Why Using Figma Can Streamline Your UX Design Process?

There are several tools available for designing website and mobile user interfaces for development. However, I have found that Figma is my all-in-one-online digital design platform and tool of preference for UX and UI Design. Furthermore, Figma recently launched Figjam, which provides capabilities for planning, whiteboarding, online Scrums, agile methodology, demonstrations, presentations, showing graphs, as well as the ability to incorporate your Figma created wireframes, user flows, prototypes, project iteration notes, developer notes, and developer hand-offs. All of these project deliverables can be nicely organized in one online project location accessible and visible to specific team members, designers, developers, managers, and stakeholders. Figma is fast, it’s functional, and it facilitates project flow!

Some of the more notable alternative UX and UI Design products such as: Adobe XD, Sketch, Framer, and InVision, all provide similar features for successful creation of prototyping and sharing of files, yet I find that they are not as robust and streamlined as Figma is when it comes to collaboration, communicating and sharing. All design elements and communication in Figma remain on the online platform, so there is little to no need for importing and exporting files to share with other team members on the project.

Here are some of the benefits to using Figma that I find very useful:

• Easily export a wide variety of file formats to share
• Very user-friendly and offers some robust built-in vector design tools
• Extensive drawing, mockup, and wireframing tools available
• Easy organizing, managing, sharing and storing of documents
• Great for design collaboration with other team members
• Better in general design and can be used without coding knowledge
• Web-based version usable from any desktop browser and available across different platforms
• One program includes so much built-in functionality- no need to install multiple add-ons
• Figma brings together a community of designers and offers a way to share multiple plugins and UI patterns available to use as team libraries
• Figma is also faster to use in the cloud

Figma may cost a little more as a subscription-based tool, however it’s worth every penny invested. When teams collaborate efficiently, costs are cut, and better products are built.

Read More

Have You Considered These Questions Before Creating Your New Website?

It’s very important to have a clear understanding of your goals and strategies as a first step to planning your new website. Here are some thought-provoking questions to help you to establish some direction.

Web Design Goals and strategies

What is the mission of your organization? How will creating a website support your mission?

What’s the underlying goal of your website?

Who is the primary audience for the website? Please describe your potential customers-income level, interests, gender, and age?

Regarding your primary audience, what are their personal goals? What motivates them? What are their common behaviors? Can you help to resolve any problems for them?

What do you want the audience to think or do after having visited your site?

What is there about you and your background that sets you apart for a special (niche) group of potential customers?

What problems do your prospects have that your business solves?

How can your particular work background help prospects, compared to others in your industry? What’s special about your work experience?

Are you planning to do online sales? If so, what is the product, and how many items do you want to sell online?

If you’re planning to sell online, are you set up to accept credit cards?

How much time will you be able to spend online, responding to inquiries that come in via your website-once a day, several hours a day?

If you were using a search engine, what words or phrases would you use to find your site? Which of these words or phrases is most important? Second? Third?

Other than what search engines will produce, what methods do you have in mind to spread the word about your website?

How will you measure the success of your site?

Once your website is completed, how long do you think it will be before you begin to bring in significant business from the website?

How do you plan to encourage repeat visitors and referrals?

Design Issues:

In addition to your goals and strategies, it is important to have an idea of what design styles you have in mind for your website. In the web design process, the more specific you are about your design preferences, the more informed your web designer will be to meet your expectations and be able to customize your website’s design.

Do you have a logo?

Do you have existing marketing and branding materials that may direct the look and feel of the new website? (Colors, styling, etc.)

Do you have any original photographs, or do you plan to use stock photography?

Do you need other marketing collateral items such as business cards or stationary that may need to be redone to match new website design?

Production Questions:

Don’t forget that the success of your website is also driven by the quality of the content provided and featured. This takes time to establish if done properly. The scope of your website may be established by answering a few of these questions.

Do you have the content ready for your site?

What is your budget for the site?

When would you like to launch your new site?

Post Launch Questions:

Creating your website is just the beginning of your online presence. You must also actively be involved with promoting your website once it is launched. Here are some questions to help you think about your website’s success and future beyond initial creation.

How will you adequately maintain the finished site?

Do you need help updating and maintaining your website?

