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You, me, and billions of other people rely on the Internet as the first source of information. Despite the sheer number of people who go online every day, websites are still in fierce competition for traffic.

Website owners try to remain at the top by producing quality content, developing cut-edge marketing strategies, and of course, dishing out a stunning website.

Content may still be king but no one wants to read anything on a poorly designed website.

As business owners gunning for online presence, keep in mind that the overall visual appeal of a website also contributes to capturing a reader’s attention, and should not be taken lightly.

If you want your website wants to draw traffic, you need to think about the flow of information on your site. This means thinking about the layout, graphics, and structure of your site.

It’s your job to make sure your readers can ease into the information.

Think about it as designing a river – yes, we know, no one designs geographical items, but bear with us. If you design a river with a rapid current, rocks and other obstacles, no one is going to dare to dive in. A calm river, with easy-going currents and clearly visible banks, is far less scary.

The same thing applies to your website: if you stuff it full of information, clutter it with images, and force the reader to wade through piles of data, they won’t stick around for very long.

Smart and efficient web design is more relevant now that the universal display or resolution no longer exists. Mobile phones and computers now come in a myriad of screen sizes, making it important to optimize your website to look good and function well on any device, i.e. to be responsive.

For example, research shows that half of online shoppers expect a website to load in less than 3 seconds. In fact, 19% will close a website if it takes longer than 2-3 seconds to load, and 8% will leave after 1 second.

Visual Hierarchy

Designers can create normalcy out of chaos; they can clearly communicate ideas through the organizing and manipulating of words and pictures.”

Jeffery Veen, The Art and Science of Web Design

Visual hierarchy, one of the most important principles behind good web design, is the difference between a site that strategically influences user flow and decisions and a site that just “looks nice.” It refers to the order in which the human eye perceives what it sees.

In basic terms, visual hierarchy describes which elements capture your user’s attention and draw their eyes most. But there’s no right way to build a concrete hierarchy, and competitive designers must have perfectly unique methods – or invent new ones – to stay on top of the game.

Visual presentation of a web interface is essential for:

  • Informing Users
  • Communicating Content Relationships
  • Creating Emotional Impact

The end goal of your UI design should be to answer the following questions :

  • What is this? (Usefulness)
  • How do I use it? (Usability)
  • Why should I care? (Desirability)

Let’s describe the most basic elements, the essential building blocks, necessary to support simple or complex hierarchies.

1. Scanning Patterns: The Predictability of the Human Eye

There are two predominant reading patterns for cultures that read left to right.

F-Pattern

Typically for text-heavy websites like blogs, the F-Pattern is prevalent amongst readers.

First scanning a vertical line down the left side of the text looking for keywords or points of interest in a paragraph’s initial sentences. When the reader finds something they like, they begin reading normally, forming horizontal lines. The end result is something that looks like the letters F or E. As shown, readers on CNN and NY Times both use the F-Pattern to read the content.

Jakob Nielsen of The Nielsen Norman Group conducted a readability study based on 232 users scanning thousands of websites and elaborates on the practical implications of the F-Pattern:

  • Users will rarely read every word of your text.
  • The first two paragraphs are the most important and should contain your hook
  • Start paragraphs, subheads, and bullet points with enticing keywords.
F-Pattern Scanning Pattern
Source : Understanding The F-Layout

You can see in the left image that the most important content can be seen in a few seconds, with more detailed content (and a Call-To-Action or CTA) presented immediately below for quick scanning.

The pattern can be very helpful for sites that want to embed advertising or CTAs in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the content.

Just remember that content is always king, and the sidebar exists to get users involved on a deeper level.

As with all patterns, the F-Pattern is a guideline, rather than a template. It can begin to feel boring after the top rows of the “F.” As you’ll see below, Kickstarter adds in some widgets (laid out horizontally) to keep the design visually interesting beyond the first 1000 pixels.

Source: Understanding The F Layout

Z-Pattern

Z-Pattern scanning occurs on pages that are not focused on the text. If you were to access a Z-Pattern website, your eyes will wander horizontally over the top before sliding down at an angle.

It’s possible that your attention is drawn to the menu bar at first or simply because you’re used to reading from left-to-right. When you reach the end, your attention shifts down and left (again based on reading habit), and repeat a horizontal search on the lower part of the page.

Source: Understanding The Z Layout

The Z-Pattern is applicable to almost any web interface since it addresses the core website requirements such as hierarchy, branding, and Calls-To-Action. The Z-Pattern is perfect for interfaces where simplicity is a priority and the CTA is the main takeaway.

