Pepper Square https://www.peppersquare.com Fri, 24 Sep 2021 19:25:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://www.peppersquare.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/favicon.png Pepper Square https://www.peppersquare.com 32 32 5 Tools to Improve User Flow with Great UX https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/5-tools-to-improve-user-flow-with-great-ux/ Thu, 23 Sep 2021 08:02:14 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9902 Done right, the best user flows add to the success rates of a product.

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“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term user flow.

In his words, flow is “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

In design, user flows help understand the cognitive patterns of users to create products that, in turn, enable the state of the flow.

UX/UI designers create user flows, or UX flows to map the complete path a user takes while using a product. These track the user’s movement through the product from scratch till the final step. It contains all the navigation steps throughout the user journey that leads them to reach their goal.

Signing up for an app, filling a form for a newsletter subscription, registering for a webinar on a website are some examples of user flows.

Done right, the best user flows help users accomplish their tasks and add to the success rates of a product.

That said, here are some of the best user flow design tools, which can help elevate the user journey on your website or app.

1. Miro

Ease of Use is Miro’s USP.

The whiteboard utility tool is a great asset that lets UX/UI design teams brainstorm stunning user flows and customer journey maps, among other helpful process flow diagrams. In addition, the highly collaborative tool allows users to share their work and get real-time feedback.

Use the intuitive tool to collaborate with your team and work simultaneously on various concepts with readymade widgets and components for creating clear user flows and several templates and frameworks.

The best part is that it integrates with other software like Slack and Sketch.

Miro’s basic version is free for users with a cap on the number of accounts. For premium users, there is no such cap.

2. Mural

Mural is another virtual whiteboard app used by UX designers, often used as an alternative to Miro.

While it appears similar to Miro in terms of collaboration and teamwork, Mural offers a chat service where global teams can communicate on the go. As a result, it becomes a great place to reference the conversations and build creative ideas based on those conversations.

Mural’s ‘frameworks’ feature provides template backgrounds for workshop exercises, including quadrants, bullseye diagrams, grids, and ‘retro’ templates.

It has a long way to go when it comes to tech-savviness. But for beginners, the tool works just fine.

3. XMind

XMind is a classic mind mapping software. With some state-of-the-art features, the simple yet essential app finds many takers.

Here’s why we at Pepper Square highly recommend XMind for your mind maps:

Simple UI – Minimalistic design always wins over complicated ones. XMind’s Zen Mode simplifies the interface by removing everything from the toolbar, leaving you entirely focused on the content. This setup is especially appealing to first-time users.

Pitch Mode The Pitch Mode in XMind automatically generates animated transitions from the presentations on your mind map. It conveys a lot of information in a simple yet visually appealing format.

Skeletons – The developers in XMind wanted an umbrella term to describe all sorts of visual structures XMind can produce easily. As a result, they came up with frames including:
1. Brace Maps
2. Tree Charts
3. Timelines
4. Fishbone Diagrams
5. Matrix Diagrams
6. Org Charts
7. Logic Charts

4. FIGMA 

A renowned design and prototyping platform, Figma is used by a large community of designers worldwide. The collaborative platform with real-time visibility is a personal favorite for many UX designers to create compelling user flows.

Although it comes at a premium pricing, Figma’s massive repository of assets, third-party UI kits, ready-to-use components, templates are some of the features that make it worthwhile. For example, it includes a plugin called Autoflow, which paves the way for easy user flow creation along with an option to embed the flow charts in Dropbox Paper.

Recently, it introduced FigJam, specifically meant for diagramming purposes with drawing tools, emojis, sticky notes, and more.

The best part is that FigJam will also include voice chat, which will make it easier for the designers to collaborate on the go without setting up separate calls on other apps.

5. InVision Studio

What we love about InVision is that it is an excellent tool for screen designing. The seamless tool bridges the gap between humans and technology with powerful features such as – flowchart template.

It lets you:
1. Sketch the customer experience flow
2. Design the process map
3. Visualize the marketing campaign flow

Using InVision, UX designers can create fully functional prototypes with dynamic elements. The tool is relatively easy to learn and work, compared to various other design tools. Moreover, it offers exceptional collaborative features for designing and receiving feedback and making instant changes.

It’s also possible to include Sketch files in InVision, making your wireframes available via a public link.

Calling it a Day

Ignore user flow, and you’ll be well on your path to frustrated users, increased bounce rates, and a product destined to be doomed! The tools mentioned above create the best user flow diagrams for winning product designs by collaborating with your team members.

Keep a tab on this space for more UI/UX design tips, tricks, and inspiration. We’ll be back with more insightful posts!

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UX Designer Jobs in India – How to Find the Right Companies? https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/ux-designer-jobs-in-india-how-to-find-the-right-companies/ Tue, 21 Sep 2021 10:11:54 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9835 It is crucial to focus on building a solid foundation.

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The Hiring of UI UX designers has increased by 61% in the Q4 of 2021. This trend will increase even more in the coming years as the demand is at an all-time high.

Even with the surge in demand for UI/UX designers, it’s an uphill task for professionals to find the right fit when choosing companies to work for. Sometimes, the roles and responsibilities aren’t chalked out well. And often, the job titles also keep varying from place to place, leading to chaos.

