UX Design: Celebrating the User

When Software Says Thanks

     A great deal has been said about playfulness in design. Playfulness is takes advantage of a potentially boring interaction, and it adds a touch of humor to delight the user. I would say this is the human equivalent of flirting with the user. While flirting is key in the beginning of a relationship, there comes a time where you have to show the user how you really feel. Celebrating the user is a way to take the next step to really show your user that you appreciate them. Social networks rely on their users to create the content that fuels their site, and I think we can take a cue from them when it comes to celebrating the user. While not every company can actually pay their user like YouTube does with its Partner Program, companies like Tumblr do an excellent job of showing their users love through UX design. What are some ways to celebrate your user? Here are a few examples of companies celebrating their users...

Probably the best example I've come across of celebrating the user. Where most companies would have just placed a generic "Thanks for Posting" notification, Tumblr goes above and beyond.

Probably the best example I've come across of celebrating the user. Where most companies would have just placed a generic "Thanks for Posting" notification, Tumblr goes above and beyond.

Facebook uses video posts from its own account to celebrate the idea of the user. This ad integrates into the timeline so it feels like part of the UI.

Facebook uses video posts from its own account to celebrate the idea of the user. This ad integrates into the timeline so it feels like part of the UI.

Sometimes just reminding a user of a reward is enough to celebrate them. After a new benchmark is reached on Team Treehouse, a congratulatory message alerts you to the new points you've received with some fun animation.

Sometimes just reminding a user of a reward is enough to celebrate them. After a new benchmark is reached on Team Treehouse, a congratulatory message alerts you to the new points you've received with some fun animation.

Today's Work Jam 7/27

Berlin-based, DEADBEAR, aka Nick Donovan. Focus-single "Tongues" Donovan blends shards of incomprehensible vocals with layers of drums, glockenspiels and electronica found sounds alongside the vocals of Japanese collaborator Qrion - famed for her work with Ryan Hemsworth and her own unique productions.


UX Flow: 4 Ways to Walk a New User Through Your App

The "Walkthrough" Approach

This is the most common method used by companies like Google and Squarespace. It walks users through the flow using popovers and intro screens to help you through their UX flow. This approach is the most similar to having a professional on hand to help you with onboarding. To ensure that the popovers aren't too cumbersome, they should be easily dismissed (See my earlier blog post on Popovers).

 

The "Do Something" Approach

Used by apps like Tumblr and Ness, this approach is great because it gets the user to create content almost immediately. Tumblr considers its UI to be so intuitive that it doesn't need a walk through. If your app is simple enough, this can be a great way to get your user addicted to using your app.

 

The "Setup" Approach

The simplified approach helps the user through creating his account then you're on your own. This is another good approach for apps with a very simple UI because it doesn't overwhelm the user with options. Companies like Apple and FitBit do this to help personalize their software for your needs.

UXflows_GifGraphic_Fitbit1.gif

 

The "All In" approach

This approach walks the user through the set-up process and prompts them to post something. Pinterest uses this approach to get users to sign-in and post a Pin in one approach.

Playfulness on a mobile application can cause us to treasure our apps more.

Like many people who design digital experiences today, my first experience with a screen was a video game console. When Super Mario 64 came out, I remember discovering that I could warp Mario's face on the opening screen. You could bob his head to music. Nod his head in answer to a question. Twelve-year old me was delighted. The same delight that you feel when you are sucked into a game could be harnessed to create delightful UX. As designers, I think we spend too much time trying to create something slick, shiny, and expensive-looking that we forget to delight the user.

One way we can go about this is through gamification. Apps like Nike+ and RecycleBank use achievements to motivate users to do things like exercise and recycle. While they keep you motivated with badges and awards, you completely forget about those ten pounds you shed from running IRL. Users want to play, and the desire to be at the top of the leaderboard can be a powerful motivator. If apps like ChoreWars can motivate roommates to clean their toilets for experience points, anything is possible! 

Playfulness isn't just about motivating the user. Sometimes it is the little moments of surprise that can cause the most delight. Subtle animation, hidden easter eggs, and witty microcopy on a 404 page can all be opportunities for delight. These subtle interactions with our users leave them with a positive feeling for your app, and if you can get a laugh? You might just have a lifetime user on your hands. I know you people are playful because you have wonderful imaginations. So quit printing out Jeff Goldblum signs for the bathroom and use that playfulness in your UX!

Insightful Design: Hotel Tonight App

Hotel Tonight is one of my new favorite apps. I'll be honest, they hooked me with the animated intro screen which animates little Hotel Tonight logos coming to life around the city with the quote "I see the future but live for the moment." Other apps are just showing a loading animation at this point, but it's 2015 and the user has to be delighted if he is going to use an app. I love the idea of last-minute booking as an app, but that's not why I love it. Hotel Tonight really respects the importance of my taps. Booking a hotel on this app requires only three taps and a swipe, totaling about eight seconds (compared to Priceline’s mobile process which is apparently 52 taps, 102 seconds and Hotels.com’s app 40 taps, 109 seconds). I also love how the top level nav makes it easy to jump from section and know where you are in the app at a glance.

I love the way they handled common frustrations in their photo upload and date picker solutions. The date picker is beautiful, simple, and intuitive. It allows you to scroll horizontally instead of using the phone's native drop down. The "Snap Your Stay" feature could be easily ignored, but it is brilliant for several reasons. It tackles the problem that many apps have: how do you get users to create reviews? Normally, users would be required to take pictures and title them without any guidance, but this system takes away all of the doubt. Simple placeholder boxes for content guide the user into which types of pictures they should be taking, and as a bonus, the naming is already taken care of. They even add little hints in the comments like "Take a picture while the bed is made" ensuring that the pictures are as accurate as possible. If that wasn't enough to get the user excited to submit, there is a progress bar that also helps motivate users to publish their review.