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UI Design

Making Tasty UIs

Want lip-licking UIs? It’s all in the ingredients. Here is FluidUI’s 3 layer recipe for mouth watering UIs with rich design & usability:

Discovery Layer:
  • 2 cups of Product and Competitor Research & Review
  • 1 cup of User Research
    colloge of Google bakery logo, Apples real apple logo and Android ice cream sandwich logo
  • Fold the doe into Personas & User Scenarios
  • Cut into a Site Map & Flow

Design Layer:

  • Pound out the Design & Usability Standards Document
  • Spread out with Wireframes & Prototypes
  • Smooth out with Task Analysis & Usability Testing
  • Cover it with Color & Graphics
  • Whip up some more Usability Testing
  • Sprinkle with Refine & Review

Delivery:

  • Arrange the Design Specifications
  • Perfect with a Final Review
  • Set the table and Send it Live!
  • Continue to feed your users well with Ongoing Reviews & Improvements

mmm….there is nothing better then satisfying UIs. Let FluidUI be your guest chef and we’ll have your team and users grinning with delight.

Accelerating A Techstars Startup

I was along for the roller coaster ride of Tenacity. A Sprint Accelerator startup, Tenacity  was put through the rigorous Techstars curriculum and came out with national clientele. In the 3 month program Tenacity not only started a mobile health app company, they also refined their UI by making it more user-centric. Not many of the 10 companies in the accelerator took this route, but Tenacity will be solid in a competitive market because they did.

Tenacity wasn’t looking to change their UI when I first met them, but free user testing by Sprint quickly changed their minds. They then contacted me to do wireframes and, on their own initiative, did user surveys and then user interviews with wireframe reviews.

It takes good sense and courage for a startup to take a step back. These MIT and Harvard grads have plenty of each. Each member of the team is distinctly different from the others, giving great appeal, balance and insight to their growing company. Since the Sprint Accelerator is part of the international Techstars network, so is Tenacity and their future is bright and secure cause of the training and connections they now have.

The Tenacity team is now back in Boston and Seattle with strong memories and ties to Kansas City. Meanwhile two of their fellow startups are establishing roots in Kansas City. Look forward to hearing more about:
  • Fit bark: An activity tracker for dogs
  • Sympton.ly: A symptom-tracking platform for conditions like asthma

And coming next Spring, the Sprint Accelerator gets another batch of Techstars startups.

2013 Tech Trends & Plans

2013 TRENDS
In scanning the Forbes Magazine, Washington Post and Rolling Stone I saw these commonalities and stand-outs:

Mobile Device Battles: In 2013, mobile devices will surpass PCs as the most common Web access tools. By 2015, over 80% of handsets in mature markets will be smart phones. 20% of those will be Windows phones. By 2015, tablet shipments will be 50% of laptop shipments, with Windows 8 in third place behind Apple and Android, says the stats from Forbes.

look of Apple's Weather app vs. Swackett wether appMobile Interface Battles: Through 2014, JavaScript performance will push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream application, thus shifting from native apps (like iPhone Weather app) to HTML5 (like Swackett weather app). But native apps won’t disappear, and will always offer best experiences, according to Forbes.

New User Interfaces: Expect more touchscreens, gesture control and other interesting controls to pop up on consumer devices — particularly on desktops and laptops, which have been almost completely the domain of the mouse and keyboard, notes the Washington Post. These UIs focus on making devices easier and more intuitive to operate so novices can master by first trial.

3D Printing: Rolling Stone says that as the price of 3D printers continues to drop the possibilities for these devices, which knit objects together out of plastic, are nearly endless. Thus, you will see Startups (like former KC Hacker House inhabitant ThreeDee) built around offering personalized phone cases to household items.

Crowdfunding of Startups and Devices: Crowdfunding (online fundraising) continues to grow as an alternative to traditional startups, incubators and corporate R&D departments. There are over one million campaigns successfully funded to date, thus catalyzing a sharp rise in independently-produced hardware and software products, says Rolling Stone. Such products like KC”s own Trellie who are using Kickstart to fund their hardware for never missing that important call.

