UX Designers Tool Kit: Crazy Egg

March 28, 2019 - Posted By: CreateApe

There are many tools in a UX designer’s tool kit, and Crazy Egg is one of our favorites. Crazy Egg is a website that allows designers to track various types of data on their designs. Two of their most prominent features are their heat mapping and A.B. testing tool. Today, we’re discussing why it’s important to use these critical insights in UX design. 

Mapping Designs is Essential

There are various types of maps that UX designers use to strengthen their designs. Scroll maps, for example, show where the user is scrolling and where they tend to stop. Confetti maps show which areas of the site are getting the most clicks and which are not. Heat mapping shows where users have clicked the most on a website, what pages they’re visiting, and what designs they’re responding to. This data is also broken down by where the traffic is coming from and browsers used. Whether we’re using heat mapping, confetti mapping, or scroll mapping, these insights help us interpret how users are behaving and allow us to design accordingly. 

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An example of heat mapping. Where the saturation increases, the level of user engagement is high.
Data Reveals Crucial Insights 

In a world that’s saturated with data, it’s important to understand the crucial insights and how to know which numbers to pay attention to. Understanding data from the mapping is one thing, it doesn’t take an analyst to understand that where the most saturation is on a heat map is where the user is visiting most frequently, but it does take technical and creative skills to implement data into a design that converts.

“Crazy egg provides additional levels of data for the savvy UX designer. Breaking down traffic through heat and confetti maps allow the designer to ascertain real data regarding user activity,” comments our CEO Alessandro Fard.

 

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Increased Certainty

The maps on Crazy Egg give us more certainty. Because we do projects from a variety of different verticals, there’s no certainty that one business user will respond like others. This gives the design a far stronger chance of survival. Think about it like genetics. If we keep tracking the things that are working and making improvements to the designs’ DNA, it’s survival of the fittest. This gives our designs a competitive edge and gains traction with customers. When you stumble upon insights that make a huge difference in how responsive your design is, we clutch them tight and never want to let them go.

The great thing about mapping is that it offers insights that allow designers to make changes that aren’t a shot in the dark. There are no longer ambiguous insights and it doesn’t feel like playing Russian Roulette with your designs.

Gone are the days of trial and error to see what actually works. We no longer need to conduct dozens of tests to see what’s working and what’s the most impactful. Don’t get us wrong, testing designs is essential and one of the most important aspects of UX, but it’s no longer just based on luck. We see this with A.B. testing.

A.B Testing

Crazy Egg is one of our go-to user research tools. We use it with most strategic redesigns and pivots. Not only does if offer heat mapping to see where we need to make changes as designers, but we get to test the capability and impact of our designs with A.B. testing.

A.B. testing is when you test designs to see which one the user responds to the most. This could be small changes like testing the responsiveness of the color of a button, or more complicated designs like an entirely different landing page.

We see this a lot with how personalized websites are becoming. There are now various landing pages that are designed to be used on different types of people or personas. A.B. testing allows the designer to see which landing pages are the most impactful for a certain demographic. 

Alessandro comments, “Using the crazy egg A.B. testing feature, you can observe the impacts of testing variations to a page such as button placement, color, wording, etc. The crazy egg tool is also fairly simple and powerful and has been built to not overwhelm users.”

A.B. testing can clue us into small changes that translate into bigger metrics. For example, one thing we constantly see are people clicking on the feature images when they aren’t clickable elements. People were clicking them anyway and it gave us a tip as to what users found valuable on the page. These small insights allow us to change things like copywriting and placement that ultimately results in boosting conversion rates.

The Tool Kit

After all, UX is a blend of art and science. It takes a skilled designer to know how to implement both aspects of UX in a way that is meaningful and responsive. Thanks to Crazy Egg, we can continue to deliver products to our clients that are supported by data and show clear results. The simplicity of their product combined with the immensely impactful insights Crazy Egg offers is essential for any UX designers tool kit. 

 

Are There Benefits of Being a Google Partner for a UX/UI Designer?

