Design & UX
Alex Walker, Aug 11

UX Design 2016: Too Many Hunters – Not Enough Gatherers?

As 'web people', we talk a lot about 'capturing customers', but not so much about what to do with them when we succeed. We can learn a lot from airlines.
Design & UX
Richard Child, Aug 08

Does Your Landing Page Target Prospects but Forget Customers?

Often it's easy to focus on the customers we don't have – to the detriment of those we do. Richard shows us how Trello helps customers feel special.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Aug 04

The Trolley Problem: Will Our Cars Grow up to Be Heroes?

The Trolley Problem is one of the great 'thought experiments' in ethics. But it's a thought experiment that's about to play out in the real world.
Design & UX
Daniel Schwarz, Aug 02

Is Sympli the Design Collaboration Tool That Developers Won't Hate?

Designers and developers need to work closely to get the best out of each other. Sympli, the latest attempt to make a seamless collaboration tool .  
Design & UX
Daniel Schwarz, Jul 28

Adobe XD Tutorial: A Pain-free Way to Import Assets

Adobe has waded back into the UI Design App with Adobe XD – ´Experience Design'. Dan has a handy tip for pain-free importing assets.  
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jul 27

Prisma: The Rise and Fall and Rise of the One-Trick-Pony Filter

'Push button' image filters have developed a bad reputation with design professionals. But perhaps a new image filter called Prisma can change their minds.
Design & UX
Theo Miller, Jul 26

4 Ways Uber Wins UX by Killing Friction

Often your biggest UX wins come from thinking beyond the screen and tackling real-world frictions. How did Uber dominate the UX wars in ride-sharing?
Ralph Mason, Jul 21

Decoding CSS Positioning: A Master Class with Paul O'Brien

Paul answers anything and everything about CSS positioning — from floats and relative, absolute and fixed positioning to table display and even flexbox.
Design & UX
Jennifer Farley, Jul 21

How to Quickly and Easily Remove a Background in Photoshop

Learn how to quickly remove a background in Photoshop using the Background Eraser Tool.
Design & UX
Daniel Schwarz, Jul 19

PaintCode: How to Make iOS-Ready App Graphics with Sketch App

App development needs great design but there is a disconnect between design and code. Now Paintcode turns Sketch into an iOS app UI development tool.
Design & UX
Gabrielle Gosha, Jul 15

8 Free and Handy Android Apps for Designers

Designing doesn't stop when you leave your desk. Gabrielle has scoured the web for 8 useful Android apps for designers
Design & UX
Saad Al-Sabbagh, Jul 12

Using White Space: How Emptiness Can Give So Much to Design

Saad explains how white space, a lack of content, can make a design more effective.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jul 05

SitePoint/Flippa Hack Day: Hacking our First IoT Project

We'd all played with computers for years but SitePoint's Hack Day gave us a chance to make electronics with our first IoT project.
Design & UX
Charles Costa, Jul 04

The 4 Unique Design Challenges of IoT

Designing for IoT – the Internet of Things – offers great opportunities, but also a new range of challenges. Charles Costa walks you though the big 4. 
Design & UX
Simon Codrington, Jun 30

Review: Is the New and Improved Google Fonts Better?

Google fonts revolutionized web fonts by bringing them to the world. They've just released the services' biggest overhauls since 2010. But is it better?
Design & UX
Aja Frost, Jun 28

How the Humble Speech Bubble Will Transform Our Future UIs

They are the product of comic books and newspaper 'funny pages' but Aja is here to tell why the speech bubble is set to rule our future UIs.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jun 27

Are Colors Born Bad or Do We Make Them That Way?