Forcing a Z-pattern for a website with complex content may not work as well as the F-pattern, but a Z-pattern can help bring a sense of order to simpler layouts (and increase conversion rates). Here are a few best practices to keep in mind based on the image above:

  • Background: Separate the background to keep the user’s sight within your framework
  • Point #1: This is a prime location for your logo
  • Point #2: Adding a colourful secondary CTA can help guide users along the Z-pattern
  • Center of the page: A featured image slider in the centre of the page will separate the top and bottom sections and guide the eyes along the Z path.
  • Point #3: Adding icons that start here and move along the bottom axis can guide the users to the final CTA at point #4.
  • Point #4: This is the finish line and an ideal place for your primary CTA.

Predicting where the user’s eye will go can be a huge advantage. Before arranging the elements on your page, prioritize the most over the least important ones. Once you know what you want your users to see, it’s just a simple matter of placing them in the pattern’s “hot spots” for the right interactions.

2. Size

Bigger is more eye-catching, but it’s not always better. The simplest way to explain it is that your most important element should be the one that is standing out, but it’s when we get into the details that it becomes a little more complicated. The user exerts less effort to click bigger items. This holds especially true for calls-to-action, where you want to leave no question as to where the user should go. Of course, that’s not to say that it’s as simple as making your “DOWNLOAD NOW” call-to-action 10x larger for more conversions. Subtlety and harmony between elements is the key.

Source: Huge Inc.

All the principles of size are visible in this screenshot from Huge Inc. The first thing you notice is the biggest, the stylistic H that serves as their logo. Next is “Nike Making,” whose large typeface and bold style create immediate weight.

Next is the line of text directly beneath it, written in a smaller font size so as not to steal attention from the key visuals. If your eyes are still interested enough to wander, they’ll eventually notice the tiny logo and hamburger menu in the corners, or the navigation bar to the right.

The hierarchy makes sense here. First, the large colourful H catches your eye. Soon afterwards, you’ll seek context for the unorthodox visual, which is immediately accessible with the hyperlinked “Nike Making” headline and secondary sentence.

Visual hierarchy lays out the user path, while size hierarchy simplifies interaction by making the entire chunk of copy clickable and in close proximity to its related visual.

Without even thinking about it, you end up clicking exactly where the designer wants you to go. It goes without saying that balance and moderation are key. The design should not

  • be overpowered with an overly large focal point or
  • compromise user usability with secondary content that ends up being too small.

3. Colour

We’re visually drawn to colour, especially when it’s used strategically to highlight important information or imagery. A bright splash of a colour like red or yellow, for example, is hard to miss — whether it’s on a traffic sign on the side of the road, or a flyer hanging in your local coffee shop.

Clever use of colour can be one of the most visually interesting ways to differentiate elements on a page and draw attention where you want it.

Your brain’s obsession with contrast will cause your eyes to focus on objects that stand out due simply to their difference in colour in relation to the surrounding objects. Consider the following example:

Source: Fitbit

Fitbit’s use of colour in their Z-pattern interface above is especially clever. The bright use of magenta immediately places the calls to action near the top of the visual hierarchy, but also matches the colour of the “Get Active” button — subconsciously signalling that the two concepts are related. Similar shades of blue are also used in the fitness goals and product sections, which cleverly creates an association between the two (and draws clicks to the most valuable parts of the interface).

4. Layout

One of the most straightforward ways to control your website’s visual hierarchy is through its interface. By placing a focus element front and centre, you can then follow up the visual hierarchy with the use of rows and columns for a more organized and structured layout.

This can help keep the chaos at bay and also leaves some space at the end for CTAs or other chosen content. It can be a tedious and fiddly balance, but crucial if you want to avoid overcrowding your website with too many elements.

The visual hierarchy can flatten and very little will stand out in the design.

Source: Adoratorio

In web design, these are, amongst others, the corners and borders of the screen. As “throwing” the cursor to the sides requires less mouse control than a fixed point in the middle. While you’ll probably focus primarily on the centre of the screen (given its size and contrasting black lines), the stagnant clickable links remain easily accessible in the corner and at the bottom.

Scrolling up and down changes what’s displayed in the middle. However, the site logo, hamburger menu, contact information, and social media links stay firmly in their prime locations.

Of course, your layout certainly affects the visual hierarchy, not to mention usability. The Gestalt principles (described below) dictate that objects in a line create momentum to propel eyesight forward, even dominating the effects of colour. Rows and columns, then, aside from supporting an organized structure to keep the chaos at bay, also create some prime real estate when they end – perfect for CTAs or other preferred content.

