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10 Reasons Why We Develop in Webflow

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January 30, 2023
What Is Lean UX?

UX design newbies and business owners alike may be wondering: “What is lean UX? How is it different from regular UX?”

If you’re itching for answers about lean UX, we’ve got ‘em 😎

In a UX/UI designer’s perfect world, they would have full creative control of a digital product design. No outside influence from users and stakeholders, just their vision, their way.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Dogs don’t live forever, salads never taste as good as McDonald's, and we need to consider the user and stakeholder goals to create a successful digital product (or it wouldn’t be UX design).

But, what if we told you there was a way to make user-friendly products without sacrificing your creative vision? 

Allow us to introduce you to lean UX!

What is Lean UX?

Lean UX is an agile approach that gives designers more freedom when creating digital products without completely disregarding what the users and stakeholders want.

Let’s take it back to grade school for a minute. When you did a science fair project, you had to follow the Scientific Method: Define, hypothesize, test, analyze, and draw a conclusion. 

The lean UX process is pretty similar to the scientific method. It lets the designer do their research and form a hypothesis that guides their design choices. Then, they gather user feedback after the MVP is finished to prove or disprove their hypothesis.

UX design team leader Jeff Gothelf (which is an awesome last name) literally wrote the book on lean UX after listening to designers voice their frustrations with traditional processes. He developed the lean UX approach as a way to help designers realize their vision and iterate quickly by:

  • Eliminating time-consuming stages like frequent documentation and lengthy user interviews.
  • Ensuring constant, collaborative communication between design teams and stakeholders.
  • Promoting experimentation and creative problem-solving instead of solely relying on user feedback.

Through this agile, adaptable design process, Gothelf found a way for designers to think critically about user behavior, brainstorm solutions, and create better-looking products.

How is Lean UX Different From Traditional UX?

Lean UX is essentially a scaled-down and rearranged version of the UX design process. Let’s take a look at both side by side:

What is lean UX: Design process vs traditional UX

As you can see, lean UX cuts out a few steps. Instead of prioritizing the user and the business at the beginning, the designer can lean on UX best practices and their experience from previous projects to offer potential solutions to a problem.

That’s not to say there’s no input from the user or stakeholders, it just happens at different stages. Lean UX design requires frequent and open collaboration to ensure the client’s goals and brand identity are supported.

User testing is one of the most crucial stages in lean and traditional UX. Except in lean UX, you’re experimenting to see if your proposed solution works. It kicks off several iteration stages, requiring further collaboration with design teams and stakeholders to guarantee the product ticks all the boxes.

Traditional UX also focuses more on deliverables than lean UX does. This makes traditional UX a better fit for new products, letting you define values and craft brand identities in tandem with the design. Lean UX is much better suited for improving a product long-term.

Breaking Down the Lean UX Process

Now that we answered the great “What is lean UX?” question, let’s talk about what the process looks like (with examples, of course).

Pretend you’re on a design team for a scheduling app and they want to add a feature that increases meeting attendance. Spend time thinking about why users miss meetings and how you can increase their awareness.

Outcomes, Assumptions, and Hypotheses

Lean UX still requires research, but you don’t have to validate your decisions right away. Instead, you can use your findings to make assumptions about user behavior.

So, why are users missing meetings? Your research shows that most people miss meetings because email invites get buried under other messages. You also noticed that users preferred using the calendar feature on their phones instead of the app. 

How do you remedy this problem and get the user to attend more meetings?

You’ve heard this phrase: “Never assume...it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” Well, that doesn’t apply here. In lean UX, we have room to make assumptions, test theories, and adjust as needed (or scrap things altogether).

From your findings, you can assume that users are missing their meetings because they rely on their phone calendars to coordinate their schedules instead of email invites. Once you make that assumption, it’s time to form a hypothesis and state the desired outcome.

Hypothesis: If we create a feature that allows the user to sync their scheduling app with their iPhone calendar, it will increase awareness of meeting times and lead to better attendance.

Design

We know what you’re thinking…“Whaaaat? We’re skipping straight to design?” 

Heck yes, we are!

Lean UX is about drawing conclusions around basic data and testing a proposed solution. We’ll worry about user interviews and testing a little later.

This is where everyone needs to be on the same page. Your team members will help you consider possible outcomes and stakeholder requirements that might make your plan a no-go. It’s up to you to convince your stakeholders that you’re making the right choices to help them and the user reach their end goal.

For this scheduling app example, the stakeholder might be concerned about users abandoning the app if everything automatically syncs to their iPhone calendar. How do we get around that?

As we said earlier, frequent communication is a must in lean UX. Work with your stakeholders and team members to address their concerns and brainstorm solutions that meet in the middle.

MVP

Just like the Scientific Method, what is lean UX if not a basis for learning?

The MVP in lean UX does NOT have to be a fully realized design. Instead, it’s a tool that helps you gauge the user’s reaction to your product and features.

Your MVP can come in a few forms: wireframes, high-fidelity mockups, and a working prototype. They don’t have to be 100% perfect, but they should be close enough to the finished product so the user can see how it’s supposed to function. 

