Nowadays, almost every industry-specific business embraces advanced technologies. Especially, due to the global pandemic COVID-19, a tendency of leveraging technology-powered solutions is increasing; the education industry is not the exception. That’s why online learning has skyrocketed – according to the MarketsandMarkets report, the global eLearning market value is anticipated to reach almost $22,4 billion.

global lms

If you are looking for solutions to build your learning management system website (LMS), we have prepared a brief guide with features and advantages in mind. Considering that LMS can be developed with different purposes let’s go into details to understand what LMS is and what functions it covers.

What Is LMS?

A learning management system is a software aimed to optimize learning processes and the way the education is delivered. Initially, LMS’s purpose was to enhance eLearning, but now enterprises use LMSs to ensure effective and efficient team-building by improving employee training. Tracking and reporting features to make e-learning systems more solid offering opportunities for effective assessments. 

Before deciding which LMS platform you want to implement for your business, you need to look through the following factors:

  • Necessary features
  • The number of students/employees 
  • The necessity of extra add-ons
  • The way of students/employees progress measurement
  • Service provider

Core Features of LMS

Once you embark on LMS platform development your development team has to consider the features that can be crucial for your learning management system. Let’s take a look at some basic features:

  • Content and Course Management. 

This must-include feature allows creating various types of e-learning courses: quizzes, assignments, etc., that will be used for employees/students’ training. Therefore, content management is of high priority feature in LMS.

  • Skill Tracking. 

This feature is required more for organizations or enterprises where measuring employees’ performance is much harder due to undetermined timing for lectures. Thus, the visual skill tracking feature is aimed to assess employee’s skills allowing them to learn at their own pace with asynchronous learning.

  • Social Learning.

Social learning is an effective way to incentivize learners and to help educators reduce the pressure on them. With a community experience, learners can get quick answers to their questions via chat or on a forum. By implementing a community feature in your LMS, you accelerate the overall learning process giving the learner more motivation in real-time collaboration mode. 

  • Gamification.

Incorporating game-design elements engage and inspire learners rather than traditional classrooms that leg behind in the modern lifestyle. Such game-like incentives like leaderboards, rewards, levels can foster building stronger teams in your company or motivate students to keep up learning. 

Gartner analysts claim that the gamification feature is not a must-have due to the high expenditures of its implementation in LMS. There are already a plethora of ready-made solutions, however, those that really address your need are hard to find, therefore, hiring a software development team or LMS provider may be reasonable decision-making if you want this feature to be customized. 

How the Development Process of LMS Platform Should Look Like?

Before hiring an outsourcing web development team of professionals or in-house experts who would assist and support you on every step of software development, you need to analyze the process.

Step 1. Validate Your Idea

Many businesses fail due to their unreasonable investments into the products which can turn out unworthy in the long run. In order to prevent loss and anticipate your ROI, it is of high importance to get deep insights into your target audience and conduct industry research. So before getting started to create an LMS web platform validate your idea by learning about its value on the market. 

With this purpose, we recommend to answer the following questions:

  • What problems will my LMS solve users’ problems?
  • Why do I need to develop LMS?
  • What are my competitors and how do they manage to provide great UX.
  • Who will be engaged in LMS development?
  • What is the budget for LMS development?

Step 2. Select the Best LMS Web Development Partner

Before selecting a service provider for your learning management system there are several tips of advice worth taking into consideration:

Communication

Visibility and transparency in communication with the web development team you are going to hire need to be of high priority in order to prevent the risk of getting another product than you envisioned. Your web development partners need to understand your requirements and elaborate upon them if needed. 

We at Northell, keep our clients up-to-date at every step of product design and development providing all the details on the tech stack we use. It is essential to start work on the product only once all the features were discussed beforehand. 

Experience

The company that had prior experience and expertise in the domain is already aware of the possible pitfalls and scenarios on how to mitigate risks. If the development team is experienced they have ready-to-use features that can be utilized in your LMS platform development, so that development time will be reduced and your budget as well. 

Pricing

The company worth hiring for the development of your LMS system has to be flexible enough in terms of the pricing model that would be the most suitable for you. At Northell, we tend to offer such pricing models as:

  • A fixed price (when our team perform a certain scope of work for determining price)
  • Time and material (the client pay for the time spent on product development)
  • Dedicated team (monthly payment for our team rented by a client)

Post-launch Support

Signing a contract with the web development team is a good idea if you want to get continuous technical support during the year, for example, or just fixing the problems as per written request. 

Step 3. MVP Development

A minimum viable product is a method to test your product by developing only core features to solve early adopters’ problems and mitigate risks in the long run. In our article about MVP for startups, you can get a profound clarification of the benefits and process of the minimum viable product before software custom development. 

MVP benefits

Step 4. Test and Launch

To ensure smooth work of LMS features and functionalities running through various tests is a must-do. QA professionals are the guarantees of the ultimate product quality and integrity. Here are the main requirements for QA:

  • Maintains a comprehensive QA checklist ensuring all designs, content, and assessment resources work properly.
  • Checks platform and device compatibility of the LMS website.
  • Scrutinizes every individual functionality.
  • Performs regression testing after each sprint. 

Wrapping Up

With technological advancements, the education sector is also changing. To keep up with the latest trends startups/companies nee and carve out its slice in the market startups/companies need to know the best LMS practices and development process. Developing e-learning websites need a qualified web development partner who not only will help you in the development process but also in maintenance and support. In case you need help and an estimate of the cost for a custom LMS development contact us, and we are always here for you. 

 

 

 

2021 is the year of the user-centered approach where simplicity is transformed into something special and compelling. To build visually appealing products, businesses need to strive to keep a watchful eye over modern trends and stand out from competitors. For your inspiration, we’ve compiled 10 bright examples ranging from bold fonts and dark modes to 3D animations and unrealistic characters that will blow your head away.

