Designer's lesson from COVID-19

COVID 19 Pandemic

COVID 19 has disrupted the entire design community. It has put up a barrier on the way we work. We are locked up at home, we have limited mobility, we cannot leverage the benefits of design collaborations on a whiteboard, we cannot do field trips and spend time with users and we can't go out for ice-creams on Fridays as well.

Everything went virtual. This virtuality helps us learn new things, we adjust to new normal, we change our working style, our sleep habits have changed and the customer who uses our products is also evolving like us. We are all situationally disabled at the moment and are looking into newer ways of defining things.

While the impact is tremendous, it has also given the Design community an opportunity to learn from this situation. In such times when every aspect of our existence has undergone a change and is expected to change even more, one cannot just rely on the old methods and approaches to design the best products possible. While designing the products of the present and of the uncertain future, we as designers need to take cognizance of evolving trends and concepts and be ready to pivot as per the prevailing circumstances.


A shift in user behaviour

There has been a fundamental shift in the user behaviour since the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world. The change has been evident in everyone’s behaviour no matter whether someone is a daily wage earner, a shopkeeper, an IT professional or a businessman. The changes are evident in all spheres of our lives i.e. how we interact, how we shop, how we commute, how we plan or how we entertain ourselves etc. This has led to the emergence of new design patterns. We as designers need to equip ourselves to understand strategies to implement them.

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We need to be even more observant and develop a strong sense of empathy to understand how things are changing, how behaviours are changing and what are the problems that our target customers are facing to design solutions that bring value to them.


Learning 2.0

In today’s world as a designer we cannot rely on our past experiences and assumptions. We’ll have to come up with the engaging ways of conducting our research in a contactless world. No more you can do face-to-face interviews or can conduct in-premise workshops. We’ll have to strengthen the disciplines of running remote interviews, online workshops, conduct remote user testing, and remotely gathering feedback from our stakeholders.

The importance of understanding analytics has increased manifold and as designers we’re now required to understand data collected and derive actionable insights from them. No more you should be dependent on data scientists to come and provide you insights.


Modularity

We as designers need to embrace agility in our designs, in our research, and in our processes. We should always focus on creating modular design elements which although work in tandem properly but can be changed or can be removed or can be scaled up or down based on the business environment. We should avoid heavy monolithic designs which are difficult to maintain and change. Multi-options, hand raising in teams, background noise

reduction in teams, meet. Scalability of online conferencing apps. Daily changing messages and options on food and essential delivery apps.

Agility needs to be in business as well.. Selling essentials.


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Engaging Users

In today’s world, it might happen that your business offering has been rendered moot for an indefinite period because of various restrictions and changing customer behaviour. In such scenarios, it becomes very important to keep your users engaged so that you still enjoy the share of their minds while you can’t claim your share of their wallets.

CureFit, one of the leading chains of holistic fitness centres, had a good digital presence, but as their brick-and-mortar centres were closed, they shifted all of their focus online to ensure their clients are maintaining good physical and mental health. Myntra, one of the leading online fashion retailers kept posting content related to fitness, fashion and grooming and ensured delivery of essential items related to grooming when they were unable to sell their main fashion related inventory. BookMyShow, one of the major ticketing platforms to book tickets for Movies, Shows, Events, Experiences, Sports etc. premiered online concerts, comedy events, etc. to ensure people still login to their app and they remain relevant when scope of entertainment is confined within the walls of your home.

List is endless where apps have asked customers to build their wishlists, participate in online competitions, tipping people who are delivering food and essentials despite all odds or have sent relevant content to keep their customers engaged.
Engagement becomes more important if a designer realizes that in today’s competition if you are out of sight, you are out of mind of the customers.


Small gestures are important

In today’s world where people have lost physical contact and “social distancing” has become a norm, it has become even more important to provide a personal touch (although contactless) which brings smile to the customers. As designers we need to constantly explore possibilities to bring delight to customers and strengthen their beliefs that we as a business are doing everything we can to keep a safe environment. People need to be assured that they’re not alone in this ordeal and we as an organization are doing whatever we can to alleviate their suffering.

EasyDiner and Dineout, restaurant reservations apps, extended their paid membership cycles by three to four months as they knew people won’t be able to go out and eat when restaurants and roads are closed because of lockdown curfews. A lot of delivery apps which were able to deliver food and essentials quickly started options to select “contactless deliveries”, body temperature of their riders, information about sanitation measures taken care by stores or restaurants, option to add tips for the riders etc. to show they care about their customers safety and are trying their best to provide services.

Google made its “Meet” product free to enable online conferences for everyone which was a paid product earlier.


What’s next?

