3 Essential Design Trends, August 2017

If the dog days of summer have you longing for a change of scenery, this month’s web design trends are the perfect start. While minimalism has been the “it” style of late, more designers are beginning to shift toward more details and features within the layout. The striking design patterns that we are beginning to see are a fresh alternative to the stripped-down styles we’ve gotten used to.

What do you think? Are you ready for thinner typography options, more elaborate detailing and icon-style logos? You might be after seeing some of these design projects.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month:

1. Thin(ner) Typography

Thin type is back in! Thin typefaces got a bad rap back when Apple opted for a super thin, lightweight font for its operating system with iOS 7.

Designers balked at the option which was a little tough to read and kind of bucked many design trends happening at the time. (Flat was all the rage, but some argued that Apple’s almost flat combined with the ultra-thin typeface was too much.) At the same time, wider, bolder typefaces became the dominant element for website headline and typography on hero images above the scroll.

The tide is beginning to shift the other way. Today’s thin typefaces are somewhat thinner than what we’ve become accustomed to, but aren’t near as thin as the Apple option.

The best thing about opting for a thinner typeface is that you have a little more freedom in with the design. While thin typefaces are not recommended for body copy, they can work well at larger sizes when there is plenty of contrast.

The examples below all showcase some of the best uses of thinner typefaces:

  • Use a thin typeface in all caps to create an impactful headline. This option often works best with only a few words, such as Luxury African Safaris, below. It’s equally important to think about the lettering in relationship to the actual letters; some words can be tough to read in thin typefaces or caps.
  • Pair a thin typeface with a bolder option to create emphasis, such as WebDesignStudio, below.
  • Use a thinner typeface in color (on a contrasting background) to add visual emphasis, such as Leeds Golf Centre, below.

Looking for inspiration? Here are five Google Fonts that fit the bill (and will look great): Source Sans Pro,  DosisScope OneRajdhaniMartel Sans.

2. Elaborate Details

From fun flourishes to fancy typographic treatments to user interface elements that create unexpected delight, elaborate details are becoming more common. The trick to creating something elaborate is to make it appear as simple as possible for the user, meaning it has to be easy to understand and use.

The great thing about details is that they can add a lot of personality to a project. These elements can carry across mediums from website projects to product design to printed elements so that everything from a brand has that same special something visually. (This is an excellent way to establish brand cohesion.)

These details can appear in a number of ways and should always add to the overall effect, not detract from it. Elaborate details are best used for a single instance in the design and shouldn’t overwhelm users. Using something elaborate too many times can end up creating the opposite of the intended effect and actually visually overwhelm users. So once you find your “trick” use it once and use it well.

The Forefathers Group, below, uses elaborate styling with an old-style logotype with colored swashes above the headline. The type style is uncommon for web design and combined with the elaborate logotype, it is a striking combination. But you can also see how this design can only be effective with a single use. The typeface could be difficult if used for large blocks of text and the styling could get in the way of messaging. Here, the design team used it perfectly.

Vitra Task Chairs, below, uses elaborate user interface animations to engage users. The homepage includes a “Drag” button that opens into the product line menu. The background stays the same in both panels so that the chairs are always being highlighted in the video reel. Animations between clicks are equally interesting and even if you aren’t ready to buy a chair, moving around the website is encouraged.

Sometimes the most elaborate design doesn’t include any super special effects. Only Kite School, below, uses fun video real and large logotype for a combination that draws the eye in. While the large logotype looks simple, creating typography that’s both readable and functional in that manner can be tough. Here, it works beautifully and the mood of the lettering matches what you would expect from this type of business.

 

3. Icon Logos

Is that an icon or a logo? The line between the two design elements is getting more crossed all the time. Icon-style logos are popping up everywhere.

Drawn from the minimal style, and because they work in a variety of applications, icon logos can be colorful or line-art inspired. Most uses lean toward a smaller style logo in a shape that will also carry over to social media sites for consistent branding online.

The downside of an icon logo is there’s not a lot of room for an actual company name. The best icon logos are designed so that they can stand alone or alongside lettering, such as District0x, below. Note how the colorful “d” icon could work by itself—it looks great in the circle Twitter logo format because of the asymmetrical shape—and doesn’t feel in the way when paired with the full brand name.

