I will share some of my sketches on my iPad of ideas I have worked through.
Unless you have lived under a rock or in Antartica you have heard the term “User Experience”.
Before 2009 user experience was an unknown term. There were designers that were doing this job without knowing what it was. Those people were your designers and developers building websites. Back before 2009, we toiled over button placement and flow of the site. Remember the old 3 click rule?
Fast forward to the introduction of mobile. User experience exploded around 2009 when mobile apps started to come onto the scene and that changed the digital internet of things industry.
I think that companies started paying attention to customer retention and started using data to track users behavior.
In the mobile infancy, users had a certain expectation of how apps should work based off of using their phone’s native applications. Humans learn quick and I think that users started to understand what made a good app that they enjoyed using.
Users would not use an app that took a long time to load, was confusing to use by mixed UI placement and colors, lengthy sign on and many more reasons.
So fast forward to today in mobilgeddon and we know much much more about users and expectations they have when using an app. This understanding of what users expect has lead to the great UX movement. I just coined that term.
I have been designing apps for 8 years now and so much has changed. There are some fundamental aspects that will boost your users level of happiness when using your app.
Here is a list to help you get it right.
Know your users.
This should be first and foremost. Get a good understanding of who they are, what they want, their buying patterns, lifestyle, income etc. Don’t assume you know them. Do some user research. In my work history joining companies that are building an app for the first time, they seem to skip this step by either lack of time or money. Knowing your user base will guide you through your design process.
Design for what matters most.
So many times companies want to be everything to everybody and that leads to an overload to the user. Get rid of all the unnecessary clutter that doesn’t add value to your product.
Users are usually trying to complete a task or purchase something online or on their phone. KISS-keep it simple stupid.
That phrase has been around for a while and can be applied to your design. As a designer, I start with broad strokes and then start narrowing down the design to what really matters.
A good example of a simple interface that worked was Square. I enjoyed using it because it was simple and easy to use.
With many users on different platforms like desktop, Android, iOS you will want to provide the same workflow within your design. If you are having a web version of your app you will want to make sure that a user doesn’t have to relearn how to use your product when they switch platforms.
Keep colors consistent with buttons and layout.
Keep the language the same. Don’t have your buttons say send on our app then say submit on your desktop.
Keep the branding the same. your user will associate your brand with an experience they have with your product.
Keep the same user flow. Cognitive load on the user can be your worst enemy and lead to frustration when a user needs to figure out how to use your product all over again if they have been accustomed to using it a certain way.
Be aesthetically pleasing
This doesn’t mean over designed but the right amount.
I stress to my customers that good design builds credibility.
I explain it like this.
Take two different lawyer sites and both of them have great content.
Has a site that is poorly designed with color and layout and looks outdated.
The information is hard to read or the taxonomy is not correct.
A user has to peck and find what they are looking for.
The site has great aesthetics the brand is well represented.
The colors are inviting and fresh and up to date.
The content is structured in a way where relevant info is grouped together with clear calls to action
Both lawyers have been in business for 20 years and have a successful practice. You will choose the one that has taken the time to design their site. which one are you going to choose?
9 out of 10 times you will choose the well-designed site.
Design is important and leads to trust.
This was my latest chalk street art painting done in December 2017. I participated in the Tempe Festival of the arts chalk art for the last three events. This event had a sponsor and created a theme of the event called “if I were a giant” to match their media campaigns.
We have three days from 8-5 to work on our art. I completed mine 4 hours before the deadline.
As I was working on my art people couple walk around and watch us and there were so many people that remembered the Iron Giant being one of their favorite shows or they just watched it or they grew up watching that show. I thought it was a big hit.
For this event, we are asked to submit a sketch of our idea. the first theme was “winter in Arizona so the following sketch I submitted was drawn on the iPad pro using Procreate. then a sponsor changed the theme at the last minute. the next two sketches were done for the new theme.
This street art was done in the spring of 2017 in Prescott Arizona. I had 2, 8 hour days to work on it.
I completed it a couple hours earlier.
There was no theme to this event so I wanted to do something that was out of the ordinary for me. when I paint I enjoy the challenges of glass and water. After completing the larger whale, I felt like the piece seems to me “boring” so I jumped on Pinterest and looked up whale photos and found one of a baby that would fit. That little extra element helped bring some action to the piece. I made both whales break the border of the background to give it a little dimension.
In 2016 The Tempe Festival of the art was having their first ever poster contest of the event. I entered that contest ( another blog article explaining the details) and end up winning the contest. Well, Durning the communication about me winning the contest I asked if there were any openings for the street art in December of 2016. They said that the street artist was already chosen and I could be on the standby list if someone drops out at the last minute. Being a little bummed, I still said yes.
About 2 weeks prior to the event I received an email asking if I was still interested in participating. I, of course, said yes. I was required to send a sketch of my idea. and the theme was based on the poster I designed for the festival. The theme was “all about Arizona.”
I do all my sketching on my iPad pro using the Procreate app. I have always wanted to do optical illusions so I drew up a star broken out of the concrete and you could see the grand canyon inside the star.
It was a huge undertaking for me because I have never done this before. When I got there I was not equipped for the task at hand. I have been painting with pastel chalk for many years and have sold most of them. So I thought chalk on the pavement was the same. Man was I wrong. For one thing, chalk does not blend with your finger on the pavement. So not knowing this I was panicking because I had no idea how the other artist were blending the chalk so it stayed on the ground and didn’t just disappear when rubbed.
Luckily the artist community is all about the art and it is a fun environment and another artist came up to me and herd that I won the poster contest for the event and we started talking and I ask ” how do you blend the chalk like that” and she handed me a microphone cover. and said this is the magic tool. and she said I could have it. AND, it was the magic tool.
Another thing I noticed is that other artists were rolling paint on the pavement. so I asked one of the artists what does that do and they said” it seals the pavement so the chalk has something to adhere to and the Tempra paint fills in some of the holes.
All the other artist were rolling on black. so I took that idea one step further and thought since my idea was very colorful I went out and bought colored tempura at Hobby Lobby and a bucket for water and a couple 1 inch and a 3-inch brush and cam back and started to block in all the base colors. This idea worked as a mid-tone base where I could either darken or lighten the base block with pastel. It took me a while to do that but in the long run, it really paid off. I was able to save myself hours of work and get a very bright piece.
The results worked in my favor. I finished the piece a couple hours before the deadline and I ended up winning peoples choice award.
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