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 Repeat Grids Tutorial: Importing Assets Pain-Free

Adobe has waded back into the UI design space with Adobe XD. Dan has a handy tip for importing assets pain-free using the Adobe XD's Repeat Grids feature.
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?
4 COMMENTs
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
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.
7 COMMENTs
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.
10 COMMENTs
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.
3 COMMENTs
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
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.

1 COMMENT
Design & UX
Aja Frost, May 31

Multi-Device Onboarding: What We Can Learn from Mint & Expensify?

Some users come to us via the web – others via an app. How does the onboarding UX differ? Aja looks at how Mint and Expensify answer that question.
Design & UX
Wes McDowell, May 30

4 Steps to Boosting Conversions with Prioritized Navigation

Design is a series of decisions on what is most important – and what isn't. Wes looks at how to focus your users by using with prioritized navigation. 
2 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Theo Miller, May 23

The 5 Best Slack Apps to Accelerate Your Design Process

Designers are part of an ever-growing team in 2016 and collaboration is key. Theo looks at the best Slack apps for designers.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, May 18

Uncovering the Secret Coded Language of Postage Stamps

While today we LOL, smile :) and wink ;), a hundred years ago people were encoding their thoughts and feelings into the position of their postage stamps. 
Design & UX
Daniel Schwarz, May 16

How to Create Responsive Layouts in Sketch (with a Drop of Fluid)

Sketch app is primarily an Interface Design tool so it makes sense for it to be responsive. Daniel show
5 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Daniel Schwarz, May 04

How to Design a Daring but Effective Split-Screen Layout

Split-screen layouts are a bold stylistic choice but not suited to all designs. Today, Daniel balances some design inspiration with a few words of caution.
1 COMMENT
Design & UX
Charles Costa, May 02

The Trick to Building Habit-Forming Products

Facebook, Angry Birds, 2048. What is it that makes a product addictive? Charles talks about the thinking behind habit forming products.
3 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Apr 27

Why JPEGs are like McDonalds Apple Pies (and SVGs are not)

Sometimes it helps to think of SVG, not as an 'image format', but as a 'recipe'. And once you *really* know a recipe, you can start to change it. 
5 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Ivaylo Gerchev, Apr 25

How to Design Rich Card-Based Layouts with Semantic UI

Card-based layouts are a great option for many design problems. Ivaylo shows us how to use Semantic UI to create great, mobile-friendly UIs.
21 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Simon Cocking & the Digital Skills Academy Team, Apr 22

Epic UX Fails (and the Lessons We Can Learn)

Often there are more lessons to be learned from a failure than a success. Simon Cocking walks us through some UX fails and the lessons we can take.
Design & UX
Alex Walker, Apr 13

How to Catch the Eye of Users (and Other Fiendish Traps)

Humans love to look at eyes. We can't help it. But sometimes that can be a problem for our layouts. Alex looks at how you can direct the eye of your users.
2 COMMENTs
Design & UX
Charles Costa, Apr 08

How Do You Measure the Success (or Failure) of Your UX Design?

We all know what an experience is – but how do you measure one? Google's 'HEART Framework' breaks down ux design into easier to understand components. 
1 COMMENT
Design & UX
A'Nita Evans, Apr 05

5 Ways to Lift Your Game in Accessible Design

Accessible design is more that just adding some ALT tags. Anita has some wonderful insights on how you can improve your approach to accessible design.