Jardan Furniture and Nobbys Lighthouse, below, opt for more simple icon logo styles with the brand name set in type below. While this is a popular option, it can create some disconnect between the name and logo. Opt for placements that connect the elements—both examples centered the logo and typeset company name—to create an eye path from one element to the next.

Conclusion

It’s fun to watch as trends start to shift from one dynamic to the next. Do you think more detailed styles will replace minimalism? Or is it just a passing fad?

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p class=”p6″>What trends are you loving (or hating) right now? I’d love to see some of the websites that you are fascinated with. Drop me a link on Twitter; I’d love to hear from you.

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Popular Design News of the Week: July 24, 2017 – July 30, 2017

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

Adobe Just Built the Prettiest UI Ever

 

Git for Designers is Here – Meet Abstract

 

Roboto Needed a Website

 

Inspirational Showcase of UI/UX Design Presentations

 

Life is About to Get a Whole Lot Harder for Websites Without HTTPS

 

My First Big Screw-Up: Lessons from 8 Top Designers

 

11+ Design Mistakes You Should Avoid at any Cost

 

Grabient: Grab a Gradient

 

Ghost 1.0 Released

 

Google has Dropped Google Instant Search

 

How to Steal Design Ideas (And not Feel like a Schmuck)

 

Famous Designers as Icons (with Icon Set)

 

Firefox’s Blazing Speed with Huge Numbers of Tabs Leaves Chrome in the Dust

 

Comprehensive Guide for Color Usage in Web Design

 

Are Notifications a Dark Pattern?

 

12 Signs that your WordPress Site is Hacked

 

Improving your Visual Design Skills: Thoughts for Beginners

 

Adobe Mistakenly Leaks Upcoming Photo Editing Software on Creative Cloud

 

Top 12 New Web Design Tools for July 2017

 

Mobile-first Indexing is Coming: What this Means for Web Design

 

Stress is the Enemy of Creativity

 

Adobe Brilliantly Reimagines the Color Picker as an Artist’s Watercolor Palette

 

Nailing the Whiteboard Design Challenge

 

How Shazam’s UX has Changed

 

Why Companies Rebrand

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Comics of the Week #400

Every week we feature a set of comics created exclusively for WDD.

The content revolves around web design, blogging and funny situations that we encounter in our daily lives as designers.

These great cartoons are created by Jerry King, an award-winning cartoonist who’s one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.

So for a few moments, take a break from your daily routine, have a laugh and enjoy these funny cartoons.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below as well as any related stories of your own…

No, that’s not it

Email workout

 

No rest

Can you relate to these situations? Please share your funny stories and comments below…


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3 Secrets of Successful AR Design

Over the past several years, augmented reality (AR) technology has established a home in entertainment, marketing, education and many other industries. The use of AR apps in the enterprise will grow to $2.4 billion in 2019. On the flip side, augmented reality also brings a lot of challenges for designers. Today most experienced designers have got skills in designing web and mobile apps, but these skills aren’t always applicable for immersive AR experiences.

This article will look at how AR is affecting UX, and how UX designers can rise to the challenge of designing engaging augmented user interfaces.

What is AR?

Augmented Reality refers to technology that uses real-time inputs to create an output that combines both real-world data and some programmed elements. AR adds a programmed layer over actual reality to create a third, dynamic level of augmented experience. With AR apps, instead of just seeing information, users interact with it and receive live feedback on the action they have performed.

AR apps are already thriving in the Android and iOS ecosystems right on our smartphones and tablets. Examples of AR that the majority of users have at least heard of, if not used, are things like:

Pokémon Go: Players can collect game characters that can be uncovered by moving in the real world.

SnapChat lenses: SnapChat uses facial-recognition technology to enable users to enhance images with computer-generated effects.

Snapchat’s lenses feature

Microsoft HoloLens: Using tools like Microsoft’s HoloLens it’s possible to see and interact with complex models such as 3D model of a human heart.


