 apps a day and 30 apps per month. Although mobile app owners think about ways to make their apps stand out by spending millions on advertising, its still upto the users to uninstall those apps from their phones.
We've prepared a checklist for you on how to take your app to the top of Google Play and App Store rankings using ASO (App Store Optimization) in 2019.
This guide is suitable for people new to ASO, people launching a new app, and developers who've had their apps in stores for a while, but want to take them to the top charts.
Let's get started.
What is ASO?
ASO or App Store Optimization involves changing app text, graphics, and other metadata to increase the number of downloads and the conversion rate. It's like SEO for mobile apps.
ASO approaches apps and games the same way, the only difference being the traffic channel. For example, users look for apps based on their capabilities and the issues they solve while game searches are conducted by name and genre. In this article, we use the term "app" interchangeably with games.
6 steps to improve your app visibility
These steps are listed in order from the highest indexed to the least.
1. App Title
The app title is the first thing users look at. Keywords in the title carry the most weight in indexing. That's why you should include the queries you want to bring up your app and that potential users can search by. App Store allows up to 30 characters to be used in titles, while Google Play allows up to 50.
In addition, the App Store features a subtitle where you can also add keywords. The keywords from the subtitle are indexed as well as the title. We don't advise filling the entire subtitle with keywords. It is better to add a call to action here since this text affects conversion rate.
The description explains what the app does and its advantages. You can use this section to include announcements and links, everything to give the user full information about your app. In both app stores, the description length is limited to 4,000 characters.
Descriptions in the App Store don't impact search results, but they do attract users' attention. When writing the description, keep an eye on the first three lines of the description, which are up to 170 characters long. This is the promotional text that users see without opening the full description.
Google Play features two descriptions: the Short Description (80 characters long) and the Long Description (4,000 characters long). Keywords used here affect search results. To improve search result ranking, you can use different word forms, like I/we, game/games, etc. (remember SEO for websites).
Additionally, the App Store allows you to add keywords in the special keyword field that will be indexing by their search engines. While filling in the keyword field, add words separated by commas and without spaces to fit more keywords in.
Here, you can add up to 100 keywords per country. You can increase the word limit by adding a localized description. By doing so, you'll have an additional 100 characters for each country. If you launch a new app, don't try to fill this section with the most popular keywords, as this will lead you to have a tough time competing with the most popular apps. Select words that are relevant to your topic but aren't at the top of search volume results. This will help you appear more often based on narrow search queries. Unfortunately, Google Play doesn't offer this feature.
3. What's New
Developers use this section to describe what changed in the new update, what new features are available, and which bugs have been fixed. This section is, first and foremost, for current and returning users. If a user has installed the app before, they'll see information about the new release instead of the description.
This is the most basic element of any app. It's displayed everywhere the app is mentioned and attracts attention. This includes places like search results, charts, the featured apps section, etc. For brands that are already well-known, it's best to use a logo. For new and little-known apps, an image that stands out is best.
The icon size in the App Store is 1024 × 1024 pixels. Google Play's icon size is 512 × 512 pixels with a max size of 1024 KB. In addition, an icon in Google Play can be any shape, while App Store icons can only be square with no rounded edges.
Screenshots are displayed in search results of the app page. That's why we suggest adding a call to action to them. Be sure to use the screenshots for more than just images. This is how you show users what they'll get after downloading the app. The App Store allows 10 screenshots to be uploaded and Google Play allows 8. They can be either portrait or landscape format, with a minimum of 3 landscape screenshots.
You can also place large text and short, catchy phrases. Small or long text won't be legible on the search page. The user flips to the next pages without visiting the app page, which decreases your Page Views to Installs conversion rate.
This is the best way to show the app in action and encourage the user to download it. Most users watch 7-15 seconds of video, so don't overload them with a lot of information in one video.
Videos in the App Store need to be uploaded directly with the app. Apple plays the video automatically with the sound muted. Google Play, on the other hand, takes the video from YouTube. It opens in a new window without autoplay.
Where to start
Perform A/B testing to see which texts, screenshots, icons, and videos bring you the most installs. You can do that in Google Play using Google Experiments. For iOS devices, you can perform tests in Store Maven. For example, last summer, Search Ads unveiled the ability to test screenshots in the same way as A/B tests. You can also try AppFollow's App Preview section to see how new graphics and text will look in the App Store.
What Else Influences Install Conversion Rate?
The App Store features additional locales. For example, for the US you can use Mexican and Australian locales. By adding an additional locale, you can expand the number of search queries that display your app and catch up with competitors in search results. On top of that, each locale added gives you an additional 100 characters for keywords and another 60 characters for the title and subtitle.
2. Average App Rating
App users use stars to give ratings based on their thoughts about the app. Apps with a rating lower than 4 stars lose half of their potential downloads. A low rating can scare users, which impacts the install conversion rate.
3. Helpful and Featured Reviews
These reviews are directly displayed on the app page without clicking to the reviews section. These reviews can have an especially noticeable impact if the user is trying to choose between several apps or the app is paid. Keep in mind that Google Play displays 3 reviews on devices and 4 in browsers. The App Store shows 6 on devices and 3 in browsers. It's important to reply to reviews (especially if they're negative) and show that you care about user opinions. If a helpful/featured review mentions a problem, you have to reply to the user that you've corrected the issue when you do so. If you are in doubts on where to start working with reviews, check out this guide.
These are featured signs in both stores that show the app’s overall rating, its category ranking, age restrictions, and mentions in featured apps. An additional "Editor's Choice" badge or the ranking in a category's top ten list attracts users' attention.