10 Amazing Web design Trends in 2021 to Get Inspired

Dark Mode: Take Care of Users’ Eyes

apple dark mode

Being a big trend in 2020, dark themes continue to be even more popular in 2021. Providing a completely different look, dark UI options bring additional advantages to users since it is more comfortable to look at dark-mode designs in low-light conditions. Often people do not think over it when looking at their smartphones in bed. According to a report by BuiltWith, 1354 websites use dark user interfaces to attract customers.

Let’s take world-known tech giants who have already adopted the dark mode feature. Apple even offers setting scheduled time for users to shift to dark mode automatically. Google, Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, Slack, Itunes, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc., and this list can be continued. Here are some of the reasons why companies utilize dark mode:

  • It is friendly to the users’ eyes.
  • It looks modern and elegant.
  • Low battery consumption.
  • It increases the contrast ratio.
  • Elements on the dark background look more visible.

3D Designs Make Outlines

3D elements in designs are not new but today they are getting more and more popular by attracting users and decreasing bounce rates on the websites. Moreover, with VR/AR technologies gaining momentum, hyper-visual 3D elements are impactful adding extra beauty and effect. Influenced by a combination of photography and illustrative images, plus animations, 3D designs have huge chances to conquer competitors on the saturated marketplace. 

3d animations
An amazing example of 3D motion by Mark Dearman for Wear&Tear.

To implement 3D graphics, your website has to be fast-loading, high-performed, and optimized. Otherwise, you can risk losing your visitors due to unresponsiveness and slow loading which will affect your website traffic.

3d motion
Julien Renvoje for Viola

Wow Effect with Unordinary and Futuristic Colour Combinations

Whereas minimalistic plain web designs of previous years seem casual and boring to users, colorful and innovative web designs saturated with bright combinations are likely to hook their attention and win the game. 

If you want to stay up-to-date and stand out of the crowd you need to be ready for experimental activities on your website design, e.g., neon glowing shades, intense colours in combination with mysterious accents. All these out-of-the-box approaches will create a modern and dynamic feel for your user. 

futuristic web design 2021

futuristic web design 2021
Toyfight shows how vibrant colors perfectly harmonize with 3D elements creating dynamic and engaging effects.

 

web design trends 2021
Sarah Drasner is a brilliant example of how futuristic and experimental palettes can showcase creative flair.

Keep It Fun: UX Writing and Microcopy 

Microcopy cannot be underestimated since it plays a great role in user experience. So what is that? Microcopy is brief sentences aiming to inform the user of what to do, address his/her concerns through which you communicate with your visitor in a clear and moving manner. The Adobe team outlines four cornerstones of writing UX microcopy: brevity, context, action, and authenticity. 

Change your communication style by providing your text on the websites or apps in a more informal way avoiding standard phrases and cliches. Regular dialogues that are less formalized will take your consumers a step closer, and sometimes a pinch of humor is a good recommendation to unwind your audience’s boredom.

UX writing trend 2021

Haus website came up with simple and funny UX writing ideas to hook users’ attention on their contact page.

Surreal Product Photos Blow Users’ Mind

This unconventional design technique will help you move a step forward and make your visitors on the website stay longer. Subsequently, the average session time will be improved which can have impacts on conversion rate improvements.

If you are working on an e-commerce platform or online store this UX/UI trend will definitely attract users’ attention. Forget about classic and trivial product images – it is left in the past.

web design trends 2021
MadeByStudioJQ
Nike 3D animation
MadeByStudioJQ for Nike

Graphics + Photography = Your Brand Uniqueness

Overlap graphics onto the images/photos if you want to create the individual flavor of your website. Mixing photos and graphics is a good way to maintain your branding. This collage-like approach can:

  • Customize images and add extra personality to your brand.
  • Customize your images, whether make them more informal, or in contrast, more technical or serious. 
  • Make your web design more deep and engaging.

For example, you can add retro-style graphics (which by the way is also considered to be trendy) or geometric shapes to your product photos to make it more live and creative. Select graphic elements that perfectly emphasize your goal and showcase your idea.

graphic photos design trends
Louise Mertens
mixed media collages
Rocio Montoya

Voice User Interface Optimizes Experiences

The way we are looking for information has changed, and 2020 was the year of the hot trend utilizing virtual assistants and voice chatbots in UI/UX design processes. It hasn’t taken entirely off yet, however, this trend is gaining momentum. 2021 is anticipated to be the year when more and more websites will be incorporating voice searches in their design strategies to be ahead of competitors and adjust to users’ demands. Yeah, business leaders such as Apple and Google have already implemented this trend.

Now, instead of typing traditional text queries into the search line, consumers will get faster and more effective solutions. 

Amaze Your Users with Animations and Motion Graphics

Motions in web design will definitely immerse your users’ emotions. Motion graphics and animations are great solutions to captivate visitors of your website. As a result, static UI becomes dynamic with live flair. Below we provide several bright examples to charm you. But first, let’s consider the main reasons why this trend is so impactful and powerful:

  • It is a creative way to make your website distinguishable and memorable.
  • It adds aesthetics to your brand.
  • Thanks to motion graphics, users become more connected with you.
  • User experience gains “new feelings”, it is extra intuitive and convenient.
  • It eliminates negative UX and accelerates customer loyalty.

 

Motion graphics trend 2021
Liquid Effect by Asha Rajput
animation trend 2021
Animation by MUTI

Bold Fonts Make Emphasis

Although it is not a new trend, it still is captivating users and is a good technique to emphasize the product or particular feature by implementing bold fonts for headings. Bold fonts help improve usability and visual sense. The thing is that users tend to pay attention to the first lines on the website, that’s why it is a good idea to bold titles. 

bold font design trend 2021
17Issues website is an outstanding example of implementing the bold fonts trend.