2013 PLANS
As you are looking at 2013, look to us to help retain and build your customer base. We offer returning clients our discounted rates and for new clients a February Special.

Go Mobile: Let a mobile designer who has done user experience for Sprint and Cerner be your muse. Plus, we can partner with the best mobile coders KC has to offer.

Get Well Used: For emfluence we did user interviews, new functionality reviews, a user guide review, an onboarding assessment, a heuristics evaluation and more on their Marketing Platform.  Now their customers love them even more.

Test Your Users: We partner with strategists who have done onsite and remote user testing, as well as international markets. Our presentations hylite the findings with video clips of where your UI’s greatest needs are.

Redesign Your UI: Are you still sporting an outdated look that does not fully integrate the latest marketing trends or functionality you added? Let your customers surf with greater ease by hiring us.

Keep-up That Maintenance: Don’t fall even further behind in 2013 or let the flu virus attack your workflow as well as your workforce. FluidUI is here to keep you on track.

Call to hear more: 816.561.2315.

Trend References: Forbes MagazineWashington Post and Rolling Stone articles.

Sprint’s Site Goes Green

Last Spring I was given a delightful little puzzle by a Sprint User Experience (UX) Manager. He challenged me to apply the PET Principal (Persuasion, Emotion and Trust) to the footer of Sprint.com. A new look to the footer that would speak to prospects and customers, as well as add color to a sleek looking gray site that he termed bordered on vanilla.

To start, I researched Sprint’s brand and offerings Sprint's new home pageand of those of their competitors. Next, I did a search on best footer designs (yes, you have to be a true design geek to get into these). I kept on being drawn to Sprint’s recent award as a Top Ten Green Ranking Company by Newsweek. How could this best be conveyed to Sprint’s customers and in particular their prospects.

After a few mock-ups by me and the diligence of Sprint’s UX, marketing and branding teams over the next several months, a new ‘green’ footer spruced up Sprint.com this Spring that hilites:

  • Sprint’s green efforts on campus, which is money saving
  • Going paperless in billing, more money saving
  • Buying back old phones, money making for the customer and Sprint
  • Sprint’s position as a leader across industries, capitalizing on an external non-bias ranking

Thus, we tapped into all the PET aspects while enhancing the look of Sprint.com. So while the calendar says Fall, I bet FluidUI can still put spring into your interactive design, marketing and branding efforts. Give us a call, 816-561-2315.

Read more on the PET Principal.

Being Different or Being Better

I met with an ecommerce company who wanted a UI that was different from their competition. So strongly they felt, that they did not assess their competitors’ design, architecture or task flows. Thus, they had a clumsy UI and complicated tasks compared to their competitor. Customers do appreciate uniqueness, though they appreciate a company who does it better, so much more.

emfluence's marketing platform, before and after

You put months into developing your site or software, why not spend a few more hours on a competitive analysis (sample). Are you in a proprietary industry and can’t access the competitions UI? Than a heuristic evaluation (sample) perform by a consultant can give you the external perspective you need to assure you’re at a marketing advantage. Company’s fall prey to  group thought, thus should routinely take measures to seek and set benchmarks based on external research of design, features and functions.

Who better to help you benchmark your UI then FluidUI experts who have aided Hallmark, Sprint, Cerner, and emfluence. Let FluidUI help position you as an industry UI leader.

The look of the emfluence Marketing Platform

The look of emfluence is even more friendlier and sophisticated. How did emfluence’s 8-year-old application called the Marketing Platform get this updated look? It all began with a usability study called the Flow Pack. Similar to a heuristic evaluation, FluidUI’s Flow Pack scored and commented on 60+ app traits. We covered everything from aesthetical appeal to consistency in error messaging.  We also looked at the top navigation to see if it‘s telling of what’s under each menu item.