But all that comes later. Before you embark on the mission of finding UX designer jobs in India, here are some mandates to consider:

Key areas of focus for UX/UI Designer

The role of any UX/UI designer involves three significant areas of focus including:

Discovery – Audience definitions, user scenarios, competitor analysis

Concepting – Process flow, site maps, wireframing, the actual design

Prototyping and Usability Testing – Prototyping, product reviews, usability testing

While these are the primary areas for UX designers to focus on, they may also go ahead with other areas of specializations strictly depending on their skill sets, interests, and the needs of the employers:

1. User Research
2. Information Architecture
3. Interaction Design
4. Experience Strategy

What is the average experience required for a UX designer role?

According to a survey by UXtools.co, the maximum number of UX design professionals (about 30%) had an average of 3-5 years of total work experience. The next highest number of professionals (about 25%) had an average work experience of ten or more years.

Another study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that majority of the UX design professionals surveyed had 4-6 years of experience.

Experience is the essential factor in getting an excellent job in the UI UX industry. How many years have you been designing? What all websites and apps have you created. What all tools have you been using this far?

With experience comes wisdom. Wisdom to understand the intricate details about your user’s mind. For example, what kind of user would prefer what type of interface? This information is very critical to the organization as it may make or break a sale for them. Therefore, UX design companies are ready to pay hefty amounts as salary for the right candidate.

What are the top skill sets to make a career in UX design?

UX design applies to almost all industries, and there are several skills you can pick up before you apply to any top companies. However, based on the job roles, these skills may vary. For example, a UX Strategist will need a different set of skills as opposed to a User Research Associate.

Apart from this, the following skills are good to have when you want to build a career in UX design:

1. Frontend Development
2. UX Writing
3. Voice Design
4. UI Design Skills
5. Understanding Data

 How to learn UX Design?

There are resources galore for getting the basics of UX design right. Right from books, video tutorials, courses, podcasts, blogs, there are endless options you can explore. But learning on the job opens unforeseen opportunities and provides you the relevant experience to shine in this competitive industry.

Here are some of the best books to read that are related to UX design.

You can also enroll in these UX design courses.

Finding a mentor – a seasoned professional in the industry, who can teach you the ropes is also vital for building a career in UX design. They will help you shortlist the best jobs and keep you motivated throughout.

Remember, companies prefer candidates who have an educational background in designing to those who don’t. By getting yourself educated, you learn many tools used in designing and techniques from industry stalwarts which will help you have an ace over your competition.

Start building your portfolio

One of the best ways to capture the attention of your potential employer is to build a portfolio. Even if you don’t have any experience in the field, you can take up a dummy project and own it. Then, maybe, you can redesign a page or an interface of a famous brand and use a tool you are most comfortable with to come up with some brilliant wireframes.

Let your portfolio speak volumes about your talent. And there will be no stopping you!

The Wrap

Many cities in India offer exceptional opportunities for UX designers across industry verticals. However, as a professional just beginning their journey in this field, it is crucial to first focus on building a solid foundation.

Invest ample time in learning on the go, perfect that portfolio, gain relevant experience, find a mentor, and you will find the befitting firm that hones your talent further!

At Pepper Square, we are always on the lookout for the best talent. Connect with us to know how we can help shape your career as a UI UX designer.

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E-Commerce Shopping Cart UI Design – The Best Examples https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/e-commerce-shopping-cart-ui-design-the-best-examples/ Fri, 17 Sep 2021 12:31:35 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9744 Nailing the best shopping cart UI design

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The average cart abandonment rate is just under 70 percent.

The impact of cart abandonment on the revenue is quite severe – at $18 billion annually.

Shopping carts are indispensable for eCommerce websites, helping customers make successful purchases.

Looking for some UI inspiration to create the one perfect shopping cart?

Here are some remarkable examples of websites that have nailed the art of perfecting their shopping cart UI designs:

Disney

Renowned brand Disney’s online store may have a standard ‘add to cart’ function, there are still some great takeaways. The company calls the cart ‘bag’ and offers the customers confirmation right above the “Add to Bag” button. The same notification also contains a button, allowing instant checkout. This saves several steps for the customers to complete their purchase faster.

Sephora

Beauty brand Sephora has a comprehensive website with its products listed. Their cart page consists of a range of free samples for the customers and the products they are purchasing. The right side of the shopping cart includes these free sample products – and customers can select up to three of them. This does two things:

1. Encourages the customers to try more products
2. Provides value-add

The site also offers a link directly above the coupon code field, which opens a popup layer that displays the actual coupon codes. This provides incentives to the users to purchase the products.

Godiva

The devil lies in the details in Godiva’s cart page design. We love the color combination, the clarity offered, and the elegant layout. The page makes moving to the following step simple – customers can shop the order either to a single or multiple addresses. This is handy for the customers who love to purchase from this eCommerce store known for selling gifting goodies. 

Apple

Think design, and we can’t stop admiring Apple’s pixel-perfect online store. Their shopping cart is equally impressive, making it easy for the customers to distinguish the product added. The catch here is the images, which are clear and offer the certainty that the right choice of product is being purchased.

