Thursday, February 9, 2017

New Scrollable Tabs Design Pattern

By nature most people are resistant to change. I have learned the hard way that just because something has been working great for the last 10 years does not mean it is always the best solution now. So much has change with technology not only within the last 3 years but over the last 6 months I have seen drastic evolutions of the art of possible. Users are demanding more and in faster timeframes. We as designers have to keep up with the latest trends, patterns, and interactions or you will be left in the dust.
I recently had a design challenge that required the ability to display a horizontal sub navigation for mobile. Since we already had a main navigation being taken up by the parent hamburger menu I was in a bit of a jam on what to do.
My first instinct was to group all of the navigation elements into some sort of drop down so that when users clicked on the drop down they see the navigation list options. This would have been fine but was more of an old school way of looking at things. Also the animation of the drop down was a bit jarring on a mobile device.
A designer suggested using a new design technique to have the same tabs but allow the users to swipe through them when presented on the mobile responsive view. At first I was hesitant since it would require the user to clearly understand the menu was cut off on one side and all they needed to do was swipe from right to left to see the other options.
After further research this was a design pattern that was introduced through Google’s Material Design Scrollable tabs. See video animation HERE
Overall I think the scrollable tabs is a great new design pattern but only used in moderation and in specific scenarios. I find myself a lot of the time thinking about the old school way of doing things that worked from project to project. However I think we as designers need to push ourselves to think more outside the box. The traditional top or left side navigation is just not going to cut it anymore. We are in a world of younger user types that expect cutting edge design experiences that were limited by technology just a few years ago.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

UX Tools of the Trade

The tools we use to help define UI experiences is constantly changing. The fact is that Photoshop and Illustrator are no longer the preferred tools in an XD designers tool kit. We have transitioned to more flexible and robust applications that allow both low fidelity sketch like concepts to Pixel perfect high fidelity visual designs. Sketch does a really good job at providing both of these levels as well as the in between. In combination with Zeplin and Invision these three applications provide a pretty solid output for creating great experiences for both desktop and mobile applications. Zeplin has been a great tool to lessen the burden on our visual designers for creating redlines to our developers. It has some really neat features that would take weeks for to pull together in a style guide around spacing, colors, fonts etc. They are even experimenting with providing HTML and CSS outputs from the designs.

When creating wireframes I tend to use both interactions that provide some level of prototyping and annotations that help provide specifications not easily seen through an interaction. For the last couple of years I have been using Axure RP as my workhorse application. I could easily create and update flow diagrams, taxonomies, site maps. It provides amazing prototyping with annotations, show / hide, modal windows, and even complex interactions such as rotators. Axure also provides an easy way for me to share my designs with my clients through an online web viewer.

I have experimented with a few other tools such as Adobe XD, however I still think they have a ways to go with making this a single use tool that provides all the features that I need.

I do see a benefit for all designers to be working on the same tool to easily transition from wireframes to visual comps without too much of a complete rework. However, I would be interested to learn more about how your teams work together and the tools that you use?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blog Transition from SharePoint to User Experience Design

As time goes on we learn, grow and explore in new areas that make us happy and inspired. I am very lucky to have found that path. Since 2003 I focused on providing great experiences to my clients around a specific tool known as Microsoft SharePoint. I was so invested in this tool that I even wrote a book on how to stretch the limits on customizing it. Over the last couple of years SharePoint has changed to be more stand alone through Office 365.

Within the last few years I have had the pleasure to not only wok for the best company Slalom Consulting but also work for some really amazing clients! My most recent projects have been outside of the world of SharePoint and in all honesty I could not be happier. It is sad to see it go but I think it is time to pass the torch to other great and amazing bloggers that will keep posting technical posts on how to configure and explore new ways of making SharePoint do what they need to present the right information to users at the right time.

My plan is to transition this blog from a technical reference point around a specific technology to a more organic discussion around User Experience Design, Research, and Information Architecture topics. In all honesty this is really what I have been doing for the last 15 years of my career anyways. I am not going to remove or delete any previous post since some of them still can provide value to others that still support SharePoint both in the cloud on Prem.

I have some great UX topics in mind that I think all will gather some insights from. Thanks to all that have supported me over the years and I hope to inspire many others in the future to think outside of the box and create amazing experiences that matter!

Erik Swenson
Principal Experience Designer