What’s the best way to encourage the scheduling app’s users to sync their meeting invites with their phone calendars? It could be as simple as a toggle feature in their settings, or they may need a full onboarding process to update their permissions. Either way, your MVP must demonstrate its value and entice the user.

This primitive version of your product or feature will help you see your assumptions in action. Then, once your hypothesis is proven or disproven, you can start working your magic on the design.

Research & Learning

Ready to see if your hypothesis was correct? Exciting, isn’t it?

Test your MVP and get the sign-off from your future users. They will validate your assumptions, showing you what works and what doesn’t.

User testing and feedback are a pivotal part of traditional and lean UX. Successful products are designed around the user’s behavior — and this is your opportunity to see if your design supports or goes against it.

The goal isn’t to get glowing reviews or build up excitement. It’s all about validating your choices. Some users may be completely elated to have their meetings automatically dropped into their phone calendar, while others might not see much use for it or be turned off by the lengthy onboarding process.

Criticism, while sometimes hard to swallow, doesn’t negate all the hard work you’ve put in so far. It shows you where you need to make adjustments so the product or feature can live up to its full potential.

The user’s feedback is invaluable in any UX process, but the good thing about lean UX is that you can adjust and iterate much faster. Think, make, check, and repeat until the product is the best it can be.

Think, make, check, repeat!

When Is It Best To Use a Lean Approach?

You may be thinking: “Why do designers follow a more lengthy UX process when this scaled-down version exists?”

Lean UX is a great process that helps us churn out user-friendly designs fast! But the truth is, it’s not suited for all projects.

Some projects, especially the new products we mentioned earlier, need that deep level of exploration to understand what users and stakeholders respond to. Or else you’re just designing for the sake of design.

Let’s pretend that instead of creating a new feature for a scheduling app, we’re creating that scheduling app from the ground up. When we’re starting from scratch like this, we don’t know much besides the stakeholder’s goal of creating a new, innovative product.

The question is: “What makes a product (like a scheduling app) innovative?

A long discovery phase is almost mandatory here. We need to understand why users gravitate to scheduling apps and the structures and flows that make them so easy to use (all while developing a unique brand, style, and messaging to make it stand out in a sea of competitors).

But, if the product already exists, lean UX is a safe bet. When you already have a solid product, user base, and brand identity to work with, a lot of that exploration has already happened. You can skip straight to applying your knowledge from past projects and adapting your design choices to fit the brand.

Notes From Our Designers About Lean UX:

“It’s a good approach - to use carefully. Not all projects and clients can be done Lean. It doesn’t mean that we can run a project while walking in the dark. Basic data about the target audience and a solid set of requirements are always needed. The most frequent downside of Lean UX is that clients get hyper-excited about the fast results that they forget about testing. Also, if the client comes with a medium/long-term vision of the product, it helps designers collect ideas and start prioritizing them.” -Virginia, UX Designer at CreateApe

“If there’s enough trust and user data, then lean UX is great. On the other hand, it might not survive a close encounter with a client. A product can’t be fully stakeholder-oriented with no room for user input.” Serj, UX Designer at CreateApe

“If it’s done correctly, we should have the right approach from the start of the project. That includes not skipping research, applying workshops between the team and client, testing, and validating. Throughout the process, it should gain the trust of the client, especially when we have a decent amount of research to provide validated solutions.” -Sheryl, UX Designer at CreateApe

Key Takeaways

  • Lean UX isn’t suited for every project
  • Always base your assumptions on data and research
  • Define goals and requirements early on
  • MVPs can be basic, but they must be functional
  • Communication is KING
  • Never, ever, EVER skip user testing

Think, Make, Check!

So, what is lean UX for designers?

For us, it's a simple, scaled-down method giving us more creative control over the project. But it's also a way for both designers and stakeholders to experiment, learn, and iterate to create more innovative products.

Stop and review your data at the beginning if you're thinking about taking a lean approach with your next project. What can you infer about your audience based on it?

If you can make a logical assumption based on your data, form a hypothesis, consider multiple scenarios with your team, and design a bare-bones version to improve piece-by-piece, lean UX is right up your alley!

Need a team to turn your digital product into a lean, mean UX machine? Start a project with us today!

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March 9, 2021
Web Accessibility and Compliance Matter to Your Business

When a phrase like “WCAG 2.0 Compliance” is mentioned, you probably feel your eyelids beginning to droop. But compliance is a serious matter that has serious legal consequences if not taken in a serious manner – and nobody is above the law.

Throughout the existence of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), lawsuits have been brought forth that have cost companies millions of dollars. Even the United States government is susceptible, with three administrative complaints being filed under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in 2009 alone.

Almost 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, and their user experience is just as important as everyone else’s. Compliance with the standards set by ADA and Section 508 ensures that they can patronize your website without difficulty.

Here at CreateApe, we take compliance very seriously. Creating an atmosphere of inclusion and accessibility for all isn’t just something we’re bound to do — it’s something we’re compelled to do because it’s simply right. That’s why we always think compliance-first at every stage of design and development.

So…What is It?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed guidelines for accessibility on the internet called “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” (WCAG) 2.0. These guidelines give recommendations for making web content more accessible and usable for people with various disabilities, including blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, limited movement, and more.