Interactive Storytelling Enhances Meanings

We have mentioned a lot of different user-triggered trends already, however, there are still totally new trends that will dominate in 2021. Among them is interactive storytelling suitable for B2B brands who want to utilize the strength of digital innovation to tell stories.

If you want to put emphasis and highlight important points on your website, while keeping the user’s interest, narrative and animated stories shift perspective and make your potential customer closer to your product. What should you do? Make your story engaging and immersive by using experiments, movements, zooming in and out, etc. Mind that this technique is time-consuming so that if you are looking for web designers tailored to your needs, we at Northell are at your disposal.

interactive storytelling
Nick Herasimenka for Ramotion

Ready for the hottest graphic design trends in 2021?

So as you can see now 2021 will bring us an abundance of surrealistic and futuristic designs supplemented by media and animation to enhance user experience. Without doubts, these trends require high page speed and solid UX. If you are looking for web designers to help you build a modern and up-to-date website/app please feel free to contact us. We will give you the biggest breast of fresh air into your new products. 

 

 

Incorporating product thinking in UX is the only sure way to create a valuable and necessary product for your clients and users. Read on to find out what product thinking is and why it is significant in user experience design.

Product Thinking: Key Component of UX

What is UX? It is all about the feelings, impressions, and opinions that a user experiences when interacting with a product, service, or company. It is known that UX can immensely improve the customer experience. However, this broad concept is not limited to usability or the degree to which a product or service helps users accomplish their tasks. 

The key component of UX design thinking is not the feature set but the puzzle that needs to be solved – the user problem. Thus, designers must initially be concerned about the product goal since features don’t work without it. The product holds a key UX, which is essentially the ground for its existence. It matches the demands or satisfies the needs of users. Thus, it acquires meaning and a real purpose. If the task does not exist, or the solution is not suitable for the task, the product loses its meaning, and people will not use it. 

design thinking

Why Is Product Thinking Important?

To comprehend what product thinking is and why it is important, you only need one good example. The Macdonald’s company, who wanted to boost purchases of their milkshakes, decided to add more sugar, created a rich selection of various flavors, and, finally, made the glasses bigger. The company made them sweeter, offered them in different flavors, and increased the glasses’ size. The company also conducted customer surveys trying to find a cocktail with the perfect flavor and characteristics, but none of it worked. It became obvious that the company had to approach the problem from a different angle. The team made a distinction between a product’s function and the “purpose” that the product must fulfill. As a result of the research, it was discovered that buyers purchase milkshakes in order not to be bored in the morning on the way to the office. Not quenching thirst and not enjoying the taste, but a cure for boredom – this is the main “aim” of this product. Thus, the company decided to make the milkshakes thicker and added fruit pieces for more entertainment, which boosted sales. And that was exactly the UX product thinking.

As you can see, the secret of success is simple: think like a user, think of their goals and needs. A product’s user interface is built around its core – the reason why the product exists at all – to satisfy needs and solve problems. Thus, the product acquires significance and usefulness. 

In short, your team should be able to develop a model for product thinking in 5 steps, defining the following:

  • users’ problems/needs
  • target audience
  • company perspectives/goals
  • goal-reaching strategy
  • duration of A/B testing.

Develop a Product Thinking Model

The software product manager is essentially a middle ground between an entrepreneur and a scientist. This role implies that you know the metrics of the software product, are able to build design thinking prototypes, and test them, but at the same time have a pumped-up problem-solving skill. To develop a product thinking prototype and make all the workaround, you need to accomplish these simple steps first: 

  • build hypotheses
  • conduct interviews with clients
  • identify their problems and pains 
  • study the market to collect ideas/understand the environment
  • tests hypotheses through prototype testing on clients/through multivariate tests/a/b tests/split tests.

The Double Diamond model used for creating a product thinking prototype consists of two stages. In the first step, focus on the problem: identify what problem really needs to be solved within what environment/conditions. In the second phase, focus on developing and testing a prototype solution. Each stage is a cyclical process that should be repeated until useful conclusions are found, and only then you should move forward.

user experience process
Source: University of Edinburgh

It seems simple enough, but finding out the answers to these questions is not always easy. Research shows that over 95% of new products are not successful in the market. To improve your UX product thinking, you need to develop skills in the following areas:

  1. Business: understand how the market and your business work, what the company’s mission is.
  2. Product: manage a product, understand the specifics/limitations of your market, study consumers, manage a team.
  3. Design: be empathetic, implement a user-centered design.
  4. Technology: track technology trends, find a compromise between design and technology.
  5. Communications: master storytelling, be able to present and listen.

For a business to be profitable, you have to provide buyers with what they need. But how to understand what is required and what is not? This is when you need to start learning the users.

Understanding User’s Needs 

To incorporate a product thinking strategy in your UX design, you have to start learning the user’s needs. For this, consider applying the following methods:

  • In-depth interviews: provide an opportunity to communicate with a client personally and find out what he does/doesn’t buy and why.
  • Surveys: if customers provide you with a bad rating, you can return to them and ask what exactly they are unhappy with. 
  • Analysis of search queries: study what users write in different fields and analyze search queries on the site.
  • Interaction analysis: understand how users behave on a website or app. 
  • Technical support: a lot of useful information can be obtained from the support team, sales department, and managers (they communicate more actively with the customer and feel their pains).
  • Communities: often, the problems that some participants write about are solved by others right in the comments.
  • A/B tests: test different hypotheses and choose the option that brought the maximum result.
  • Study competitors: learn the patterns of your competitors’ behavior and take the best from their experience.
  • Transformation into a user: start using your product. This way, you can identify bugs before your users do.

UX product thinking is more relevant than ever due to the colossal competition in the IT product market. Effective solutions at the intersection of specializations will be more and more critical; thus, UX designers who understand related areas, including business, will be more and more appreciated. Otherwise, you can waste time on a beautiful but unnecessary solution, which will likely be critical for the entire business in the long run.

