FluidUI Blog ~ Digest of User Experience Design, User Interface Usability, and Design for Usability Rotating Header Image

Usability

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.

emfluence’s UX Smorgasbord

The emfluence Marketing Platform has been sampling a UX (user experience) smorgasbord, from delectable user interviews to full-bodied heuristics. Their appetite was spurred by the need to redesign their Marketing Platform with a look that would be more telling of its robust capabilities.

The UX smorgasbord offered:emfluence's Marketing Platform before & after

  1. A Heuristic Evaluation was our first course. FluidUI sampled all the Platform had to offer. Then as a restaurant critic would, rated everything from menu items to error messaging.
  2. Then a Walkthrough of findings followed with key emfluence team members that affected the UI (user interface) and had direct user contact. We brainstormed on the findings and from there a new UI was prepared.
  3. User Interviews were next on the plate, so as to gain insights on customers’ preferences, desired new functionality, what features customers use most/least, and their thoughts on help and support.
  4. An Onboarding Review was served next, encompassing recommendations for the user guide and training, plus analyzing onboarding cases to determine user types that had the greatest success rate. Therefore, less cost to onboard and users were quickly using the advantages of the Platform to promote their biz.
  5. A Usability Map was the most recent effort. The map digested all the above findings to decipher which area users used most and their ideas for enhancements. Thus, it could be best determined where to spend development dollars in order to make the improvements users most wanted.

What do your users want to sample more of? Contact FluidUI to find out what your UX Smorgasbord menu would look like.

What’s New in the emfluence Marketing Platform

by Jessica Best, emfluence Community Director

The emfluence Marketing Platform has come a long way since we first started working with Fluid-UI. Since our post in June 2011, we’ve had over a year of updates and another User Conference to talk to our platform users about what they love, what they need and where we’re going.

emfluence's new survey tool in action.

In addition to being able to create, deploy and track emails, Facebook and Twitter posts and landing pages, you can now use the emfluence Marketing Platform to create and share surveys and analyze feedback. You can post to LinkedIn as part of your integrated marketing campaign: both text only posts and sharing links with a thumbnail preview and description of the page.
With our renewed focus on ease of use having worked with Susana at Fluid-UI, we also added a “drag-and-drop” Marketing Calendar to the Platform. Add emails, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts to the calendar by dragging them onto the calendar. This feature especially lives up to emfluence’s reputation for being easy to use, and helps visually integrate social media into our users’ digital marketing plans.
Due in part to our work with Susana at Fluid-UI, we concentrated our focus on making the Platform even easier to use by adding a “drag-and-drop” Marketing Calendar. Quickly schedule emails, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts in advance by dragging them onto the calendar. This feature especially lives up to emfluence’s reputation for being easy-to-use, and helps visually integrate social media into our users’ digital marketing plans.
Learn more about digital marketing with the emfluence Marketing Platform or schedule a demo.

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.

Usability Comes In Packages

We package our usability assessments with all the bells and whistles. Want a task analysis? It’s in there. How about a visual of what it could look like? It’s in there. How about … well here is what you get:

Fluid’s Flow Pack:
gift box in orange wrapping

  • Tasks Analysis: A review of your top 10 tasks and their flow
  • Heuristic Evaluation: We score and comment on 80+ variables, from visuals to error prevention
  • Recommendations: Written with visuals
  • Next Steps: Quick fixes, resources, timeline, etc.

Fluid’s Flow Pack, don’t leave your server without it. Sample >


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

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.

Card Sorting: 2 Distinct Demos

These videos are excellent sources on conducting card sorts – a technique used for determining the content and navigation for websites and software. They vary in delivery: one takes a group approach, similar to marketing focus groups; in the other individuals perform the task alone and then the task is repeated with other potential users of the application. Each delivery has its advantages and disadvantages. You decide what suits you and can share your opinion why below.

Heuristic WHAT?

