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Posts tagged with Design

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The rise and rise of search

The recent preview of OS X Yosemite from Apple caused predictable amounts of chatter online (including this article) and rightly so.

Sales of Macs hit 4.8m in Q1 2014, up from 4.1m for the same holiday period in 2013. OS X has a big impact on the conventions of UI and UX.

The feature I saw the most buzz about on social is the improved Spotlight. The feature has a new search window and a rich, scrollable preview of results that finds stuff on your Mac but now also Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, and other sources.

This is the latest reminder of how powerful search is and how consumers increasingly rely on it across technology and the web.

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The five golden rules of responsive web design

In May 2010, Ethan Marcotte started the craze that is Responsive Web Design, when we wrote his article of the same name for A List Apart. This article was so popular, he even wrote a book on the topic.

This introduction of fluid grids, flexible images and media queries has changed the way we've designed our websites quite dramatically. We've been re-sizing our browser windows ever since.

Starting off as a trend, Responsive Web Design has fast become the hot-topic of our industry and has now become the norm.

Over the past few years I have worked on several RWD projects. In almost all of these projects I have used a different design process, produced different deliverables and encountered many different problems.

Based on these experiences, and given that RWD is now becoming the norm, my workflow has had to adapt. Here are five areas in which I believe designers are required to step up in order to adapt to the responsive web.

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12 upwardly responsive websites designed for big screens

Responsive design has been a hot trend in the past couple of years, with plenty of brands adapting their websites for smartphone and tablet users. But here's the thing: responsive design should work for bigger screens too.  

I have a 27 inch iMac with a 2560 x 1440 screen resolution, and not many sites make full use of my screen. It seems like a waste. The best responsive websites will be optimised for wider displays, as well as narrower ones.

It goes without saying that a growing proportion of your website's visitors will be using handheld devices with little screens, but you may be surprised by how many people use bigger screens. Certainly I was. 

I thought I'd unearth a few examples of brands that are thinking big, as well as small. I shall kick things off by looking at our own stats, to prove the business case.

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15 delicious examples of card-based web design

The rise of the smartphone has ushered in a new way of thinking among web designers and developers, who need to create websites that work on smaller screens.

The constraints of smaller screens have actually helped the web to become that little bit more modular, with responsive design now one of the foremost web design trends: pages can be broken up into their constituent parts, and reordered on the fly, depending on browser or screen sizes. Content spread over three or four columns can be repositioned into just one. 

This has refocused attention on 'cards', as a design pattern for displaying information in bite-sized chunks. Cards are ideal for the TL;DR generation, perfect for mobile devices and responsive design, and I think we'll be seeing a lot more of them in the months and years ahead. The format may not be new, but it's on the rise.

What is a card, exactly? Well, they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but commonly cards will include information such as a title, a user name, a picture, and various icons. Sometimes there might be a brief amount of text, for example a product description. In a sense, they are miniature, condensed web pages.  

Cards were one of my 18 web design trends for 2014, and I wanted to highlight some beautiful examples of card-based user interfaces. Tuck in!

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14 beautiful designs based around shades of colour

Earlier this year I highlighted monochromatic design and hypercolour as two of my 18 web design trends for 2014. There is a third way that lives inbetween these two approaches: choosing a limited palette and using different shades of colour.

Designers who go down this route typically choose one vibrant colour (and various shades thereof) and offset it against a neutral background. Sometimes two (or more) complementary colours come into play. 

I thought I'd share a few examples, to hopefully provide you with a little visual inspiration. Many of these examples are, to my eye, rather elegant. 

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25 old school websites for 25 years of the web

The web is 25 years old. Did you use it today? And yesterday? Wow, it’s really catching on.

Here are some old websites from 1994 to 1998, when the web was in full swing (or so we thought).

If you’ve got your own to share, do leave them in the comments section below.

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21 examples of user experience innovation in ecommerce

I’ve been keeping a close eye on innovation in the ecommerce sector for more than a decade now, and it seems to me that we're living in exciting times. We have hit some kind of purple patch. 

