A Web vs. Native Tablet App Experience Analysis: A&E

A Web vs. Native Tablet App Experience Analysis: A&E

In my last article, “How Native Tablet Applications Can Inspire Better Tablet-Optimized Websites”, I outlined several principles from native apps that can be leveraged to improve browser-based web experiences on tablets.

As an example of the experience gap between many browser-based web experiences that haven’t been optimized for tablet use and native applications on tablet devices, let’s take a look at the A&E TV web vs. iPad experience to determine which experience better facilitates user tasks on a tablet device. For those not familiar with A&E, it is a United States-based cable and satellite television channel with the tagline: “Real Life. Drama.”

While research should be done to validate A&E’s users’ needs, let’s assume that A&E’s digital content is likely frequently accessed by people sitting on their couches in front of a TV. These users likely want to find out more information about the shows, catch up on shows they missed, and find out when they are on. Under these general assumptions, does the A&E website or native tablet app deliver a more usable and enjoyable experience?
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How Native Applications Can Inspire Better Tablet-Optimized Websites

How Native Applications Can Inspire Better Tablet-Optimized Websites

Native tablet applications are often described as being “more engaging” than their browser-based web experience counterparts. There are characteristics of native experiences that “feel” different from most browser-based web experiences. In fact, when considering a responsive design approach to optimize web experiences for tablets, many aim to design a mobile web experience that is more “app-like”. But what does being “app-like” really mean? What can we learn from native applications that we can use to improve tablet-optimized web experiences?

There is currently a divide between browser-based web experiences that are optimized for tablet use and those that present existing desktop web experiences (perhaps with slight optimizations or none at all). Organizations frequently struggle with how to optimize tablet experiences, as the desktop experience can often be seen as “good enough,” particularly given the additional cost of optimizing web experiences for tablets. However, there are lessons from native application design that can be leveraged on the mobile web that can result in deeper user engagement outside of the native application approach.

Trip Advisor's Native Tablet App vs Web Experience

Trip Advisor’s Native Tablet App and Web Experience

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How Habits Can Impact User Behavior

How Habits Can Impact User Behavior

hab·it [hab-it] noun

  1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

In the book The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg explains how habits are formed and what it takes to break an ingrained habit. The book references a 2006 study from Duke University that found that 40% of the actions that people perform each day are habits, not purposeful decisions. Habits impact our daily lives in many different ways, even in how we interact with websites and applications. Being aware of how habits may influence interactions users have with your products can help you design better user experiences.

The Habit Loop

Duhigg breaks down how habits are formed into a very simple habit loop:

  1. A cue triggers your brain to respond in a certain way
  2. You respond by doing a routine or action, which could be physical, mental, or emotional
  3. A reward is given for doing the routine, telling your brain that the habit is worth repeating in the future

UX Habit Loops
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Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 3 – Content Strategy Maps

Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 3 – Content Strategy Maps

Content strategy is hard. It’s clear that having a content strategy in place is critical to ensuring the success of most if not all projects. However, the reality is that actually doing content strategy work involves a lot of long, often tedious, and mentally challenging work. For that reason, when working on the content strategy aspects for a project, it’s important to find ways to structure the activities and to keep track of the outputs of those activities.

In parts 1 and 2 of the “Mind Mapping for UX Design” series, I discussed applying mind mapping to sketch mapping and research mapping. Mind maps can also be used to help you wrap your head around the content strategy needs for a product or service and to make those activities more tangible, organized, and structured.

In almost all cases, a mind map alone won’t be sufficient for completing many elements of content strategy (e.g. content audits, governance plans, metadata and taxonomy definitions, etc.). However, mapping out the high-level elements of content strategy can help ensure that the elements of your strategy are aligned and can help serve as a reference point when compiling the various aspects into a comprehensive strategy.

Content Strategy Map Example

Content Strategy Map Example
Download the full-sized map (PDF)

What are content strategy maps?

Content strategy maps outline content strategy activities and deliverables along with the top components that make up those activities. These maps can serve multiple purposes:

  • Generate a list of the content strategy activities that you will be conducting
  • Document the primary outputs of content strategy activities
  • Create a framework for identifying relationships between content elements (for example, how voice and tone can be used to support the content’s purpose)
  • Help reflect the scale and scope of a content strategy effort, helping to plan and resource activities effectively
  • Create a visual reference of the most important elements of your content strategy for reference throughout a project

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Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 2 – Research Maps

Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 2 – Research Maps

In part 1 of the “Using Mind Maps for UX Design” series, I discussed how to use mind maps to create “sketch maps” that organize ideas in a tree-based structure where sketches are used as the way to illustrate those concepts. Mind maps have many other applications for UX designers. This article will focus on how to use mind maps for user research.

What are research maps?

Research maps are mind maps that can help you manage all aspects of user research, from planning, to conducting studies, through analysis and recommendations. Using mind maps to arrange elements of user research allows you to visually structure information in a way that helps you to make connections between research elements. For example, a research map could help you connect research goals with themes from your findings, identify connections across interviews or test sessions, or to match findings with recommendations. Instead of looking at different phases of user research in isolation (e.g. creating separate documents for your research plan, observations, and recommendations), a research map can help you see the big picture across all phases.

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Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 1 – Sketch Mapping

Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 1 – Sketch Mapping

Mind maps are diagrams that visually illustrate how words, phrases, ideas, or concepts relate to a central key word or phrase. They are a visual thinking tool that helps to structure information and identify connections between items.

To create a mind map, you simply start with a central idea, and branch out from that idea with each branch representing a topic related to that idea. Sub topics can be made in an infinite number of levels building off of each branch. It’s typically best to use colors and imagery in a mind map to help link together ideas in a way that’s easy to understand and remember.

Mind maps are powerful tools for User Experience professionals. In part 1 of this post series, I’ll explain how you can use mind maps to create “sketch maps.”

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