5. App Size
Both the App Store and Google Play limit downloading apps without a WiFi connection (at 150 MB). Make sure your app is within the size limitations so that users can download it on mobile internet instead of postponing it for later.
6. Internal Errors
Google can lower an app with critical errors in search results. Meanwhile, dissatisfied users will leave negative reviews with a low rating, which also affects the number of installs.
The higher the conversion rate, the higher the app will be displayed in search results and the more often it will show in recommendations. Keep in mind that the rate changes every month in every country.
Olga Padulosi is a CMO at AppFollow — a mobile product management solution that helps companies increase their apps' visibility and improve customer retention. In her free time she mentors at Startup Weekend Dublin and masters growth hacking skills. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Testimonials are easy right? Just email a few of your friendly clients and have them write up a good word, slap them on your website and then you’re done right?
Well, though you can certainly do that, let’s not pretend that there aren’t good testimonials and bad testimonials. Just like doctors, contractors, phones, cars, shoes, you name it, there’s good and bad. So what’s the anatomy of a really good testimonial?
Component 1: Relevance
The first feature of a really good testimonial is relevance. Relevance has to do with how the testimonial relates to your marketing position. Does the testimonial relate to your core service or product lines? Is it speaking about the business you have today?
It is very easy to simply fill out a page with numbers and numbers of testimonials but don’t forget that your prospects might actually read them and when they do read them, guess what? They matter. At minimum, consider leading with your most relevant testimonials.
Relevant testimonials talk about specific services that you’re wanting to pitch to new prospects. They’re consistent with projects that you’re currently bidding out and they align with the copy that you have on your website that talks about who you are. Here’s an example for a plumbing company that includes fixing clogged sewers as an offering:
Component 2: An identifiable source
For my next component, the testimonial should come from an identifiable source. What do I mean by that? Well, by looking at the testimonial, it shouldn’t feel anonymous. If the person who wrote the testimonial is from a particular company, and you’re at liberty to do so, include the business name and the person’s title.
Do you have permissions to use last names? Do so. Location? Do so. In an ideal situation, “identifiable” testimonials will allow prospects to see that these are real people at real companies or in real places. In fact, in theory, someone would even be able to find the person who wrote the testimonial on LinkedIn or Facebook, further reinforcing that the testimonial is legitimate. Here’s an example testimonial for my web design agency:
A word of caution: Sometimes for legal reasons (generally for B2B) and privacy reasons (more the case with B2C) it’s harder to get testimonials with more identifiable sources. Some companies or individuals won’t have any concerns with being identified, so when this is the case, and you’re legally safe to do so, capitalize on it.
Component 3: Specificity
Next, good testimonials have a degree of specificity. As is often the case, showing an example of what not to do may be helpful here. Here’s an example of a non specific testimonial.
“Dr. Jones is a great doctor. I really liked my visits to his office and how he was able to help me with my problems. I would highly recommend Dr. Jones to anyone looking for a primary care doctor.” - Jamie S., Brooklyn, NY
What does this testimonial tell you about Dr. Jones as a primary care physician? Approximately nothing! The testimonial is so vague that it leaves the reader with nothing to grab on to and with nothing sounding distinct, it’s left with no compelling power. Here’s a better example:
“Dr. Jones is an incredibly caring physician. I hate the traditional run around with practitioners eager to get you out of the door so they can get to their next patient. Dr. Jones is different. He takes the time to really understand, asks a lot of questions, and then take the appropriate time to diagnose the situation. I couldn’t recommend him more.” - Charles M., Brooklyn, NY
How about this one? What does this one tell us about Dr. Jones? Well, here are a few things:
He doesn’t rush through your appointment
He asks a lot of questions
He wants to get to the bottom of the problem
Imagine if you were a prospective patient of Dr. Jones. Doesn’t this give you a lot more information? Specific testimonials are important because they allow your prospective client, customer or patient to get a sense of what their experience with you will be like. Make sure to avoid the vague and favor the detailed when selecting testimonials.
Component 4: Imagery and formatting
My last component for a really good testimonial is to use images and good formatting. Images of either a person’s face or of the logo of a business will help your testimonials stand out and keep your readers from a wall of text.
Using proper formatting will also help with readability. Formatting includes: the readability and color of the fonts you choose, white space around your testimonial and around the testimonial parts and variant formatting for the source line of the testimonial. Here’s a good example of well-formatted testimonials from Suffescom Solutions.
See how easy it is to tell who wrote the testimonial and where one stops and another starts? Don’t bury your awesome testimonials in a wall of text that makes your prospects instantly overwhelmed. Use good formatting and you’ll find prospects much more interested in what others are saying about you.
Bonus Feature: Consider leading with a few video testimonials
As our world becomes increasingly complex, internet browsers are looking for ways to get what they need faster and when it comes to a review about your company, listening to a 30-60 second video can feel quicker and less mentally taxing. You can also get a lot more from a video testimonial - as they say, a good amount of communication is nonverbal. There are simply things that a client or customer can say or do in a video testimonial that are much harder to do with plain text.
Here’s another good example of Iceberg web design company's clean looking video testimonials:
Well, there you have it. What are the features of a really good testimonial? An identifiable source, relevance, specificity, imagery and formatting. With these features in place, you’ll up your odds with connecting with your prospects and in turn, closing more deals.
Did you find this post helpful? Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear from you.
Author Bio: Joe Ardeeser is the owner and operator at Jordan Crown - a web design agency in the Seattle area that specializes in professional web design services. Joe founded his company 10 years ago and they provide premium marketing websites to medium to large-sized businesses. Joe’s greatest enjoyment comes from business development- whether that's improving the company's sales process or figuring out how to bring on the highest level of talent. Connect with him on LinkedIn.