Callaway Pre-Owned

Callaway’s pre-owned is known for the extensiveness of its shopping cart. When customers add a preferred item to the cart, they’re guided to a wide range of products of variable qualities. They need to proceed with selecting from that product range and then add it to their cart. Also, the entire product description is provided in the cart, ensuring the customers are making the right purchase.

Blinds.com

Blinds.com is an eCommerce store for shutters, shades, and various other window treatments. Their ‘add to cart’ function provides room for customization. After adding a product to the cart, the customers are neither redirected to the shopping cart page nor the product page. A new page opens up instead, letting them select various features. With the customer already in the mindset of buying the product, the next step they need to take is to pick the options.

Bed Bath and Beyond

It’s a standard practice to make the shopping cart accessible to potential customers. One of the ways to do so is to build it as a dropdown feature on each of the web pages on the site. Even if they go to any other page, they should view the latest cart information and get reminders of the additions. The best practice is to let them adjust the type or quantity of the items without leaving the page.

Bed Bath and Beyond goes a step ahead. The online store shows the top items added by the customers, placing a bar at the bottom of the screen with the necessary cart information.

Conclusion

The shopping cart feature on any eCommerce website has just one motive – leading the customers to purchase. They will use the cart page not just to pay for the order, though. They want to review the quality of the items, check the quantity, see if any coupon code is applicable, go over the specs, and perhaps look for related items. With all these options provided, they will take the desired call to action.

In this case, place an order. And that’s only possible through the simplicity of the interface and the ease of use.

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Startup UX Design Guide for 2021 https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/startup-ux-design-guide-for-2021/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 16:38:32 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9680 What’s new in 2021 for startups to ace UX design?

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For startups or upcoming companies, the focus is on providing the best experience to the end-users. Startups with an emphasis on design make 32% more revenue on average than those who don’t. And with new tools and technologies making their entry on the market, startups need to keep up with the pace and offer unrivaled user experience to their target audience.

So, what’s new in 2021 for startups to ace UX design? Let’s find out.

1. New Neumorphism

Neomorphism or Neumorphism is a familiar term for UX/UI designers. A blend of ‘New’ + ‘Skeuomorphism,’ this trend is about elements that mirror real objects. It also draws inspiration from flat design and includes subtle contrast, solid colors, well-rendered shadows, gradients, and volume. The clever use of shadows and light in this design trend creates a wow effect.

The Dark Mode

The design industry was taken by storm by Dark Mode in 2020. According to a report, over 1,658 websites have used timeless and elegant dark themes to attract customers. Apart from giving the software products a classy look and feel, the dark mode is easy on the eyes and is more important than ever due to increased screen time. As a result, users spend more time using a website or an app. Not to forget, it also helps saves battery.

Storytelling

Everyone loves a good story. But not everyone is well-versed with the art of storytelling. Digital storytelling often happens via UX/UI by narrating the storyline of a product or a service. Color schemes, typography, animation, graphic elements, and sounds play a role in online storytelling and entice users.

For instance, Google’s Pixel Earbuds landing page showcases various product benefits with solid imagery, typography, and powerful animations. This elicits a positive emotional response from the users simply through storytelling.

Icons and Emojis

The way we consume information and interact online has changed phenomenally, focusing on symbols rather than words.

An Instagram study states that emojis increasingly push the text out of our messages. An integral part of our daily communication, they are universally accepted and used by everyone alike. This is the reason why more applications are moving towards adopting them. Professional social networking channel LinkedIn also introduced emoji reactions a couple of years ago.

Embedding icons and emojis in software products will be one of the mainstays of UX/UI design in 2021 (and beyond). Learn more about how to gain traction with icon design via this resource.

Touchless Interactions

In a post-pandemic era, touchless interactions are on the rise. This includes creating interactions with VUI (Voice User Interfaces) and Air Gesture Control.

Companies can use interfaces that will be based entirely on VUI by integrating voice chatbots to communicate. Likewise, they can also use Air Gesture Control, which takes touch screens to the next level. The technique uses contactless control, as demonstrated by DS Automobiles – a luxury car brand. They showed how their system offered thrice the accuracy of touchscreens via mid-air haptic feedback and gestures.

3D Graphic Elements

3D graphic elements help visualize things and bring components to life. This trend allows UI UX designers to get creative by integrating 3D graphics in both mobile and web interfaces. However, it needs an artistic eye, attention-to-detail, and intense creative skills to guarantee success. The entire exercise can be time-consuming as well.

Overall, it makes the software product more appealing and provides a futuristic vibe.

Super-Apps and Mini-Apps

2021 is the year simplification has gained tremendous traction, including startups and enterprises. Super-apps are software products that unify multiple smaller solutions. By combining various services, these apps help make the design appear clear and minimalistic. For example, Grab, a ride-hailing service, moved into finance in 2018 with GrabPay digital wallet service.

Similarly, Mini-apps are also high in demand. According to HubSpot, Mini-apps are small apps with limited features that exist in a more extensive app. Usually, they are often developed or co-created by a brand that partners with the main app’s company. For instance, users can follow a link or scan a QR code to access a service without downloading the entire app instantly.