Source: Huncwot

As you can see, Huncwot keeps the options for its homepage organized in a straight horizontal line (with an animation behind whichever selection you’re hovering over). It’s a tricky balance, but mandatory for every single website. Otherwise, if you crowd your website with too many interface elements, your visual hierarchy flattens, and nothing stands out for the user.

5. Spacing

One of the most important yet often ignored design principles is the use of White or blank space and spacing.

Failing to allow some amount of blank space can leave your design looking overcrowded and confusing, ultimately drowning viewers with too much information.

White space is your number one go-to for separating and organizing the elements in your design. No one wants to spend time making sense of a design. What you want is a site that is easy on the eyes, orderly, and well-balanced.

Always plan for unused space. It’s essential for things like:

  • Giving the viewer’s eyes a place to rest and a path to travel through the design
  • Separating your layout into sections (the flip side of this is proximity – reducing space to place related items close together – also an aspect of good spacing)
  • Isolating focal points

David Salgado and Mariana Perfeito’s editorial design does both of the above, leaving plenty of white space between and around each section of the layout, while grouping related items together. The result is a clean and balanced design.

6. Fonts

When typesetting, there are other aspects to take into consideration other than just Typographic hierarchy. Different aspects of the fonts can really make or break the design such as the category used, decorative, script, sans-serif, serif or script or even the use of uppercase, lowercase, bold or italic, the width of the strokes, etc.

Notice how typeface affects the hierarchy order of the words in the web design below for The Tea Factory. “The perfect teas to keep you warm” is the focal point, but differences in type weight and italicization, in addition to word placement, produce a more dynamic, less linear, reading experience. “See our selection,” the call to action, is more strongly emphasized than the text above it due to sizing and spacing.

Source: Tea Factory

7. Style & Texture

Another way of drawing attention is to give content ample room to breathe. A site that looks crowded will render your visitors lost and later ask themselves “what am I supposed to do here?” Ultimately, they click away, absorbing no information about your brand at all.

If there is substantial negative space left around a button, or the lines in a text block are widely tracked, these elements will be more readily visible to readers.

Not everyone will know where to click next, as a website owner, it is your job to guide them to the behaviour you desire.

As you see in the image below (part of DrawtoClick‘s website), spacing can be an elegant alternative or addition to the use of size. Here, the selling point, “Notre agence vous accompagne …”, is in a very small font, but it is surrounded by an excess of white space that signals its importance. Below, the phrases “Le Compendre,” “Le Réaliser” and “Le Partager” receive extra emphasis by being boxed off from surrounding space.

Source: Draw to Click

When people talk about “texture” with respect to visual hierarchy, they are not referring to pictorial texture effects. Rather, this kind of “texture” refers to the overall arrangement or pattern of space, text and other detail on a page.

This example by Bright Pink illustrates the concept nicely:

In the first image, the word “Sports” is higher in the hierarchy than “badminton” due to being higher, bigger and bolder. In the second image, the two words are about equivalent. Thanks to a black rectangle that highlights “badminton” and sets it into its own space.

In the third image, a background scribble interrupts the space of “Sports” but not “badminton.” Consequently results in a reversal where “badminton” is highest in the hierarchy. Such a progression is difficult to predict, so designers often chalk it up to a holistic sense of “texture.”

Source: Posters “Bright Pink” via Smashing Magazine

 

9. Composition

Using some of the techniques in the article can help guide visitors to your website through your design and layout. Think of it as a first impression.

At first glance, does your website leave a pleasant impression? Or will it scare visitors away because elements are all over the place?

Overall, most designs will greatly benefit from putting in place an overall structure, more commonly known as the composition, which is made up of Implied Movement:

The Rule of Thirds

Following the rule of thirds is one way of creating a dynamic composition. This is where your focal point isn’t predictably placed at the centre.

Instead, this rule divides a layout into a grid (three equally spaced horizontal lines and three vertical lines). The focal point is placed either on one of the lines, or ideally, on one of the four points where the lines intersect.

Source: Cover Design Studio

 

 

The Rule of Odds

The rule of odds often involves threes as well. The idea behind this one is that an odd number of objects (perhaps the focal point surrounded by two other items — or four, as below) is always more interesting and pleasing to the eye than an even number.

Source: Charlotte Cheetham (many stuff)

 

 

“Good visual hierarchy isn’t about wild and crazy graphics or the newest photoshop filters; it’s about organizing information in a way that’s usable, accessible, and logical to the everyday site visitor.” – Failed Hierarchy  – Brandon Jones (Web Designer Speaker, Author, Former editor for Tuts+)

As suggested in the last section, it’s important to note that hierarchy can be used for both good and evil. Think of all the annoying Flash advertisements, popup windows, glitter banners, etc. the web has been plagued with for years! While these ads succeed in grabbing attention, they ultimately fail the site owner. They also fail the viewer by breaking the visual hierarchy within a site.

