21.Try Transitions instead of showing changes instantly.
Interface elements often appear, hide, move, shift, and resize as users do their thing. As elements respond to our interactions, it sometimes is a little easier to comprehend what just happened when we sprinkle in the element of time. A built in intentional delay in the form of an animation or transition, respects cognition and gives people the required time to understand a change in size or position. Keep in mind of course that as we start increasing the duration of such transitions beyond 0.5 seconds, there will be situations where people might start feeling the pain. For those who just wish to get things done quickly, too long of a delay of course can be a burden.
22.Try Gradual Engagement instead of a hasty sign up.
Instead of asking visitors to sign up immediately, why not ask them to first perform a task through which something of value is demonstrated. During such initial interactions the product can both show off its benefits, as well as can lend itself to personalization. Once users begin to see your product’s value and see how they can make it their own, they will then be more open to sharing with you additional information. Gradual engagement is really a way to postpone the sign up process as much as possible and still allow users to use and customize your application or product.
23.Try Fewer Borders instead of wasting attention.
Borders compete for attention with real content. Attention of course is a precious resource since we can only grasp so much at any given time. Surely borders can be used to define a space very clearly and precisely, but they also do cost us cognitive energy as they are perceived as explicit lines. In order to define relationships between screen elements which use less attention, elements can also be just grouped together through proximity, be aligned, have distinct backgrounds, or even just share a similar typographic style. When working in abstract UI tools, it’s easy to drop a bunch of boxes everywhere. Boxes however come with a false sense of being immune from the order and unity which governs the rest of the screen. Hence pages with lots of boxes sometimes may tend to look noisy or misaligned. Sometimes it is helpful to throw in a line here and there, but do consider alternative ways of defining visual relationships that are less taxing to attention and your content will come through.
24.Try Selling Benefits instead of features.
I think this is Marketing 101. People tend to care less about features than they do about benefits. Benefits carry with them more clearly defined value. Chris Guillebeau in “The $100 Startup” writes that people really care about having more of: Love, Money, Acceptance and Free Time, while at the same time wishing for less Stress, Conflict, Hassle and Uncertainty. When showing features, and I do believe that there is still room for them occasionally, be sure to tie them back to benefits where possible.
25.Try Designing For Zero Data instead of just data heavy cases.
There are cases when you will have 0, 1, 10, 100, or 10,000+ data results which might need to be displayed somehow in various ways. The most common of these scenarios is probably the transition from first time use with zero data towards future use with a lot more data. We often forget to design for this initial case when there is still nothing to display whatsoever, and by doing so we run the risk of neglecting users. A zero data world is a cold place. When first time users look at your app and all it does is show a blank slate without any guidance then you’re probably missing out on an opportunity. Zero data states are perfect candidates for getting users across the initial hurdle of learning by showing them what to do next. Good things scale and user interfaces are no exception.
26.Try Opt-Out instead of opt-in.
An opt-out strategy implies that users or customers are defaulted to take part in something without having to take any action. Alternatively, there is also the more traditional opt-in strategy that requires people to first take an action in order to take part in or receive something. There are two good reasons why opt-out works better than opt-in. First it alleviates resistance on the path of action, as the user does not have to do anything. Secondly, it’s also a form of recommendation which implies some kind of a norm – “since everyone else takes this as it is, I might also do the same”. Of course the opt-out strategy is often perceived as controversial as there are those sleazy marketers which will abuse it. One such evil is to diminish the readability of the opt-out text, while another is to use confusing text, such as double negatives. Both examples will result in users being less aware of actually signing up for something. Hence to keep the ethics in check, if you do decide to go with an opt-out approach, do make it very clear and understandable to your customers what they are being defaulted into. After all, this tactic has also been used in Europe to save lives.
27.Try Consistency instead of making people relearn.
Striving for consistency in user interface design is probably one of the most well known principles since Donald Norman’s awesome books. Having a more consistent UI or interaction is simply a great way to decrease the amount of learning someone has to go through as they use an interface or product. As we press buttons and shift sliders, we learn to expect these interaction elements to look, behave and be found in the same way repeatedly. Consistency solidifies the way we learn to interact and as soon as it is taken away, we are then forced back into learning mode all over again. Consistent interfaces can be achieved through a wide possible range of things such as: colors, directions, behaviors, positioning, size, shape, labelling and language. Before we make everything consistent however, please let’s bear in mind that keeping things inconsistent still has value. Inconsistent elements or behaviors come out into attention from the depths of our habitual subconscious – which can be a good thing when you want to have things get noticed. Try it, but know when to break it.
28.Try Smart Defaults instead of asking to do extra work.
Using smart defaults or pre-filling form fields with educated guesses removes the amount of work users have to do. This is a common technique for helping users move through forms faster by being respectful of their limited time. One of the worst things from an experience and conversion stand point is to ask people for data that they have already provided in the past, repeatedly over and over again. Try to display fields that are preloaded with values to be validated as opposed to asking for values to be retyped each time. The less work, the better.
29.Try Conventions instead of reinventing the wheel.
Convention is the big brother of consistency. If we keep things similar across an interface, people won’t have to obviously struggle as hard. If on the other hand, we all keep things as similar as possible across multiple interfaces, that decreases the learning curve even further. With the help of established UI conventions we learn to close screen windows in the upper right hand corner (more often than not), or expect a certain look from our settings icons. Of course there will be times when a convention no longer serves purpose and gives way to a newer pattern. When breaking away, do make sure it’s purposefully thought out and with good intention.
30.Try Loss Aversion instead of emphasizing gains.
We like to win, but we hate to lose. According to the rules of persuasive psychology, we are more likely to prefer avoiding losses than to acquiring gains. This can be applied to how product offerings are framed and communicated. By underlying that a product is protective of a customer’s existing well-being, wealth or social status, such strategy might be more effective than trying to provide a customer with something additional which they don’t already have. Do insurance companies sell the payout that can be gained after the accident or the protection of the things we hold dear to us?