 Microsoft HoloLens

How To Design for AR

The field of designing AR user experiences is still in its infancy, and since there are no established UX best practices for it yet, I’d like to share my own personal approach to UX in AR apps…

1. AR Use-Case Needs to be Evaluated

The concept of “measure twice, cut once” is especially important in building AR apps. Before diving in, it’s important to have a clear answer on the question “What do I want to achieve with this AR app?” Your ultimate goal is to ensure that the AR experience is right for the project. Keep in mind the following:

  • AR experiences should be tied to clear business and user objectives. You shouldn’t create an AR app just because it’s trendy—that’s almost a sure way to create a poor UX. Rather, the desired functionality needs to be evaluated to fit with the experience that the AR display medium can offer.
  • As always, good user experience only comes from close attention to users’ needs.  This means that if you’re going to design an AR experience, you should invest heavily in user research. Spend some time really getting feedback from your target audience, get to know how they do something in the real world without any kind of device, and how AR can help them do it better.

2. Consider the Environment in Which the Product Will be Used

Since you will integrate an AR design solution into the users’ environment, you want it to feel as natural as possible. The environment significantly affects AR design:

  • In a private environment (e.g. home or  work) the UX designer can count on long user sessions and a complex interaction model. The whole body can be involved in the interaction, and specific devices, such as a head mounted display, can be used for manipulation.
  • In public environments, usually outdoors, it’s important to focus on short user sessions. Because regardless of how much people might enjoy the AR experience, they won’t want to walk around with their hands up holding a device for an extended period of time.

Thus, when designing an AR app, you first need to research the environmental conditions in which the app will be used and how it will affect the user:

  • Identify interaction scenarios upfront, even before specifying technical requirements for the project.
  • Collect all the details of the physical environment to be augmented. The more environmental conditions you identify before building a product, the better.

User testing should be a critical step in the review process. When the first working prototype of your AR app is ready, you should run comprehensive user tests on product use in real conditions. Your ultimate goal here is to make interaction with the product comfortable for users.

3. Make the Interaction with AR Simple

AR in an app should be a layer of added value that reduces the time needed to complete simple tasks. Keep in mind that with each product people are seeking out experiences, not technologies, and they won’t like a technology that isn’t friendly to use. Thus, when designing your AR solution I recommend the following approach:

  • go to the environment where the user will perform the task;
  • think through each step that your users will go through in order to accomplish the task;
  • record each of those steps.

This information will help you conduct a task analysis. The analysis will help you make things more natural for the users. Consider the Google Translate app in the example below. The app uses the phone’s built-in camera to translates the captured text into another language. This example perfectly illustrates the value that AR technology can provide.

AR experiences should be designed to require as little physical input from users as possible. When users are looking through the device screen at an augmented picture, it’s going to be hard for them to input data at the same time.

 

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11 Best Free WordPress Plugins For Ad Placements & Native Advertising

Digital advertising is still huge and predominantly one of the simplest ways to monetize a website. But there is no simple method to setup ads in WordPress aside from editing the code directly. Thankfully there are tons of great plugins you can use to manage your ad inventory. In this post I’ll focus on free ad plugins for WordPress ranging…. Continue Reading

The post 11 Best Free WordPress Plugins For Ad Placements & Native Advertising is written by Jake Rocheleau and appeared first on WPKube.

5 Ways to Make Your Website Stand Out

Everyone involved in building a website wants it to stand out from other websites. Clients want to stand out from the competition and leave a favorable impression on potential customers; designers strive for originality and to compete with other designers; back-end developers want a success story in their portfolios and an original or different-looking site can help with that.

And we want it bad. There’s a cottage industry of people writing articles designed to help us design more original-feeling sites. I’ve even seen articles about “Trends to Make Your Site Stand Out”, and it feels like at least one of those words is sorely misused.

Goodness knows I’ve obsessed over it in the past. I know the feeling that your work just isn’t good enough because man, the last couple of sites you made really felt the same. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the creativity? Well, originality isn’t the be-all and end-all. If a site that feels the same as many others gets the results you want, that’s not a bad thing.

But you can create sites that stand out. Consistently producing original—or at least original-feeling—work doesn’t happen by inspiration or by luck. It happens with planning, and a lot of effort. Here are five approaches you can use to make your work stand out, with their pros and cons. I’m not going to include a ton of examples, because the idea is to not copy other sites.

1. Layout and Structure

Okay, this is perhaps one of the more obvious ways to differentiate your site from the rest. It’s also the most difficult. On the pro side, using a fancy layout or site structure that no one has ever seen before is instantly memorable. It can also be a lot of fun. After creating your fifty-second three-column site, mixing up the layout provides a challenge for your visual design skills and your front-end dev skills that can’t be beat.