Why is this? Well, ecommerce has massively matured. It's big business. Digital teams are smarter, and more agile. Sexy new tech such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery allows for sublime user experiences. 

As such I wanted to raise a toast to innovation by highlighting a bunch of - hopefully inspiring - examples to you.

But first, a massive caveat: I would severely and mercilessly beat a few of these sites with a big best practice stick. There are product pages with missing information. There are search boxes with tiny fonts. There are usability issues galore.

Secondly, for ecommerce sites, it is all about the data. If you’re not constantly testing, measuring and refining, then you aren’t doing it right. What works for one brand might not work so well for another. 

All of that aside, the ecommerce teams that take chances and push the boundaries of are to be applauded. Guidelines are precisely that: guidelines. Rules are there to be broken. And innovation is always to be encouraged, even when it doesn’t work out.

So let's take a look at some ecommerce websites (and one mobile app) that are trying new things, and that are noteworthy for their approach to the user experience. Click on the screenshots to check them out for yourself, and do let me know what you think.

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New Year marketing resolutions you shouldn't break in 2014

It’s February and already, according to a number of statistical sources, around a quarter of us have failed to uphold our New Year’s resolutions.

Interestingly, 39% of people in their twenties achieve their resolution each year compared to only 14% of people over 50. That’s interesting given the prevailing attitudes towards younger generations.

In the same vein, marketers are mapping out the conversations they want to have this year to stay ahead of the curve. Given the influx of ‘2014 Trends’ in January, I thought it would be a useful point to review the best and highlight a few that might follow New Year’s resolutions.

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15 tiny UX elements that can make a big difference

Small details can make a big difference to the user experience, saving users' time, making it easier for them to spend money, or just generally making it more enjoyable. 

Some of these things are so widespread and expected now that you don't even notice them, such as postcode lookup tools on sites. They were not always there, and save you a lot of hassle. 

So, inspired by sites like littlebigdetails, I've rounded up 15 examples of little UX touches I've come across myself, or have found via sites like Pinterest. 

Some are obvious, some less so, and there is a general ecommerce slant to this list. Please suggest any examples you've seen lately...

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Visual narratives: telling a story through visual design

According to Curt Cloninger, "Usability experts are from Mars, graphic designers are from Venus"

Since the early days of web design and development, the enduring perception has lingered of a clash between two incompatible approaches.

According to the somewhat exaggerated popular concept of brain lateralisation, these might correspond to 'right brain' thinking (represented by art and aesthetics) and 'left brain' thinking (represented by engineering or usability).

This, of course, is simply not the case. Any website, (or any other form of communication) needs a combination of them all to be successful, and as the discipline of user experience (UX) has matured over the past few years this perceived divide has begun to contract.

Today, UX professionals are using the basic tools of visual communication to provide clearer, more intuitive user journeys.

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mobile home cloggs

Cloggs responsive redesign: mega gallery

With 2013 the first year tablet shipments are expected to exceed that of PCs and also a year in which smartphone penetration reaches 64% in the US (Nielsen), responsive design is rightly this year’s hot topic.

Despite this, it seems a lot of big brands are playing catch up, with new research from Venda showing just one of the UK’s top 50 most visited retail sites (Curry’s) currently hosts a responsive website.

A quarter of websites analysed don’t have a mobile optimised site, and many retailers host their mobile site under a different URL structure to their existing website, which could be negatively impacting their SEO and affecting their efforts with analytics. 

As comScore estimates a third of all UK page views now come from smartphones and tablets, delivering a slick customer experience across all devices has become a massive competitive advantage for retailers.

To that end, I've been looking at the new responsive Cloggs website. 

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Start Me Up! A profile of Marvel, turning your Dropbox images into prototypes

Sending email attachments to pitch for work is starting to feel like an ugly way to present your hard-crafted work to clients.

Marvel has been created to smooth this process via Dropbox, allowing files to be converted to prototypes once uploaded.

I spoke to Murat Mutlu, Product Designer and Co-Founder about Marvel app.

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