It seems like the world of the web – and web design – is changing every few days. Trends, new techniques and users who demand more are driving this change. And we all have to stay on top of it to remain relevant.
Today, we are going to look at 10 phrases that you need to add to your vocabulary right now. Each of these words or phrases relates to user experience, and in essence are part of the design process. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Just as the fairy tale taught us, a trail of breadcrumbs can show you all the places you have been. Digital breadcrumbs do the very same thing. Breadcrumbs also help designers and developers create logical navigation.
Breadcrumbs are a navigation trail that show users where they have been on your website. These digital bits link back to previous pages and can be represented by text, glyphs or images. Often this navigation will appear at the top of a page. (Even your desktop computer uses breadcrumbs to tell you how you have navigated through specific folders to get to a current location.)
In terms of design, breadcrumbs can be just as useful behind the scenes as in a visible way. While the trend is not to show breadcrumb navigation in an obvious manner, thinking about it in the design process can help you create a more user-friendly site. By thinking about how users will navigate from one step to the next and where they might want to back up or return to previous pages, you will develop a link path that is easy for users to understand and provide links (or breadcrumbs) in the proper locations.
Related to breadcrumbs are tags – often represented on sites as a word cloud – that allows users to jump to sections of a website based on popularity and keyword. Tagging is a more trendy use of breadcrumbs.
Google Analytics (and other similar tracking tools) allow website owners to really get a good look at what users like and respond to. By tracking engaged time on site – the amount of time a user spends on a specific page – you can determine what users want from your site. (I like to think of engaged time as the average time on a page and bounce rate. How long did a user stay? And did he or she interact with more of my content?)
Pages with higher engaged times are more popular among users. An engaged user is typically a happy one as well and will interact with your product or service in the desired way, such as making a purchase, signing up for an event or list or clicking a link. Users with higher engaged times are also likely to return to your site again in the future because they found it valuable.
So what is a good average time on page? The number can vary dramatically based on the content provided and depth of page. Keep track of your top five pages – landing page and four other pages that are important to your mission – and see how the time on page and bounce rates vary.
The combination of multiple design and user experience processes – information architecture, interaction design and experience design – make up experience architecture. A good experience architecture is one that provides a simple and valuable relationship to users.
- Information architecture is defining and designing around an information model or concept.
- Interaction design is creating a structure and pattern of behaviors or actions for a product and its users.
- Experience design is the process of considering how a design will work across multiple platforms in the design process.
While experience architecture is most often thought of in terms of UX design for digital projects, the concept applies to almost anything. You want anyone who comes in contact with your design or product to understand and benefit from it.
Eyetracking is a research method that is growing in popularity thanks to technology. Eyetracking uses tools (such as glasses or other eye devices) to record where users look first and subsequently when in contact with a website or other visual. This data tells us what visuals best draw the attention of users.
Thanks to GPS tracking on an increasing number of devices, geolocation indicators can tell users where they are in physical proximity to something else. Geolocation services are especially popular on mobile applications and for mapping services.
Location-based design is seeing a boom right now. Why? Because it makes everything a user does relate and become specific to and tailored especially for that user.
Key Performance Indicators measure the usability of a website or digital design. KPIs look at current usability, trends over time and comparisons with competitors. The end result is data about how users interact with a site and whether the design works in the way the designer or developer anticipated.
An observational study is conducted with actual users to see how they act in relationship to your design. What are the facial expressions of users? What type of body language do you see? Is the overall posture positive or negative with users are in contact with your site?
Observational studies can be somewhat expensive to conduct but are a great real-life look at how people will connect to your website or app. This type of research is great for understanding how people interact with something, but does not provide much feedback on why behaviors are that way.
Usability testing helps you evaluate a site by having actual users interact with it. This is typically done in a lab setting, although that is not always the case.
There are five key benefits of usability testing, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
- Learn if participants are able to complete specified tasks successfully.
- Identify how long it takes to complete specified tasks.
- Find out how satisfied participants are with your website or product.
- Identify changes required to improve user performance and satisfaction.
- Analyze the performance to see if it meets your usability objectives.
Web 2.0 is defined by any dynamic website or page that is designed to benefit the user. While the term is not that new, it defines the transition from early static websites to usable interfaces.
Combine the idea of Web 2.0 with HTML5 and you are thinking about the most modern and user-friendly of interfaces on the web. HTML5 was designed to deliver cross-platform rich experiences that include everything from animations to music and video.
Widgets are one of the most commonly known devices across a variety of platforms and websites. A widget is simply an on-screen element that users interact with.
In the early days of websites, almost everyone included a traffic counter. That is a widget. More common (and current) examples of widgets are sliders, calendar tools, buttons and contact forms.
While it may be impossible to know all the lingo, it is important to keep up with the evolution of design and the web. An understanding of terminology can help designers and developers better know what techniques they should consider or apply to working projects.
Are there other bits of lingo that you are starting to use more? Share those terms (and what they mean) in the comments.