Product Thinking Approach for UX Designers

To help you absorb the information about the significance of UX product thinking, we will make a short trip into the past. In the dashing 90s, when the UX designers first appeared, the timeline of the product creation was way too long. Too much time was spent on communication and coordination of solutions, taking into account the interests of all parties. Meanwhile, the competitive environment imposed more and more stringent conditions, demanding to release products as quickly as possible and, at the same time, not at the expense of quality. Thus, in recent years, specialists with skills in several areas who can master new technologies quickly are especially needed in the market. How to fit all this knowledge into one head and keep up with constantly updated trends?

Now the world offers many ready-made solutions. This leads to the fact that sometimes UX designers allow themselves not to think about each of their decisions, using ready-made ones. Yes, it saves a lot of time. However, ignorance of the reasons that resulted in the emergence of specific standards leads to the impossibility of calculating the consequences that will lead to changes in these standard solutions. And most importantly, because of the superficial attitude, user goals begin to be forgotten. To be more precise, real users’ needs are easily replaced with standard, generally accepted ones, without in-depth analysis.

UX product thinking brings us back to the origins when there were not so many ready-made solutions, and each new project was approached from scratch. Today, a UX designer is required to have not only a deep knowledge of information architecture but also responsibility, ability, and desire to think broadly. He/she should be able to make important decisions, as well as the art of explaining their correctness to people far from design. Oddly enough, UX designers should be willing to give up their ideas in favor of business goals to find a compromise option to create an ideal product ready to rival in the world arena.

Final Word

Product thinking is an approach to developing innovative projects focusing on user needs, considering the business’s goals and objectives. It reduces the risk of developing unnecessary features and eventually saves money by offering the right solution. UX product thinking means building decisions intuitively but based on insights that it receives through feedback from users. It does not strive to achieve the perfect result on the first try but makes constant improvements based on feedback and market trends.

It is one of the secrets of a company’s success. Without realizing and trying to improve it, change and redo, reinvent, and rediscover – it will be much more difficult to generate value. 

If you are looking for a qualified product design, UX design, etc., Northell is at your service! We strive to create compelling digital solutions that help B2B, B2C, and SaaS companies realize their unique business goals. Our key focus areas are product design and web development. We are excited about what we do. If you are ready to start, don’t hesitate to contact us

Bad UX Will Cost You More

Companies are always striving to save up their money before creating their products. According to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated. Although it may seem that working on UX (user experience) is not so critical and essential at the initial stages of product development, it is a misconception since a poorly designed UX will definitely affect your customer engagement and experience. In order to be separated from a competitive marketplace, it is of high importance to provide excellent user experiences to customers so that they are willing to select your product and service. Until users begin to complain about products, companies tend not to overthink the impact UX can bring to their business performance and ROI. There are two scenarios of users’ complaints: 

  • They just leave your website/app and never get back.
  • They provide bad feedback. 
bad user experience
Photo credit: www.macrumors.com

In any case, you will be way behind the eight ball. According to a former Gartner analyst Esteban Kolsky, 91% of those who do not complain just leave, and 13% of them tell 15 more people about the bad experience they got. Customer experience is an essential part of customer loyalty. You might be wondering where the place for UX in here is. Before we dive deep into UX best practices, let’s consider the difference between UX and CX since these two notions are tightly connected.

UX vs. CX

User experience relates to a user’s interaction, specifically with your product (app/software) and the experience he/she gains. Moreover, UX is geared at creating intuitive, user-friendly designs, with superb usability, information infrastructure, comfortable navigation, etc. User experience success indicators are measured through such metrics as success rate, abandonment rates, clicks to completion, task times.

In contrast, CX is focused on overall customer satisfaction via their interactions with the company. It is mainly concerned with users’ perception of all touchpoints and social channels; hence, they get a whole picture of how a brand is positioned. 

Therefore, UX is an extremely influential element of CX. However, by getting a good UX, a user isn’t always satisfied with company service in general. Let us give you an example. Let’s say you are going to order Nike sneakers via the online shop. The website navigation is seamless; product recommendations and customer reviews are personalized to your needs, making you comfortable during decision-making. And just in a few clicks, you made a payment and waiting for your new purchase. Brilliant!

You are delighted with the experience you’ve just got on the website. However, after having received your package, you found your product, not the same you had offered. Your actions? You might call a support service to figure out whether you can exchange this product. But, let’s imagine, this process took you several days to be carried out. Regardless of the great UX, you get on the initial stage of your order, you are unsatisfied in the long run with the service (CX) you got. Eventually, UX has a significant impact on your CX; however, customer loyalty depends on both notions. So let’s move forward and reveal the main secrets of the successful user experience. 

Why Does UX Matter? 

Let’s highlight the main advantages your business can gain and how UX can impact your return on investment:

  • Once you make thorough research on market needs, you need to create a tailored UX for your customers so that there will be no need to make redesigns. As a result, you will reduce long-term development costs and time. 
  • UX helps increase conversions and customer loyalty, leading to a higher ROI score as well.
  • When your product’s usability is seamless, your users will not need to address the support team to figure out issues.
  • Smart UX provides users with a simplified process to move forward to purchase decisions. Moreover, they will not wait for the issues to be figured since, with the plethora of solutions on the market, they can easily select another product with better UX. 
  • Employees’ satisfaction also has a significant impact on the financial state of the company. With better UX opportunities in their work routine, employees get more efficient in accomplishing their tasks.
  • UX customer journey maps help increase customer loyalty and retention sales. 

