Archive

Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Marketing 101: What is website usability?

April 19th, 2018
Share

Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Simply put, website usability is how easy, clear and intuitive it is for visitors to use your website. This is from the visitor’s perspective, not your company’s perspective.

Of course, website usability isn’t so simple at all. You essentially have to read someone else’s mind, so the expected user experience matches the web experience you design. However, as 18th-century poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.”

As I said, you’re trying to read someone else’s mind (many people, in fact). So the challenges of web usability aren’t necessarily unique to the web. These challenges are the very fundamentals of human behavior and interaction. Here’s a very visual example that UXer Oliver McGough shared on Twitter …

There are many terms related to website usability that you might have heard:

  • User experience — how people experience your website. This may be very different than you intended because you may not be able to take an outside perspective of your website and assume visitors will understand something that they don’t, or understand differently, from you (more on this in a bit).
  • User experience design (or UX) — the practice of creating websites, computer programs, apps, etc. with the user in mind. UX can also be used as shorthand for website usability. (e.g., “That site has good UX.”)
  • User interface (UI) — where man meets machine. For example, an operating system has a graphical user interface. UI continues to evolve and isn’t always visual. Thanks to virtual assistants like Alexa, the human voice now interacts with a UI as well.
  • Usability — in general. This is, after all, broader than just websites. Any digital offering has (or lacks) usability, from a website to a computer game. But physical objects have usability considerations as well. For example, OXO is a company that is well known for kitchen utensils and housewares usability. When I first learned about usability, the instructor used a car brake pedal as an example. I had never noticed before, but it is a lot wider than the gas pedal for a reason. If you’re accidentally going to stomp on one of them, it’s better to be the stop than the accelerate!
  • User testing — Get your visitors’ opinions about what works well on the site and what doesn’t, what processes and mechanisms are intuitive and which are confusing
  • A/B testing — Measuring your visitors’ behavior to see how well they are able to actually use the site, and if the actual user experience matches the intended website design

Read more…

Marketing 101: What are widows and orphans (in design)?

October 13th, 2017
Share

Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

“Widows” and “orphans” sound incredibly morbid, and the designer who coined these terms was definitely a macabre lady or gent. However, it does accurately convey how seriously design lovers take this faux pas.

In typesetting, widows and orphans are lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph that are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column. This separates them from the rest of the paragraph and, generally speaking, is considered unpleasant looking by the design community.

I personally have experienced the woe of having an orphan and widow when working on a downloadable book with our design team. Reviewing the finished copy, the team was distressed over some parts of the copy that when put into the template, created these widows and orphans.

Read more…

Marketing 101: What is the rule of thirds?

September 22nd, 2017
Share

Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

The rule of thirds is one of the first principles that all graphic designers, videographers, photographers and other creative roles learn. It’s a basic guideline for framing and image composition that results in the viewer seeing a balanced, more naturally flattering image.

To apply the rule, take your image and divide it into three parts vertically and again horizontally (it should look similar to a tic-tac-toe board.)

The rule states that the audience’s eye is naturally more drawn to the areas of the image nearest the intersection points. So, when you’re designing an image for a landing page, a social post, a PowerPoint slide, or even if you’re shooting a video, be sure to put the most important pieces of your image near these intersection points.

Applying the rule to video

Here is an example of a video frame from one of the most recent recent Quick Win Clinics published by our sister company, MarketingExperiments. The Quick Win Clinic series helps marketers with problems that are easy to solve but difficult to detect. Every week, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, takes a page submitted by the audience and optimizes it on the fly.

The primary piece of information we’d like the audience to see in this image is the person speaking, in this case, Flint McGlaughlin. You can see that Flint’s eyes are framed near the top left intersection point. As people, we are taught to look into the eyes of another person when talking to them. So framing an image so that a person’s eyes are near one of the points where the audience’s eye is naturally drawn makes a lot of sense.

Read more…

Marketing 101: What is lorem ipsum?

July 28th, 2017
Share

If you’ve ever collaborated with your design team to create a landing page, an email template, print advertisement, etc., they probably sent over a mock-up layout that shows the general aesthetic that the collateral will have. If you looked closely at that mock-up, chances are you saw it filled with text that made no sense (like the one below). Something you may not know? That nonsensical text actually has a name: lorem ipsum.

Lorem ipsum (sometimes referred to as “greeking” or “filler text”) is the standard dummy text used in the publishing and printing industry. Basically, it’s mock text used to represent the copy that will eventually live in a design, template, publication, etc. I read an article on the history of lorem ipsum from priceonomics.com to get the specifics on the topic.

With word length comparable to a real language and commas and periods creating an illusion of grammar, lorem ipsum looks more like a legitimate language than just repeating “text here” over and over or typing a slew of random letters like “skdghwejghsgskjhgdgngowklrgjlsdjgs.” That’s why using it accurately shows designers how much space is available in a layout for text. This way, they can give copywriters specific character counts when they are actually crafting copy.

Read more…