Tip #1 for Innovative Designs: There Are No Small Changes
Innovative designs mean change, right? Often, yes, but caution is in order, “We want to limit the length of a review in the product to 140 characters, because we may want to use SMS at some stage. That’s a small change, right?” A stakeholder remark as recounted in There’s no such thing as “minor design changes.”
You can almost hear Fabricio Teixeira’s moan of despair as he rattles off a list of more than ten questions this seemingly simple statement generates. Such questions include:
- What happens if the review has more than 140 characters? Do we block typing, or do we display an error message to users?
- If we decide to show an error message, where would it go on the UI?
- What will the error message say?
While slick design and cool features have their place, they do not define innovative design. On the contrary, discovery, asking good questions, and striving for simplicity are the keys to continuous innovation designs.
Tip #2 for Innovative Designs: Simplicity Does not Mean Zero UI
Designer and author Nick Babich aims to dispel 15 Myths That Can Ruin Your Mobile UX. The entire article is useful, but the key point for this post about innovative designs is the meaning of simplicity. Babich refers to ”Myth 2: The best designs are invisible,” where he makes the case that simplicity does not always mean minimal design, “If removing a button in the name of minimalism leads to an increased learning curve for users, it doesn’t make the interface easier—it just introduces complexity.”
Certainly, clutter does not make for innovative designs. Include what is necessary and nothing more. Just make sure to include what users genuinely need.
Tip #3 for Innovative Designs: Gamification as User Journeys
Yet another design trend is not the subject of Gamification Mechanics in UX: Smart User Journey. Rather, gamification is described as a design concept based in user journeys. Certainly, the journey model makes sense. What is a game after all, if not a progression through a series of stages?
Gamificatioan does not apply to all design scenarios, but where it does apply, the benefits include fun, clear interaction, increased user engagement, and customer loyalty.
The innovative designs piece can be found in a well-crafted journey and sound planning for updates. UX designers have an inherent advantage because personas and user journeys are key stages in the user-centered design process.
Tip #4 for Innovative Designs: Innovation and Gravitational Pull
Author and UXer Hila Yonatan has written an intriguing piece entitled Cataloging Interfaces: Values To Great UX Design. Granted, catalog is the not the first word that typically comes to mind when discussing innovative designs, but bear with me.
Yonatan argues the point incisively, “Based on my personal experience and from examining systems we meet today, we see a common denominator in many leading products: they have one central purpose and one consistent usage pattern in every case. Streamline your ideas and plan an interface that is both the gravitational pull of the system. To avoid the sense of ‘where to start’ I have described earlier, focus the product, its purpose and your work process. Remember that it is almost always possible to catalogue a system via its core interface, into 1 of 3 major types.”
She outlines each type (the shop, the utility, and the feed) before explaining five core values each UI must adhere to in order to meet her gold standard.
Yonatan speaks to innovative designs in two ways:
- She reminds UX designers that leading products have one core purpose and a consistent usage pattern. This statement sounds reasonable and straightforward, but getting there is no small matter.
- Which is why she identifies five key elements that, when properly executed, lead to engaging apps with one core purpose.
Tip #5 for Innovative Designs: Experiment with Design Sprints
The core purpose described in tip #4 blends perfectly with design sprints as a method for developing innovative designs. In 7 ways a design sprint could support innovation in your organization Luke Bayette guides readers through the design sprint process. Bayette offers specific, practical solutions for breaking down walls, starting the design process, and taking an idea “through the valley” by conducting customer interviews.
Bayette recommends taking risks by using design sprints to tackle a major challenge and by testing the ideas you’re too scared to launch
Diverse perspectives, customer research, and risk taking are essential to innovative designs.
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Eric Olive is a writer, speaker, teacher, and UX researcher and the founder of UI UX Training. He has taught and conducted research for many Fortune 500 companies in the finance, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and telecommunication sectors. Eric’s UX career includes extensive work with Spanish-speaking users in the United States and Latin America. Follow Eric on Twitter @_uiuxtraining.