UX Principles You Need to Follow

ux principles

Focus on the following principles of a solid UX if you want to enrich your product development strategy eliminating the risks of product failure:

  1. Usefulness. Your product needs to have a purpose, and only users can help you define what is really useful for them. 
  2. Usability. It is crucial to incorporate feedback from your users to measure the usability of the product and iterate design accordingly. 
  3. Speed. Your product design has to deliver high performance to indulge the users with fast interactions on the web page/mobile app.
  4. Trends. Customer-centric, up-to-date, and modern UI/UX will empower your users to buy more.
  5. Simplicity. Abundant features and functionality can overwhelm users who seek simple, accurate, and user-friendly solutions.

5 Essential UX Techniques to Improve Your CX and ROI

Outlining the importance of UX for the improvement of customer experience, we can proceed with the fact that investments in UX techniques will bring much value to customer loyalty and, subsequently, will have a positive impact on your company’s ROI. 

According to research, on average, every $1 invested in UX brings $100 in return. That’s an ROI of a whopping 9,900%. One more interesting fact is that a software/app with a solid UX design will convert up to 400%. 

So it is highly recommended to leverage user experience techniques to achieve high returns on your investment? Here are the main ones:

User’s Research and Analysis 

user persona portrait

Based on field studies and users’ research, you might want to portray your user personas, outlining their peculiarities, behaviors, and needs to capture valuable insights. Creating fictional characters is a powerful way to observe and predict the expectations of potential consumers. Such a method can help perceive your product from a user’s perspective. Once you gathered factual information regarding your user persona, you can proceed with a customer journey map to make the users’ profile finalized to minimize the risk of incorrect estimates about their behaviors. If you know how to create a customer journey map, you will be closer to crafting a tailored product. 

Rapid Prototypes and Wireframes

rapid prototyping and wireframes

To demonstrate the key interface elements of the web page/app, your design team has to create a layout: low-fidelity wireframes or hi-lo wireframes, aka rapid prototypes. What type of wireframe to choose depends on the purpose of your design and the need of team members. Low-fidelity wireframes are focused on presenting the design through basic layouts, whereas high-fidelity wireframes are advanced prototypes saturated with visuals and interactions that are close to the ultimate version of the product.  

Usability Testing 

Usability testing is purposed to identify the product’s usability issues before it goes on a large scale and helps make corrections and modifications at the early stages of the product development process. Therefore, prototyping is a good way to be used for usability tests since design teams can fix issues before implementing the final product reducing time and cost wastes for development teams. For example, Amazon conducts permanent A/B testing to redesign their product tailored to users’ needs. And we will not tell you how successful this internet retailer is. According to Nielsen Norman Group’s research, you need only 5 users to engage in your usability testing. The more users you involve, the worse insights you get.

usability testing

Examples of Best UX Designs

Zara

zara website

As we mentioned above, simplicity is one of the core principles of a seamless UX design. With straightforward, precise design and limited navigation, Zara’s website doesn’t overwhelm the visitor’s eyes. Excellent navigation makes the user feel comfortable and easy-to-go.

Amazon

Amazon website

Being one of the leading e-commerce websites globally, Amazon is distinguished from its competitors by its aggregated information and customized algorithms tailored to each user. At first glance, it seems that the website is somewhat complicated, but the nested information architecture makes it simple to the user. Personal recommendation, search-driven approach, rich user reviews – all these features contribute to positive user experience.

Rover

rover website

With an easy-to-follow interface, pet owners can easily find sitters or walkers for their pets. Users tend to skip too many data entries and get fast solutions to their search. On the Rover website, a visitor entering the main page just has to answer a few simple questions to proceed with the order. 

Apple

apple website

Embracing innovation, Apple products are dynamic and highly interactive. There is no need for users to look for an item since a comprehensive user journey is created in a way users can get answers to their questions by scrolling down the page where the information is presented in a logical sequence. What makes UX brilliant is the possibility to select the best solution by comparing features. While comparing, you will not confuse the products since their names are fixed on the top.

How Can Northell Help You Create a Solid UX Design?

The key to excellent user experience is human factors that need to be observed and analyzed to design a product that will hook their attention and satisfy their needs. Our design team incorporates top-notch technologies and trends to deliver best UI/UX designs for your products. Feel free to contact us – we will support you at each stage of the UX design process.

 

MVP in Software Development As a Key for Stepping on Entrepreneurial Path

Nowadays, the marketplace is saturated with plenty of startups disrupting every industry with new ideas to build out a product. Without a doubt, each entrepreneur tends to reduce risks and increase their chances of launching a successful product. According to Forbes, the main challenge of startups is premature scaling. Why? Because businesses spend huge sums of money unreasonably on things that are not essential or do that using the same strategy as big companies do who have already acquired extensive resources.

Therefore, before scaling the business, it is crucial to understand the customers’ needs and evaluate the ways of how to reach them. If startups miss this crucial stage in the product development process, their idea will be more likely to result in a collapse. But how to avoid this? MVP (minimum viable product) is a solution. Moreover, investors are ready to invest in projects that have proven ideas with traction beyond. Thus, there is no sense to spend much time and money when there is no interest in your product. 

According To CBSInsights, 42% of startups fail due to bad product-market fit. Another two big reasons are running out of cash and an unqualified team.

CBInsights - why startups fail

So why does your startup need an MVP? Keep reading to find out the main benefits and steps on building an MVP before developing custom software for your product. 

What is the MVP in Software Development?

A minimal viable product is a testing version of a software product with limited functionality to solve early adopters’ problems for further improvement and optimize the product. Gathering feedback from early customers allows startups to test assumptions and elaborate upon future product development with the least effort. This technique helps evaluate users’ feelings, and if there is enough positive feedback, an initial product is supplemented with final features to create a full-fledged product.