October 4, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

SEO. It’s another one of those acronyms and buzzwords people in the tech space love to throw out. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the reason why certain keywords show up first when using search engines.

SEO can be vital for organic growth

Studies will show if you’re not on the first page of a search engine, it doesn’t matter where you are. In fact, if you’re running a small business or an entrepreneur, you’ve probably received a phone call from companies claiming to be Google and promising your company top placement on the first page. Chances are, they’re probably not Google. As much as we’d love to believe those in charge of ranking and indexing at Google have our personal cell phones, that’s not the case.

The Google SEO Game

This is important because in my opinion, if you want to play the Google indexing and ranking game, you probably want to look in to PPC campaigns. PPC stands for pay per click and is usually the single specialty of an agency. If you’re going to pay Google, actually pay Google and pay for the clicks. That way you know every dollar you spend is going towards a click that could be a future client. Essentially, you’re paying for eyeballs on your content. The cost per click might be pretty high, but is probably a wiser choice than paying an arbitrary company who claims to have the “secret sauce” to changing the SEO game.

WTF Is A Google Partner?

I’ve also noticed the new “Google Partner” badge on some company websites. First off, if I’m a UX/UI designer what does being a Google Partner have to do with anything? Google partner has to do with search, PPC, and SEO. If you’re an agency and you’re a Google partner… good for you I guess. If all you focus on is SEO and PPC it makes some sense, but you’re essentially paying a ton of money to have a fancy badge on your website.

As a UX/UI vendor, putting that you’re a Google partner is nonsensical. It holds no bearing on your design chops, user testing procedures, or any other capabilities in your wheelhouse. Even if you’re doing development all the way to design, being a “Google Partner” still doesn’t have any benefit.

What to Actually Invest In:

When creating a website, there’s still basic semantic SEO, meta tags, and keywords. Then there’s actually implementing campaigns around high ranking metrics, organic SEO, or a PPC campaign. I would argue if you are looking to do a PPC campaign, you should go to an agency where PPC is all they do day in and day out. If they offer UX/UI, development, social media, branding, SEO, and PPC, they may be able to do it really well, but typically in my experience it’s better to go with people who specialize. Do you want somebody who does a little bit of everything kinda okay, or do you want somebody who does one thing extremely well?

If you’re looking for great UX/UI, go to a great UX/UI agency. If you’re looking for a PPC campaign, go to an agency where that’s all they’re known for. Although there are some benefits for being a Google Partner if you’re in the space of PPC or SEO, it really is a badge that validates how much money you put into Google. SEO results don’t happen overnight and neither does Google indexing.

And remember, no company has a magic bullet. They cannot guarantee specific metrics overnight. Do your research and let an expert team guide you towards achieving your goals.

Difference between UX/UI Designer & Developer

August 8, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

There are many things in the tech space that can get taken for granted. Like a general understanding of common terms. In the UX/UI design space, we throw around a lot of terms we expect people to know. Whether it be CTA, above the fold, or even UX design itself, we assume that people know what these terms we’ve been throwing around mean. But boy is the tech space a bubble!

 

 

While some of this may be hitting some of you over the head, some of you may be sitting there like…

 

 

So it’s time to get #learnt. You might be asking yourself “What is a UX Designer?” “What do they do?”  “What’s a Developer?” and to conclude, “WTF even is the difference?” Well pull up a chair.

 

 

The distinction between a UX/UI designer and a developer is huge.

To make it simple, a UX designer creates the layout and general aesthetic of an application, and a developer makes these things work.

UX design is the infrastructure, layout, and placement of content and copy for a specific composition.

A good example of that is wireframing. Wireframing, one of the most utilized tools in a UX designers toolbelt, is a rough sketch or layout of what the application will look like before adding the details.

Whether wire framing is done on a whiteboard or an application like Sketch, UX/UI designers work closely with stakeholders to translate their ideas into a visual with an intelligent layout and design. At this point in the process, a rough sketch of what the application will look like exists but it’s not fully flushed out, resembling a coloring book before a 12 pack of Crayola.