Pantone 448C – a dark olive-brown – is used on Australian cigarette packaging because it is visually unappealing. But context changes how we see color.
Design & UX
Chris Lienert, Jun 23

How to Speed Up Your UX with Skeleton Screens

Delivering a speedy UX isn't all about code and servers – it's about how things feel.  Chris shows you how to use 'skeleton screens' to speed up your UX. 
Design & UX
Daniel Schwarz, Jun 21

5 Bankable UX Lessons from Brick and Mortar Store Design

Store design isn't accidental. Hundred of years of experience teaches many UX lessons. Daniel explains how you can apply in the digital world.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jun 16

How to Find Cool, Quirky, Copyright Free Photos on Flickr

Think you know Flickr? Did you know they store a vast reservoir of copyright free photos imagery from the world's great libraries, museums, & archives?
Design & UX
Alan Dargan, Jun 14

5 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About Conversational UIs

Conversational UIs are becoming more and more common but designing them requires a whole new skillset – more scriptwriter than graphic designer.
Design & UX
Angela Molina, Jun 13

Let's Talk about Sketch, Baby! With Sketch Guru, Daniel Schwarz

 We think it's important to connect you with subject matter specialists and give you a chance to say hello and ask them a question. Last week, we caught up with Daniel Schwarz for a chat about Sketch 3.
Design & UX
Maria Antonietta Perna, Jun 09

20 Inspirational, Free Tools For Better Typeface Pairing

We have access to a wider set of web fonts than ever before, but choice can be a tyranny. Luckily Antonietta has 20 tools to help you better pair type.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Jun 08

Conversational UIs, R2-D2 and Avoiding the Uncanny Valley

What was the first 'killer phone app'? I'm talking about first non-voice offering that had droves of people buying mobile phones for the first time just to use it?

Was it Google Maps? Maybe the YouTube app? Bejewelled? Facebook?

No - as important as they were, I think the original killer app has to be SMS (or texting). Sending little notes to each other doesn't sound very innovative or exciting, but from the early 90's onwards, SMS drove the adoption of cellphones and provided an obscenely lucrative revenue stream to phone network providers.

People seemed to like SMS for three reasons.

  1. It was private
  2. It was simple
  3. It felt familiar

We all probably passed notes in class and stuck them on the refrigerator door. SMS just let us pass them across the world.

Many of the first big online services for desktop computers used the same chatty approach - ICQ, Yahoo IM, AIM, and MSN Messenger.

Even today Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp Twitter, and Slack have billions of users every day tapping out short text messages to each other.

What can we say? Humans really like this format.

Birth of the Conversational User Interface

The last two years have seen the rise of a new kind of user interface. Slack were one of the first companies to realize that this 'human-to-human' chat format might work just as well for human-to-app interactions.

Instead of using a standard account creation sign-up form, Slack used their 'Slackbot' like a welcoming hotel concierge.

Slackbot sign-up

And it made so much sense. They want you to chat - why not start chatting from the first moments you use the app? The idea has been reproduced many times since.

Quartz: Chatty News App

Quartz is a new news app (currently iOS only) that takes the idea of conversational UIs to a new level.

While Slack was a chat client just expanding where it chatted, Quartz jams news events into an SMS-like format. It's a bit like having a friend SMSing you newspaper snippets to read on the train. You can ask your friend for more detail on the story or tell them to move on.

Quartz in action

While I'm not totally convinced yet that Quartz is a winner, it is a brilliantly original way to think about presenting news. It's loose and informal and easily the most clutter-free news UI you've ever seen. Each time you read a new message and make a yes/no decision - Quartz handles the rest. Interesting.

One interesting little UI touch is the 'typing' indicator that appears just before Quartz posts a new message to screen – three drumming dots inside a speech bubble (see the animation below).

We're all familiar with this idea. In real world conversations, we can signal with body language that we're about to speak. In chat apps from ICQ in 1996 to Slack today, we get a visual indicator that the other person is in the act of replying. It's a useful protocol.

But this is an app speaking to us - not a friend or colleague.

Quartz Conversational UI

Now let's be frank: We all implicitly understand that this is all 'UX theater' for our benefit. Even my 10-yo daughter immediately picked it. There's nobody banging away at a real keyboard.

So, how do we feel about that?

I'm not sure about you, but I've been surprised by my own gut reaction. My designer brain tells me I should be dismissive and snarky. "Bah! How dare you slow down my experience with such feeble parlor tricks!" (yes, my designer brain sounds like Professor Moriarty)

But my UX-self started grudgingly liking it - and I couldn't understand why at first.