Both Title III of the ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act use the WCAG 2.0 guidelines as a standard. Section 508 governs federal websites and anyone doing business with the government while the ADA applies to all websites as they are considered places of public accommodation.

In a nutshell, the WCAG 2.0 sets standards to make the web more accessible to people of all abilities. There are 38 different success criteria, regulating things like proper color contrast, usage of alt tags for pictures, keyboard navigation, and limitations on flashing images. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The gist of things is if you don’t make things accessible, then you’re discriminating against those with disabilities, and it could cost you.

It’s a Jungle Out There

The last couple of decades is littered with lawsuits over ADA and Section 508 violations. According to a UsabelNet study, 2235 ADA website lawsuits were filed against companies in 2019. 21% of these companies were sued more than once.

Even celebrities aren’t immune to ADA lawsuits. Queen Bey herself stood accused of noncompliance. Some elements of the lawsuit included:

  • No alt-text on images. Every image on your website must include an element called an “alt-tag” which helps screen readers describe what the image is displaying. Those bongo drums you’re selling need alt text or else there would be no way to determine what is on the website or make purchases.
  • No accessible drop-down menus. Without drop-down menus, people with visual impairments are unable to select the size or quantity of products they’re looking to buy.
  • No keyboard access. Screen reading software relies on keyboard movement to aid website navigation.

In 2009, Target Corporation had to pay out $6 million in damages and more than $3 million in legal fees to settle a lawsuit brought forth by the National Federation of the Blind. Among the complaints were that an image of a Dyson vacuum cleaner had alt-text that was read by a screen reader as:

Link GP browse dot HTML reference zero six zero six one eight nine six three eight one eight zero seven two nine seven three five 12 million 957 thousand 121

Say that out loud to yourself and listen to how ridiculous it sounds.

Winn-Dixie, Domino’s, Fox News, Burger King, Nike, Blue Apron, CVS, Hobby Lobby, and Harvard are just a small fraction of companies and organizations that have faced legal challenges for violating the ADA. The list goes on.

Government departments and agencies have also been sued. The Department of Education, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration have all received accessibility complaints under Section 508. Ironically, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington D.C. also had to fix some of their website features.

How to Avoid the Banana Peels

That was a lot to take in. Deep breaths. In and out, in and out…

It’s important to know the gravity of what non-compliance means, but there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your website is accessible and you don’t step in any mud. Here’s a checklist for you to follow to help you meet the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at the AA level:

Alternatives

  1. All images and non-text content need alt text.
  2. All video and audio-only content needs a transcript and closed captioning.

Presentation

  1. Use proper markup techniques to structure your website’s content.
  2. Present content in a meaningful order so that it reads properly.
  3. Make sure that all detailed instructions aren’t reliant on a single sensory ability.
  4. Do not rely on color alone to convey information.
  5. Audio must be able to be paused, stopped, or muted.
  6. There must be a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between all alt text and background.
  7. Do not use images of text unless necessary.

User Control

  1. All functions and website content must be accessible by a keyboard without the use of a mouse.
  2. Blinking, scrolling, and moving content must be able to be paused, stopped, or hidden by a user.
  3. Any content or imagery cannot flash more than three times per second.

Understandability

  1. Pages should have a descriptive title.
  2. Users must be able to navigate in a logical reading order that preserves meaning.
  3. Each link should have a clear purpose based on anchor text.
  4. Website language should be able to be changed.

Predictability

  1. Navigation should remain consistent throughout all pages.
  2. Form errors should be easy to identify, understand, and correct.
  3. All forms and input fields should be unambiguously labeled.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. We know, it’s a lot to keep track of. Website accessibility is an on-going and long-term project. As your content and designs evolve, you must always make sure that you remain ADA and Section 508 compliant. We promise, it is doable.

Let Us Guide You Through the Forest

If the above steps sound overwhelming to you, don’t fret. We’re here to help by either providing an action plan for you to follow or by taking the lead with a full-fledged compliance analysis. Either way, our goal is to give you peace of mind.

Some of the strategies we use include:

  • Brainstorming of clear layouts and distinct calls to action to help users navigate easily
  • Ideation of robust designs that can accommodate a wide variety of users
  • Embracing a human-centric approach to ensure that the design will be perfectly suitable for everyone
  • Evaluation of the current style sheet with small edits, if necessary, to increase accessibility
  • Planning of a fluid, accessible, and easy-to-navigate architecture
  • Automatic screen-reader adjustments powered by AI
  • Automatic keyboard navigation adjustments
  • The ability to freeze all animations, GIFS, and flashing images
  • An online dictionary that allows for the search of phrases, abbreviations, and concepts
  • Quick navigation to let users reach any important page with a single click
  • Font replacement & adjustment to ensure easy, effortless reading
  • Analysis of existing elements to discover pain points that need improvement

Are you a business owner or entrepreneur that needs help with compliance? Let us assist you in getting #JungleReady. Our CreateApe expert team will be your jungle guide and help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.