After a walkthrough on our findings emfluence’s design, development and support teams went to work, so to unveil the new UI  (user interface) at an email marketing summit in Las Vegas.

The results

  • Sophisticated UI reflecting advanced functions
  • Cleaner look with fewer distractions
  • Hi-lighted key assets and features
  • Better defined calls to action
  • More focused work area, minimizing user errors

Straight from the user
The new interface is great. So easy to navigate and of course aesthetically pleasing. Should be a very easy transition if there is one at all! – Emily, Boulevard Brewing Company

Let FluidUI help you wow your users. Call today to schedule a FlowPack, 816.561.2315.

IT & Powder Puffs

Do you want to think outside of your company’s box? How about revolutionizing how customers perceive your products and services? Then hire consultants who think differently. pink powder puff sitting on top of a laptopIf you are a technical company who wants to tailor your products to your users, hire non-technical consultants who see your products as your users do.

Hire someone with a powder puff approach. Someone who thinks, looks and acts differently from you and wins over your team with gentle insights rather than trampling over their efforts. A person without the company baggage, who like a compact case travels lite and applies a formula that is seamless to your skins. Thus, giving your users transparency in what they do. A powder puff consultant can give your technology a whole new face-lift.

A Better UI and Idea in I5 Minutes

Your most effective meeting on user interface design is the one where you show your boss or client what you can do. clock with exposed gearsRather than telling them, or stating what you have done for others, demonstrate what you can do for them. We have helped prospective clients improve their design and usability at the first meeting, before agreements are made and contracts are signed. We have even helped others via email links and screen shots. We believe in intuitive interfaces for all and have benefited from this. Nothing will turn your boss or client into a believer quicker than solutions to their needs.

Everyone wants improvements and everyone has 15 minutes. Go on, show them what you can do.

Intuitive Interfaces for All!

Is this a believable statement? Can a company help deliver intuitive user interfaces for all? That means for web, software, cells, anything with a screen. Why yes we can, if we believe and join forces. It’s like when Jony Ive of Apple designed these shells for the iMac that were colorful, curved and translucent. They reminded you more of Life Savers candy than a computer.  Gummy Users in Lifesaver candy colorsThe trend crossed industries and the next thing we saw were these colorful, curved and translucent trash cans on store shelves. In 2009 there were 500+ User Experience Professionals in the Silicon Valley area and that number is growing, everywhere. So yes, intuitive interfaces for all can be a reality.

It’s about having a passion, initiating or being a part of a movement around that passion and setting new standards. The more impossible standards drive the most passion and belief. No one wants to have a passion for the possible, it is too easy to achieve. And what better passion to have than the usability of technology?

Intuitive interfaces for all is about caring and sharing. What could spread quicker and benefit all then by making the www platform easy enough for your mom to use and the children of Africa? Accessibility then takes on many more meanings. Intuitive interfaces for all!

It’s all about setting a standard for that one little impossible idea and then caring enough about it to share it with others.   We all have that little engine that could and still can.

KC Software Corp. Got Satisfaction, and then some

A Kansas City software corporation chose FluidUI to help introduce desktop software into web and mobile, for a new healthcare segment. Our understanding of usability, the industry andWeb and mobile software for healthcare the application were spot on. We reduced page architecture by 15% and skipped the refining phases for design and UI code, because we got them right the first time. Also, we stayed within budget.

The specialist at FluidUI provided clean looks and code for an application that was simple and straightforward. Why load up on the latest and greatest bells and whistles, when users can already achieve their needs in seconds? It’s all about the users. We set out to please the users, thus pleasing our clients with users’ return business. It becomes an all around winning situation – I mean winning application. Let us create another one for you.