Do you need help with blogging and content marketing?

Do you need graphics created for promoting your business on social media?

Do you need help designing your email campaigns to help to promote your business to your audience?

Good luck with your website creation journey!

Read More

Let’s Solve This Problem Together! Let’s Do This!

It all starts with research and whiteboarding!

As a UX Designer, whiteboarding and showing a journey map and task flows is extremely effective to solve a design problem. By standing in front of a whiteboard, leading a group of people, by talking, writing, and drawing through a specific goal and challenge, a designer can touch upon their design thinking by showing design process of how to achieve a successful outcome and best experience for the user by by considering all positive options and to strategize against any possible issues that may occur for a user.

The designer’s mindset must be to create a community in the whiteboard group setting, to be inclusive, collaborating to solve this problem together by taking command of the room, while quickly visualizing and drawing out key points, goals, and visions. How do I design collaboratively and take inputs from others, and to take into consideration any constraints? Team work can be very helpful.

It’s about focusing. What problem are we trying to solve, and for whom? Has user research already been done, and are there established user personas created yet? What’s the outcome or vision? Why should the user care about this product or feature? What problems does it solve? What are the user goals? Are there any assumptions? Are there metrics? How will user achieve their intended goals? All of these questions lead to a users story to help draw a most effective product or feature storyboard and task flow of possible paths. This design story addresses the actions a user can take and their behaviors.

Can you see the journey of how a user progresses through a task? Task flows inject the user into the process. Can you identify areas of potential problems? As a designer, you need to anticipate all possible outcomes of your user flows. Once you have the main flows, you need to begin to list out cases that are less common, but still occur. These are any alternate outcomes in a user flow that need to be considered or further resolved. All of these results show your visible progress with problem-solving skills. Recognizing problems such as, are there potential conflicts? System requirements? Usability issues? It’s very important to consult with technical team to help establish any technical constraints at this early stage too. Communication with your team is key!

Overall, problem solving is very challenging, but when approached by truly trying to conquer learning what’s best for the user, with a proper process and strategy, creative thinking, a top notch design, and smooth functionality, anything is possible.

Wishing you much success with your next Whiteboard Challenge!

Suki Soltysik

Read More

Why is User Experience in Today’s Online World So Important?

In this booming technical world, we encounter so many online experiences while surfing websites, mobile applications, desktop software, and other web applications. The need to create a positive user experience becomes increasingly necessary to consider as all of these interfaces and interactions are being developed.

Why is UX Design so Important?
Although the look-and-feel and branding is of great importance, the UX Design process is of utmost importance to provide a positive user experience. Ultimately a positive experience means better business success. If the users’ experience is positive, then they are more likely to be satisfied and will return again as loyal customers. The goal is to impact behaviors to help users reach their goals by connecting users needs to solutions.

In my past experience, there has been so much emphasis solely on visual design when it comes to designing a new interface. Well, the times have changed, and the need to include a UX Design process is of utmost importance. Planning a technical project ahead is always a better approach.

It all starts with your users’  journey. You will need to establish who your user is!

Who is your user?
You need to understand who your evolving target audience is. A user persona captures your ideal customer profile from data such as demographics and goals, and then you need to predict scenarios of engagement. Once your personas are established, you can better serve your audience goals by catering to those specific users’ expectations.

User Research and Surveys
Another effective way to establish the success of your users’ experience is by observing and studying the interaction of your users during interviews. A successful user researcher can gain valuable insights to what works and doesn’t work for a layout and interaction.

User Journey Mapping and Flow Diagrams
The next step is to take the information that you gathered to create your user personas, and create flow charts that show how your user will travel through your new layout and interface. You can test these flow charts to see if your user agrees that the intended journey is a positive experience. If they have constructive criticism, then you can simply iterate the flow chart with better possible solutions.

Sitemaps and Wireframes
Organizing the hierarchy of your content is also key to a successful user experience. This sitemap hierarchy is a sample walk-through of your interfaces navigation, pages and sub pages, or layers. At this sitemap stage, establish if the organization makes sense and emphasizes the content appropriately, making sure that all content areas are included and addressed. Once the sitemap is tested and approved, wireframes can be created to establish the specific details and visual framework intended for your website, or application interface. Continue testing at this stage to optimize effective usability.