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March 29, 2018
Web Colors 101

Color is known to be a significant determinant for both website trust and satisfaction. Color has the potential to communicate meaning to the user and influence their perception through the priming effect, how the exposure to one stimulus influences the way we will respond to another stimulus. In that way the exposure to a certain color can influence the visitor’s reaction towards the site in a carryover effect, meaning that the emotional reaction towards a color can be translated into a positive or negative interaction with the website.

Color Psychology

Perhaps you think the color of your website should reflect your personality. But if you don’t take color psychology into account, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to brand your e-commerce store effectively and drive customer engagement. Here’s the (generalized) psychology breakdown of the color spectrum, ROYGBIV, plus a few bonus colors thrown in:

  • Red signals: attention, excitement, anger, love, warmth, comfort, life
  • Orange signals: enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement
  • Yellow signals: adventure, happiness, competence, enthusiasm, wealth, sophistication.
  • Green signals: Balance, good taste, health, money, harmony
  • Indigo/blue signals: Honesty, corporate, high-quality, masculinity, competence, loyalty, trust, reliability
  • Violet and purple signal: Creativity, authority, rower, royalty, respect, mystery
  • Pink signals: Love, compassion, sophistication, sincerity, romance, gentleness
  • Brown signals: Friendliness, ruggedness, sadness, comfort, organic, natural
  • Black signals: Grief, sophistication, expensive, intelligent, slimming
  • White signals: Simplicity, order, innocence, purity, cleanliness and neutrality
  • Gray and silver signals: Timelessness, practicality, neutrality, refinement and the quality of being contemporary

Now that you’ve got the colors’ message under your belt, next think about your ideal customer and the brand message you want to convey.

For instance, if you have an extreme sports e-commerce, you’ll probably want to stay away from pink…

But I love pink…

All that being said, sometimes the specific color used isn’t as important as the context with which it’s being presented.

One of our retail clients ran an A/B test to learn about the effectiveness of one color compared to the other. The results were conclusive: A blue CTA increased the conversion rate by 20 percent. These results might lead most designers to conclude that a blue CTA leads to higher conversion rate compared with the red one and to implement this knowledge in other websites.

However. a deeper look at “mouse move” heatmaps uncovered that the difference in conversion was due to the buyer state of mind, rather than due to the CTA color. Visitors that did not convert show a different pattern of behavior. They were more details oriented, spending a longer time on every piece of information, and their engagement time was significantly higher.

On the other hand, visitors who converted tended to be more impulse buyers and spent less time on the page and were less focused on the details.

The only thing we can say is that the red CTA button is more appropriate to the “impulsive buyer” than the blue one. Thus, color alone can’t explain the variance in the visitors’ behavior. The attractiveness of a certain color is determined by its context and not by a visitor’s preference to specific color.

Sound confusing? That’s why you hire a skilled UX/UI design team to guide you through the process. We will help you identify your contextual needs and offer you the best color choices for your user goals.

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April 1, 2019
UX Designers Tool Kit: Crazy Egg

There are many tools in a UX designer’s tool kit, and Crazy Egg is one of our favorites. Crazy Egg is a website that allows designers to track various types of data on their designs. Two of their most prominent features are their heat mapping and A.B. testing tool. Today, we’re discussing why it’s important to use these critical insights in UX design. 

Mapping Designs is Essential

There are various types of maps that UX designers use to strengthen their designs. Scroll maps, for example, show where the user is scrolling and where they tend to stop. Confetti maps show which areas of the site are getting the most clicks and which are not. Heat mapping shows where users have clicked the most on a website, what pages they’re visiting, and what designs they’re responding to. This data is also broken down by where the traffic is coming from and browsers used. Whether we’re using heat mapping, confetti mapping, or scroll mapping, these insights help us interpret how users are behaving and allow us to design accordingly. 

An example of heat mapping. Where the saturation increases, the level of user engagement is high.

Data Reveals Crucial Insights 

In a world that’s saturated with data, it’s important to understand the crucial insights and how to know which numbers to pay attention to. Understanding data from the mapping is one thing, it doesn’t take an analyst to understand that where the most saturation is on a heat map is where the user is visiting most frequently, but it does take technical and creative skills to implement data into a design that converts.

“Crazy egg provides additional levels of data for the savvy UX designer. Breaking down traffic through heat and confetti maps allow the designer to ascertain real data regarding user activity,” comments our CEO Alessandro Fard.

Increased Certainty

The maps on Crazy Egg give us more certainty. Because we do projects from a variety of different verticals, there’s no certainty that one business user will respond like others. This gives the design a far stronger chance of survival. Think about it like genetics. If we keep tracking the things that are working and making improvements to the designs’ DNA, it’s survival of the fittest. This gives our designs a competitive edge and gains traction with customers. When you stumble upon insights that make a huge difference in how responsive your design is, we clutch them tight and never want to let them go.

The great thing about mapping is that it offers insights that allow designers to make changes that aren’t a shot in the dark. There are no longer ambiguous insights and it doesn’t feel like playing Russian Roulette with your designs.

Gone are the days of trial and error to see what actually works. We no longer need to conduct dozens of tests to see what’s working and what’s the most impactful. Don’t get us wrong, testing designs is essential and one of the most important aspects of UX, but it’s no longer just based on luck. We see this with A.B. testing.