The cons: There are only so many ways that information can be organized before you start to lose accessibility and usability points. The development time is often increased, as you end up working to solve problems few have encountered before. The really crazy layouts often depend heavily on JavaScript. Layout should ideally not depend on JavaScript.

2. Branding

Branding is the other really obvious way to make your site stand out. And it’s easy. Just find out what your client’s branding guidelines are, and stick to them. Embrace them. Make your client sick of seeing their own logo and colors. Then maybe tone it down a little, and you’re good to go.

The cons: This approach only works if your client has highly original branding. If their brand style guide consists of Helvetica and not much else, you are at a severe disadvantage.

3. Graphics and Imagery

If the branding isn’t enough, you can use graphics and/or photos on your site to establish a distinct visual style. Sites with big images do tend to convert more, after all. People are visual creatures, so visual stimuli can make it easier for users to connect with you on an emotional level. Plus, the stylistic options are just about endless, which makes it easier to create an original-feeling design.

The cons: Graphics and photos that look original are expensive, because they pretty much have to be custom made. Using stock images will likely kill the distinction that you’re going for.

4. Text and Content

This is probably the most important—and sometimes the most difficult—way you can set yourself apart. What is said on any site can and should be a reflection of the client’s personality and/or company culture, while still being clear. You can use copy, microcopy, and even things like video to communicate personality in a way that sets you apart.

The cons: Ok, first you have to get any text at all from your client. Heh. And then you have to get copy that actually feels like a human wrote it. Most marketing copy has a very specific tone that seems to transcend borders and cultures. Getting the reader to see past the obvious desire to sell them things is the trick, and it’s a tough one.

I mentioned microcopy before, but it really makes a difference. Users expect sales copy when reading up on a product or service. But if the rest of your site, especially the interactive bits like forms, treat the user as human rather than as a mere customer, this will make your site stand out in big ways.

5. Animation

Animation is a huge deal right now, and for good reason. When done right, it can take a pretty good experience and make it unforgettable. While I’m glad splash screens went the way of the dodo, I can still remember some of the animated web experiences I saw during the ’90s. Did I say before that humans were visual creatures? Well make those pictures start moving, and you can start a new industry in California.

The cons: I saved animation for last because it’s very effective, but also very hard to get right. I mean, everyone and their dog is animating their sites now. That means that if you want your animation to stand out from everyone else’s animation, you’ll have to step up your game. Bouncing buttons ain’t gonna cut it. Animation that’s badly done can also cause usability problems, performance problems, etc.

Conclusion

Look around on the internet and you’ll notice that it’s very rare for any of these approaches to be used alone. It’s fairly common for people to even try to combine all five. As usual, however, it’s best not to split your focus too much.

Ask yourself where your strengths lie. Are you a good writer and illustrator? Focus on text and imagery. Are you a great brand designer and animator? Make that logo blow people’s minds. And most of all, remember to have fun while you’re making something new.

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11 Pricing Table Designs That Really Sell

Every SaaS product and subscription website needs a great pricing table. It’s the easiest way to share information with potential buyers and explain the differences in your plans.

But with so many websites running pricing tables they can get a little stale.

These designs are some of the best I’ve found with fresh trends, color schemes, and a clean experience that encourages user interaction. If you’re designing a custom pricing table page then these designs are sure to give you some cool ideas.

1. Algolia

The hosted search SaaS product Algolia has a clean pricing page with a material design style and colorful icon designs.

Each column uses different a color in the header to stand out and create contrast. The tables are pretty simple so the information is easy to consume at a glance.

Typically you find signup buttons at the bottom of each column but Algolia uses one large CTA underneath the table. This keeps it cleaner and reduces the need to duplicate buttons over multiple columns.

2. Slack

The Slack pricing page is also pretty unique with a left-hand feature column for labels. You can find this in many other pricing tables but not always with such a smooth design.

Each row uses check marks to show which features are covered in each plan. These rows are super spacious and the headers even use a light grey background to build contrast for easy skimming.

Not to mention the fonts they’re using look fantastic and really make the content easy to consume.

3. Symu

I’ve never seen greyed-out features in a pricing table but Symu makes this work. Each column has a small progress bar placed just above the features list showing how much you get with each plan.

This grabs your attention fast and the greyed-out features also catch your eye.