The Wrap

These are some of the critical UI UX design trends for startups in 2021. While implementing these, don’t forget to keep the human element in mind – ergo, show them that you are empathetic and care about their needs. Most importantly, keep the product interface simple!

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Clutch Awards Pepper Square Inc. for their Incredible UX & UI Design Services https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/clutch-awards-pepper-square-inc-for-their-incredible-ux-ui-design-services/ Fri, 20 Aug 2021 06:20:34 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9661 We are thrilled to share this incredible milestone!

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Pepper Square is delighted to be named one of the top UX & UI design companies in San Francisco, California. We are thrilled to share this incredible milestone with everyone!

Clutch has recently released their top companies in California, and we are fortunate to be featured in that list. Our determination and dedication to providing the best services in the industry helped cement our position, not just in Clutch’s platform but also in our industry and state. Being listed among the best in the market is something that our team values a lot.

Here’s what our CEO Ken Yang has to say after officially receiving the award:

“We are deeply honored to receive the Clutch Leader 2021 award, which helped us earn a place among leading service providers in San Francisco, California. This award comes close on the heels of receiving the Clutch award of ‘leading B2B service provider in California in 2020.’ Receiving the award is a definite boost for us as the broad database of B2B companies and UI UX agencies in San Francisco listed on Clutch added to the challenge.”

If this is the first time you are hearing about Clutch, they are a B2B ratings and reviews platform based in Washington, DC. They feature an extensive platform that serves as the go-to resource for knowledge in the industry.

You can also check us out on the Visual Object’s website. They are an online portfolio site that helps potential buyers learn more about these companies and agencies through their past works and projects.

As a capable UX and UI design company, we drive tremendous value to businesses. Connect with us today to discuss how we can be instrumental in the success of your next project.

. . .

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7 Creative Examples of Cookie Consent Experiences https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/7-creative-examples-of-cookie-consent-experiences/ Wed, 18 Aug 2021 11:13:53 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9644 Cookies are used to enhance the web browsing experience for the users

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Cookies have earned a bad rap over the years. And yet, they are a necessary evil.

eCommerce firms use this information to retarget their customers by showing ads of their searched products on different websites. In addition, cookies let the website remember visitors by their log-in details, shopping carts, etc. Finally, there are HTTP cookies, which are used to enhance the web browsing experience.

From personalized browsing to offering suggestions on eCommerce websites, cookies come in three main variants:

1. Session Cookies – Considered the safest form of web cookies, these cookies store information temporarily or for a ‘session.’ When the session ends, the transformation of information via the cookies ends as well.

2. Persistent Cookies – A permanent variety, Persistent cookies help maintain the user preferences. You can think of these cookies as information to authenticate a device to stay logged in while navigating a website. In addition, these cookies track multiple visits to the same webpage.

3. Supercookies, Evercookies, and Zombie Cookies – These routines replicate themselves even after the browse cache is cleared. Delete one, and they’ll continue to exist in several other locations.

Cookies are also categorized as –

1. First Party Cookies – They are created by the company running the website. They usually are safe till you’re browsing reputed websites. After that, if the website is compromised or is not HTTPS, it could lead to data loss.

2. Third-Party Cookies – They are not made by the website you’re currently browsing but by third parties. They are generally used for retargeting by showing ads and user behavior.

What is Cookie Consent?

Cookie consent is the term for – when the users consent to let a website activate its cookie and tracers that process personal data. It is mandatory on a legal basis under GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for websites to collect, process, or share the personal data of individuals under the EU.

When your site is using cookies, you are required to declare it to your customers and ensure the security and confidentiality of their data. For instance, you cannot sell it to other entities.

When do you require cookie consent?

Does your company manage your user’s data?

You’ll need to install a cookie banner on your website and take permission from your users before you start tracking their activities.

Does your website use Google Analytics?

You’ll require a cookie consent banner in this case as well.

Here are a few examples of cookie consent notice, which lets users give GDPR-friendly consent to the use of cookies.

1. Castor and Pollux
Castor and Pollux have a simple cookie consent banner, which is non-obtrusive and captures the visitors’ attention. The wordplay on cookies makes the banner more appealing for the users. In addition, the CTA button is highlighted in a contrasting color, making it stand out.

2. The Guardian
The news website uses a highly detailed, descriptive cookie consent banner in the footer. It urges visitors to provide consent by clicking ‘Yes, I’m happy’ or tweak a few things as per their preferences. Without making this choice, the visitors cannot proceed with browsing the site.

3. PUMA
Puma uses a floating banner at the footer. Visitors can check out the additional information through the ‘Click here for more information’ or directly agree to the preset choice with the ‘I Agree’ CTA button.

4. Financial Times
Financial Times uses the corner box method. In addition, the text in the notice indicates that their cookies keep the site reliable and secure and use them for advertising and personalizing the content as per the visitors’ preferences.

The site also provides a link to its Cookies Policy and an option to tweak cookie preferences by clicking ‘Manage cookies.’

5.ORANGE
The logo of orange is presently placed in their cookie banner also. They give you a choice by providing two buttons. One is to accept all the cookies, and the other is to customize your preferences.

6. KINDER
Kinder chooses to be on the bright side instead of darkening the website with the cookie consent pop-up. As a result, it works well, especially for visitors who don’t want to browse the website without consenting to the cookies.

7. BRITISH AIRWAYS
British Airways uses a no bells and whistles approach for its cookie consent notice. The site redirects visitors to the terms and conditions and the use of cookies through simple, straightforward messaging via a sleek banner on the top.

These are some of the examples of cookie banners used across various websites. While you have multiple options for how and where to display the cookie consent notice on your website, you need to consider the following points:

• Prominently display the notice at the first visit
• Provide the site visitors an explicit opt-in action
• Display the link to a detailed Cookies Policy or relevant settings pages

. . .

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What Does a UX Strategist Do? https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/what-does-a-ux-strategist-do/ Tue, 10 Aug 2021 06:44:26 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9604 UX strategy is the sweet spot where user-centric design meets business strategy.

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UX strategy is the sweet spot where user-centric design meets business strategy.

A UX strategist is a professional with expertise in both these areas.

A classic example of UX strategy in action is in the Starbucks app. Digital engagement is one of the mainstays of the app, making users come back for more. The app is intuitive, inviting, and innovative, replicating the in-store experience of the coffee chain.

And what makes the app click with customers include features like:
• A user-centric design
• Mobile pay and ordering
• Engaging loyalty program
• Integration with varied services and platforms

Scott Maw, CEO, Starbucks, confirmed that all of the company’s same-store sales growth came from customers having digital relationships with the company and members of the Starbucks Rewards program.

And there lies a catch.

A digital product is incapable of offering everything to everyone. Therefore, there should be a delicate balance while prioritizing the use cases to prioritize, the problems to solve, and features to include.

That’s where UX strategy helps people interact with or experience a brand’s product or services. It is aligned perfectly with the business vision, user needs, and technical capabilities. It tells which problems to focus on first and subsequently solve them.

In brief, UX strategy offers support with a unique combination of UX thinking, tools, and activities. It ensures that both the customers and the brand derive value at the end of the day. It is about getting the minute details right to deliver a great user experience.

What are the differences between UX Design and UX Strategy?

UX design and UX strategy may overlap in multiple ways, but they are not the same. The main difference is the field of each profession. While UX design is concerned with the end users’ experience, UX strategy is also to ensure that the design ultimately meets the business objectives.

What Does a UX Strategy Process Look Like?

The UX Strategy Process

In her book UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want, Jaime Levy states – You don’t want a North Star to guide your UX Strategy; instead, you want a goal or point towards which to steer every time you pivot.

It resonates with the fundamental pillars of UX strategy (researching, planning, testing, and validation).

A UX strategist creates what’s called a product-market fit for the brand or the business. This ensures that there’s a demand for the product or the service. Most importantly, the strategist needs to ensure that the product development is in sync with the business strategy.

Let’s look at some of the common steps of a robust UX strategy:

Conduct Stakeholder Interviews
• What are the company’s mission and vision?
• What are the goals and objectives of the product/service?
• Is there a budget set to achieve the goals and objectives?
• What is the project scope?
• What are the success metrics?

Conduct User Research
• Who are the target users/audience?
• What devices do they use?
• What problems do they currently have?
• How can the problems be solved?
• Why are they using not using the existing product/service?

Conduct Competitive Research and Analysis
• Who are the main competitors?
• What are the steps the competitors are taking?
• How to create a unique value proposition for the brand?

Other Roles and Responsibilities
• Create a strategic roadmap and overall approach
• Offer strategy briefs and decks to stakeholders
• Lead the projects from a UX perspective via a user-centered approach
• Prioritize projects and help in effective delivery
• Collaborate with the designers and developers to keep them aligned with the business objectives
• Conduct regular audits of the site or app, and analyze the data
• Identify the recommended design changes and potential future opportunities

Now that you are familiar with the steps of UX strategy, let’s take a look at some of the common tools used by UX strategists:

1. Business Model Canvas or BMC – UX strategists use this tool to summarize the core business or product activities visually. It helps them understand how the business or products create, deliver or capture value. Additionally, the tool ensures whether the activities are aligned to the brand’s value proposition.

2. Value Proposition Map or VPM – This is a great tool that helps UX strategists to bring UX designers and product managers on the same page by visually illustrating the values and needs of the product user and the business.

3. Stakeholder Map – It helps identify various factors involved in a product or service and the relationship between them.

4. Product Roadmap – This is a crucial tool for visualizing how a product will evolve throughout a specific period.

5. Wireframe Software – Wireframing is one of the mainstays for UX strategists as it helps them demonstrate how the user and business needs can be met via the design. There are several wireframing tools that the strategists use.

What are the Skill Sets Required to Become a UX Strategist?

There’s no set rule defining the skills required for a UX strategist.

Yes, you may look for certain standard skill sets, including – soft skills, design thinking, and negotiation skills, among others. However, on a broader level, there are certain vital aptitudes that a UX strategist needs to develop:

1. Well-Versed in UX Design Concepts – An experience UX strategist eats, drinks, and sleeps UX design. By looking at the designs, they should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. In other words, they should know instantly which design will hook the users till the end. This, of course, comes with years of constant practice.