Covid-19 has indeed shaped the world in a way none of us had imagined. In today’s world the importance of digital has increased manifold as “contactless” becomes the norm. Therefore, as designers our job becomes challenging to understand current scenarios and

then create products which not only helps the customers to fulfill a need but also brings delight to them. We need to understand how the user behaviour is shifting, how effectively we can conduct our research to understand the shifting user behavior , how can that understanding help us build agile designs, how those designs can help our customers engage and how we can add small meaningful gestures in our designs to bring delight to our customers.

The above mentioned points are not an exhaustive list we need to bear in mind while designing our products, but are meant to spark ideas and thoughts in a direction that is different from the one we were thinking before Covid-19 swept the world.

Photo Credits: Edward Jenner from Pexels


About Author

Sophia Sharma UX Author

Sophia Sharma
Senior User Experience Designer
Cerner healthcare Solutions



Can you walk us through one of your research projects? - Hiring UX Researcher

UX Research Interview - Project walkthrough

User research is an unmissable phase of any UX project. Not only for crafting better experience, but also to understand and satisfy the user needs, it is must for any product or service. UX has become one of the key impactful factors of any product's success and that is why companies (big or small) have started focusing on user research. The need to hire for a user researcher role has also been increased in a few years. Many UX professionals intended to make a move in user research. When it comes to hire for the UX researcher role, it becomes an important task to select technical and practically sound candidate for UX research role.


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While hiring for UX researchers, candidates have to go through with one important round of project or portfolio walkthrough. With the help of research project walk-through phase, the hiring panel wants to understand the technical and practical knowledge of candidate related to user research. This phase is critical and sometimes decision maker as well. Now the question comes, what does the hiring team look & focus in research project walk-through, what do they want to know? How the candidates read hiring team’s mind and craft their project story around this. In this article, I would like to share few thoughts on preparing for UX research project walk-through with respect to my own experience from various research job interviews. This article will help you in knowing how to prepare for UX research  project walk-through? How to structure it? What all elements need to be included in project walk-through.

 

 

·   Tell about the basic details of the project – Mention the project type, whether it was explorative or evaluative research, new release or existing product, client (not necessary client name), domain, any important statistics, project phase etc.

 

·   What were the research questions – What research questions were you trying to answer? What were your research goals?

 

·   Who all were involved in the project – Since user researcher role is cross functional and it requires the interaction among various people like stakeholders, product owner, sales, UX team etc. What kind of involvement and role they played? 

 

·   How and why did you pick the specific research method (s)? – Which research method(s) have you chosen and what was the reasoning behind choosing method(s)?

 

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·   What were the duration and timeline of activities? – What are the activities get executed and what was the overall timeframe? Can you also provide day wise or week wise plan?

 

·   How did you recruit participants and how many – What was the criteria to identify or recruit participants? How many participants were recruited and why?

 

·   Practical execution of research – How did you execute the method(s)? What were the challenges you faced during execution? Who else were involved with you during the execution and what were their roles?

 

·   How did you analyze the data – What kind of data got gathered during research execution? What was your methodology (s) to analyze the data?

 

·   The insights derived from analysis – What were the top-level insights? What actions have been identified from those insights? Can you relate the research questions and goals with insights?

 

·   What was the impact – What impact the overall research project made? Did you see any change in stats post research insights implementation?

 

·   Last but not the least, Storytelling – Remember research project walk-through should not look like a tedious business presentation, the team is also looking into how well the story can be narrated.                                           

 

Your project walk-through story needs to cover all the above points, but it doesn’t mean you will be able to get jobs as UX researcher, there are even more challenges where you may have to perform but with given tips you will be able to place your project walk-through in better shape. 

 

Photo credits: Campaign Creators on Unsplash



Top 5 Online Platforms to Learn UX & UI Design

The field of user experience design has become an integral part of current business ecosystem, product design and understanding consumer needs. From last few years this field has attracted the brains from various domains and roles to contribute in user experience. This makes this field even more magical. Understanding of core principles, rules and methods of UX processes can be achieved by learning about UX. Today we will talk about some great platforms from where the core knowledge of UX can be learnt. 


Interaction Design Foundation 



Interaction Design Foundation is a rich source of UX courses and content. Not only the learning platform, it is one such a biggest community of UX enthusiasts across the globe. Courses of IDF are for all levels from beginners to experts, from designers to researchers, for individual contributor to leads and managers. 

UXness provides you an opportunity in getting 3 Months free subscription of Interaction Design Foundation. Register and start learning. 



Coursera

Coursera is an online platform where one can find online courses of every domain especially the field of HCI and design. You can find some great HCI & UX courses at Coursera from top reputed universities like University of San Diago, University of Amsterdam etc. One great advantage of Coursera wide range of course types, from single course to degree and specialization. 