My problem with the light gray font is that it’s tough to read. Potential buyers may not know what they’re missing out on with the free plan, so they’d have to read the “Team” column to clearly see all the features in one list.

But the visual removal of these features with a lighter font implies scarcity, a great tool for sales and marketing.

4. Digital Ocean

The VPS service Digital Ocean has their own rotating pricing table because they offer so many different plans.

Most new visitors will start with cheaper plans so it makes sense to keep these right in view. But you can click, or swipe, through the list to browse higher-priced plans with more power and storage space.

Another feature I like is the “create account” button which only appears for the selected plan. This draws your attention to that one plan so you can compare it against its neighbors and see whatever works best for you.

5. UsabilityHub

The pricing table on UsabilityHub has a nifty design with hover details for each feature. Different accounts let you run different tests but newer users may not understand the value of these tests.

If you hover the information icon beside each feature you’ll get more info about what it means and why it’s useful. Some are just features like A/B testing while others are account settings like team support or custom branding.

For the larger team column you’ll also notice the monthly quote increases automatically when you add more people onto the plan. This is great for teams who want to estimate costs and get quick estimates for software.

6. Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop uses a lot of branding and custom graphics on their pricing page. This may not add directly to the table itself, but it does add to the ambiance of the page.

The main feature I like in this design is the built-in monthly/yearly price switch. You’ll often see these on pricing pages but they’re usually way too small. This gives visitors a false sense of pricing because initial prices can be pitched cheaper assuming the user wants an annual plan.

With this pricing table you can clearly see what you’re getting per month and how to compare between the monthly and yearly costs.

7. Airtable

Here’s another design that uses bright colors to grab attention. The Airtable pricing page keeps things simple and tries to draw your attention to the prices immediately.

If you look right above the table you’ll see the same monthly/yearly switch. See how it’s miniscule enough to completely miss at a glance? That’s a nice trick for sales but it’s not great from a UX perspective.

The best part of this table is the hover effect added onto each row. You can learn about each feature just by hovering to figure out which plan offers exactly what you need.

8. Lookback

Another table design with the hover information is Lookback. You won’t find the hover tooltip on every row but it’s visible on the most complex feature items.

Another minor design choice that I like is how each column of features adds onto the prior one. The column for the “Pro” plan notes that it offers everything in the standard plan along with a few extra features.

Sometimes this can throw off visitors who aren’t reading closely because they may gloss over this text. But it’s a great way to save space and keep your tables clean.

9. BuzzSumo

Although the design is somewhat basic, I have to say the BuzzSumo pricing table does a lot of things right. The monthly/yearly billing switch is in clear view and you can even see exactly how much you’ll save by switching to annual billing.

Their features list feels a tad crowded but it’s pretty simple to read through. And each row uses the hover info feature with tooltips explaining what each feature means.

My only complaint here is the aesthetic of the page. It’d look nicer if the features connected more into a larger table with more borders or perhaps zebra striping. But the UX is superb and that’s what matters most on a pricing page.

10. Litmus

The email testing suite Litmus has been around for years and it’s the de-facto choice for email newsletters. Their pricing page isn’t too detailed but it offers just enough for potential buyers.

They use the labeling trend of “most popular” by highlighting one specific plan to stand out from the rest. It’s a design choice that works well and encourages more signups for mid-tier plans over cheaper ones.

But I really like the amount of space you get with each row. The features are explained right on the page and some features even have internal pages with more detail.

With clean text, solid borders, and plenty of whitespace, this pricing table is one of the most pragmatic designs in my list.

11. Stripe

Stripe’s pricing page is incredibly simple and it’s hard to even call this a full pricing table. But it’s so well designed that I just had to include it here.

The goal of any pricing table is to share information with potential customers, and to convert those people into paying customers. Stripe’s design offers two very clear payment plans: Direct payments or larger enterprise setups.

People looking into Stripe won’t fall into analysis paralysis trying to choose between five different plans. The table is quick to read and offers an easy way to calculate costs.

But if you like this table design you could build out a similar pricing table and throw one or two more plans into the mix.

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The 3 Times UX Design Is Bad Design

Good UX design is terrible.

At least it can be. As designers, we’re told that good UX boosts user engagement and satisfaction levels. Want your website or application to be successful? Make the UX your focus.

Just one problem: We shouldn’t make UX our focus.

There’s a time and place for everything. The vast majority of the time, good UX is a must-have; when our users are happy they reward us with more time, money or access.

