So much of the conversation around digital wellness involves user-based actions, but what responsibility does product design have? Explore why and how helping users establish healthier relationships with tech is becoming a design consideration.
Author: Kim Shepherd
How to Improve Your 404 Page Design
As UX designers we work hard to understand where users tend to go wrong and why in order to prevent errors. But no one's perfect. Eventually someone’s going to make a typo, forget to input something, or hit the wrong button. Errors are part of the experience so UX design shouldn’t end with them. A bad error experience and all the work you’ve done up to that point may not matter. Your users get annoyed, confused, or frustrated and they’re gone. 404 pages are one of the more common culprits for this. Like every other page, they should have a design and content strategy that positively supports a good user experience. Check out some tips on how to create better 404 pages.
Burnout: The next challenge for UX design
Call it Zoom fatigue, pandemic fatigue, or simply hitting the wall, burnout has set in and its running rampant. Over half of workers report feeling burned out; from elementary school to college, students have had enough; and parents are at their wits ends. It seems like no one is immune. Chronic uncertainty, endless trauma, and the need to keep on keeping on no matter what have created a toxic problem. This is why it’s important for UX designers to understand burnout and identify how it may be factoring into our work right now.
How Programming Knowledge Can Help UX/UI Designers
While it’s not a direct necessity to have this knowledge in order to create a good, usable design, understanding the medium used to bring your ideas to life can still be beneficial for UX and UI designers’ work. It helps you think differently, makes you a better communicator, a better collaborator and adds a skill to your resume.
Toward More Gender-Inclusive Form Design
Forms are like icebergs. They’re deceivingly more complicated and troublesome than they appear on the surface. Screw up a form’s design and you can stop users in their tracks, preventing them from meeting their intended goals, your business from collecting valuable data, or both. There are a lot of decisions that should go into determining how a form will be look. Since being inclusive and respectful of someone’s identity contributes to better UX, it's important to think through how even the smallest, design choices can be adjusted to help more people feel welcome using your product.
5 Reasons Why Social Media Managers Can Be Assets for UX
For many reasons, UX designers are not always able do the user research they desire before making design decisions. While there are always costs for skimping on user research, there are resources to help mitigate limitations, one being your social media manager. Social media and UX design share one important commonality, they are both centered around people. Learn how social media managers can be valuable assets for the UX research process.
Content Strategy Proposal: Fairmont State University
A content strategy provides a plan for how to use content to simultaneously meet user needs and support business goals. When redesigning a website it may be very tempting to just transfer all of the content from your old site to your new site – after all, it already exists, right? The problem is that just having content doesn’t mean it’s successful at doing what you need it to do for your business. Check out a sample content strategy proposal I've created for a redesign of Fairmont State University’s (FSU) main website.
The Ethical Precedent for Limitations on Branded Content
The free-for-all days of the internet and social media in the 2000s was bound to eventually run headlong into an ethical quagmire. Online content was never going to be easy to put limits on – even in terms of advertising which has historically been restricted for certain products, industries, and organizations by law or self-regulation. As we look to private tech companies to regulate the ever murkier world of content marketing and branded content what do ethical precedents on advertising say about who should and should not have the ability to use these content strategies for financial gain?
Content Analysis: MND Association
For this post, I’ve created a sample content analysis of the Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Association’s digital content on their website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). The MND Association works on “improving access to care, research and campaigning for those people living with or affected by MND in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.” The aim of the analysis was to determine if the organization’s current content aligns with the business goals defined in its management strategy developed by strategic advisor Bernard Marr & Co., and report findings and recommendations to the organization’s Board of Directors.
Content Marketing and Content Strategy: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Without content strategy, content marketing is basically a nonsensical house built without blueprints. This complementary relationship, though, is often why content marketing and content strategy are mistaken for the same thing when they are very much distinct practices. Learn what each one is about and how they relate.
Content Audit: Doctors Without Borders
In her book The Content Strategy Toolkit, Meghan Casey (2015) lists 3 methods for identifying the problems and opportunities of a website’s content: a content audit, an analytics review, and user testing. This first option – a content audit – is what she recommends starting with. For this post I’ve conducted a sample content audit of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders' (MSF) external-facing website for the United States. Read my full content audit report to learn more about how I evaluated the MSF site and what I found.
Prep Your Content Strategy for Success
From getting stakeholders aligned to planning a budget and pitching your project well, content strategy can be complicated dance. Learn why these factors are important and how to approach them to set your next content strategy project up for success.
Content Strategy and the Continuing Fight to End Content Waste
There's a lot of junk our there in terms of content and in the last 15 years, we’ve done a pretty good job of creating an astronomical amount of it in the digital sense. Faced with this new importance of content, businesses have looked to content strategy to help, applying it heavily to content marketing and UX. But how has the expansion of content strategy into new areas of focus recently effected the concept of content strategy and how may it continue to evolve with our content-centric world?
The Content Monster and Me
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re being chased? You don’t know exactly what’s chasing you, what it looks like, or why it’s after you, but you’re certain if you slow down nothing good will happen? If I looked back to find out what this was in my dreams I'd bet I’d find a tangled, towering mass of words, photos, videos, GIFs, graphics, and URLs. I’d find myself being chased by a content monster. As a social media professional this is what my relationship with content feels like sometimes – an unrelenting demand for more.
A UX Research Report: Connecticut Forest and Park Association
In the last 25 years, business websites have evolved into powerful interactive hubs where users go for far more than brochureware. And as COVID-19 has shown, they are also now the front doors to organizations. Along with social media, they are often the first or only means of interaction people have with a business so, your website's experience better be on point. If it's not, the good news is it's never been easier to learn what it takes to build a good experience for your users. I recently completed a UX research project on ctwoodlands.org, the website for the member-based conservation nonprofit Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Check it out to see one approach for quickly getting the insights and direction you need for a successful redesign.
