Application Design Articles & Videos

  • Feature Checklists Are Not Enough: How to Avoid Making Bad Software

    A good design relies on a thorough task analysis of the steps required to complete a task, as well as determining what information users need at each step.

  • Tooltips in the User Interface

    Tooltips are small user-triggered popups that explain UI elements when the user points to something. They are useful, but don't use them for critical information.

  • Designing Complex Applications: A Framework

    5 different sources of UX complexity help explain and analyze the special design issues in complex applications.

  • Product Redesigns: Incremental or Overhaul

    Redesigning a user interface can be done in many smaller incremental releases, or as one big complete redo. Big change is risky, but necessary in 3 cases.

  • Workplace Application Usability

    Enterprise applications that support work often do so poorly and have bad user experience. The usability requirements and tradeoffs for workplace app design are different from consumer apps.

  • Onboarding: Skip it When Possible

    Onboarding instructions that users must digest before they start using an app or other product require attention and effort, and thus reduce usability. They should be avoided as much as possible.

  • UX Animations

    Animations can make user interfaces both easier and nicer to use, but the timing has to be right, as we demonstrate in this video. Many other details also contribute to the quality of animation in the user experience.

  • Time to Make Tech Work

    Users waste unacceptably much time struggling with computer bugs. Users' mental models suffer when systems don't work as advertised, leading people to question their understanding of the UX.

  • Data Visualizations for Dashboards

    To enable fast and reliable understanding of data shown on dashboard overviews, use visualization styles that work with human preattentive visual processing.

  • Error Handling on Mobile Devices: Showing Alerts

    Using a modal dialog to display an error message can cause usability problems on mobile devices. Error handling must respect human-memory constraints and remain visible as the user is fixing the problem.

  • 8 Design Guidelines for Complex Applications

    Despite great diversity in the workflows and end users supported by complex applications, these 8 design guidelines are generally applicable.

  • The Visual Principle of Scale in User Interface Design

    Users pay more attention to big things than to small things, and this design principle can be used to prioritize a user experience design, such as a web page or application screen.

  • State-Switch Controls: The Infamous Case of the "Mute" Button

    On–off controls that switch between two different system states need to clearly communicate to users both the current state and the state the system will move to, should the user press that control.

  • Myths About Complex App Users

    Three stereotypes explain much resistance to improving the usability of complex applications for domain-specific tasks: that people like the old ways, that they are experts in the existing UI, and that training will make up for bad design. All are misleading.

  • Virtual Reality and User Experience

    Virtual reality (VR) user interfaces are currently more difficult for users to manipulate than a traditional GUI, partly because of more degrees of freedom and partly because VR is still new, so people have less experience using it. Advice for how to employ usability studies to alleviate this problem.

  • Mask Interaction Delays with Progress Indicators

    In case of slow response times in a user interface, indicate that the wait time will soon be over by showing an animation. For longer delays use a percent-done indicator.

  • Complex Apps 101

    3 tips for designing applications for experts or specialized user groups doing complex domain-specific tasks (often with nonlinear workflows).

  • Complex Application Design: A 5-Layer Framework

    Various contexts of complexity should be considered by UX designers and researchers designing complex applications, including complexities of integration, information, intention, environment, and institution.

  • Mobile-App Onboarding: An Analysis of Components and Techniques

    Onboarding is the process of getting users familiar with a new interface. It can involve one or more of the following components: feature promotion, customization, and instructions.

  • Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists

    Listboxes and dropdowns are compact UI controls that allow users to select options. Listboxes expose options right away and support multi-selection while dropdowns require a click to see options and support only single-selection.

  • Tooltips in the User Interface

    Tooltips are small user-triggered popups that explain UI elements when the user points to something. They are useful, but don't use them for critical information.

  • Designing Complex Applications: A Framework

    5 different sources of UX complexity help explain and analyze the special design issues in complex applications.

  • Product Redesigns: Incremental or Overhaul

    Redesigning a user interface can be done in many smaller incremental releases, or as one big complete redo. Big change is risky, but necessary in 3 cases.

  • Workplace Application Usability

    Enterprise applications that support work often do so poorly and have bad user experience. The usability requirements and tradeoffs for workplace app design are different from consumer apps.

  • Onboarding: Skip it When Possible

    Onboarding instructions that users must digest before they start using an app or other product require attention and effort, and thus reduce usability. They should be avoided as much as possible.

  • UX Animations

    Animations can make user interfaces both easier and nicer to use, but the timing has to be right, as we demonstrate in this video. Many other details also contribute to the quality of animation in the user experience.

  • Time to Make Tech Work

    Users waste unacceptably much time struggling with computer bugs. Users' mental models suffer when systems don't work as advertised, leading people to question their understanding of the UX.

  • Data Visualizations for Dashboards

    To enable fast and reliable understanding of data shown on dashboard overviews, use visualization styles that work with human preattentive visual processing.

  • Error Handling on Mobile Devices: Showing Alerts

    Using a modal dialog to display an error message can cause usability problems on mobile devices. Error handling must respect human-memory constraints and remain visible as the user is fixing the problem.

  • The Visual Principle of Scale in User Interface Design

    Users pay more attention to big things than to small things, and this design principle can be used to prioritize a user experience design, such as a web page or application screen.

  • Myths About Complex App Users

    Three stereotypes explain much resistance to improving the usability of complex applications for domain-specific tasks: that people like the old ways, that they are experts in the existing UI, and that training will make up for bad design. All are misleading.