Similarly, if a designer builds a visual hierarchy with certain key pieces of information nearly impossible to find, the designer will have failed at his task. Brandon Jones put it best when he states that good visual hierarchy isn’t about wild and crazy graphics or the newest Photoshop filters; it’s about organizing information in a way that’s usable, accessible, and logical to the everyday site visitor.

 

Originally published: 2 November 2017
Updated: 25 November 2022

Do you remember the last time you saw an ad without any appealing design or images?

Probably not.

Without a catchy headline and the right visual design elements you’re not going to capture anyone’s attention. Headlines and visuals matter!

Why? Because the average human attention span is only 8 seconds.

In fact, several studies indicate that our attention span has drastically reduced between 2000 and 2015.

This impacts marketers across the world, and makes visual design even more vital to any successful marketing initiative.

Why is Visual Design so Important for Marketing?

Humans are 90% visual-driven beings

To grab and hold anyone’s attention, a strong and interesting image is important.

As dominantly visual beings, people can remember images better and faster than text. They can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds.

 

Visual Perception and Visual Design

Picture Superiority Effect

Over the course of 3 days, an individual can remember 65% of information that is accompanied by images. Compared to information which only has text and/or audio, the same individual will only remember 10% of the information!

Hiring a creative agency

Given the importance of images in making a long-lasting impression on the human mind, companies cannot do without hiring a creative agency.

When it comes to marketing, creative assets are a big part of every campaign or project, especially so for social media marketing and dynamic social ads. Now, with digital marketing as the norm, companies will need the combined expertise of content strategists, advertising specialists as well as a team of creative professionals to bring out the best of what their company has to offer.

Even with a powerhouse sales or inbound marketing team to sell your story, you’ll still require the support of a team of creative designers to bring your ideas to life.

Still not convinced? Well here are some examples which are bound to change your mind after watching them.

Some Great Samples

Introducing Crash Detection for the iPhone 14 Pro by Apple

Apple is a prime example of what it takes to make an effective advertisement.

The video lasts for less than a minute. At that time, it informs the audience all about the highlighted feature – crash detection.

With great visual storytelling, bold fonts, rhythmic beats and a mix of dark and bright colours, the ad is capable of keeping the audience interested.

This is not the first time Apple has used such a style for its ads. Over the years, Apple has successfully acquired an advertising format that is uniquely recognised as Apple. This emphasises the critical role of a creative team which can make or break a brand.

Valentine’s Day Print Campaign for Mcdonald’s (Thailand)

Did you do a double-take when you first saw these images?

Released on Valentine’s Day for McDonald’s  (Thailand) a few years ago, these are printed ads which showed pictures of people supposedly leaning in for a kiss…with a burger!

Ditching the usual family-friendly approach with McDonald’s ads, the creative team behind this campaign decided to turn up the heat and bring in some romance. Toying with the idea of two people kissing, the pictures showed individuals leaning towards their favourite burger cleverly shaped like a person’s face.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, everyone can say “I’m lovin it” to these burgers!

Wrapping Up

By now, I hope you can see that visual design is a critical factor that can increase the success of any marketing campaign these days. To stand out from the myriad of ads online, a business will need the use of visually impactful designs. This is especially important since a customer’s attention span lasts for a mere 8 seconds today, and online ad formats are getting shorter and shorter. So, before you start your next campaign, remember to hire a creative agency that helps you create designs that can attract and sell!

Work with our diverse team of creatives who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. If you’re looking for a branding and visual communications expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Originally published: 15 July 2020
Updated: 25 November 2022

Like every career, a creative designer’s job can be complex and full of challenges.

It’s a job that requires marrying the field of art with science. While a creative designer needs an eye for aesthetically pleasing visuals, he or she will also need to understand human psychology to know what attracts and retains a consumer’s attention.

It requires one to work with imagination, know the principles of good design and have a flair for creative ideas. A creative designer needs to understand the what and how of effective design, in order to create artworks that can successfully capture anyone’s eye.

As such, the job of a creative designer is extremely crucial to any marketing campaign. After all, any piece of ad, video or poster has only 8 seconds to impress and capture a person’s attention!

But what goes into the daily work of a creative designer? Where does their inspiration come from? How exactly does the job of a creative designer make use of art and science?

Curious to find out more? Let’s dive into the world of creative design with Ventina to learn more about the job of a creative designer!

Meet Ventina

Hi everyone! My name is Ventina!

