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ux

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.

Sprint, Sprial16 & National Seminars Go Searching

We have had a wonderfully engaging summer. Working for Sprint, Spiral16 and National Seminars we improved, expanded and created search and sort functions. The experience, paired with the invigorating Indian Summer weather, has our creativity humming.

First-up, Sprint who wanted to encourage self-service and reduce customer support on their ‘email us’ page. The page had a search box and contact form, plus 1/3 white space. So to emphasize their search engine (which is phenomenal compared to their competitors) and make the page more search dominated, FluidUI designed the following:

  • First we changed the titles of the two sections with their response times. The search section was titled “For Immediate Answers” and the email form was titled “For One Business Day Responses”
  • Next we branded the search to beget confidence.
  • Then we took the 2 trigger modules titled “I need help with” and “I want to” from other areas of the site and customized their bullets to the top topics users of the form request information on, such as making a payment or questions on a phone plan.

We hit a home run with Sprial16’s social media monitoring software, for searching as well as scoring and indexing defines what they do best. FluidUI helped them determine the flow and look of their new self-service search function, by:

  • Breaking the search function into a 4-step widget.
  • Giving some of their terminology and icons more relevancy and a contemporary look.
  • Designing 3 styles of page layouts to choose from.

Bringing it home was National Seminar’s detailed search on their Star12 training site. The site had advance search functions, which were spread across the center and left side of the page, plus falling below the fold.  In addition, it did not have the desired tabs they wanted for sorting training into lists of training types (seminars, web, etc.). For them we:

  • Reviewed their detailed branding and web guidelines.
  • Reviewed how navigation treatment and tools were handled throughout their site and reviewed other well known search & sort sites.
  • Then we went to work and 2 revisions later gave them a centrally located search and sort function with a simple search, advance search, and two rows of tabs.

During the summer we also assisted Sprint with a new ‘green’ promotional campaign using the emotional design tactics of PET and initiated adding e-commerce to their mobile site. All in all, a fun filled and productive summer indeed. As such, we’re looking forward to new grand slams and a few (only a few please) snowy days.

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.

Building Your Brand by Partnering

Many of my projects involve partnering with other companies. A software design I just completed had 3 designers on it, each lending their own specialty. As they say three’s company and triples the numbers delivering your brand.Cowboy character with branding iron

Companies don’t have to be lone wolves and by opening projects and products up to others, those companies in turn will open their projects up to you. This creates a cycle of giving and wining:

  • Your portfolio and offerings broaden.
  • It allows you to take on more projects, develop more products, and to be busier all while building your brand.
  • Your clients and customers benefit from multiple expertise, a condensed timeline, and a greater return on investment.
  • And your customers can become your partners. I develop a site for a print designer with technology clients, she handles my collateral; we then refer each other and have  joint projects together.

The big boys in Kansas City do it too. Cerner Software, who’s a leader in handling electronic medical charts, is a customer and partner of Perceptive Software, who develops documentation management systems (HealthcareITNews). Perceptive gets exposure to Cerner’s international market, Cerner’s expertise and offerings grow, they expand the software industry in their specialty and grow the technology and their employee pool in Kansas City.

There is still flexibility and autonomy in joining forces with greater ideas, motivation and momentum because of it. You have nothing to lose and much to gain. So empower your company and brand by partnering.

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.

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.