The UX/UI design process is similar to building a home.

To build a home you’re going to need an architect, someone who will plan the general layout and composition of your space. Somebody that hopefully creates an environment for maximum enjoyment of what you want out of your home. That’s the UX designers job.

The builder, the one who actually brings the home to life, putting in finishing details such as window finishes, painting, and the function of appliances would fall under the UI designers job.

A UI designer will take what a UX designer has produced, color it in, and implement the style guide and branding of the application. These are all things a developer who is coding the front end (what the site looks like) of the application will want to know so that they can do their part.

Find yourself a proper villain:

More often than not a UX designer will also specialize in UI and have a little bit of front end experience just from encounters with other developers. This way when the designer hands the project off to the developer it’s neatly packaged and the developer doesn’t have to dig around to understand the needs and wants. Which in the end, is better for someone who’s paying the developer because costs will be lower and everything will run smoothly.

 

So what does a web developer do?

Once the handoff happens from the designer to the developer, the developer makes the application come to life. Good development starts in the planning phases, even beginning when the designers wireframe. Doing this ensures an understanding of how the application should respond and look like. Now developer will know what the site is, what the flow will be and be prepared for any challenges that may arise.

When it comes to web development, you can have developers that specialize in certain aspects, or full stack developers.

Meaning, they do everything from front end development, what you actually see in your browser, to back-end development, what the application is built on like WordPress and Magento.

Once the UI elements are made from the design the developers should start thinking about the backend.

What database should they use?

What do they need to use?

All those different questions, and planning it out from the design phase helps in the long run. You’ll have less technical debt, code that’s maintainable, and getting to the finished product will be much easier.

The relationship between the UX/UI designer and developer is integral to the success of the project. Although very different roles, the two have to work closely together so small details aren’t over looked. If you give a developer instructions to create a website without a design, you’ll most likely end up with a website that looks like it was made in the early 90s and vice versa. Like most specialities, it’s safe to say the job of a developer and a UX/UI designer adheres to the age old motto: #stayinyolane.

Are you a business owner or entrepreneur that needs help deciding on which application is  best for your business? Let us help get you #JungleReady. Let our CreateApe expert team be your jungle guide. We will help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.

Finding a Proper Villain: Developer Edition

July 18, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

We’ve covered what it takes to be a Proper Villain in the UX/UI space, now we’re going over what it takes to be a proper villain on the developer front. We asked our CreateApe head developer, Tim Abarta, what might make someone a Proper Villain:

COMMUNICATION:

Communication between the designer and developer is key. “I think that for developers and designers, communication is paramount. I’ve worked with a lot of people who can drone on and on, that eats up hours and time, but if someone can get right to the point and get straight into it…that’s huge.”

INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE:

A big part of front end web development is working with responsive frameworks and knowing how the front end works. A plus is knowing key terms, like what the “box mode” is. “As a web developer a large part of the front end is working with certain responsive frameworks and knowing generally what the box model is. Good designers know what that is and they work within it. Bad designers don’t, and honestly it’s a huge headache.”

What is The CSS Box Model?  “All HTML elements can be considered as boxes. In CSS, the term “box model” is used when talking about design and layout. The CSS box model is essentially a box that wraps around every HTML element. It consists of: margins, borders, padding, and the actual content.”

TRENDS:

A “Proper Villain” knows the latest applications that most developers and designers are using. A common tool that UX Designers use is Sketch, which integrates with Zeplin. Zeplin takes your Sketch and starts to breakdown the CSS. Plus, extracting assets is easier with Sketch than Photoshop. “When you don’t have to guess with CSS, you know you have a good starting point.”

NAIL THE 5 MINUTE MEETING:

There is an art to the perfect meeting. You need to think about time, participants, agendas, location, etc. A proper villain thinks about the bottom line, and doesn’t waste your time droning on just to hear their own voice. “I’ve been in an hour long meeting and we didn’t get anything done, and that’s just a huge waste of time. That’s a complaint I hear a lot when working with bad designers.  A good designer in ten minutes can get through what would take a mediocre designer three hour long sessions to do.”

