Tag Archives: user experience

An Insightful Video about IxD Big Picture

I came across this great video commissioned by Bassett & Partners, talking about the future connecting world and how interaction design can contribute to it. Many mind-provoking throughts.

My take-aways from it are two points: (1) Embrace “natural” interactions – removing constrains and artificials; (2) Connections among things through sensors and cloud will lead to environment- and context-dependent future interactions. What is yours? Enjoy.

Connecting from Bassett & Partners on Vimeo.


Four Reasons Why I Love airbnb

As a big fan of traveling, I was thrilled to find airbnb.com. I am attached to it and visit it frequently even when I am not planning for any trip. It is not only usable but also enjoyable.

This website gives me great experience mainly because of the following 4 reasons:

  • Clean navigation and prominent searching area. As a platform offering choices of accommodations for travelers who have destinations in their mind, searching function should be significant and easy to find. Airbnb does a great job of placing the core function at the very center of the home page, which will also take the central place of on a commonly sized laptop screen. A “search” button colored with bright pink will ensure that you don’t miss the search box embedded in colorful cover photos.   

Screenshot 1:30:13 11:30 AM           In case you are new to the website and just want to wonder around and check it out, the fixed   search bar at the very top of the page will stay what ever page you are going to visit and quickly help you get back to track when you are ready to search for specific destination.

      This simple but thoughtful navigation design can always remind and facilitate users to complete the key task without hassle.

  • Pleasing visual enjoyment. For all online shopping sites, visual attraction is a key to attack and retain visitors. Airbnb is also a form of online shopping sites, where people make purchase decisions without seeing and touching real products. What the difference between airbnb and other online shopping store (e.g., Amazon, Nordstrom, and eBay) is that airbnb is not only selling the product itself, it is also selling the living experience and life styles. These hidden selling points are in no way negligible. Thus, I appreciate the attention and value airbnb has put on the quality of the images and delightful color schemes of the website. I have no doubt that users will be attracted by most of the photos posted and feeling hard to make a decision not because the options are undesirable but because they are all too fancy to just choose one. Furthermore, the whitespace among images is reasonable, rendering great visual effect.
  • Integration of social functions and wish list. This newly-added feature showed a salute to the good idea and experience on Pinterest. I viewed it as a tipping-point that airbnb evolved its focus on exploration rather than just search. Much like a soymilk-maker company in China spent great efforts to advocate and advertise the benefits of drinking soymilk in order to sell its products, airbnb offers contexts and atmosphere of different places around the world to arouse the pleasant yearn for traveling, and indicating living with airbnb is the best way to really immerse oneself in the local culture. I love the wish list function because I can “pin” interior designs that I love, save places for future trips, broadcast on Facebook about my taste, and plan trips with my friend collaboratively. Airbnb introduces the wish list function in the home page, right below the prominent search function. Users can easily browse popular wish lists. What adds to enhance this joyful experience is the great coding – it brings almost infinite scrolling, smoothy and robust. Screenshot 1:30:13 4:48 PM

      In each individual space page, saving to wish list or sharing function (to Twitter and Pinterest) is handy. It is convenient at any stage to bookmark favorite choices. Overall, airbnb enables different pathways for users do discover fun places and ignite their unconscious desires.

  • Trust system and adequate product information. Another formula of successful online shopping site is to build the sense of trust and ease the process of making purchase decisions. Airbnb succeeds in setting up a trust by using traditional user reviews system and approachable profile information of house-renters. Below shows randomly pulled two renter’s profile bar on the property’s page: Screenshot 2:7:13 11:23 AM

      The font used to spell their names is handwriting style, creating a sense of friendliness. Other performance matrices reflect their working style. They helps users to make good matches with the renter they are going to deal with and be aware of what to expect. By clicking the name of the renter, users could check more detailed information and business record of her. All the means very much secured users trust towards the website.