A.B Testing

Crazy Egg is one of our go-to user research tools. We use it with most strategic redesigns and pivots. Not only does if offer heat mapping to see where we need to make changes as designers, but we get to test the capability and impact of our designs with A.B. testing.

A.B. testing is when you test designs to see which one the user responds to the most. This could be small changes like testing the responsiveness of the color of a button, or more complicated designs like an entirely different landing page.

We see this a lot with how personalized websites are becoming. There are now various landing pages that are designed to be used on different types of people or personas. A.B. testing allows the designer to see which landing pages are the most impactful for a certain demographic. 

Alessandro comments, “Using the crazy egg A.B. testing feature, you can observe the impacts of testing variations to a page such as button placement, color, wording, etc. The crazy egg tool is also fairly simple and powerful and has been built to not overwhelm users.”

A.B. testing can clue us into small changes that translate into bigger metrics. For example, one thing we constantly see are people clicking on the feature images when they aren’t clickable elements. People were clicking them anyway and it gave us a tip as to what users found valuable on the page. These small insights allow us to change things like copywriting and placement that ultimately results in boosting conversion rates.

The Tool Kit

After all, UX is a blend of art and science. It takes a skilled designer to know how to implement both aspects of UX in a way that is meaningful and responsive. Thanks to Crazy Egg, we can continue to deliver products to our clients that are supported by data and show clear results. The simplicity of their product combined with the immensely impactful insights Crazy Egg offers is essential for any UX designers tool kit. 

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November 30, 2022
UX Design Trends That Will Dominate in 2023

New UX design trends are emerging all over the place, and it’s that time of the year when we can gauge which ones will make the biggest impact in the new year.

It’s never too early to pop the champagne and start drawing up the new year’s resolutions for your business. More page views? More conversions? A brand new look for your digital product? All this and more are achievable by working these new UX design trends into your interface.

Our Top UX Design Trends for 2023

  • VR/AR
  • “Scrolly”telling
  • Interaction Design
  • 3D Graphics
  • “Nostalgic” Design
  • Smarter Chatbots
  • Accessible Design
  • Mobile-First

2022 Trend Review

Before we get too deep into what’s to come, let’s see how 2022’s UX trends fared.

In our blog last year, we predicted that dark mode, abstract data visualization, voice AI, personalized interfaces, and bold colors and fonts would reign supreme. We certainly used them a lot in our own UX designs this year.

We expect these trends to linger around for a while, especially with the influx of AI technology available to UX designers. In fact, we can see a lot of these being used in tandem with our favorite emerging trends.

1. Dark Mode

About 82% of smartphone users reported using dark mode in 2022, and several digital product designers took notice. This trend remains a favorite for many reasons — either to save battery life, focus on content, or purely for aesthetic purposes.

2. Personalization

Users also heavily gravitated towards personalized experiences despite privacy concerns. 90% of consumers favored the idea of personalization, while 72% stated they ONLY engaged with personalized messaging this year.

The trick is to personalize interfaces and content meaningfully, building the interface around information the user willingly shares with you. This doesn’t mean you should present ads for products after a user mentions them in conversation or walks by a storefront (*cough* Facebook *cough*).

3. Voice AI

While only 47% of adults in the US use voice AI, that number is expected to grow by 2025. AI technology is rapidly refining and expanding into industries like business, manufacturing, healthcare, and even E-commerce. We expect to see voice AI incorporated into interfaces also utilizing CVT (computer vision technology) and ML (machine learning).

4. Bold Colors & Fonts

While no statistics prove that users prefer bold colors and fonts to more subdued ones, this study by Relevance shows that colored visuals increase the user’s willingness to read content by 80%.

When designers use color psychology to their advantage, they can create a singular brand experience that invites users in and gets them invested in their product. Read more about color psychology in our Brand Marketing blog!

5. Abstract Data Visualization

Same as the bold colors, there’s no conclusive evidence showing that users prefer abstract data visualizations to basic charts and graphs. However, the same study from Relevance shows that 65% of people are visual learners and that images drive engagement by 180%.

Since abstract data visualizations allow users to process information and understand the significance of data faster than text, they’re still a solid choice for any highly-visual UX design.

UX trend report card for 2022

Our predicted UX trends proved their true value in 2022. But will these new UX design trends for 2023 dethrone them? Or will they join houses to create a harmonious user experience?

Top 8 UX Design Trends for 2023

New year, new you, new products! UX is always evolving, but some trends are a cut above the rest. These are the UX design trends we expect to see more of in 2023.

1. Virtual/Augmented Reality

If an oculus is on your holiday wishlist, now is the time to splurge! Virtual reality caught on in a big way in 2020 for…obvious reasons. Since then, its expanded beyond gaming and many companies have added VR experiences to their digital products.

From travel to fitness, there are plenty of ways to get creative with VR and AR. It gives the user an immersive sensory experience and makes them feel more involved with your business.

One of the best examples of VR utilization comes from National Geographic with their Explore VR. It perfectly suits their niche, as it’s an engaging educational experience for their loyal readers and travel enthusiasts alike.