I graduated from Institute Technology of Bandung, Indonesia in 2015 and my major was Visual Communication Design. Formerly, I worked as a Creative Designer and 2D artist in Qajoo Game Studio, CERI and Mekanuma clothing apparel for 3 years. I worked on different projects ranging from branding, illustration, pattern designs, game development to animation.

Ventina is a UI/UX designer at our agency

In 2018, I joined 2Stallions digital agency because I wanted to learn more about UI/UX. I’m thankful for the opportunity given to me and I was able to learn many things on top of UI/UX here.

Recently, I’ve been having lots of fun experimenting with different ads and graphic motion videos. I also have great colleagues that ensure I never have a dull day at work. We work collaboratively and consult with each other on design ideas. I find that working in a team is a  great way to bounce ideas off each other and create meaningful designs which impact real users.

What made you decide to start a career in creative design

Well, the decision stemmed from my love for drawing. Whenever my friends in middle school and high school asks me to draw for them, I often received compliments from them as well.

The hours spent immersing myself in the world of art was something that I find myself enjoying a lot . That’s when I started to think of illustration and creative design as a viable career path for me.

I always think that design have a greater impact on our lives than we imagine. From our physical surroundings, to the things we wear and buy, everything around us is embedded with design. So I think it would be nice if I can be one of the people that create them.

UI/UX design can be found in our everyday lives

 

What is expected of a creative designer?

Building a portfolio and growing your network

A common concern for most creative designers, and for those who are switching their career path to creative design, are worried about the need for a portfolio.

In the creative industry, having a portfolio will help a lot. In a way, your portfolio acts as your resume. A portfolio is used to showcase your best work and helps clients review and determine if your design style is a good fit for their company.

Before you can start making a portfolio, you will first need to have projects. Whether it’s personal or freelance projects, they are useful to help you gain hands on experience.

It’ll be easier if you had pursued a formal study in design. But if you can’t, you can always work on your software skills. You can start creating an online portfolio on Instagram or other social media platform, so people can notice your work!

Consider taking on freelance work and don’t forget to network with fellow designers and build connections with clients. Keeping excellent work standards and delivering excellent customer service will help you obtain customer referrals to spread the word of your designs.

Challenges in the field of creative design

Creative design is an ever changing field, so a creative designer must always research and be updated about the latest industry trends.

There will also be times when you are racking your brain the entire day for ideas and inspirations. Personally, I try to overcome this challenge by getting outside, taking care of my plants, playing with my cat and browsing designs created by other desingers. The important thing is to give yourself time to recharge and refresh your mind in order to think of better ideas.

Recently, the Attonics video which you’ve created has been featured on Bestdesigns.co. Could you tell us more about how you approached the project?

For this particular project, I took inspiration from Apple mainly because it encompasses really good visual elements that makes a good motion video and animation. Some of the UX trends in 2020 includes the use of futuristic colours and dark tones, and that was also the vibe that I was going for in this video.

Apple Motion Graphics

Visual design process

Step 1: Start with a sketch

A visual design process typically starts with a sketch. Usually, I will create the sketch with pencil, write a match script, note down the parts of VO (voice over) and have a rough idea of the number of images required.

The first step of a design process is to start with a sketch

Step 2: Add in details and create an artboard

The second step would be to digitalize the storyboard. I’d usually put the estimated time above each artboard.

Step 3: Obtain approval from the client

When done, show this to the client, and wait for their feedback

Step 4: Get started on the actual design and animation

After the client approve, go to the third step : start to animate them. I really love this part! Since I can always learn many new things such as transition, text animation, etc.

Step 5: Review, feedback and revise

This is when I’ll send the first draft to the client to obtain feedback and work on addressing them. Finalize the video and it’s done!

Advice to aspiring creative designers

It is also useful for creative designers to build on non-design skills. One example from my personal experience is communication.

Other than having the necessary software skills, you’ll also need to work on communication. It is important to be an empathetic designer who takes time to really understand the needs of the client. Remain open minded to the clients’ input and also convey your design approach clearly so that clients can understand your ideas as well.

Lastly, don’t be afraid of critiques. Constructive criticism are what helps you become a better designer. Only by making mistakes will you learn where to improve and how to be better. Never give up, continue practicing and continuously learn from your peers in the industry. Build and learn from your experience. Sometimes, we may find other people’s words getting to us sometimes, but remember not to take it personally and view it as a stepping stone to becoming a better creative designer!

Discover more with 2S Creative Service

When it comes to marketing, creative assets is a big part of every campaign or project, especially so for social media marketing and dynamic social ads. In this period where digital marketing is fast becoming the norm, companies will need  the combined expertise of content strategists, advertising specialists as well as a team of creative professionals to bring out the best of what their company has to offer

Even with a powerhouse sales or inbound marketing team to sell your story, you’ll still require the support from a team of creative designers to bring your ideas to life.