Overall, having an agile approach to your work, refining skills, and keeping tabs on the industry will impress any other proper villain out there. Being an expert in your field means feeling comfortable enough to be warm, concise, and solution-oriented (no matter the problem).

Want to learn more?

Let us help get you situated. It’s a jungle out there, click here so you don’t have to go at it alone! Let our CreateApe experts act as “jungle guides” and help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.

UX Writing 101

June 12, 2018 - Posted by: Brooke LaFleur

Prior to entering the tech space, I had never heard of a UX writer. Even in the UX/UI space people who copy for websites we’re called copywriters. Now, we’re seeing a shift of focus on writing that intends to create a positive experience for the users once they enter a website or an app.

What is a UX Writer?

The main difference between a copywriter and a UX writer is that copy writing makes things sound good, and UX writing makes things make sense. It’s the difference between reading a complex novel and a 3rd grade kids book. One uses bigger words to attract customers, and one uses simple words to explain concepts.

A typical copywriter is sales-oriented and works with the marketing team to tell stories, but often can create copy alone and report back later. UX writers however, are product-oriented and work closely with designers to share conversations.

UX writers often don’t work alone and have to “fill in the blanks”  with the designers. For example, if there are gaps in the user flow, the UX writer needs to be able to mend any points of confusion for the user.

Gone are the days of picking the best writer on the team to write copy for interfaces and confusing pop up messages. UX writing has its own language: clear, concise, and useful.

These age old pop ups are one of the reasons UX writing now exists:

 

What does the UX writing process look like?

Well, it’s pretty similar to the path of a designer. From the beginning they will work with designers and developers in the early stages of production to figure out the flow and map out what copy is needed. A big part of creating good copy is researching and testing. Research of the target market and knowing jargon that is used by a particular vertical helps speak to the users language. UX writing intends to increase conversion and usability, putting hypotheses forward and a/b testing what words have more of a response.

Microcopy like CTA’s, instructions, navigation buttons, confirmation messages, error messages, and even 404 errors need to be written. Contrary to popular belief, these words don’t just come out of the void, someone writes these 404 messages:

pixar-ux-writing-example mcdonalds-ux-writing

Although a 404 page is possibly the worst possible scenario for a user on a website, using graphics and words that convey humor and sympathy make it a positive experience landing on a page a user typically doesn’t want to see. That’s the beauty of UX writing.

UX focuses on emotion and ensures that the path is clear for the user, and doesn’t make the user have to ask any questions. Users shouldn’t have to focus on reading buttons, good copy ensures that users actions are intuitive.

What is good microcopy?
HUMAN ORIENTED:

Using witty language and writing in the voice of the brand. When putting in the wrong blog URL, tumblr’s copy team uses humor and compliments to ease the disappointing experience.

ENCOURAGE USERS:

Good copy prompts their users. Introducing yourself and finding a starting point is difficult in real life. Tinder helps users start a conversation by prompting them to simply give a compliment!

UX Writing is a combination of UX Design and Copywriting, working in tandem together in the development process. UX writing’s primary goal is to make sure that every step of the user flow makes sense and fulfills the users needs. The takeaway? It’s obvious there needs to be changes when writing copy for websites, especially if you want an optimized conversion centric site. Be an empathetic guide and facilitate the users needs with smart copy that conveys real actionable steps.

Want to learn more?

Let us help get you situated. It’s a jungle out there, click here so you don’t have to go at it alone! Let our CreateApe experts act as “jungle guides” and help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Graphic Designer

June 5, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

So, it’s time for a new website. Not only do you want the best website for you or your brand, but you want to find the right team too. Here’s five questions to ask when choosing a graphic designer or even a web developer.

Who have you worked for in the past?