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Udemy


Udemy is one of the top known e-learning platform, also very famous for UX begginers. It has thousands of UX design courses from various experts of UX domain. The biggest especially is courses with various length which makes it easy to compete it faster. Apart from this, at Udemy one can find courses of individual topics of UX like tools, process, research methods, branding, strategy etc. 



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CareerFoundry


Careerfoundry is one of the top platform with curated UX & UI course contents. The courses are in various sub-domains of UX & UI, which are suitable for beginners, intermediate and career changer. 


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LinkedIn Learning


Linkedin Learning (earlier known as Lynda) is learning platform by LinkedIn. Undoubtedly it is a gold mine of knowledge and curated contents. UX enthusiasts can find numerous courses of UX topics, methods, practices and tools. 


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Why do user experience designers need to learn psychology?

Design Psychology
Have you ever asked yourself why people are not doing what you intended them to do with your designs? Have you ever tried to persuade people to do something through your designMaybe signing up, sharing something or buying your productand the results were awful to you? Or you decided to draw a road map for your user to be guided through your site and they took another direction that wasn’t intended? Or you intended to do something to catch your users attention but they ignore it?
If you want to persuade your users with your designs, guide them through it and reduce the gap between it and between your users’ behavior you have to understand how people think, make decisions, receive information and how their emotions work, here it comes the role of psychology in user experience.
What do we mean by psychology? According to Wikipedia:

"Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, 
embracing all aspects of conscious and unconscious 
experience as well as thought. 
It is an academic discipline and an applied science which 
seeks to understand individuals and groups by
 establishing general principles and 
researching specific cases."
So, If you can’t understand human psychology, how can you design products for humans ? That why user experience designers need to read and study about psychology.
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How can psychology improve your user experience design skills?

· User experience is about humans.

As we defined user experience design in the previous article as “How people feel about a product and their pleasure and satisfaction when using it, looking at it, holding it and opening and closing it, it includes their overall impression of how good it is to use, right down to the sensual effect small details have on them”Therefore, the more you understand about human psychology, motivations, behaviors, and emotions the better human-centered designs you can create.

· Improving your user research skills.

User research is about identifying users goals, motivations, and patterns of behavior, your goal is to get all of this information from your users. The hardest part is that people always don’t know what they want or why they are doing what they are doing, and here it comes your job. With a good psychological knowledge, you can understand and identify people motives, goals and the reason behind their behaviors more easily.

· Identifying and solving real problems.

When you understand human psychology you can explain in science why they acted or behaved in this way, which allows you to identify the real problems and solve them instead of just figuring out symptoms or solving the wrong problem. You can explain why do users signed up? or why do they download this? or why do they pay with credit card over cash? or why they didn’t buy your product online?

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· Save your time.

With a good understanding of human psychology, you will be able to identify what works for them and what won’t work for them which save a lot of time for you to focus on good design ideas only.

At the end, having a little amount of knowledge about psychology, human behavior, emotions and cognition can improve your design skills so much, it will influence the way you think and it will make your take care of human needs when designing any product.
As Paul Boag, Co-Founder of Headscape Limited said:
"To be a great designer, you need to look a little deeper into how people think and act."

About Author

Sherif Amin
Email - sherifamin83@gmail.com



Best art and design colleges in the world

Art & design is an ancient field, there are many historical places where the learning about art & design filed is continuing from ages. Below is the list of some top selected art & Design colleges across the world.


Politecnico  Milano    


Politecnico

Milan  

https://www.polimi.it/en/    

Founded in - 1863



Parsons  | Art & Design School


Parsons  | Art & Design School


New York     

https://www.newschool.edu/parsons/              

Founded in - 1936


 



Royal College of Art   


Royal College of Art

London           

https://www.rca.ac.uk/         

Founded in - 1837



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ArtCenter College of Design  


ArtCenter College of Design

California       

http://www.artcenter.edu/  

Founded in - 1930





The Hong Kong Polytechinc University         



The Hong Kong Polytechinc University

Hong Kong     

https://www.polyu.edu.hk/en/        

Founded in - 1937




 

Pratt Institute


Pratt Institute

New York       

https://www.pratt.edu/        

Founded in - 1887


 



RISD Rhode


RISD Rhode

Island 

https://www.risd.edu/          

Founded in - 1877



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RMIT University         


RMIT University

Melbourne     

https://www.rmit.edu.au/    

Founded in - 1887





 

The New School         



The New School New York

New York       

https://www.newschool.edu/           

Founded in - 1919






Tongji University        


Tongji University


Shanghai        

http://www.tongji.edu.cn/   

Founded in - 1907




 