Discover more works done by our diverse team of creatives who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. If you’re looking for a branding and visual communications expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Welcome back to another edition of #2S Team stories-a series of short and fun interviews that allows our readers to take a peek into an agency’s life. You get to meet the buzzing minds behind our projects and get up close and personal with members of the #2Sfamily! 

This edition, we have a conversation with our Senior UI/UX Designer, Kisy Kumala Sari. She’ll be sharing with us about her journey, of how she started as a freelance creative designer and eventually became a UI/UX designer at our agency. If you’re an aspiring illustrator or creative designer, you’re in a for a treat! Kisy has also shared with us some of her favourite design tools and guides that helped her grow and improve as a designer. Be sure to read on to discover what they are!

1. Hi Kisy! Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Hello everyone, my name is Kisy, I’m a Senior UI/UX designer at 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Visual Communication Design from Maranatha Christian University back in 2011.

I kick-started my career with a retail company in Indonesia. My job then was to design creative assets, ranging from branding, promotional, marketing materials to creating the design concept for the storefront and retail furniture.

In 2015, I joined 2Stallions. Till this date, I’ve been with the digital agency officially for 4 years & 9 months. Initially I was working with a lean creative team. However, we managed to recruit more talents into our team in the recent years. I absolutely enjoy working alongside my colleagues Gita, Ventina, Fira and Antayra (our Head of Creative Strategy & Accounts)! I am pleased to witness how much the company has grown since then.

2. What made you decide on a creative designer career?

It started simply because of my passion for drawing and illustration. I chose to study design because it had an illustration aspect.

Many people tend to misunderstand that a creative designer’s job is simply about creating posters and brochures. But creative design is much more complex than that. It‘s a job that combines technology, design and psychology to create human centred designs in order to solve problems for real users in the world. The complexity and the freedom to exercise creativity was what made me fall in love with the job! I also love that creative design is something that’s constantly evolving and expanding, so there’s always something new to learn.

I am very blessed to work in a field that I am passionate about. Most of the time, work doesn’t really feel like work to me.

3. How or where do you get inspiration for your projects?

As a start, I’d usually look through the creative brief provided by the client. I would then research and check out what companies in the client’s industry favour in their design approach.  This helps me to understand what works and what doesn’t. As for visual references, I have a few go-to websites such as Awwwards, Dribbble, Béhance, Pinterest and Brandnew. After looking through these websites, I would collect a few of my favourite images or visual elements and create a mood board which I think would match the client’s requirement.

4. What are some of your favourite tools/guide books as a UI/UX designer?

Tools

For website: Sketch, InvisionApp, Avocode, Zeplin

For general design: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign

For animation: AfterEffects

For illustration: Procreate

These programs are not just tools. As a designer, we need to constantly upgrade our skillset to keep up with technology improvements. I’d recommend creative designers to continuously practice with these tools to become better at the craft of creative design.

UI/UX guide

Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think is still the best book out there if you are a UI/UX newbie. When I first started my career as a UI/UX designer, I also watched YouTube channel Flux to see what it was like to work as a UI/UX designer. UXpin also has a free e-book about UI/UX and basic UX design principle. For design beginners, I’d also recommend them to read articles from Nielsen Norman Group if they want a deep dive into UI/UX.

Design guide

For design guides, I like to watch TheFutur YouTube channel. To know about finding inspiration for design work, you can always count on Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. Lately, I’m looking to learn more about the psychology aspect of UI/UX design. I’ll let you guys know when I find something I really like in the future.

5. Can you recommend us 3 Instagram accounts you’re personally a fan of?

Jessica Walsh – for a peek into a designer’s life with vibrant visuals and snippets on mental health

Jessica’s Instagram feed is full of vibrant, playful and sometimes weird visuals that one cannot stop looking at them! I love that she uses her platform to share her life as a designer, as well as advocate her thoughts on social issues and mental health.Jessica Walsh

Jessica’s Instagram feed is full of vibrant, playful and sometimes weird visuals that one cannot stop looking at them!  I love that she uses her platform to share her life as a designer, as well as advocate her thoughts on social issues and mental health.

Mel Robbins – for bit-sized tips on motivation and personal development

Mel Robbins is a no BS life coach who will tell you everything you need to hear. From self-love, tips on motivation to personal development, she provides bite sized information and simple tools to help people in daily emotional struggles. Her advice has gotten me through some of the difficult periods in my personal and professional life.