This isn’t to say designing for big companies is everything, but having consistent quality is. Looking at a robust portfolio will allow you to see if they can deliver your desired outcome and design aesthetic. If they don’t have the kind of design ethic/standard you need from the get go, they aren’t a match. Finding an agency that has worked in the same vertical  as you is a huge plus! They’ll understand the lingo and what the consumer expects.

What platforms do you design for?

Making sure you’re going to be comfortable working with the platform that the agency understands will be important. Can you use the admin system or are you going to have to learn something new? Good to pick an agency with comfort in the platform like WordPress or Shopify that you want to work in, or can help train you if they recommend a different platform.

What is your user experience methodology?

Find out how they approach putting themselves in the customer’s shoes. How do they know that what they are designing will “fit” that particular audience or demographic? If a company is skilled in UX design and has done the proper research, they will be able to tell you.

How does your process work?

Having the agency explain their process is how you’ll align with them on their responsibilities vs. yours. You need to get out in the open what their expectations are of you, and what turnaround times, delivery, and production schedules might look like. Lack of understanding about timelines, schedules and deliverables could be a huge red flag. If they can’t effectively manage the project and give you a “to-do” list, how will they be a good partner?

Can I speak to a few references?

Get feedback! Knowing the strengths and weaknesses about the company you’re about to work with is a good idea. They might be great at delivering projects, but perhaps spending more time in specific areas that are a key focus for your business would be a better use of your budget. Their past references might give some insight into offerings you didn’t even know they had. It’s inevitable some companies will spend more time on different things depending on their expertise. Utilize their best creative resources to get the best outcome!

Mobile Design Workshop

May 18, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

CreateApe is excited to announce that our founder, Alessandro Fard, will be holding a Mobile Design Workshop in Los Angeles this Wednesday May 23rd from 6-8:30 pm at the WeWork Playa Vista.

The workshop will cover practical applications for UX, including best design patterns and strategies for each platform, with a special focus on critical elements of iOS and Android mobile apps: home screen, search, navigation, forms, and workflows. No experience in UX/UI design is needed to participate.

The activity based workshop will be focused on:

  • Individual and personalized case studies from the class attending.
  • Hands on experience with user-centered design approaches.
  • Learning storyboarding and user scenarios.
  • User testing of paper prototypes using Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation (RITE).
  • Practical application of mobile design patterns
  • NOTE: Topics covered will vary depending on attendee case studies presented. Bring your questions AND your work examples for Alessandro to offer suggestions on!

Participants will walk away with:

  • Best design strategy for iOS, Android and Web.
  • Understanding the essentials: Reinventing your interface with an agile and responsive approach.
  • Document use cases and personas in context using storyboards.
  • Selecting the right design pattern for interfaces to drive desired user experience.
  • Design usable and effective mobile forms and workflows.

With over fifteen-years experience in the web industry, Alessandro has worked directly with awesome companies like American Express, Best Buy, and Facebook. His work has been featured in VentureBeat, TechCrunch50, Newsweek, and his article “The UX University of Life” was featured in UX Magazine.

As a lifelong learner, Alessandro believes his everyday experiences can be leveraged as a part of an ongoing UX education. Great UX is something everyone can learn and achieve.

Parking:

There is plenty of street parking available around the building and a parking structure across the street at the Whole Food Marketplace.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit the link here! If you are a current or previous client of Alessandro’s please message us at support@createape.com to get your FREE registration code.

 

Event Sponsored By:

Schmoozd is an offline social event that serves a passionate community of culturally-connected people who are seeking an alternative way to socialize and network. A service from Creativewhiz, Inc., a digital agency based in Los Angeles.  

 

A**hole Design Subreddit Makes Us Better

May 16, 2018 - Posted by: CreateApe

Sometimes the best way to recognize and make up for our mistakes is to laugh at them first. That’s what the sub-reddit /r/assholedesign is for, to call out the UX and industrial designer that insists on making people’s lives harder. Almost everyone’s been subjected to the great feat of simply trying to cancel your account only to be met with a thousand step procedure or a technological design that just complicates or confuses the process. That’s why this sub-reddit hits the mark.