That’s a no-brainer, right?

What about the times when you absolutely need to ignore good UX? I know, it sounds ridiculous.

The Ridiculous Truth: Good UX Can Be Bad

On at least three occasions you’ll want to abandon UX, shifting your focus away from good UX to bad. What should you focus your attention on?

The right UX.

The right UX isn’t the same thing as a good UX. Here’s the most obvious question: Why on earth would anyone do that? Why would UX professionals, designers and developers abandon something that makes proven financial sense?

Because users expect you to. Because it’s the right move to make.

That’s right.

Good UX Design at the Wrong Time Becomes Bad UX Design

At certain times users expect you to make a bad UX decision on their behalf. Not only that, they’ll complain loudly, demanding that you fix things on their behalf. Secretly though, they’ll be happy and satisfied with your decision.

Because they’ll know they can count on you to make the right decisions. You’ll have their complaints (and their trust).

Here’s why: Good UX Design at the Wrong Time Becomes Bad UX Design. Sometimes users need bad UX.

Okay, let’s put this to the test. When would you ever need bad UX design?

1. Ignore Good UX to Disqualify Users

Have you ever run into a long form that looks something like this?

Experts tell us that users won’t fill out long forms like these. We’re instructed to only ask for what we need, break up long forms with pages, show fields when necessary, etc.

Are they right?

Not in this case. Believe it or not many users will take the time to fill out long forms like this one.

How do I know?

Insurance. None of us wants to purchase insurance. Yet, when it’s time to choose a provider we fuss over the details. We spend 10 to 15 minutes filling out quote forms from various providers.

What does this mean?

When you’re looking to sort and disqualify users the user experience may not be the priority.

Here’s why.

It depends almost entirely on your goals for the user. If you want motivated, high quality users? Ignore the UX, force them to jump through several hoops.

Want more users to participate? Focus on optimizing UX details (e.g. shorter forms, easy conversion requirements).

Users who make it through a UI that’s frustrating, unattractive, and somewhat difficult to use are high quality users. The more hoops they make it through the greater their value.

Why search for these users? They could be:

  • Users who will share in-depth website or app feedback
  • Customers who will spend more money
  • Users with a major but unknown problem
  • Users using unsupported versions of your software

If you’re looking to quickly identify users who are motivated, make things harder on them with bad UX design.

2. Your Users and Usage Data Don’t Agree

In 2014, Snapchat rolled out a major update. They gave users the ability to text and video chat with friends inside the app. Were Snapchat’s core users (teens) excited about the update?

Nope.

In fact, Business Insider mentioned they could only find one teenager who actually liked the update.

Harsh, right?

When Digg screwed up their site, they lost a third of their users overnight. Users are quick to move on if they’re unhappy.

Snapchat had a problem. Their users (a.) weren’t happy about the update and (b.) not really sure how to use it. So, users probably dumped Snapchat en masse, right?

Actually, No.

It was the opposite. User growth exploded as Snapchat grew quickly, climbing from 57 million users to 166 million users in 2017.

See for yourself.

They listened to what their users said but they focused their attention on what users did

Did Snapchat rollback these updates?

Nope.

Did they immediately make changes to the new features they implemented for their users?

Nope.

They relied on their data. They listened to what their users said but they focused their attention on what users did. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Facebook went through the same thing with their updates. So did LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Actions speak louder than words.

Are users completing tasks faster? Are they spending more time in-app or on-site? Ignore user complaints about the UX. Watch what they do instead.

3. Users Demand That You Hurt Them

When it comes to security, users are difficult to please. They don’t care about security until it’s too late. They’re not really interested in doing anything to protect themselves, they prefer someone else to handle it.

The most important part?

They don’t want to be involved at all. How do I know that?

Passwords.

Users know how to create a good password, but they absolutely refuse to do it.

A quick glance at the never-ending stream of data breaches shows we’re still using the same, terrible passwords (e.g. “123456”, or “password”).

Savvy designers and security conscious developers know better.

They demand that you choose a longer password, with different characters, cases, symbols and numbers. They create error messages to gently scold you when you refuse to do it.

This really isn’t about passwords.

It’s about protecting your users. Doing whatever it takes to protect and care for your users. Even when they find you irritating, annoying and difficult. Because contrary to popular belief, they don’t know any better.

