​Kim Hayata Yelken Acmak Istemez ki? Who does not want to sail to the life?

IMG_5833.jpgKocaman Bir Merhaba! Uzun zamandir paylasmayi planladigim fotograf hikayelerimi katildigim bir yelken yarisinin tetiklemesi sonucunda sizlerle bulusturma vaktinin geldigine inanarak baslangic veriyorum, araliklarla da devam ediyor olacagim 🙂 Takipte kalin! Big Hi! I will continue to share my photo stories with you from now on. Stay on following.

22713580_10155959900171052_8709159190618578918_o-1.jpgBu yazimda Bodrum’da bir gelenek haline gelen ve 16-21 Ekim’de 29. duzenlenen, misafir olarak katildigim Bodrum kupasi yat yarisi festivalinde gozlemlerime yer verecegim. In this writing, I will include observations on the “The Bodrum Cup” international nautical festival regatta which is a tradition and organized as the 29th during 16-21 October. 

22713232_10155960042891052_5139585406605790373_o.jpgKisa bir sureligine mesguliyetinizi durdurup, mavi sularda salınan ruzgarin atlilarinin seyir yolculuguna gelin baslayalim.


For a while, stop your work and begin to travel on the journey of these Wind’s Horses 🙂 

22792288_10155959957976052_1613976419368071098_o.jpgBodrum`u Bodrumlulastiran unsurlardan biri muhakkak ki Guletleri…Ahsabin estetik zerafetinin denizin asi mavisiyle romantik bulusmasina sizce de ev sahipligi yapmiyor mu bu Guletler? 

22791703_10155959955401052_1982699213551849113_o.jpgBodrum’s one of the elements surely wooden yachts called Gulet. Wooden yacht aesthetic elegance and its romantic meeting with the rebellious blue of the sea does not it make you a home in this beautiful Gulet’s?IMG_7505.jpg

Guletler, tamamen el emegiyle tekne ustalarinin kendilerine has cizimleri uzerinden titiz bir calismayla elde ediliyor. Atadan gelen koklu bir emegin damitilmasiyla olusan bu goz nuru tekneler gunumuzde teknolojik donanima da oldukca sahip ve yuksek konforlariyla yolcusuna keyifli zamanlar yasatiyorlar. 

The gulets are hand-crafted with a rigorous scrutiny of the craftsmanship of the craftsmen. These eye-catching boats, which provide a powerful experience with sailing and an empathic impetus, make guests enjoyable times with its high-tech comforts.


Beyaz kanatlarıyla süzülen yelkenliler bu halleriyle sahip oldugumuz kosullarda ozgurlugumuzun sinirlarini hatirlatiyor. The Gulets, which are sailing with white wings, remind us of the limitations of our freedom when we have conditions in our thoughts.


Festivalde, Guldeniz Sailing firmasina ait “GuldenIrmak”  gulet yatta konakladim. Kamaram sirin ve sempatikti.

At the festival, I stood at the “GuldenIrmak” ship owned by Guldeniz Sailing Cruises Company. My cabin was very cute and sympathetic.

Bu pencerenin zaman zaman uykularimi boldugunu de itiraf etmeliyim 😉  I must admit that that window got me tired of fallen asleep time to time 😉

IMG_E1293.jpgEveet! Ilk gun bulusmamiz. Tatli mi tatli, sirin mi sirin Guldeniz ekibi ve degerli katilimcilari.. Well now! It was the first day of the regatta. We were Guldeniz crewmembers and worthy participants.IMG_5027.JPGHer anindan keyif almayi basarabilen koca yurekli bir ekipti bizimkisi. We were a big, vigorous crew that could enjoy the enjoyment of every moment.