Prototypes and Design
After the wireframes are reviewed, tested, and approved, the design fun begins! Your designer can understand the overall scope of the projects goals by using the persona, journey mapping, sitemaps, wireframes, and branding, to confidently create appealing visual prototypes and mockups. These prototypes can also be further built out as interactive samples for review and testing, using special UX design tools such as InVision. All of these steps are absolutely necessary before handing off to the developers to create code.

A Collaborative Process for UX Designer to Work with Coder before Development Begins
Overall, UX Designers need to collaborate and communicate with developers early in the process to establish any technical constraints or opportunities at the planning stage. It is important that your project goals also fit into budgets, timeline and schedule. There is always project scope creep, so the more planning on paper and the more these UX Design processes are put into place, the more efficient and successful the results of your project outcome.

Is it time to revisit your application’s layout and usability? It’s an important step, and can be very effective to improve your ultimate goals. Think about how usability can be used to improve an experience for your users!

Suki Soltysik

Read More

Have You Considered These Mobile UX Design Essentials for 2018?

Mobile technology is continuously evolving and mobile UX design is constantly adapting to these new demands and changes. Here are some of the mobile trends arising for 2018:

Minimal User Journey
The fastest and most direct interaction is key for measuring success for your design. The main goal is for your user to leave with a satisfied experience.

Prominent Content Easily Viewed
The importance of your design is not just to be aesthetic and attractive, but it is also important that the content needs to drive a lead or make a contact. The content needs to be concise and needs to influence user to make the interaction. Less is more.

Animation for Hidden Interactions
The mobile interface needs to optimize the screen space, so using animation can help user navigate and interact through hidden screens.

Color for Drawing Attention
Proper use of color can help indicate progress, status, and emphasis for your user to better understand any notifications or directions within their experience.

Expressing Emotions
Users are used to feeling and expressing their emotions with their online experience.
Integrating emotion based responses and interactions may appeal to your users.

Video, Video, Video!
Video immerses your user through visuals and audio messaging, which inherently, is easier for your audiences to remember.

Voice-Based Interactions
Having the ability to dictate actions through voice creates for a convenient way to interact, versus the otherwise graphical user interface.

Location Based Personalization
The key is relevance. By personalizing your mobile outreach based on location, you can reach the members of your audience in a particular place or region with relevant information.

Quick Payments
This trend is to make payment fast and seamless with little to no effort to making a financial transaction. But of course, designers will need to keep in mind making sure users are making informed and intended choices, and verified properly.

Inclusive Design for Accessibility and Impairments
It is very important to design and create a fully accessible and inclusive online experience for users with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities.

Stay tuned as I continue to follow more UX Design trends as they arise on the horizon!

Suki Soltysik

Read More

Your Design Palette Is All Around You

design palette in colorful sunset Take a walk, and you will be wrapped by nature’s perfect designs everywhere. This perfect harmony is above you, below you, around you, and throughout you. It is beauty all around you. The sky above is permeated with a vast wash of colors that change throughout the day, providing a calm sense of space and openness. This balance of atmosphere and color is very subtle, and minimal on purpose. It provides the necessary soft contrast to a backdrop of other natural elements that are more dynamic, with darker colors, rougher textures, and greater details. Nature’s landscape is in perfectly balance. Learn to appreciate the harmony of these natural palettes and embrace that “less is more” is the best tip for design. As a designer, do not try to force too many colors, too many textures, too much variation of stylistic elements, or fonts. Subtlety is best.

It is also particularly important to maintain empty white space in your design- that solid, or often white space, will be soothing to the eye and provides necessary structure, separating important copy, or details from other visuals. Too much clutter on the page only creates tension and disharmony. Learn to look. Notice the colors around you, and notice how they change throughout the day, throughout the seasons, throughout time, and weathering. The changes, no matter how drastic, still remain in perfect beautiful balance.

A fun experiment is to take a photo outside in nature, then choose your palette for your project directly from the colors of your photo. You will be surprised how simple it is to let nature guide your expertise for balance and developing a perfect aesthetic to the eye. Try it, and see if it works for your next design!

Read More