What does that look like? Microsoft. Remember how they pushed Windows 10 on us in 2016? Users were greeted with an update that looked like this:

Microsoft is getting a little pushy now.

Okay not really, but close enough.

They strongly encouraged the world to upgrade to Windows 10. Then they forced us to upgrade. Then they blocked updates to Windows 7 and 8. I don’t think the forced upgrade was purely out of the goodness of their heart, but there was one thing it helped us avoid, at least temporarily: Ransomware.

Ransomware swept through the UK’s National Health Service, shutting down services and hospitals and clinics throughout the UK. The cause of the attack? Windows XP.

90 percent of the NHS runs on Windows XP. The NHS may have a valid reason for holding on to XP but their attackers obviously don’t care. It’s just another example of users valuing convenience, the UX, over security.

Your users are the same.

They value the UX—their convenience—over safety. Which is exactly when you ignore good UX design in favor of safety.

Users trust you to be the adult in the relationship

Why? Users trust you to provide them with the care, guidance and protection they take for granted. Users trust you to be the adult in the relationship.

Does this mean you abandon UX completely?

Absolutely not.

I’m saying you ignore, not abandon good UX. So what does that mean? If UX is the volume dial on your radio, you turn UX down when the situation calls for it. You don’t turn UX off, you simply turn your dial from 7 to 2.

So when do you ignore UX?

  • When you need to disqualify users: Bad UX can be used to flush out motivated users, scare off terrible users and focus your attention on the details that matter.
  • When your user and usage data disagree: Customers may tell you they hate your new features. But what does their behavior say? Usage data tells the real story.
  • When you need to protect your users: Your users need protection from themselves, from outsiders. While they expect you to be the adult in the relationship they won’t always be happy with you.

Ignore, not abandon. See the difference?

Good UX Design Can Be Terrible

As designers, we’re told that good UX is a must-have. Want your website or application to be successful? Make the UX your focus.

Good UX design at the wrong time turns into bad UX design. The vast majority of the time, good UX is a must-have. Handled well, your users will reward you with more time, money and access. There’s a time and place for everything.

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RIP MS Paint, You Will Be Missed

It’s a day of mourning for us Windows users. Microsoft Paint will be no mor… ahem, I mean consigned to the Windows Store. Microsoft has officially listed its now-ancient painting app as a deprecated feature. It will be removed from the default Windows installation, replaced by the adequate (if not quite impressive) Paint 3D. It will receive no new updates, and no new features.

It truly is the end of an era…

Microsoft Paint was first introduced to us in 1985, about four years before Photoshop hit the market. In fact, it was released with the very first version of Windows. This means that, for a brief period of time, it enjoyed the distinction of being the most advanced graphics editor for Windows. That didn’t last long, but it happened.

it enjoyed the distinction of being the most advanced graphics editor for Windows

For many of us, Paint was the first graphics editor and drawing app that we ever touched. That was certainly the case for me. As young as the age of ten or so, I was making (absolutely terrible) pixel art on our Windows 98 machine, which was ancient even then. It was a short-lived stepping stone to other creative digital experiments, but it was nonetheless a part of my journey to becoming a web designer.

It seems that I am not alone in my nostalgia. Ever since the news got out, people took to social media to do what they do best, these days: turn this whole situation into a meme. Even now, people are posting and reposting screen captures of Paint in action, and drawings made in the app as their way of saying goodbye.

Some reflect on the way nearly all of us experimented with the Fill Tool:

Others are using Paint to uh… dig its own grave:

Others show us some of the amazing things that have been achieved in the app:

And others went full meme:

And this glorious man gave us a poem:

I can’t speak for everyone at WDD, but I’ll say this for myself: I’m going to miss that silly bit of software. Sure, it’s being replaced by something that’s probably better, but even so, this was a part of my life. It was a gateway to the worlds of graphic design and digital art for many people. I suspect that even now, some creators will decide to install it from the Windows store for as long as they can manage.

For my part, I’m going to let it go, though I will remember it fondly. Goodnight, MS Paint. Go on, and live happily in the Great Windows XP Install in the Sky.

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10 Things Every Designer Hates to Hear

It’s happened to every designer at some point: A client or co-worker makes an absolutely cringe-worthy comment about your work.

