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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Tidwell

Lab 2 - 'Essential Design Principles'

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

11 Core Design Principles

  • Wayfinding

    • our apps are just one big wayfinding system

    • How to navigate all apps

    • Where am I?

    • Where can I go?

    • What can I find when I get there?

    • What's nearby?

    • How do I get out?

  • Feedback

    • Status

    • Completion

    • Warning

    • Errors

    • What can I do?

    • What just happened?

    • What’s happening?

    • What will happen in the future?

  • Visibility

    • Very similar to feedback

    • Visibility improves usability

  • Consistency

    • Inconsistency undermines usability

    • What expectations do people have when they come to your app?

    • Makes app more approachable and usable

    • Internal consistency

      • Designing controls that match each-other

  • Mental Model

    • Typically are over simplifications of systems

    • Base on personal experience

    • System model

      • How a system works

    • Interaction model

      • How we interact with the system

  • Proximity

    • The distance between the control and the object it effects

  • Grouping

    • Helps people to understand the relationships between elements

    • Key for giving design structure

  • Mapping

    • Designing controls to resemble the objects that they effect

    • Direct mapping is more intuitive

  • Affordance

    • Physical characteristics aka visual and tactile cues the object interactions that are afforded to us

    • Relationship that individuals have to an object

    • Affordance varies person to person

    • Perceived affordance

      • Assumed affordances of objects and environments

  • Progressive disclosure

    • Technique for managing complexity

    • Gradually eases people from the simple to the more complex

    • Hiding complexity so that people can interact with the simplest interface

    • 80% of systems effects come from 20% of its causes

      • 80% of people using the app will only use 20% of its functions

  • Symmetry

    • Reflection or bilateral symmetry

    • Radial and rotational and translational are ubiquitous in nature

A few apps come to mind when considering these 11 core design principles, but the one that stands out the most in a negative way is the Chase Banking app. The app has all of the functionality that you could ever want for a banking tool. Nevertheless, I am still in the dark about accessing some of those functions when navigating the app. The lack of wayfinding and visibility in the platform makes navigating specific pages or accounts increasingly challenging. One of the most significant issues with the app is that there is no distinction between clickable buttons and just a display panel. Frequently I get sent to a page, not even realizing I selected a button; instead, I was just holding my finger there to read the lines.

Spotify is an app that displays great mapping and consistency. I think it is essential how Spotify updates its app. The mental model and consistency of layout and functionality never really change whether or not you are on the phone or computer. Something that they have done successfully is not trying to reinvent the mental model of how users have interacted with music platforms historically. There are plenty of unique and different features that Spotify offers that other music platforms do not. However, the overall layout, menu bars, playlists, and control buttons for the music have remained consistent with standard user interfaces for music apps. Allowing users to follow each other and see what their friends are listening to is a great and fun functionality to add, but the best part is that they did not restructure the whole platform just to add that visual element. The “what your friends are listening to” display bar is simply just a right-hand sliver menu that hardly disrupts the rest of the flow of the app.

An app that I had the most trouble navigating was the Adidas shopping app. The app was an incredibly complex combination of magazine article clips mixed with a very unclear shopping experience. There was no clear direction or grouping of common articles or products. It almost felt like a brand blog rather than a shopping experience. The problem seemed to be that Adidas wanted to try and reinvent the mental model for online shopping. However, they completely ignored adding additional wayfinding elements to inform the user how to shop off these blog posts. It made it very difficult to know whether or not you were selecting a shoppable item. There were often posts that displayed beautiful outfits and shoes and an incredible story of an artist or person. Yet, nothing from the blog was actually listed for sale in the app. There is no visual feedback to the user to inform them whether or not they are in a shopping blog post or just a blog post with a story.

Southwest is one of the best apps I have used for travel. Their wayfinding, grouping, feedback, and consistency make the app incredibly easy to navigate and book travel. One of the easiest things that the app affords the user is the ability to review current and past trips with ease. Compared to their competitors' usability like United and Frontier, I am floored by how much time Southwest put into their navigation menus. United and Frontier have since tried to mimic the navigation bars and menus of the Southwest app. However, they have failed to clean up the actual pages they send you to. Much like the Chase Mobile app, Frontiers navigation pages themselves have unclear layouts. They offer no intuitive clues as to which data showing pertains to you or is just a stagnant label. Frontier and United alike have created layouts that seem to violate the progressive disclosure rule and flood the page with text that is all the same font, same color and all on a while background. There is no distinction between what information the user specifically needs to know.

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