Usable Facts

Here are some simple, though often overlooked practices that users prefer for websites and software:

  • Heading sizes: 16-24 points (1-1.5 em) most commonOrange character scanning books
  • Body font sizes: 12 points (.75 em) most common
  • Best color for links: blue
  • Search boxes: ideal size is 18-24 characters
  • Graphs & charts: should be used as well as data values when data is important to the reader and/or the organization

User Experience Design That Increases ROI – workshop

Book this interactive presentation that will have you and your colleagues asking questions and getting answers, right from the start. We cover the basics of usability, then as a group, critique websites of some well-known and local brands. What are Sprint, Apple, Microsoft and Wentings Shop doing right? What could they do better? How can this be applied to what you’re doing on your site? On your client’s site? It’s all about increasing your user retention for greater ROI.

Have FluidUI at your next meeting and y’all will walk away with

  • usability fact sheets
  • the presentation ppt.
  • answers to questions
  • insight on improvements you can make

Call Susana @ 816-561-2315 for details, reviews and to schedule.

U and I will design for Them

‘U and I will design for Them’ is a former tag line of mine and also a worthwhile practice. group of happy users‘U’ the client and ‘I’ the designer, is key to designing for ‘Them’, the user. In asking the right questions you can discover the users’ needs and achieve greater ROI.

Achievements:

  • Have you considered expanding on achievements already made, with more choices and offerings?
  • How about providing similar features and functions in other areas of the application?
  • How about offering similar products or services?

Frustrations/Opportunities:
Every self-help book tells of turning your frustrations into opportunities. The same is true in building an application.

  • Are competitors achieving it? If so how? How can you do it better?
  • Do you need to simplify your product or service?
  • If the problem is solved, what will this bring to the company? Is there another way to achieve this that the user may respond to?

It’s all about them, the user. The earlier and the more often you bring them into the equation, the more response you’ll have from them and the greater your return on efforts, time and investments.

Top 3 Sites in Looks, Use, and ID

Take a quick break and be inspired by these standout websites. Their secret is offering a unique user experience that enhances the selling of their products or services. You may not be in the market for what they have to offer, but after visiting their sites, that could change.

dripping in fat home page1. Dripping in Fat makes you SAVOR retail. From selection to purchase this British t-shirt company provides graphics, icons, instructions and tables that you’ve never experience before and will wish all retailers would implement. Their motivation … to make the world a better dressed place.


yoink home page2. Yoink gives stuff away for FREE! Who doesn’t like that experience? Yoink takes it a step further by making it easy with interactive search options, bright colors, large print, and few clicks. Their ‘Feedback’ widget takes votes which tabulates the most suggested items. Its ‘Stats’ page measures the world’s generosity and that of each member.


norton home page3. Norton, has added FUN to security software. They did this with ridiculously funny ‘danger’ videos featuring extreme characters. Plus, the design, content, and architecture of the site mirror the videos’ fun, informative and direct approach. As well, the site has an Iron Man 2 dimension with expo, sweepstakes, and digital comics.


shh … the top 3 secret formula:

Great Design + Easy Use = Distinct Interactive Identity

To list your Distinct Identity Site(s), leave a reply.

New Web Design & Usability Guidelines – preview

An A-list of contributors has provided insight to the new edition of Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines. The United States Government rounded-up contributors from such institutions as IBM, Carnegie Mellon University, and Human Factors International. This guide defines the essentials – rating their relativity and providing rich examples by way of screen shots.

These essentials are divided into chapters. Those being:

    exert from ui guide

    exert from ui guide

  1. Design Process and Evaluation
  2. Optimizing the User Experience
  3. Accessibility
  4. Hardware and Software
  5. The Homepage
  6. Page Layout
  7. Navigation
  8. Scrolling and Paging
  9. Headings, Titles, and Labels
  10. Links
  11. Text Appearance
  12. Lists
  13. Widgets
  14. Graphics, Images, and Multimedia
  15. Writing Web Content
  16. Content Organization
  17. Search
  18. Usability Testing

This is a must read for any web professional. Though don’t let the 292 pages scare you off. Around 190 of the pages are content with some half-page graphics. The rest include intro, glossary, appendix and sources. Feast your eyes @ The Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines.