User experience - what’s new?
How come we are more willing to use this one particular sudoku app instead of another? The most common answer is that because this one has a better rating on App Store/Google Play. But these notes are not coming out of nowhere. We choose intuitively the tools that are easier to use for us. Why some are easier when some are harder to use? Well, there’s a whole army of designers, analysts, graphic designers and information architects standing behind that matter. They create the field of design that has been existing since forever, but we have heard of it recently. I am talking about user experience.

Designing the experience…?

User experience is literally about the user’s experience. It is not that easy though since we all are aware of how complicated the term “experience” is. You can experience touch, smell, temperature; you can have sound and visual experiences. Or it can be mixed all together. The design, on the other hand, is about trying to predict how the product will influence its user, it’s not leaving anything to a chance. When we start looking at this subject in such way we realize that designing an experience is not an easy job.

The birth of the UX

The term “user experience” has started to be commonly used recently. The first time it appeared was in sort of UX empire, the company that is famous for providing its customers with very positive experience, which is Apple. In 1993 Don Norman, cognitive psychology, and computer sciences professor named himself “User Experience Architect”. The term was popularized at the beginning of 2000 with the dot-com boom. In 90s web designers had limited capabilities - HTML and CSS did not contain the number of tags that would allow creating advanced layouts, or impressive transitions. In that times websites were based on simple text and links. Web 2.0. gave web designers tools they needed, so their focus got turned to the matter of experience and intuition.

Skeuomorphism - the tech revolution wouldn’t happen without it

The real revolution in the world of UX and the way to start more advanced and surprising projects was skeuomorphism. This direction was, of course, taken firstly by Apple company. Skeuomorphism is recreating shape, color and function of the original subject in a different material. Briefly - a skeuomorph is something that somehow pretends something that it is not. The smartphone calculator is equipped with buttons that look convex, and the system is copied from the physical calculator, and the smartphone notepad app pages are yellow and covered with vertical lines, just as it happens with physical notebooks. Skeuomorphism started to be seen as tacky very quickly but it has done its job. It played an essential part in technological development as the way to tame users with the technology, such as touchscreens. Apps that were rendered as the real-world tools left no doubt about their functions so that new technologies were adopted in society very quickly.

Another move from the player no one expected

Today in UX design the main style is flat, or so-called “almost flat”. The flat is the style that works mainly with vibrant colors and minimalistic typography. Almost flat is just adding shades, gradient and other effects that make the impression of 3D objects. The subject is broader described by Sacha Greif on his blog. It is not the latest trend - it appeared 6 years ago with Microsoft Metro Design Language. It is designed for UI, but UI and UX are complementary fields, that merge and swap inspiration.

Latest trends - hidden navigation

How should a modern www look? For sure, due to UX design rules, it should be thought through and should provide the user with the best experience possible. Into the details, there are many possibilities. In 2017 there have been few strong trends. One of them is hidden navigation. This solution appeared among with development of the design for mobile devices, where with low resolutions every pixel matters. Many designers considered it as an excellent solution for high resolutions as well. Hiding menu and reducing it into one button that would pop out the whole thing targets user focus on the impression of the landing page. The allegation for such solution is it decreases usability by making navigating the page harder - there is one more interaction needed, opening the menu. However, you can easily fend it off with one argument: instead of cramming the labels in one line at the top of the site you use the whole screen space for clear and attractive buttons, that would lead to other parts of the site. The most common symbol for the hidden menu is characteristic “hamburger” that is usually located at left or right upper corner of the site. It is well-known from Google Material Design. There are also designers that experiment with creating their own icons, usually inspired by GMD what makes them recognizable for users, but they also surprise with their visuals.

Icons take the lead!

Exactly - icons. Icon design went through a huge change. From the simplest pictograms possible into sophisticated visual elements, that often make the basis for the whole layout of the project. Oversized icons started to play the role of full-fledged graphics in the website layout replacing, for example, photos. Many graphic websites are based only on typography, oversized icons, and interesting color choices. Such minimalism is typical for flat design.


Another interesting trend of last year is dividing the screen vertically. How does it look? The screen is divided into two parts (the proportion may differ), that fills the whole screen. You may say - old news, but this time we deal with a site that is not scrollable. To get to other parts you have to press the right button. The components of the screen have to consistent and correspond one to another. It can be a mix of a photo and a box of color and typography, or two photos, or two boxes. What is important is to maintain the coherency. You can achieve that by thinking of the parts as of a set of cards.

Where to seek inspiration?

You can find more inspiration in a free ebook - UXPin Book of Trends. UXPin is a company from Gdańsk that offers an online tool for prototyping and wireframing websites mockups. From time to time they publish very interesting books not only on the subject of design but also development. They are available for free here. Another source of inspiration is Awwwards website which publishes the most exciting and original websites projects every day and rewards them daily, weekly and monthly. What’s interesting is that you can find there not only links with a rate, but also the whole explanation, which elements were how rated. Actually, it constitutes the entire case studies of each site. You can find there not only desktop versions but also mobile devices, which are a separate category.

We do our best to keep us both with trends and UX study, which are also substantial, but it is a subject for one more article. You can take a look how we deal with UX design by checking our portfolio.


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