Usability Testing for an Existing Product
Usability is the measure of how well a person can use a product to achieve an intended goal. In a previous post, I talked about how usability testing should be a key part of any iterative design process, preferably being implemented as early as possible to identify design problems. But usability testing is also an important tool to evaluate existing products before you ever sit down at the drawing board to devise a change or new design.
Wizard of Oz Studies and the Application of Illusion for UX Research
How do you test something that doesn’t exist? The obvious answer is to build it. But what if it’s difficult, time-consuming, and/or expensive to build? You don’t want to risk wasting resources on an untested idea. A common approach that user experience designers (UX) use in such situations is Wizard of Oz studies.
A/B Testing as a UX Research Technique
Redesigning a website is usually about making its experience better. But change doesn’t guarantee better, just different. This is why user experience (UX) designers focus so much on user research. The more you know about user needs, as well as business and other requirements, the more you can eliminate some of that uncertainty about the impact of a new design. However, you will never know for sure how a design choice will perform until it's used with real users in real life. This is a nerve-wracking reality. A UX designer nor most project stakeholders are comfortable taking the risk of just changing something and seeing how it goes. Enter A/B testing.
Leveraging User Research to Get Stakeholder Buy-In
If you’re familiar with user experience (UX) design, then you understand the benefit of user research. It helps you empathize with users, evaluate usability, and determine the user requirements of a project (Baxter, Courage, & Caine, 2015). But what if I told you user research can have another application that can be just as vital to the outcome of a project as user empathy?
Module 7: Advanced Motion
Having completed my journey through Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation & Motion Graphics with advice on how to network and market your work once it's done, I decided to take on building the types of content that sparked my exploration into animation in the first place. See and learn how I built a branded social media PSA on voting and a series of accompanying GIF stickers using the full spectrum of Blazer's book, research examples of advanced and interesting animation techniques, and my experience from my past 6 posts on motion design.
Module 6: Interface Motion (User Interface Animation)
Animating user interfaces can help users and offer them a better experience, but in doing so these animated elements are made to feel so natural that we often don't consider that they can be complex to design well. For this post, I've taken the general advice from Liz Blazer's Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation and Motion Graphics and applied it to UI animation. Combined with research examples, I was able to create a looping sequence of UI animations for my previously developed Milford Resident App prototype.
Module 5: Motion for Promotion (Logo Stinger)
Whether your project is an animated feature or motion graphicsfor corporate marketing, making the right decisions about how you'll construct your piece is key. I combined advice on how to choose an animation technique and style from Liz Blazer's book Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation and Motion Graphics with research on Disney's 12 Basic Principles of Animation to create 2 logo stingers.
Module 4: Production and Post (Stop Motion II)
After completing pre-production work for 2 stop motion animation ideas in my last post, I continued on to production and post-production for one of them. With guidance on sound choices and establishing consistent rules for a story’s world from Liz Blazer’s Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation & Motion Graphics, I brought to life my linear story idea titled “A Bigger Purrr-pose.”
Module 3: Pre-Production in Action (Stop Motion I)
With advice on color choices and experimentation in animation from Liz Blazer's Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation & Motion Graphics, I began the pre-production process of creating a stop motion animation. In this stage of development I wrote pre-production summaries for 2 original stories (one linear in structure and one non-linear), drew storyboards, and shot a stop motion test to familiarize myself with the technical process.
Module 2: Mixing Motion (Cinemagraphs)
Cinemagraphs are a recently invented and popularized form of a seamlessly looping GIF or video in which still photography and video are combined to make a dynamically interesting visual that tells the story of a moment in time. With tips on how to craft a good animated story from Liz Blazer's book Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation & Motion Graphics, I've created 4 brief motion stories from a day in my life in the form of cinemagraphs using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.
Module 1: Basic Motion (Animated GIFs)
Animated GIFs have become a popular digital content type for both personal use and brand marketing. See how I researched this content type and applied Liz Blazer's 6 steps of pre-production work from her book Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps For Creating Animation & Motion Graphics to create 3 different styles of summer-themed GIFS for marketing purposes using Adobe Photoshop and Animate.
Learn Web Development: It’s Empowering as F@#!
I finally got around to that “someday” task of taking a deeper dive into web development than just the hunt-and-peck-through-code-that-I-didn’t-know-how-to-read approach I’ve been using for the last 5 years. I figured this experience would confirm or deny once and for all whether my interest was genuine or a novelty. What I found is that learning how to build a website provided me with more than just a new skill.
Web Design Using A Template
So, you want to build a website, but you don’t know where to start. I have good news. Even though web design can be an intimidating process that requires technical and creative skills, you don’t always have to start from scratch. You can decrease the intimidation factor and even maybe decrease time and cost requirements of a website build by starting with a pre-built template.
Getting Started with SEO Basics
You’ve heard the acronym SEO. Maybe you know it stands for search engine optimization. And you’ve likely heard something to the effect of it being the unicorn strategy that will magically flip the script on your struggling website, improving its discoverability and effectiveness a hundred-fold. But what exactly is SEO and how does it work?
How to Add Media and Functionality to Your WordPress Blog
When you think about blogging you probably think about writing something, but a good blog can be about so much more. Images, videos, social media, and other functionality can support your posts and more deeply engage your readers. And the great thing about the WordPress content management system is that it makes adding these elements a snap. Let's look at some examples of the more common functionalities you might be interested in adding to your blog.