Feedback is important. And often the problem with some of these elements no designer ever wants to hear is that they cause a roadblock in the communication process. So here we look at some real-world situations (with a spark of humor) and ways you can handle what comes across as tactless, thoughtless comments with grace.

1. I Don’t Like It

This might be one of the most useless phrases in this history of design. Why don’t you like it?

To learn more about what’s not working for a client, you will have to ask some questions. There are a lot of people out there who operate on the “I’ll know it when I see it” philosophy. That’s just not practical.

Develop a set of questions to ask when you get this response. Ask about the colors, typefaces and images to figure out what isn’t liked. Often something as simple as a font choice can “fix” the entire design.

2. I Don’t Have a Budget

If you start working for free today, your work will never be valued tomorrow. While there is a time and place for pro bono work, someone who is hiring for a design job or project needs to understand the cost – and be able to pay for work.

If a client tries to negotiate a trade or “publicity” for projects, take a moment to educate them on the costs of design. There’s time and software and expertise. And if the client still doesn’t want to pay, walk away from the job.

3. Can You Get the Logo/Photo Off Our Website?

Um … no.

Before you roll your eyes – ok, after you roll your eyes – ask politely for the original files.

4. Make It Pop

So, what does “pop” mean, exactly?

This is one of those phrases that everyone tends to use, but no one really understands. Is “pop” color, or copy, or size? Does is mean trendy? Go back and ask what element needs to be different.

Sometimes this is the start of a design conversation. Before you run away, try to pull the information out of the client. Have them show examples they do or don’t like to give you a place to start.

5. Can You Make the Logo Bigger?

Sometimes the logo does need to be bigger. Clients will always think so. It’s their brand mark and they want it displayed prominently.

Compromise on this one. Just assume from the start of a design project that you’ll hear this phrase and imagine how the bigger logo will fit into the layout. Once it is big enough, have a conversation about size and scale to help the client understand why making the logo any bigger could be distracting or detract from the goal of the design.

6. Just Be Creative

In other words … “I have no idea what I want.”

These really are the worst kind of client. I’ll take someone who knows exactly what they want—even if I don’t agree—over the “be creative” people any day. The phrase “just be creative” is an almost foolproof sign that there will be so many revisions, all without direction.

If that’s the creative direction, avoid the project if you can.

In all seriousness, you can help develop creative direction by finding out what the client is looking for. Ask these questions to get started:

  • What does your company or business do?
  • Do you have any digital or printed materials that you already use? (Do you like them or not?)
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What do you want the design to do?
  • Where will the design elements be used (print, web, etc.)?

7. I Like the Design of…Do That

It might be a time for a lesson in plagiarism. Copying a design is just plain wrong.

It’s OK to share examples of likes, but not to just mock up something that looks like another design. It will hurt your credibility as a designer and has the potential to present a flurry of issues for the client.

8. Can You Just Try All Those Ideas?

I can, but I’m going to charge you by the hour.

It’s a tough situation: You have already taken the job and in early meetings the client starts asking for a lot. It’s more than just scope creep; it’s scope on a runaway train.

It’s important that you explain and set boundaries from the beginning. Some designers and agencies write a number of comps or revisions into the contract, while others set revision or mockup times to a certain number of hours. These “rules” can help you keep the idea dump from becoming a real problem, and provide an opportunity to charge for it if the client really wants to see it all. (Occasionally, there are some that will want to do that.)

9. Let’s Work On It Together

Collaboration is one thing. Designing with a client is another thing completely.

You might have to do a little client management in this situation. Rather than sitting down and working on the design together, offer some other ways they can help:

  • Provide examples of design they like
  • Gather images to work with from their library
  • Collect design elements they already have and like
  • Provide specifications for a color palette
  • Gather brand guidelines and materials

Then keep this client in the loop. Long periods without communication could be stressful for them and lead to even more desire to “help.” Provide frequent progress reports and updates to make them feel like part of the process.

10. It Shouldn’t Take Long

Nothing makes a designer feel devalued like someone else telling them the work doesn’t take long. It’s offensive.

But before you just ignore them completely, politely ask what needs to be done and provide an estimate of time (and cost, if applicable). Don’t get caught in a swell of anger as you want to tell them everything that goes into changing a design or creating something new, just state the facts.

And if they continue to devalue your work in the future, fire them as a client. (Or show them this article in hopes that they will see the error in their ways.)

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