  • Virtual Reality and User Experience

    Virtual reality (VR) user interfaces are currently more difficult for users to manipulate than a traditional GUI, partly because of more degrees of freedom and partly because VR is still new, so people have less experience using it. Advice for how to employ usability studies to alleviate this problem.

  • Mask Interaction Delays with Progress Indicators

    In case of slow response times in a user interface, indicate that the wait time will soon be over by showing an animation. For longer delays use a percent-done indicator.

  • Complex Apps 101

    3 tips for designing applications for experts or specialized user groups doing complex domain-specific tasks (often with nonlinear workflows).

  • What Can UX do to Help With Covid-19?

    At the very first Virtual UX Conference, Jakob Nielsen answered a participant question about what user experience can do to help with the coronavirus crisis.

  • Usability Heuristic 7: Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

    No. 7 of the top 10 UX design heuristics is to speed up the interaction for expert users while still catering to inexperienced users.

  • Designing Tables for Desktop Apps with Lots of Data

    Data-rich applications often include huge tables in their user interface; here are 3 UX guidelines for improving the usability of big tables.

  • Social Features in Chinese Apps

    Social features (like online communities and experience sharing) are very popular in Chinese apps. This video offers examples and tips for adding social features to your product.

  • Why Is UX so Difficult?

    UX practitioners who feel inept at their job usually face far greater challenges than improving their design, craft or research prowess. Rather, addressing development schedules, Agile, Scrum, Lean, and team member’s roles can create the greatest challenges.

  • Design Systems and Their Benefits

    Go beyond a brand or UX style guides to create engaging, consistent user interfaces. At the same time, fit design activities within in short development cycles, spending the least possible development time and money.

  • Feature Checklists Are Not Enough: How to Avoid Making Bad Software

    A good design relies on a thorough task analysis of the steps required to complete a task, as well as determining what information users need at each step.

  • 8 Design Guidelines for Complex Applications

    Despite great diversity in the workflows and end users supported by complex applications, these 8 design guidelines are generally applicable.

  • State-Switch Controls: The Infamous Case of the "Mute" Button

    On–off controls that switch between two different system states need to clearly communicate to users both the current state and the state the system will move to, should the user press that control.

  • Complex Application Design: A 5-Layer Framework

    Various contexts of complexity should be considered by UX designers and researchers designing complex applications, including complexities of integration, information, intention, environment, and institution.

  • Mobile-App Onboarding: An Analysis of Components and Techniques

    Onboarding is the process of getting users familiar with a new interface. It can involve one or more of the following components: feature promotion, customization, and instructions.

  • Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists

    Listboxes and dropdowns are compact UI controls that allow users to select options. Listboxes expose options right away and support multi-selection while dropdowns require a click to see options and support only single-selection.

  • Mobile Tutorials: Wasted Effort or Efficiency Boost?

    Our research shows that tutorials don’t make users faster or more successful at completing tasks; on the contrary, they make them perceive the tasks as more difficult.

  • Mental Models for Cloud-Storage Systems

    Users have a rudimentary understanding of cloud services and attempt to fit them into their existent, simpler mental models that they had formed for similar, more-traditional services.

  • Treemaps: Data Visualization of Complex Hierarchies

    A treemap is a complex, area-based data visualization for hierarchical data that can be hard to interpret precisely. In many cases, simpler visualizations such as bar charts are preferable.

  • 3 Design Considerations for Effective Mobile-App Permission Requests

    Mobile permission requests are often poorly designed. Consider the content and timing of these requests, avoid dark patterns, and enable users to reverse their decision.

  • Contextual Menus: Delivering Relevant Tools for Tasks

    Contextual menus are displayed on demand and contain a small set of relevant actions, related to a control, a piece of content, a view in an app, or an area of the UI. When designed right, they deliver relevant tools for completing tasks without adding clutter to the interface.

  • UI Copy: UX Guidelines for Command Names and Keyboard Shortcuts

    Labels for commands should be brief, informative, rely on verbs and adjectives, and avoid branded terms. Command shortcuts must limit the number of modifiers and follow standard conventions.

  • Top 10 Application-Design Mistakes

    Application usability is enhanced when the UI guides and supports users through the workflow.

  • How to Report Errors in Forms: 10 Design Guidelines

    Help users recover from errors by clearly identifying the problems and allowing users to access and correct erroneous fields easily.

  • Tooltip Guidelines

    Tooltips are user-triggered messages that provide additional information about a page element or feature. Although tooltips aren’t new to the web, they are often incorrectly implemented.

  • Apps Within Apps: UX Lessons from WeChat Mini Programs

    Our user studies in China found that embedded-app designers must consider the context of use, the core functionality of the parent platform, and how the programs will be used.

  • Designing Effective Infographics

    Information graphics translate data into a visual medium that is easy to understand and engaging, aiming to integrate text and pictures.

  • Toggle-Switch Guidelines

    On/off switches are UI elements that prompt users to choose between 2 mutually exclusive options, always have a default value, and provide immediate results.

  • Confirmation Dialogs Can Prevent User Errors — If Not Overused

    8 UX guidelines to avoid many serious user errors reduce the risk that people automatically agree to a warning without realizing the consequences.

  • What the Erroneous Hawaiian Missile Alert Can Teach Us About Error Prevention

    People should not be blamed for errors caused by poorly designed systems.