2. Knowhow of Human-Centric Design – Understanding consumer behavior and human psychology are essential for creating the perfect user experience. A UX strategist should understand why their users will take specific measures while using the product or service. With this assurance, they will be able to come up with the perfect product-market fit.

3. Know the Pulse of the Business – More often than not, business decisions and a great user experience may not mean/be the same thing. Ergo, a UX strategist needs to understand the pulse of the business.

4. Inquisitive Nature – UX strategists constantly need to come up with fresh ideas. They should look at the 5 Ws and 1 H of design (Who, What, When, What, Where, and How) to delve deep into the process, concept, and everything else. Keeping an eye on the latest trends, tools, and techniques also proves beneficial for them in the long run.

The Takeaway

As Susan Dray, an expert in usability, human factors, and HCI, puts it, “If the user can’t use it, it doesn’t work.”

The quote sums up the importance of user experience in product design. Remember, a great user experience strategy provides a much-needed scaffold to position the company, earn customer loyalty and profitability in the ever-evolving UX/UI design landscape. That’s why for businesses, it is indispensable to hire the best UX strategists to achieve their goals.

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How to Become a User Research Associate? https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/how-to-become-a-user-research-associate/ Fri, 30 Jul 2021 08:12:49 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9593 User research helps designers identify early adopters for a product or service.

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Search engine giant Google famously switched the shade of blue used on advertising links in Gmail and Google search. It tested the impact of as many as 42 shades of blue for the hyperlinks. The reason was to find out – which one did people clicked on the most. Reportedly, the company earned an extra $200 million a year in revenue as a result.

This is the perfect example of user research.

The best UX designs are driven by in-depth user research.

The reason is simple. It helps users uncover detailed insights about the users and their priorities. Also, it is one of the key attributes required to create a product or service that people love to use.
To begin with, user research sets the foundation for a design strategy. The data from the research is tied to the strategy and design decisions. Moreover, it helps designers identify early adopters for a product or service.
User research is a constant journey as customer needs and priorities constantly change with time, and with thorough research at the beginning of the project, it becomes easier to keep up with the changes or iterate a product or a service.

What do UX researchers do?

UX researchers address challenging questions in design. They study target users and their requirements, use varied methods to discover problems and design opportunities. The process helps them find out valuable information that can be used in the design process.

What is the difference between UX Designer and UX Researcher?

UX or User Experience is the experience that a user has while interacting with a product.

UX Design is the process that defines what that experience is going to be.

A UX Designer creates products or services that offer an impressive user experience. And to find out what goes into making that experience, they require User Research.

User research helps UX designers understand the target audience requirements, what motivates them to take a call to action, and so on.

Without detailed research, design teams cannot figure out how to deliver value to their end-users, ultimately leading to the failure of the product or design.

Who is a UX Research Associate?

UX research associates are equivalent to data scientists since they analyze the actual user behavior and use data-driven insights to address the customer needs and remove the guesswork.

Their everyday tasks include:

• Researching buyer personas and investigating buyer behavior
• Leading users throughout the process of proposing and wireframing
• Working with the marketing and product management teams to identify research topics

What are the qualifications and skillsets required for becoming a UX Research Associate?

• User-Centered Design Research
• Persona Creation
• Critical thinking
• Problem-solving
• UX/Design Thinking
• UX Mapping
• User Testing
• Soft Skills
• Analytical Skills

It is not necessary for UX researcher associates to have a design background. Many of them belong to diverse backgrounds, including marketing, communications, technology, sociology, and psychology. However, understanding human behavior and technology use are two vital skills.

Apart from this, they must be skilled at various research methods with the knack to learn other methods outside of their key expertise areas.
How to prepare for a career as a UX research associate?

To become a successful UX research associate, you will need to focus on the core of the design-thinking process – empathy.

Empathy helps you step into the shoes of your users and understand their needs and goals. Next up, you need to understand the problem or the challenge and apply various methods and approaches to find out how to solve them.

It is also vital for you to gather insights by listening, observing, and asking the right questions for actionable ideas. Once this is done, the obvious step is to gather and communicate the findings to the team and key stakeholders.

Let’s look at the responsibilities of a UX research associate in detail:

Planning and recruitment

• Create a 360-degree research plan with clear research objectives
• Draft usability research screeners and discussion guides
• Shortlist targeted end-users for the research studies

Collection of Data

• Face-to-face interviews by asking specific questions
• Moderate the basic usability sessions
• Develop and implement quantitative surveys to take the users’ thoughts on a product
• Take interviews of stakeholders and clients

Data Analysis

• Derive insights about the user behaviors from various tools
• Translate the different user insights into actionable recommendations for the product team

Insight Presentation

• Create personas, journey maps, etc. to communicate the insights
• Present the design research findings to the team

Strategy

• Work in close quarters with the product team to identify the research objectives
• Create and implement a complete research strategy

The Next Step

Practice Observation – UX researcher associates observe people interacting with the product and check for non-verbal cues to understand what a person thinks of a product. Do they find it easy to use? Is their behavior reflecting what the UX designers implied they would do?