Chrisdo and The Futr – to become a better designer with a business mind-set

Both accounts are owned by Chris Do. He provides useful and relevant design tips  and teaches his followers how to become a better designer while developing a business mind-set for the creative industry. He used to host these live design critique sessions and uploads the recorded version onto YouTube. By looking at others’ works, it helped me discover my own flaws within my designs and know areas which I can improve on for my next design.

6. What are your hobbies outside of work?

Outside of work hours, I like to work on my illustration skills. It has always been my dream to become an illustrator and I’m keeping that dream alive.

These days, I’ve started drawing stylized portraits on a commission basis and I’ve also created my own drawing challenge on Instagram. I’ve also been taking online lessons about figure drawing to improve my illustration skills.

When I’m not drawing, I read books. My favourite fiction is The Strike Series by Robert Galbraith. My favourite non-fiction is  How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. This book gives me so many “Aha!” moments that I think everyone should read about too.

Kisys creation: A custom family portrait
Find more illustrations on Kisy’s Instagram doobeedoodle

Wrapping Up

Kisy’s passion for illustration and creative design is truly inspiring. Most importantly, we should learn from her the spirit of perseverance and continuous learning.

We hope you managed to take away some key learning points and learnt more about the world of creative design. If you’re an aspiring illustrator or creative designer, be sure to check out the tools and guide she has recommended!

Discover more works done by our diverse team of creatives who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. If you’re looking for a branding and visual communications expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

In an era of digital acceleration, UI/UX are particular sets of design skills that are primed to be one of the fastest-growing careers. 

It’s a field that’s quickly expanding across organizations and evolving into the development of new niches. User experience design, user interface design, customer experience, and product design are all part of the larger landscape of building user-friendly digital content. They are responsible for an impeccable user-experience that is intuitive and leads to easy navigation.

Well-designed user experience and user-friendly interface make a website or app more engaging, trustworthy and accessible. That is why an increasing number of companies are looking for UI/UX designers who can transform the digital presence of their business through optimized interfaces and improved usability.

UI/UX designers tend to work as part of a wider product team, and will often find themselves bridging the gap between the user, the development team, and key business stakeholders. 

What exactly is UI/UX?

UI vs UX

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are different skillsets. The two roles have distinct differences in the problems they solve, the methodology used and the tools they adopt in their day to day job.

UX: User Experience

As the name suggests, UX designers focus on the user experience and are primarily “user first” in all the work that he or she does. They’re responsible for user-friendly apps and sites that are easy to navigate. This will help the user find information and take action (such as making a purchase or booking an appointment) easily.

The UX designer is concerned with content structure, otherwise known as information architect– a way of arranging information presented to a user as he or she scrolls through an app or website. This means that a UX professional will have to prioritize content and place different information strategically throughout a page, to ensure a user can find the information he or she needs easily.

Through user research, the UX designer will gather the profile of the users, and hence understand their needs and wants. The UX designer will then plan the content and site structure to align with the users’ needs and wants.

This process is also known as user flow, which is to create different ways a user is likely to navigate the site. The next step for the UX designer would be to sketch wireframes and create prototypes based on the wireframes.

Wireframes are part of the UX design process

Wireframes are the basic skeletal structure of a website or app. They allow a UX designer to outline and map out user flow. A prototype (a mockup of a site or app) is then created and tested with a group of users to collect feedback and fine-tune the product before the actual development.

Even after a product is completed, UX design doesn’t stop there. UX design is a never-ending process. Any app or website has to be refreshed from time to time to account for evolving search trends and ever-changing user behaviour. It’s important for the UX designer to account for the evolving needs of a customer and a business, in order to improve the platform for a better selling and buying process.

Think about the major social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Has your user experience changed and improved drastically over the years?

Source: CAMRO JUD
Apps and websites are continuously improved to provide a better user experience

UI: User interface

UI is a digital space where users see and perceive information. It specifically focuses on the visual design (look and feel) of a product. It is also concerned about the interactive elements such as drop-down menus, form fields, clickable elements, animation, button styling and other critical tools in UI design. These are elements that’ll guide a user’s engagement with a product.

UI designers take the framework and wireframes created by the UX designer and translate them into high fidelity, final visual deliverables before handing them off to a development team for production.

Source: ui.sia
A vs B: Image B uses gradient mixture to ensure the location mark can be seen better
Source: ui_gradient
UI designers have to determine which visual element to use to guide a user to take action

A career that blends tech, psychology and design

UI/UX designers are central to the creation of user-friendly designs. By understanding how different psychology principles influence human behaviour, UI/UX professionals design websites, apps and other products for a hassle-free browsing or shopping experience. Essentially, they’re responsible for creating human-centred designs for real users in the real world.