As an offshoot of the popular sub-reddit /r/CrappyDesign that features everything from signs, advertising, and third grade projects gone wrong, /r/assholedesign has over 400,000 subscribers who delight in the humor of “designers who know exactly what they’re doing…but they don’t care because they’re assholes.” The site serves as a place to shame bad design varying from architecture, packaging, and web interface.

Some of the posts will have you wondering what the conversation was like in the design meeting. I can only envision “Ah, let’s make it harder by adding three steps, or better yet, let’s make the unsubscribe button invisible!”

(Screenshot of /r/assholedesign)

According to the moderators, “satire is ridicule of asshole design techniques” and the amusement of posters reveals exactly that. Not only does it intend to amuse, but the sub-reddit reveals dark patterns in design, “tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things you didn’t mean to.” These patterns have implications for society, but also for the future of design.

This guy is definitely a subscriber of /r/assholedesign:

Doesn’t everybody love a classic dark pattern?

 

We need this type of sub-reddit because sometimes, even professionals need a reminder of what and what not to do. Anyone with an iPhone 6 or above feels this struggle when trying to listen with their headphones and charge their phone at the same time (that’s some serious “asshole” design).

Although framed in a comical way, /r/assholedesign reminds us that looking at our failures in a UX/UI community allow designers to focus on designs that make the experience better, and not worse, for the user. Laughing at our mistakes and old designs help us grow as a group of professionals. We’ll be the first to admit that sometimes a lesson needs to accompanied with a good laugh.

How To Think Like A UX Designer

January 15, 2018 - Posted by: Alessandro Fard

Five tips that will get you thinking (and designing) like a UX expert! User Experience designers stay curious, endeavor to be empathetic, and work hard to be a team player. Read on for more… and let us know what you would add!

1. Don’t start designing without insight

If you don’t have time to do research, still observe. Still find that nugget of new information that changes the way a customer’s life will be as a result of your product, service, or brand. Make sure you have that insight and make sure your entire strategy is built on that insight vs. a brainstorming session that’s internal.

2. Live out your ABCs: Always be curious

A lot of what we see in terms of a great UX designer and an okay UX designer comes down to their level of curiosity. The ones that we’re less impressed with — for example, when I’m hiring — are ones that try to play it safe. They want to follow the rules, the patterns, the standards. They know what they’re doing, which is great, but they’re not really interested in what they don’t know.Verses the great designers, they can show you what they’ve done, but they can also ask questions and tell you what they would do differently and the questions they would ask that would be different on the same project again. Really hone in on that curiosity — it gets lost in the day-to-day. Really try to make sure you’re pulling that up.

3. Advocate and fight for the customer

There’s a lot of things that you’ll find that cost money, or that make the process different than what the business needs it to be, but it would be better for the customer. Registration forms are a great example. Businesses want to put that first, users don’t really like them. Really think about what is that customer experience and what do I need to change in order to improve the customer experience. Change can be stressful and sometimes you have to fight for it.

4. Remember, you’re not the only one with great ideas

Some of the proudest moments that I’ve had has not being coming in and delivering a recommendation report, but getting a team, especially a client team, to come up with the recommendations and solutions themselves. Really trusting that [your team members] knowthe business, they know what they’re doing, they’ve participated in the research with you and it’s a collaborative process to get them to ideate. They also will take those ideas further, so for anyone who’s consulting on the UX side, I have found success in not being the one who has the answers, but being the one who asks really great questions, which helps people find the answers within them.

5. Swap your mindset: You didn’t fail, you just learned and have an opportunity to iterate

When you make a ‘mistake,’ remember, those are great. Those are really important learning points, and you’re always learning. If you’re trying new things, you will likely fail. I mentioned earlier to a colleague, [if] there’s a task that I do and I haven’t done it right seven times, it doesn’t bother me — I’ll just try it again for the eighth. And that’s what makes or breaks a UX designer. If you’re trying new things, you will likely fail for part of it, which is great. Who cares? The important part is getting it right eventually.