Understand Mental Models – As a UX research associate, you will be required to understand what constitutes consumers’ mental model (what the users know about a system such as a website) and subsequently align the product’s design with it.

Analyze – Analysis is a significant aspect of being a UX researcher associate. You not only need to observe and understand how consumers behave but also analyze the findings thoroughly. For instance, you will need to identify patterns and trends and share them with the UX design teams.

Additional Steps

• Collaborate and communicate to stakeholders who are not the researchers
• Gain industry experience by participating in an industry research internship program
• Land an industry research job immediately after graduate school
• Get involved with the research projects in your company
• Conduct your applied research project

Conclusion

Being a UX research associate comes with its set of opportunities and challenges. Nevertheless, it is a lucrative career option, provided that you are keen on exploring the nuances. With tons of materials already existing on foundational methods, tools, techniques, and more, this might be the best time to become one!

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Four Quick Prototyping Methods Used by Creative UX/UI Designers https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/four-quick-prototyping-methods-used-by-creative-ux-ui-designers/ Fri, 21 May 2021 18:05:29 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9493 What are the benefits of prototyping?

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“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 1,000 meetings.” – Tom and David Kelley, IDEO.

Before you release any product on the market, you want it to be pixel-perfect and ensure that it solves the user’s problem exactly as intended. This is where a prototype – or a scaled-down version of your product is required to test the idea and design.
Prototyping is an indispensable part of the design thinking process and brings several benefits to the table.

What are the benefits of prototyping?

• Gain insights of how your users are will interact with the product
• Pinpoint the design flaws or usability issues before it is too late
• Test different versions to understand which ones work the best
• Keep reworking and refining the prototypes till the product is ready for release

Often, prototypes are divided into low-fidelity and high-fidelity. Fidelity refers to how close to the final product is the product prototype. It can be a basic model, or closer to the final product. It all depends on what the prototype is used for, or the design stage of the product.

Low-Fidelity Prototyping

This includes the rudimentary models of the product being tested and great for testing broad concepts. It can include only a handful of the features from the final design and can be created using different materials, including paper, wood, or plastic which may not be part of the final product. These are created at low costs and minimal efforts. Storyboarding, card sorting, and sketching are a part of low-fidelity prototyping.

Low-fidelity prototypes are quick to implement and inexpensive. They make it easier to make instant changes and test new iterations. These early-stage prototypes can be easily disposed later, and provide bird’s eye view of the product. This prototype can be created by anyone from a team, and not just designers.

Medium-Fidelity Prototypes

The medium fidelity prototypes are more detailed than the low-fidelity prototype, contains more details and is closer to the final product. These take longer to develop, and can often prove to be costlier. Therefore, it is important to test and get rid of as many early-stage problems and assumptions in the low-fidelity model as possible, before moving on to a medium-fidelity prototype. It is a great option for refining the product, with room for more changes and testing options.

InVision, Adobe XD, Balsamiq, Figma, Sketch, are some of the software that can be used to create medium-fidelity prototypes.

High-Fidelity Prototyping

High-fidelity prototypes are closer to the finished product. Think of 3D-printed models or die-cast models of vehicles are some of the examples of this prototyping variety. This prototype makes it easier to visualize the final product and offers high level of validation at the user testing stage.

What are some of the quickest prototyping methods?

The best way to build prototypes is get started and keep on improving the idea with the user in mind. Every iteration needs to be better than the previous ones and based on user behaviors and needs. That said, here are some of the quickest prototyping methods to implement:

1. Paper Prototype

A pen and a paper – that’s all you need for creating a paper prototype. The main benefit of this method is that it lets you create several versions of the design, and get it validated speedily with the users.

This method is useful for exploring some key ideas and user flows, and to understand which one of them will work best for the users. Since there are no special tools or software involved, you can create the prototype within minutes and at a much lower cost.
Use this method to receive quick feedback from your users in real-time.

2. Storyboards

The technique of storyboarding is derived from the film industry, which lets you visualize the users’ journey or how users can experience any problem or a product.

Interestingly, it refers to the classic animation technique developed at the Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s. Animators used to draw several sequential scenes for the cartoons and pin them to the walls.

Currently, the iterative method is used by designers, wherein they create series of images or sketches to show and tell the solution for any given user case. You can use it to understand context of the final product and take several high-level ideation and discussions.

Storyboards are not meant for fine-tuning the details of the product. Instead, these are used to validate the concepts before going ahead with detailed specifications.

3. Clickable Wireframes

Clickable wireframes are the best prototyping methods when it comes to mobile or web app design projects. It is an interactive prototype that links several static wireframes and each of the wireframe includes not more than one key element.

When you require to design a few different versions of the design within a particular design direction, it can be created without a lot of effort.

Clickable wireframes are low-fidelity representation of the product layout and are incredibly easy to modify as you do not require to redraw the entire page or screen to include changes. You can create these by using a Keynote or PPTs as well.

The only drawback is that you need understand how the finished product will end up looking and feeling.