Although UI and UX have different roles to play, they’re often complementary. No product design (website or mobile apps) can do without either of the roles.

Let us use the example of a cup to illustrate the importance of having both UI and UX in any product design.

UI determines the appearance of the cup, giving it an animal form that is cute and appeals to a consumer who is looking to buy a nice cup for his or her use. The cup has a handle to signal to the person that there is where they hold the cup. However, a lack of good UX design failed to account for the animal ears which could hurt the person using the cup.

Importance of UI and UX: one cannot do without the other

UI and UX work hand in hand to ensure a product is useful and engaging, on top of being visually appealing. Good UI and UX design are critical for any product to deliver a delightful user experience.

Example of Good UI/UX – Zalora Mobile Shopping App

Zalora Group is a leading online e-commerce and online fashion retailer with operations in various Southeast markets.  As Asia’s leading online fashion destination, ZALORA’s localised sites offer an extensive collection of top international and local brands, as well as in-house labels across apparel, shoes and accessories for men and women. ZALORA aims to provide consumers in Asia seeking a shopping experience focused on their unique styles, trends and fit, hence its tagline ‘With Zalora, you own now”.

A seamless shopping experience on the Zalora shopping app

From the images, one can see that Zalora’s mobile app have multiple interactive buttons which are tailored to a mobile shopping experience. Buttons are placed at convenient touchpoints for those holding their phone with one hand. All the necessary information is also easily accessible on the same page. This prevents a user from having to enter and exit a page to find information.

How is UI/UX important across industries?

The most innovative and successful companies dedicate around 12–14% of their resources to enhance their design abilities.

From the Zalora example, we can see how humanized designs can provide value to their users.

This value will eventually trickle down to higher user interactions, engagement and customer satisfaction which further trickles down to an increased ROI (Return on Investment) for a business.

Research estimates suggest that every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. That’s an ROI of nearly 10,000% increase!

Faster conversions with longer dwell time

Lower bounce rate and longer dwell time

Before a consumer can purchase from you online, your website or shopping app must first be usable and helpful to encourage a purchase on their end.

Good UI/UX design plays an essential role in achieving this goal.

If a user cannot find helpful information on your site or they face great difficulty navigating, they’ll leave your site within seconds.

Personalised shopping experience

Increasingly, consumers are looking for a personalized shopping experience. They prefer sites and apps which can predict and recommend products they like, so that they will waste less time finding the perfect product themselves.

Including sections such as “you may also like this…” or “related articles…”, a customer is constantly presented with more options that are tailored to their likes and preferences. This increases their dwell time and also increase the chance for them to find a product that is of their preference.

If you’re able to provide information that is easily accessible, the customer will also waste less time finding important information such as shipping and payment options on another page. Interactive elements such as clear call to action buttons (CTAs) helps the consumer to easily save a product to a wish list, share a product and add a product to cart. All these are factors which can motivate a customer to move from the consideration stage to the purchase stage.

Build your customer base and brand loyalty

Win confidence

Whether you’re a start-up or an MNC, good UI and UX design are crucial to form a pleasant and long-lasting impression with customers. A well-designed website speaks credibility and helps with brand recognition, thus improving your business reputation as well.

This is especially important in this digital age when  your business is competing with an influx of new competitors. Good UI and UX design is what’ll help your brand stand out and be the best among your peers, thus winning over customers. A helpful and pleasant shopping experience will also keep people coming back.

If the users are surfing your websites or using your applications, it is your UI/UX developers’ responsibility to navigate them to their predetermined target in the most efficient way. Hence, UI and UX Development have become a significant part of today’s web development. Overtime, UI and UX professions will help companies increase sales, retain customers and improve their brand value.

Creating Business Value with Good UI/UX Design

Customers are the ones paying your business and keeps it going. Therefore, designing a pleasant and intuitive user experience should be at the heart of every digital product. Failing to cater to their needs and their desired shopping experience will only lead to a loss of opportunities and conversions for your brand.

90% of users reported they stopped using an app due to poor performance.

86% deleted or uninstalled an app as a result of encountering problems with its functionality or design.

88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

If your business is going digital, it’d be wise to invest time and money into creating and building digital products (websites, mobile apps etc) that provide good user experience, in order to reap the immense benefits it can provide for your business ROIs.

Discover more with 2S Creative Services

We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Singapore. From strategy to execution, we provide personalised digital solutions, including creative services for over 300+ clients ranging from MNCs, government institutions to local SMEs. Recently, we’ve also been featured as one of the 35 best creative agencies in Singapore.

Discover more works done by our diverse team of creatives who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. If you’re looking for a web design expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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