Do Not Risk: Start Your Software Product with MVP

Your product is like a baby, which you need to nurture to grow a mature person. The same is with your product; thus step-by-step approach is crucial in its development. Customers’ involvement is the key factor for a successful MVP development process. That’s why you need to ask yourself: What problem am I going to solve? For that purpose, you need to identify the pain points of your potential customers and adjust your first stages to provide users with the highest value. Let’s outline the main benefits your startup will gain when building MVP for custom software:

MVP benefits

Benefit #1 Time and money efficiency

Since MVP needs a minimum functionality, and due to early users’ immediate feedback, your developers immensely save time and efforts, reducing the budget for developing a ready-made software solution. As a result, you will not pour money and step into an idea that is not tested by the market. Selecting a proper project management methodology is also an essential part of your MVP development. If you want to eliminate costly waste, the Agile model is geared to estimate the costs at every implementation stage. 

Benefit #2 Defined Value Proposition 

With the MVP approach, the development team knows the key features having an explicit focus on the project. A clear project roadmap helps avoid unordered actions that can ruin your overall product strategy. Moreover, cutting off unnecessary features and focusing on core ones will have a positive impact on defining concise value propositions and solving issues step-by-step. 

Benefit #3 Сredibility for attracting your investors

With MVP as a part of your business plan, you are more likely to convince investors and raise capital. Involving customers at the early stages of software development is an excellent sign for investors since they have proven evidence of product feasibility and usability. In this regard, your MVP stands for representation of your full-fledged product showcasing your intentions and goals in a very professional manner. 

Benefit #4 Feedback from early adopters

Your product value depends significantly on the market need and demand. Therefore, conducting surveys and research among first users will help you understand whether you move in the right direction. If not, you can make adjustments and modifications to your business idea before your product gets further into the next stages of the development lifecycle by analyzing its validity among early adopters. Furthermore, acquiring feedback from users in the early stages prevents your development team from correcting mistakes in the long run, which can be painful for your whole business performance. 

Benefit #5 Possibility to build customer loyalty

When you involve potential customers in testing your minimum viable product, both parties gain advantages from this process: you and your users. Whereas the latest get the opportunity to feel their importance because you show them you value their opinions and are closer to your product, you get valuable insights from feedback and, subsequently, build strong connections with them.

How Northell Can Help You Build a Winning MVP?

How to build a solid MVP that stands out? The secret is sticking to the step-by-step process of MVP development. Let us give you an example of the MVP of a digital trading app called Wealth Club elaborated by the Northell team. 

WealthClub MVP trading app

Here are the stages of MVP development:

  1. Identify the target audience and validate your idea. This point is the foremost starter before making further decisions. Conduct extensive market research if you want to provide your users with a real-world value solution. Ask yourself: Who your target audience is? What are their motivations? What problem are you going to solve by offering your product?
  2. Create users’ flow. Your customers have to reach their intended goals. In order to fulfill this task, you need to create a roadmap outlining the user journey so that you will have a picture of how your customer can move. Take, for example, Airbnb. They outlined users’ flow breaking down the logic of a user’s steps who wants to book a room: find a property – search results – property details – sign up – continue booking, etc.  
  3. Prioritize essential features. Brainstorm all features and break them down, keeping only essential ones relevant to your user persona. Key features have to solve your previously defined problem and make most use to your customer. 
  4. Develop the MVP. To get a solid MVP, a tech-savvy team of web professionals is required who can not only deliver fast and working solutions for you but inform and interact with you on every stage of MVP development. 
  5. Collect feedback. So now, it is a phase where you present your product to early adopters to capture feedback. 
  6. Make appropriate iterations. According to insights you obtained after testing your MVP among your potential audience, all necessary iterations are needed to enhance the product further down the line. 

Looking for an experienced partner who can help you build a quick MVP? Feel free to contact us to discuss all the requirements. 

Why Information Architecture Is So Crucial in Design

To be perceived by people, the information should be well-structured and presented in a logical way. What’s more, it should have a solid foundation, and it is the information architecture that allows building this foundation for successful information delivery.

Understanding and implementing the best practices of information architecture helps designers create products that bring real value to users. In this article, we will discuss what information architecture is and the role it plays in the design and development process.

What Is Information Architecture?

Often, people understand information architecture as a menu design on a website or in an app. However, this is a much broader term, and menus take only one part of it. 

Referencing the works of renowned information architecture experts Abby Covert (How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody) and Donna Spencer (A practical guide to Information Architecture), we can sum up the definition of the term information architecture:

Information architecture (IA) relates to the methods of organizing information in a clear, logical way to help users absorb this info and benefit from the knowledge received.

Information architecture web design decisions are majorly influenced by three factors:

information architecture in design

  • Users
  • Content 
  • Context

When a product team presents relevant content to the target audience in the right context, we can talk about great information architecture.

To sum up, IA is both the art and science of content presentation on the website, mobile app, or any other software or digital products to enhance its usability and user-friendliness. Information architecture has a significant impact on product design and aims to help end-users find important information quickly and conveniently.

The Role of Information Architecture in Product Design

Although information architecture is not really visible to the end-users, it plays a vital role in the product design and acts as a basis for UI/UX design decisions. Let’s take a look at the role of IA for end-users and businesses.

The Role of IA for Users

In our fast-paced world, people are constantly bombarded with tons of information. That’s why only the relevant content provided at the right time can reach users and deliver the intended message. On the other hand, if users want to find some information, but the process seems too complicated or slow, they will highly likely abandon it and move on to something easier and more engaging.

In their book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld divide users’ needs into four main types when it comes to websites and applications:

  • Interest

Users are looking for something desirable and inspiring when visiting a website or trying an app. They are not sure yet what they need exactly but have the intention of exploring the available options. 

  • Perceived needs

Users come to a website or use an app with a clear goal of achieving something: finding important information, learning something, buying something, etc.

  • In-depth research

Users decide to do extensive research on some topic and want to find as much info as possible when visiting a website/app.

  • Returning

Users seek the desired items they once have seen/used. They visit a website/use an app to return to some things they enjoyed before.