4. Role Play

What can be better to understand your user’s pulse than to step into their shoes. Role play refers to the experimental method, which helps you explore tangible ideas by recreating the scenario of user engagement with the design.

Use it to capture the users’ emotional experience of using a product or service and also get an empathetic understanding of your users.

This is because its a re-enactment of various situations to give the team a better understanding and focus on improvement. To implement this prototyping method, you need to pre-decide the ideas, the roles, the scenes, and the storylines beforehand along with your team members.

Sometimes, this method can also be combined with other prototyping methods such as – storyboarding to derive lessons from the scenes.

The Wrap

Selecting a specific prototyping method involves choosing the right tool and technique and putting it into action. With every method offering different pros and cons, you need to do some more research to make an informed decision. The key takeaway is to explore the best method, cut down time and costs, and at the end, deliver the perfect product that delights users.

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The post Four Quick Prototyping Methods Used by Creative UX/UI Designers appeared first on Pepper Square.

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How we successfully transformed a guided meditation app https://www.peppersquare.com/blog/how-we-successfully-transformed-a-guided-meditation-app/ Wed, 28 Apr 2021 17:05:45 +0000 https://www.peppersquare.com/?p=9457 Black Lotus is a rapidly growing meditation app

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The benefits of meditation are many. From increased focus to stress and anxiety relief, it is a definite route to self-care. It was a great opportunity for us when we worked on a guided meditation app called Black Lotus.

About Black Lotus

Founded by Om Swami, a monk, and a meditator par excellence, Black Lotus is a rapidly growing meditation app that offers guided meditation and assists in inner transformation. The app includes engaging mindful activities using a framework called RARE (Reflect-Act-Reinforce-Evaluate).

Backed by deep research along with a propriety framework, the app has transformed over 250 K lives worldwide (and counting). Black Lotus’s ambassadors include – Nithya Shanti, Vidith Gujrati, and Melissa Stuart.

Features and Functionalities

The app covers a range of topics including –

• Daily guided meditation of 15 minutes
• 1-minute relaxation techniques
• Better sleep
• Better focus
• Stress management
• Mindfulness
• Daily wisdom
• Self-improvement
• Self-awareness
• Self-love
• Healthy habits formation
• Mental health
• Mental wellbeing
• Kindness

Problem Statement

Black Lotus emphasizes creating a spiritual mystic vibe in accordance with harmony and peace, which is associated with the discipline of meditation. The UI design of the app needed to reflect this very strongly.

Black Lotus partnered with Pepper Square to overhaul the app’s UI design using a range of universal iconography and symbols in sync with the app’s Global appeal.

We were tasked with:

• Aligning the new UI to other sections of the existing app
• Providing the symbolic representation of 10 unique stages of a user to gain spiritual attainment
• Designing an interface that will help the user measure and attain spiritual progress

The Pepper Square Difference

We reimagined the UI and UX design of the app with the following actions.

• Ideation, strategy, and UX &UI design for Black Lotus iOS and Android app.
• Extensive research on ten stages of meditation and their representation.
• Studied user behavior of the target audience to ensure the design elements resonated with the meditator’s physical, mental and emotional aspects in a particular stage.
• Created a design inspired by Buddhist symbols that point to qualities of an enlightened mind.
• Defined and designed ten categories of the Rak (Random Act of Kindness) feature to help create the largest community of kindness champions.
• Provided intuitive icons for universally accepted, clear visual communication.
• Conducted usability testing for app icons to ensure the users correctly perceive them.

The Approach

Pepper Square rose to the occasion by employing the following techniques to lend Black Lotus a modern look and feel:

Gamification – A gamified approach encouraged the users to gain spiritual attainment through Mahamudra progression. To complete each stage, each user had to complete specific tasks, including meditations, Random Acts of Kindness, reading books, chanting, etc.

Iconography – Symbolic representation of ten unique stages to gain spiritual attainment, drawing inspiration from Buddhist symbols.

iOS app design – Ten categories of Rak (Random Act of Kindness) featured as a part of the iOS app design, which helped create the largest community of kindness champions. A morning welcome screen, which allowed the users to plan and track their spiritual progress every day. Also, users could earn Karma points for each act of Kindness performed. At the end of each day, users received their daily activity summary and a reminder to accomplish the tasks left for the day.

We succeeded in increasing the customers’ interest in using the app through the unique design and development strategy.

The Value Delivered

We helped Black Lotus address its unique challenge, drive significant growth inactive users, and establish it as a modern-day meditation app. The new designs were received well by their target audience. When the app hit the stores, there was an outpour of positive responses.

Within 30 days, the app achieved astounding results:

• 72% Increase in New Users
• 15,796 Raks logged globally
• 30% increase in app downloads

Going That Extra Mile

Apart from driving conversions through the app, we also assisted Black Lotus in launching a Random Acts of Kindness campaign on #WorldKindnessDay. We designed a kindness card for them along with a webpage aimed at triggering a wave of gratitude. We also helped them with the onboarding wireframes and visual designs, along with revamping the self-screen icons. Including hand-drawn illustrations on the card lent it a unique personality. For this campaign, over 224 cards were mapped from the origin to different locations in the city.

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