Orange Man Using a Laptop Computer, Riding the Increasing ArrowA Heuristic Evaluation tells you if your website or software is easy to use. FluidUI can review your screens to evaluate page structure, navigation, visual consistency, etc.. We use set standards to generate a report on how you deviate from those standards. The report will highlight quick fixes and items for further consideration.

Heuristic Benefits:

  • A cheap, quick and easy usability assessment
  • Can be used early in the development process as well as after launch/release
  • Corrections made will improve customer retention and relations.

Call us today to impact your bottom line, 816-561-2315.

Seductive Interactions: a tech take

computer_modelSlideShare’s “Seductive Interactions: An Art & Science” is an engaging presentation on design strategy. Of the 175 clicks I found click 85, most valuable – its title: What Do We Know About People?

they listed my ux take
We’re curious Don’t list features and functions, let users discover them
We’re also afraid of change Forecast changes and promote upcoming redesigns
We seek patterns Be predictable, have consistency in menu, headers, colors, etc.
We like to order and organize things Sort options, customize pages, Flickr Organizr
We’re intensely self centered Tell a friend, favorites, iLike, StumbleUpon
We’re lazy 175 click slides are manageable w/a jump feature
We’re visual thinkers and learners Thus SlideShare and demo video popularity
We like to be the hero of the story We promote our thoughts and actions (blog, tweet) more than others
We don’t like to make choices, but we like choice We are entice by Chrome’s market growth, but we just can’t leave FireFox
We like to be in control (and to be guided) Allowing users to choose when to upgrade and provide demos
We find novelty and surprise interesting New features and functions keep us coming back for more
and so on We can generalize about people/users, but should always seek their feedback and act on it

Thanks for reading my hero story. Here is the Seductive Interactions show, for more novelty and surprises.

FluidUI Launches to Design the User Experience

Award-winning web designer and entrepreneur, Susana B Bruhn launches FluidUI, a user experience design company. FluidUI designs and tests the user interfaces of e-commerce and financial websites so they attract users, minimize processes and decrease the cost of doing business. As well, the company creates user-friendly interfaces for software and mobile phone applications. fluidui_launchBased in Kansas City and Silicon Valley, Susana B and partners have provided intuitive interfaces for Hallmark, Hewlett Packard, agencies and software companies since 1998.

US News and Inc. Magazine ranked the user experience industry as a rising field to watch because companies are realizing the impact usability has on the success of their websites, applications and bottom lines.

If customers are not completing shopping cart purchases, software processes, exiting after a few clicks, or on a specific page, those are indicators that the application has usability issues, said Susana. Customers want appealing and consistent interfaces, fewer steps to their end goals, and innovations that are self-explanatory. That’s where my team comes in.

FluidUI’s experienced consulting team consists of graphic designers, user experience designers, information architecture experts and human factors strategists. As user experience specialists, they design for usability, which means, they create user interfaces that help customers move seamlessly through their decision-making processes in a way that makes sense to the user.

Studies show when a business designs for the user experience, it benefits in two ways: increased revenue and decreased costs. When users are better able to use an application, the more successful and profitable it will be. Likewise, if people are able to accomplish their desired outcomes in less time, it costs less money in tech support and fixes. Designing a website for usability attracts users, streamlines decision-making processes and decreases the cost of doing business.

Our process for designing brand-building user interfaces for both web and software products is simple; we analyze, design, test and then refine, said Susana. When something within your application isn’t allowing users to complete their desired outcome, we’ll find it. Bottom line, we want users to have a successful experience so they’ll visit your site again and again.

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About FluidUI
Designing the User Experience

FluidUI creates award-winning user interface designs that increase the appeal and effectiveness of applications. Using human factors practices, we’re able to design interfaces, analyze websites and software for usability needs, minimize processes and test interfaces within user groups to refine designs. Based in Kansas City and Silicon Valley, we have served agencies, corporations, and small businesses since 1989. Contact us to see how a user-friendly interface design can impact your bottom line. Visit www.fluid-ui.com.

Contact:
Susana B (Bruhn)
816-561-2315
http://www.fluid-ui.com