National Geographic Explore VR
Image Source: VR Voyaging and National Geographic

Explore VR helped people satiate their travel bug during the pandemic while learning more about cultures around the world. National Geographic’s brand and the user’s goals perfectly intersected with this VR offering. Think about ways to enhance your brand experience using VR/AR this year.

2. “Scrolly”telling

Motion design is all the rage right now (we’ll get into that a little later), and it amps up one of the most rudimentary elements of your page. Instead of limiting the use of scrolling to content order, you can use simple animations to bring your interface’s navigation to life.

Scrolling allows you to present stories and content in a way that draws users in and gets them excited for what’s next. With animations, you can convince them that they’re seeing fresh content instead of mindlessly scrolling through the page.

Plus, a lively scrolling experience can call attention to the most important elements on the page. This allows designers to structure images, videos, and website copy in a way that tells a story and isn’t hyper-focused on the goals.

3. Interaction Design

In the most basic terms, interaction design is described as the interface interactions between users and digital products. Anything from the design itself to motion and sounds fall under the umbrella of interaction design.

It sounds broad — but in the last year or so, designers started honing in on what the user sees while interacting with the product. So it’s easy to see why UX and interaction design overlap so well because human interaction (with a mouse, finger, or stylus) is a huge part of the user experience.

Consider how the user interacts with your product (desktop, mobile, wearable device, etc), the physical objects they use in the interface (scroll, CTAs, images, or videos), and the appearance and timing of motion or sound feedback.

These considerations make your product more usable and goal-oriented.

4. 3D Graphics

Corporate 2D illustrations are nice enough to look at, they’re starting to feel a little stale. You can’t throw a stone on the internet without hitting a website that uses the same art style. Your product needs good visuals, but what do you do when images, videos, and 2d animations aren’t enough?

Advancements in coding and 3D animation software (like Spline, Maya, and Adobe 3D Animation) help designers create animations and elements that feel like they could jump right off the page. And with the growing trend of VR, the demand for 3D animation is going up.

You don’t have to be a Pixar-level 3D animator to incorporate this UX design trend into your interface. Like microinteractions, you can find subtle ways to use 3D graphics in your designs. Using things like soft shadows and overlays can make your digital product graphics feel much more dynamic.

Flexfit Nu 3D Graphics

5. "Nostalgic" Designs

Who doesn’t love a good throwback?

Going retro may feel like a risk since it’s harder to gain the user’s trust with a visibly outdated website. But when used correctly, vintage design elements can elicit some warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings from the user.

With so many art and design styles over the last century, there’s no shortage of inspiration to pull from. Pick one that suits your brand identity to make your design feel more grounded and purposeful.

Here’s an excellent example of nostalgic web design from Bathtub Gin. Everything from the name to the logo and art deco border design evokes prohibition-era vibes. It screams “Speakeasy,” which is exactly what they’re trying to promote.

Nostalgic Design Bathtub Gin
Image Source: Bathtub Gin

Also, we’re nothing if not cool, trendy apes. If the kids want to bring back some Y2K aesthetics, lean into that. Just don’t make your website look like Myspace or an AOL chatroom.

6. Smarter Chatbots

Chatbots are an excellent tool that all businesses should use because they take a lot of pressure off customer service representatives and provide a more comfortable experience for the user. 

With the advancements in AI and ML we mentioned earlier, chatbots are becoming more intuitive by learning from user interactions and becoming more conversational. This, in turn, leads to the user experience feeling more personalized and satisfying.

About 1.4 billion people use chatbots to ask questions or solve problems quickly, and that number will grow with this rising UX design trend. Take advantage of this user-friendly tool to handle common queries and simplify the user experience.

Smart Chatbot Design
Image Source: Mrh Raju on Figma

7. Accessible Design

Some things will never go out of style. Designing for accessibility is one of those things.

Designing with ADA compliance in mind has always been important for UX designers. Not just to avoid legal action — but to ensure that your product is usable for everyone in your audience, regardless of their abilities.

On the heels of a mass disabling event like the COVID pandemic and the incorporation of wearable technology in everyday life, designing for accessibility is more important now than ever. UX designers and developers should always be aware of the latest guidelines to keep their products compliant.

CreateApe Website Accessibility Adjustments

There are plenty of free resources online to read up about ADA compliance and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Familiarize yourself with the most recent version before you start designing.

8. Designing Mobile-First

We’re always on the go, and UX designers have taken notice. Many companies are starting to build their products mobile-first to accommodate our busy lifestyles.

This is slightly different from mobile-only apps. There’s usually an accompanying desktop version, but the design is built for someone that’s up and moving (instead of sitting in a big, comfy office chair) and probably only using their thumb to navigate the interface.

On top of making the product accessible in multiple scenarios, it also helps the overall design be more responsive. Plus, less code=less bugs — and less bugs=less time spent on website maintenance.

You would also think that a smaller canvas would mean less room for creativity, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It actually allows you to streamline your content and present the brand’s story in a way that helps users accomplish their goals quicker (fostering a deeper connection between your brand and your user).

Which Trends Are You Most Excited For?

Taking in all these new trends can seem intimidating at first. But once you understand why users gravitate towards them and how they can benefit your product designs, they can really get the creative juices flowing.