 

School of Art & Design Chicago        


School of Art & Design Chicago

Chicago          

https://www.uwstout.edu/   

Founded in - 1930





Hotjar vs Clicktale - Digital Experience analytics tool comparison


Hotjar vs Clicktale tool comparison

Continuous focus on user behaviour and actions is the key to craft better user experience and improve designs. Focus is not limited till the product design and development phases but also in post release phase. Once the product is live or released, another set of UX activities get started, where product designers and researchers focus on various Usability & UX metrics. Measuring & analysing these metrics help in identifying further improvements and identifying new needs. There are various frameworks to execute post release research activities such as Google Heart framework, Pulse, AARRR Metrics etc. Web analytics tools also play an important role in capturing the real time activities on product which helps data science researchers, product owners, UX researchers and designers etc. to draw actionable and critical insights about the release product. 



What is Digital Experience Analytics
Digital customer experience analytics are all of the metrics that track and measure relevant data about the customer journey during every stage of the customer lifecycle. Customer experience analytics guide the digital marketing agenda and are used to prioritize the use of marketing investments. [1] There are a huge list of behaviour analytics tools available in market. "Which tool to choose for your product analysis" is one such a big question for a product team. There are some parameters which can help you decide the best tool for your needs which are listed in below table. I have tried to do comparison of two top tools in behaviour analytics ecosystem: Hotjar and Clicktale

Hotjar
Hotjar is a behavior analytics company that analyses website use, providing feedback through tools such as heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys. It works with web analytics tools such as Google Analytics to offer an insight into how people are navigating websites, and how their customer experience can be improved. [2]

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Clicktale 
Clicktale is a Software-As-A-Service, cloud-based analytic system and service that allows you to visualize your customer's experience on your website from their perspective. It provides the ability to analyze their interactions in aggregate in the form of heatmaps and reports, as well as individual session replays.[3]



ParametersHotjarClicktale
Websitehttps://www.hotjar.com/https://www.clicktale.com/
logo
Hotjar logo

Clicktale logo

Short descriptionEasy to use visitor heat mapping, visitor recording and website polling platformEnterprise analytics and customer conversion platform
Features
Click HeatmapsYesYes
Move HeatmapsYesYes
Scroll HeatmapsYesYes
Download and share HeatmapsYesYes
Heatmaps split by device typeYesYes
Session recordingsYesYes
Activity mapping in session recordingsYesYes
Funnel analysis (Task analysis)YesYes
Recordings of task completionYesYes
Form analysis (field engagement, drop-offs and submission statsYesYes
Intercept surveys & polls (NPS)YesYes
Website analyticsYesYes
IntegrationEasy & quick (Few lines of code to be integrated in Java Script file)Easy & quick (Few lines of code to be integrated in Java Script file)
Integration with UsabillaNoYes
Integration with Adobe TargetNoYes
Dynamic content click heatmap    NoNo
Best used byMainly by Product team, UX team.
Data analytics team with limited capability to integrate with other analytics platform.
Primarily used by UX, product, data analytics, marketing team, customer success teams, sales team with personalised dashboards & platforms. 
Preferred forBasic B2B, B2C, Web applicationsEnterprise applications, B2B and complex platforms. 
Pricing
PriceFree version - Free with limited capabilityBy quote, Basic Plan starts at $99/month for 20,000 page views
PricePaid version - Starting from 89$ per monthSilver is $290/month for 80,000 page views, Gold is $990/month for 300,000 page views
Integration with Top analytics toolsYesYes 
Ranking
Similarities Rank7 (495K+ websites)83 (14K+)
Smartscore9.68.4
Available in platform
MacYesYes
WindowsYesYes
LinuxYesNo
Mobile iOSYesYes
Mobile - Android YesYes
Web SAAS CloudYesYes
Language supported
EnglishYesYes
GermanYesNo
ItalianYesNo
FrenchYesNo
HindiNoNo
JapaneseYesNo
SwedishYesNo
DutchYesNo
PolishYesNo
ChineseYesNo
SpanishYesNo
UX analysis (Rating 1 to 5, 1 being low and 5 being high rating)
Output of the tool55
Helpful in analytics55
Easy to operate55
Dependency from technical side in conducting analysis45
Running Poll/Survey/Feedback/NPS real time41
OverallHotjar is easy to use and easily integratable to live websites. The output like heatmaps, funnel analysis and live sessions are great value add for UX research analysis and to take actionable insights. Clicktale is very easy to deploy and can provide detailed multi tire analytics visually. Apart from heat-maps, scroll reach, & funnel analytics, one could also additionally setup custom test to observe the engagement of user with each element on screen. 




References: 

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