      To help users make informed decisions, useful information is also ready available and easy to navigate through. For example, information regarding a renting property could be viewed in photo’s form, geography form, street-view form, and availability form, using tabs to toggle among. Detailed description, amenity list and house rules (e.g., no smoking, and no pets) are also specified right below the photo gallery. Screenshot 1:30:13 11:03 PM

Above are the major 4 reasons why I have great experience on airbnb. As I browse it, I discover more lovely features that reflect those fine considerations from the website designer. A lesson learned.

A Fun Video about UX, with More Thoughts Following

I came across this fun video persuading people to adopt user experience work into production streamline:

While it is always fun to watch videos with hand-drawing comics and I always have my thumbs up for integrating user experience components into product development, this video leaves some un-articulated questions behind the good-looking ROI. Things are just not that simple and straight-forward.

First, what to fix?
Before any sort of redesign, there should be intense usability studies to figure out the existing usability issues with assigned severity ratings. Because we need to figure out, in this case, what are the reasons caused those 50 customers leaving the website without donation. Further more, among all the reasons, there are some with higher severity level, which if fixed can result in major improvements; while others are minor, probably only contribute to 10% of the abandon problems. In this case, cost in terms of money and time should be considered by the business to decide to what degree these issues should be addressed at this time. It will be account for the estimates of the investment of redesigning and coding the website.
To read more about severity ratings:

Second, what to measure?
It is seldom the case, if any, that the user experience improvements can bring all the lost customers back. Measurements are necessary and essential to evaluation the investment. Don’t forget that measurement itself costs man power and money, and monitoring the wrong metrics is a waste and can cause slow reactions to the market. @jmspool today wrote an interesting article to discuss the concept of KPI: Key Performance Indicator. To recap, there are three important characteristics of a good metric: related, important, and predictive.

Glad to see the importance of UX is more and more acknowledged, which encourages me as a student, a beginner on this path. Through today’s exploration, I felt I am still lacking experience regarding to the evaluation part though I had some scattered project experience. Will put more efforts on this part in the future projects and thesis work.

Eyes on USA TODAY’s New Design

USA TODAY disclosed it’s redesign of its logo, paper, and website, as a gift for its 30th birthday. As a media that is best known for its visual story telling, I am curious to see if the redesign succeeds its traditional advantage on visual representation.

Upon browsing through the beta website, I spotted the following 3 highlights that I would like to share and discuss with you:

  1. Similar reading experience with tablet-based e-magazine 
  • While reading one news section, next section is shown with its coded color on the right side, indicating a slide-effect can be used to view next section.
  • Visual-based story telling strategy is consistent in the new design, without any cluster of characters in main pages.
  • If choose to read one story, the story body will be loaded as a pop-up window above the current page, as shown in the second snapshot. Cross out the pop-up window can lead you back to the original page, which is snapshot #1. You can also click left or right arrow to view previous or next news in detail. This design actually lightens the navigation burden (adding breadcrumb trail…) and decreases the sense of loss, as the cross-out action is very intuitive and users know they can always go back easily.

    2. Simple, clean, and color-coded menu.

If you hover your mouse over one of the un-chosen menu item, the coded color will expand and fill in the rectangular menu button. This gives quick visual feedback and proper clue of affordance for users.

    3. Social media sites (e.g., Twitter & Facebook) alike features

Another thing I like about the redesign is its natural integration of common UX features adopted in modern SNS. For example, in the first snapshot, the expandable “RIGHT NOW” tab is a good stimulus for users to keep up to date. It forms an acute image of USA TODAY, compared to other static-looking news websites. Another example would be the continuous scrolling interaction mode, which is very common for SNS, such as Twitter and Facebook. Compared to the traditional pagination interaction mode (see below), continuous scrolling enables a more fluent browsing experience, with much more appealing looking.


Overall, with the new look, USA TODAY would definitely be one of the news sites that I visit often. Because with the easier and fun interaction, it brings enjoyable reading experience. How do you like it?