Before 2022 turns into 2023, think about how to use these trends to give your product a facelift. How would your users respond to a VR experience for your language learning app? What about a Y2K throwback for your e-commerce brand? Or new 3D illustrations for your data entry product?

Both your brand and your digital product should be ever-evolving. Don’t risk a dated user experience...study up on these trends to keep your interface as fresh and exciting as when it launched.

Does your digital product need a new look for 2023? Start a project with us today!

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April 27, 2022
UX Design Strategy: How Does it Help My Business?

A good UX Design Strategy is essential to a successful digital product. How many businesses actually strategize with their users in mind, though?

At some point in the last 10 years, you’ve probably heard someone say “There’s an app for that”—and it’s true! Companies big and small identify gaps in the market and create innovative digital products to satisfy a need of their consumer. But, how many of these products live up to their promises?

There’s no shortage of digital products on the market today. If you want yours to stand out, the user experience needs to be as good as the idea. That’s where UX design strategy comes in!

UX design is fundamental in creating user-friendly websites and apps, but the perfect digital product doesn’t spring up from the ground overnight. The most effective products usually have a solid groundwork of research, evaluation, and ideation before designing even begins.

So, what is UX design strategy? And what’s in the secret sauce that makes this process so effective? CreateApe is here to show you how to lay the groundwork for the perfect product.

CreateApe’s UX Design Strategy

  • Define business strategy
  • Identify/interview stakeholders
  • Competitive research and analysis
  • Ideation
  • Design goals
  • User research and iteration
  • MVP

What is UX Design Strategy

UX Design strategy is a detailed plan for building a digital product that keeps the user experience aligned with the business goals of the company. This strategy is shaped by both qualitative and quantitative research about the users, stakeholders, and competitive market.

In the book UX Strategy, author Jamie Levy came up with a formula for the four tenets of UX strategy:

Business strategy + value innovation + validated user research + killer UX design = UX strategy.

The Four Tenets of UX Strategy

  • Business Strategy - These are the company’s guiding principles for how it will position itself in the competitive market and still achieve its objectives. For long-term success, the company must continuously identify competitive advantages and find ways to leverage that against competitors.
  • Value Innovation - This happens when companies align newness with utility and price. The combination of these three creates a lasting impression on the user and assigns value to the business. 
  • Validated User Research - Verify the solutions and confirm that the user will find value in the product. Go beyond observing and empathizing with the user and focus on getting direct, honest feedback from interacting with the product.
  • Killer UX Design - A UX designer, strategist, or agency creates the design of the product based on the first three tenets and weaves UX into all online and offline touchpoints—creating a truly frictionless experience. (P.S. This is where CreateApe comes in. Wink wink nudge nudge.)
The Four Tenets of UX Design Strategy

To get the best results, there should be a robust research and planning phase for every new product, service, or feature released by the company. This gives the UX designer critical insight into solutions that work for the user and the business.

Why is UX Design Strategy Important?

Obviously, it’s best to have a plan in place before starting a project. But why is a UX strategy so important for businesses creating digital products? Besides the potential to create game-changing services and features, a solid UX design strategy gets everyone in the organization on the same page and helps prepare for potential curveballs along the way.

Benefits for the Business

Creating a product that’s validated by the user is the best way to stay ahead of the competition. About 74% of businesses agree that UX is critical for driving sales, but only 55% of companies conduct usability tests with their users. 

Testing with the intended user shows that your company cares about creating solutions that people feel good about using. An easy and engaging experience also inspires loyalty in the consumer. If they know they can accomplish a task in 10 seconds with your product, then they’ll keep coming back for more.

User Personas for UX Design Strategy

Ex: When a business knows exactly who its users are and what they need, it’s easier to empathize with them and build successful products that people feel good about using.

Aside from making the user feel good, a thoroughly planned UX strategy can also come in handy to impress investors. It goes deeper than outlining business goals and instead illustrates how you’re going to satisfy users with measurable goals.

Benefits for the Internal Team

Think of the UX design strategy as a plan of attack for an entire project. Each team member will have their own tasks to achieve each measurable goal, but the overall strategy is designed to keep the team organized and on track.

When the entire team understands users’ needs, more time can be spent on the actual design of the product. Designers will be able to align project goals with technological capabilities, leaving them more time to create a streamlined experience and iterate it to perfection.

Benefits for the User

The popularity of UX only means one thing for the users…better products all around! There are plenty of statistics to show businesses the value of a good user experience. At the end of the day, a better product for you=more money for them.

With the abundance of digital products to choose from, you’d think businesses would rush to get their idea to market. Many do just that, but it only leads to short-term gratification until a competitor inevitably releases a newer, better product.

UX design strategy forces companies to think user-first instead of profit-first if they want long-term success. If a business wants to stay ahead of its competitors and keep consumers coming back for more, they need to invest the time and funds into quality products.

UX Design Strategy User Interviews

The Dangers of No UX Strategy

It’s safe to say that without a UX strategy, an entire project will crash and burn, right? Well, not RIGHT away, but the difference will be noticeable. 

Without a strong understanding of your users and competitive market, digital product design becomes one big guessing game. There’s no data to show that the solutions will actually work for the end-user, making it harder to reach an MVP or driving the user away entirely.