Understanding the users’ intends and needs helps product teams build the most relevant information architecture that allows for intuitive navigation and excellent user experience and usability.

The Role of IA for Businesses

The benefits of well-built information architecture for businesses fully depend on the benefits that the end-users achieve from using the product. If users find it hard to access important information or perform some actions on the website/app, businesses can lose potential and loyal customers.

Also, for companies, information architecture plays an important role in: 

  • Brand reputation
  • Sales
  • SEO ranking
  • Employee recruiting and retention
  • Reduced marketing and customer support costs

8 Principles of Information Architecture 

There are a lot of factors that a product team needs to take into consideration when building the IA for a website, app, or any other software. According to a well-known IA expert Dan Brown, these eight principles of information architecture are basics of the IA design: 

  • The Principle of Objects. Content is a living thing that has its own lifecycle, features, and specifics.
  • The Principle of Choices. All choices given on the page/screen should relate to a specific action only in aim to not overwhelm end-users with too many options. 
  • The Principle of Disclosures. By limiting the content delivered to users on one page/screen, it is possible to improve the perception of this content.
  • The Principle of Exemplars. Every content presented on a page/screen should have relevant examples that show the context. 
  • The Principle of Front Doors. A homepage acts as a front door, and some users may not visit other pages. Therefore, it’s important to have all the relevant information (such as menus or contacts) on every page so that end-users could navigate the site or app easily.
  • The Principle of Multiple Classification. It’s vital to deliver different ways to browse content on a website/app for the convenience of different types of users.
  • The Principle of Focused Navigation. It’s more important what navigation contains than how it looks. Navigation panels should be simple and easily accessible from any page. 
  • The Principle of Growth. A product team should keep in mind that content will grow with time, and there should be a place for the new content in the product design.

By following these points, UX information architects and product teams can design a high-end information architecture that contributes to product usability, information findability, and great user experience.

Why Is It Important to Use Information Architecture in Design?

It’s no mystery that it is vital to produce high-quality content that end-users will find valuable, interesting, and engaging. But, at the same time, it is no less important to ensure that users can access this high-quality content easily and conveniently.

Nowadays, time is people’s most precious asset. In our modern world, people expect to find a solution to their problems within minimum time and effort. If it’s hard to use a website or app, find the needed content,  read the text, and so on, users will unlikely persist in their efforts with the given product and move on to a better, more user-friendly solution. What’s more, after an unpleasant experience with the product, users will unlikely return to it ever again. 

However, with well-designed information architecture, it’s possible to avoid many common usability problems and ensure that the product meets the end-users’ needs. Information architects and product teams strive to create IA that helps users achieve their goals and find the information they’ve been looking for instead of struggling with complex navigation and unintuitive design.

How to Create an Effective Information Architecture

To build a high-end information architecture, it’s vital to take into account several factors. Based on our experience, our Northell team believes that the steps below allow creating a great IA that meets the users’ needs and ensures great user experience:

how to create an effective information architecture

  1. Define the primary purpose of the project.
    First of all, it is essential to understand the purpose of the project and its strategic vision. When having a clear picture in mind, it’s possible to move to in-depth market research.
  2.  Research and understand the users’ goals.
    Any well-built and visually appealing product will fail if it doesn’t deliver real value to the end-users. So, no matter how great the initial idea seems, it’s essential to research and find out whether the future product will meet the users’ needs and mitigate their pain points.
  3. Create user personas.
    Based on the research findings, a product team can create user personas that will guide them on creating a relevant UI/UX solution.
  4. Plan the IA hierarchy for user-friendly navigation.
    Only now, after all the research, it’s time to map information architecture, plan navigation specifics, and create wireframes.
  5. Prepare content.
    It’s important to note that you should prepare content alongside the product design or even prior to the design stage. As we mentioned above, content and context play a crucial role in information architecture. A product team should operate with at least the approximate volume of the content presented on a website or app.
  6. Create a UI prototype.
    After finishing wireframes, a product team moves to create the visual part of the product.
  7. Develop the product.
    Once the product is ready, it can be launched and become available to the end-users. However, it is not the finish but rather a significant milestone. For the product’s success and great user experience, a product team should perform usability testing, evaluate the website/app’s performance, and monitor users’ reactions.
  8. Collect feedback.
    Feedback is the backbone of a genuinely great product in the long run. The user feedback helps understand usability issues and improve/upgrade the product to meet the users’ needs.
  9. Adjust the product accordingly.
    Product design and development is a continuous process, as there’s always room for improvement. For information architecture, it is the same because IA can and should be adjusted to create the best user experience with a website or app.

Final Remarks

To sum up, information architecture is a foundation of great user experience. IA allows delivering well-organized, relevant content to the target end-users at the right time, making it easy and convenient for them to use the product. 

We at Northell believe that information architecture is a crucial factor to consider when creating a product design. 

If you want to build a high-end website or application and look for a professional product team, you are welcome to contact us. We are happy to discuss details and create a remarkable solution to meet your business needs. Get in touch now!

What Is Design Documentation?

Oftentimes, product development teams leave design documentation for later stages of the design process, explaining it by a lack of time managing documents and the need to dive into the design process. However, without proper design documentation, it is easy to lose track of the initial goal, get confused at some stages of design implementation, and waste time going in circles during some design decisions in question.

Design documentation takes time to develop and adjust. Still, it is an essential part of the design process that allows streamlining and empowering decision making, optimize workflows, and ensure the exact result needed.

In this article, we will discuss what design documentation in the software engineering process includes, the advantages of having it in place at the very beginning, and best practices on documenting deliverables at each stage of the design process.

Experts at Adobe XD define design documentation as an essential set of documents and other resources that contain important aspects of the product design. Design documentation should include information about the project’s goals, product features, deadlines for every stage of the design process, and implementation details. It should also contain information about the target auditory and factors to take into account for design decisions.

