CX Insights

The Best UX Articles of October 2014

5 min read

The days are getting shorter, the nights longer and the clocks have now retreated an hour. With leaves are scattered around, autumn is well and truly here. Not to worry, we’ve brought together our favourite UX articles of the last month to provide some relief from the thought of winter.

With so much quality content out there, we take one more look back at October 2014. We’ve compiled the 5 best articles from October we feel are interesting, invaluable or otherwise a must read for anyone with an interest in UX.

From last month’s top 5 UX articles, you’ll:

  • Discover How How to Drive Deep User Engagement
  • Learn About The Principles of Interstitial Design
  • Check Out What Web Designers Can Learn from Google’s Material Design
  • Learn Why Design Is Eating the World
  • See How To Design for Large Screen Smartphones

In no particular order:

1. Design Is Eating the World

Design Is Eating the World by Greg Satell, published on The Creativity Post.

  • “Design is no longer something that we add to enhance a product, it is the product. The future, will not be made as much as it will be designed and anyone who wants to have a successful future, needs to learn design skills.”

For the past half century design has been at the forefront of everything product related. As much as we may think we do, we don’t buy into products, we buy into designs. Into trends. What is current – what is fashionable.

Technology took a little while to catch up to this trend. Technology for a long time, was just… technology. In recent years this has changed dramatically as tech itself becomes a fashion accessory, a trend – a product of design.

A heavier read to start, but one that is equally as interesting. Greg discusses how important design is in shaping our perception of a product. How important design is in creating a product worth buying. Let Greg convince you to take a dive into the design world.

2. UX Flows: How to Drive Deep User Engagement

How to Drive Deep User Engagement by Dan Birman, published on Betterment

  • “Understanding what drives users to be deeply engaged in one app over another can feel like you’re trying to read tea leaves. To solve this problem, you need to understand how users think. Fortunately, someone has already done much of the groundwork for us.”

The whole premise of UX is user engagement – our job as UX designers is to capture interest and leave a lasting impression. To engage our users with our content. Yet it is surprising how many in UX forget how important engagement is, and instead focus on gimmicky designs to set themselves apart from the competition.

For a design to be successful, it must successfully engage our users. The value of user engagement cannot be understated. Thus, Dan’s article is great material. An interesting mix of psychology and real examples both teaches us, and provides inspiration for later.

3. Principles of Interstitial Design

Principles of Interstitial Design by Faizan Bhat published on

  • “Interstitials are becoming ubiquitous on the web. Websites frequently use them to promote subscriptions, surveys, and mailing list sign ups. They are nearly impossible to ignore, which makes them a powerful promotion tool. But their interruptive nature poses a number of user experience problems that must be properly evaluated and resolved.”

Pop-ups have littered the web for two decades. Unified hatred saw them slowly cast aside as an annoyance to the everyday user. They ruined user experience even before the term existed in our vocabularies.

Yet they’re making a resurgence once again. Now that UX is in our vocabularies, now that our users expect better from us, launching users with a face full of pop-up is hardly the greatest tactic in the world.

There is a subtle art to the pop-up however – the interstitial. Faizan leads us down the slightly darker path of UX design, where only us soulless marketers dare wander*.

*Rather, the soullessness is probably a result of my ginger hair.

4. What Web Designers Can Learn from Google’s Material Design

What Web Designers Can Learn from Google’s Material Design by Paula Borowska, published on Web Designer Depot.

  • “Sure, it makes sense to think it’s a step forward from flat design but I think it’s so much more than that. Because Material Design is a metaphor it provides new ground for design that is similar in roots to skeuomorphism. But because Material Design focuses on physics of the real world it doesn’t replicate the horrors we’ve seen in, for example iOS8.”

Google Wear, Google Inbox, Google Calendar.

Google has set about reimagining their product suite with material design – Google’s own style guide for UI design. Where Apple has abandoned their famous skeumorphs in preference of a flatter feel, Google has retained it, but iterated. Created their own take.

Material Design with doubtlessly be a major player for years to come, so its probably best we get to grips with it as soon as possible. Paula’s article isnt a bad place to start.

5. Designing for Large Screen Smartphones

Designing for Large Screen Smartphones by Luke Wroblewski published on

  • As smartphones continue to get larger but our hands don’t, what kinds of design solutions can ensure mobile interactions remain comfortable, quick, and easy on our thumbs? Here’s a few options to consider…

When once mobile phones grew smaller and more subtle, the current trend sees roles reversed as mobile devices grow – becoming concurrently more impractical for those of us stuck with tiny hands. Larger screens may provide more UI real estate for our apps, but also create a finger-breaking exercises for our hands.

Unless, we build UIs suited to larger screens – suited to our fingers.
Luke shows of some excellent examples in gif form of different techniques we can utilise to better adapt our apps to larger screens. Definitely worth checking out.

Oliver McGough
Passionate UX Designer and Marketer.