Many businesses think that gathering data post-launch is the way to go. However, statistics show that 79% of users will immediately leave a product if they don’t like what they see. 30% of users will even abandon a brand they like over one bad user experience.

It’s always possible to win back customers down the line, but a lack of UX strategy can be a major blow to a company’s productivity. After all, what’s a house without a solid foundation? And what good is an awesome idea executed poorly?

Creating and Executing a UX Strategy

So, you want to build an awesome product that your users will go bananas over, but don’t know where to start? Unfortunately, there’s no one foolproof UX strategy that will work for every product. Different products have different users, meaning different goals and KPIs.

Fortunately, your friendly neighborhood apes at CreateApe put together this UX evaluation checklist to help shape your UX design strategy!

  • Define Business Strategy

What is your company? What is your product? How does it help users achieve their goals? What is your brand’s positioning in your market? What is the overall goal of this project? How are you measuring the success of the product? 

These questions will help you determine the feasibility of your product. Iron out everything from a business standpoint and fill in any logical gaps before turning your attention to the users.

  • Identify/Interview Stakeholders

Every project has stakeholders, either internal or external, that will be affected by the success or failure of the product. They could either be a creative director from your organization or a salesperson that’s dependent on your product for their job. 

Identify who these people are and conduct user interviews to find out exactly what they need out of the finished product. Getting their open and honest feedback will help you figure out how to meet their needs and uncover pain points in current products (or find an advantage over competitors).

  • Competitive Research/Analysis

Who are your biggest competitors? What features do they offer? Where are they succeeding or failing? How could you improve upon their ideas? What do you like/dislike about them? What draws their users to them?

Take plenty of time to examine your competitive market and figure out where you can carve out a space for your product. What are they doing that your company can do better?

  • Ideation

This is just a fancy word for brainstorming sessions. Once you’ve gathered all that research, get together with your creative team and start bouncing ideas off one another.

Remember that there’s no such thing as a bad idea during the ideation phase. Encourage your team to put all their ideas out in the open and think logically about how they’ll shape the final product.

  • Design Goals

When your team is done conceptualizing this awesome, game-changing product, it’s time to come up with some measurable design goals.

How long will each phase of the product design take? How are you going to test with users? What low-hanging fruit can be designed or fixed quickly? What KPIs will you use to evaluate the success of the product? Set these goals before designing to keep your team on the right track.

  • User Testing/Iteration

Now for the most important part of the UX process. Once you have the initial design complete, it’s time to validate your solutions with the intended user. Rinse and repeat until your users are happy across the board.

Be as hands-off as possible when testing and don’t be afraid of negative feedback. Negative feedback saves you from a problem that could drive away users post-launch.

  • MVP

When you have a finished product that your users are happy with, then you’ve reached your MVP (minimum viable product). It’s ready to hit the market!

This doesn’t mean that you’re completely finished with the product, though. You can always go back and make design tweaks or incorporate the feedback you get from users post-launch. Also, think about features or even a new product you can incorporate later down the line.

UX Design Strategy Evaluation Checklist

Read More UX Strategy Tips Here

Who Can Help With UX Design Strategy?

If putting together a UX design strategy seems intimidating, don’t fret! Your market is a jungle, and you don’t have to go it alone. There are plenty of UX-perts that can help you navigate unfamiliar terrain and plot out a perfect strategy.

Consider Hiring a…

  • UX Designer - UX designers are usually well-versed in UX strategy. They’ll know how to identify your target audience, conduct market research, put together a UX evaluation, and carry out the design according to their findings.
  • UX Strategist - There are plenty of specialists that fall under the UX design umbrella. A UX strategist handles the research and evaluation stage from end to end, then hands off their findings to the UX designer. They’re also super knowledgeable about the business side of things (business strategy, negotiation, communication, etc.)
  • UX Design Agency - If you have an idea but don’t know where to begin, consider enlisting the help of a full-service UX/UI agency! They’ll likely have an expert in every field of UX (design, development, research, and strategy) to give you a complete product. Start a project with us!

Introducing The Jungle Guide

Still not sure if you want to commit to a large-scale digital product design? No worries! CreateApe’s got you covered.

Our Jungle Guide is the UX evaluation to end all other UX evaluations. It’s easier than dropping your kid off at school! Leave your idea or product with us and we’ll take care of market research, user interviews, design strategy, and full project estimates. 

The Jungle Guide gives you crucial insight into your users and the features that will make your product a success. Once we finish the evaluation, you can either choose to have us do the design or take it in-house and give your creative team a strong jumping-off point.

But don’t just take our word for it…hear directly from our clients!


UX Design Strategy Review of CreateApe by andros

Read andros' full Clutch review!  

Ready to Strategize?

Now that you know what a UX strategy is, are you thinking about how you can use one to create or improve your products?

UX design strategy is incredibly valuable to both your business and your users. It takes a lot of the guessing out of product design and allows you to get reassurance directly from your users before hitting the market. Remember that when it comes to digital products, happy users=happy business.

Need some help getting your project off the ground? Check out our web design and development services to see how CreateApe can help you.

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andros Jungle Guide Preview

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