Why Do You Need Documentation in the Design Process?

Based on the global design best practices and our design development expertise, we would like to outline the following benefits of creating and maintaining design documentation for any project. Utilizing documentation in the design process allows:

  • defining and following the project’s goals
  • streamlining design implementation
  • engaging the team
  • preserving the company’s knowledge
  • maintaining operational consistency and much more.

Top 7 Deliverables for Each Stage of the Design Process

According to Nielsen Norman Group, a deliverable document contains the description of performed research or design work. In the design process, deliverables serve as tangible records of the work done and play an important role in following the initial project’s goal and monitoring design and development progress.

Referencing the words of Jerry Chao at UXPin, before creating each design document, it’s essential to take a look at the big picture and take into account the entire design process. Some classic deliverables include user personas, user journeys, site maps, wireframes, and prototypes. Let’s check them in detail for every stage of the design process:

  1. Understanding the project’s goals and product definition.
    Possible deliverables: project kickoff plan, lean canvas, product sketches, product plan.
  2. Research phase.
    Possible deliverables: competitive and market analyses, customer surveys, SWOT analysis, analytics reports for existing products, etc.
  3. Analysis phase.
    Possible deliverables: user personas, user stories, experience maps, lists of requirements, user-task matrixes, product sketches, product diagrams.
  4. Design phase.
    Possible deliverables: mockups, concept maps, scenarios, storyboards, sketches, wireframes, prototypes, design element specifications.
  5. Design implementation phase.
    Possible deliverables: adjusted product design specifications, design implementation guidelines, test results.
  6. Launch phase.
    Possible deliverables: reports, analytics, test results, feedback.
  7. Monitoring and maintenance after launch.
    Possible deliverables: analytics reports, performance dashboards, user feedback.

What Should Be Included in Software Design Documentation?

Although documentation can differ due to the project specifics, the documents below are relevant to any design process. This information can be organized in one long-read document or saved in separate documents as long as it provides value to the product team and is easy to access. Let’s take a detailed look at the list of important documents needed for the successful design development:

  • Project overview. A high-level overview of the project’s goals, purpose, and main design guidelines.
  • Product requirements. This document contains both business and technical requirements to the product design that were previously agreed with stakeholders. Also, it can include some notes regarding the design decision framework.
  • Project deliverables. Here are listed all the expected deliverables, including project milestones, goals, deadlines, research, design, implementation reports required, wireframes, and prototyping deliverables.
  • Target audience information. This document contains a compilation of the relevant information about the target audience, including user research, personas, and stories. It helps create a user-oriented design, both functionally and aesthetically pleasing and serves as a reference for micro design decisions.
  • User journeys. Jesmond Allen and James Chudley, in their work Smashing UX Design: Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences, emphasize the importance of creating user journeys that describe the path a user takes to reach their goals with the product.
  • Style guides. This document contains a list of stylization standards and design guidelines, including the color palette and fonts that should be used in the product design.
  • Implementation plan. In this file, product teams document roles and workflow for cross-team or cross-department collaboration related to the design implementation. It may contain a brief description of the steps needed to realize the design or deadlines for each design implementation stage.
  • Testing instructions. You need to test every product before launch, and design is no exception. Testing instructions contain guidelines on tests to ensure usability and user-friendliness of the developed design.
  • Operational instructions. Operational guidelines describe common operational actions related to maintenance of the implemented design, such as updating design parts.

Best Practices in Documenting Design Deliverables

Based on our experience in the design development and global best practices we at Northell monitor and follow, it is worth highlighting a few recommendations on documenting deliverables that can benefit every design process:

  • Make documentation usable for product team members, stakeholders, and end-users.
    Product team members, stakeholders, and end-users form three main groups for design documentation use, and each group has its own needs and requirements. Therefore, it is important to compose the documentation taking into account the target audience that will use the given document.
  • Keep documentation up-to-date.
    This tip will help mitigate the risks of irrelevant design decisions and miscommunication between product team members. It’s a good practice to review the documentation at least once a month or once a couple of weeks. Preferably, automate this documentation updating process to avoid duplicated elements, missing important design guidelines, research findings, or contradicting instructions.
  • Your language style has to be formal, without jargon.
    Within a specific community, a special language helps define and explain things and tasks quickly and easily. If the target audience doesn’t understand the special vocabulary, it is better not to use jargon in the documentation. For example, the terms, abbreviations, and shortened forms of words used among developers may not be entirely clear to stakeholders, and designers may reference some design rules not familiar to developers. That’s why it is essential to use the right words and explanations that will be easy to understand and follow by the target audience of the given design document.
  • Provide users with easy access.
    The design documentation should be available at the hand of all the experts involved in the design process, and it should be easy to browse and read. By using sections for different parts, structuring guidelines, and naming documents according to the context inside, it is much easier to concentrate on core tasks and avoid wasting time looking for the right resource.
  • Test documentation.
    Like any other guidelines, design documentation should be tested in the design development process and adjusted accordingly to make sure that everything is documented correctly and leads to achieving the initial project’s goals.
  • Include visual or code samples.
    It’s much easier to follow design guidelines that contain relevant examples and references. That’s why visual or code snippets are must-do in the design documentation. These samples will help product team members translate the requirements and instructions into the right design decisions and yield the best results.
    Final Remarks
    To sum up, design documentation plays a vital role in successful design creation and implementation. With clear and up-to-date design documentation at hand, a product team can make efficient design decisions and follow the proper guidelines.

We at Northell believe that no matter how tight the project’s deadlines are, it is crucial to develop the design documentation at the start and document deliverables at every stage of the design process for achieving tangible results and project goals.

Feel free to get in touch and share your project thoughts. We will be pleased to develop a high-end solution for your business, following the best design documentation practices.