22713522_10155959999296052_7925284614821008215_o.jpg Bu fotograf yaris esnasinda kapistigimiz anlardan. Ben, sagda gordugunuz odule doymak bilmeyen Grandi’deyim. Bir diger deyisle Yusuf kaptan’in Ayse’si. 🙂 Grandi Bodrum; 26 m boyunda ve yelken alani 550 metrekare. 1993 yilinda Mercan Mehmet tarafindan yapilmis. Tekne ayni zamanda aile sirketi olan Guldeniz Sailing tarafindan 6 yildir yonetilmekte. Solda gordugunuz tekne ise Bodrum’un bir diger gozbebegi okul gemisi STS`si. 2014 yilinda duzenledigim bir organizasyonda ev sahipligi yapmisti bize. Yeri anlamli ve ozeldir. Maziye bir diger yolculuk merak edenler icin This is the moment we ran into that photo during the regatta. I was in the Grandi, who seemed to be in the right place. In other words, Yusuf captain’s Ayse’s  🙂 Grandi Bodrum; 26 m in length and 550 sq. M. in sailing area. Made in 1993 by Mercan Mehmet. The boat is managed by the family company Guldeniz Sailing at the same time. The boat that we saw on the left is STS, school ship in Bodrum. We hosted an event called curious science in 2014. 

22769654_10155960066161052_8072100066395834839_o.jpg Dalgalarin arasinda devlesen Grandi ruzgarini almis suzulurken… The Grandi that has been circulating among the ripples…


Grandi Bodrum; yarisi kendi sinifinda ikinci ve bitisleri de cogunlukla birinci olarak tamamladi. Grandi Bodrum; has awarded second in his class and  mostly finished the regatta as a first sailing ship.

DSC_6188.jpg Sonuc degil surecten keyif almanin onemli olduguna inandigimiz icin her kosul ve durumda mutluyduk! We were happy in every situation. We believe that it is important to enjoy the process rather than the end! 

22770938_10155960083781052_975978978677063779_o.jpg         Adrenalin, tutku, sevgi ve dostluğun heyecanini paylastik. 
 We share the same passion and excitement during The Bodrum Cup. The event thus evolves into a festivity of adrenaline, passion, love, and friendship.

22792404_10155960076226052_7103707768111000046_o.jpgEmegi gecenlerin de hakki buyuk. Onlar olmasaydi bu organizasyon olmazdi. Workers who make everything well organized “TheBodrumCup2017” special thanks. Without them, we couldn’t able to take part in such a great organization.


Alabora olmaya inat bir asksa bu yolculuk, ne zaman cekici gelmistir ki emin sularda seyre dalan tek duze bir sefer. E.C. 

Exploring the Brain Through Experience Design


“Welcome to the human brain, the cathedral of complexity.”—Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield

It’s inevitable a powerful problem-solving machine like the human brain would turn increasing attention to one of the greatest puzzles of all: itself.

Ironically, it may be impossible for us to decipher many of the secrets of our own brains without significant help from the digital tools we’ve created. Advances in machine learning and neuroimaging, in combination with visualizations that leverage human cognitive and perceptual strengths, are paving the way toward a far better understanding of our brains.

There are many ways to look at the brain, but that variety itself presents a challenge: the process of analyzing different kinds of data can be fragmented and cumbersome. How can designers help re-assemble disparate data into the most meaningful and complete picture? How can we apply design to help the brain better understand itself?

Gaining new insights from data is not just about better collection tools and techniques; it also depends on the ways we assemble data and how we enable users to interact with the different elements.

This article will illustrate some ideas drawn from two complementary brain visualization concept projects:

One project involved a collaboration of computer scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, neuroscientists at UCSF, and designers with the LA-based design shop, Oblong Industries. It focused on age-related dementia and was presented at the UCSF’s OME Precision Medicine Summit in May 2013.
The other project was a UI concept demo exploring Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that Jeff Chang, an ER radiologist, and I presented at a 3D developers conference (zCon in April 2013 hosted by zSpace). We gave our system the name “NeuroElectric and Anatomic Locator,” or “N.E.A.A.L.”
Reaching a deeper understanding of our brains requires an evolution in thinking about design
tweet this

Despite differences in goals and approaches, some common threads run through both projects. Discussed below are just a few themes that emerged. While these ideas were used in a very specific context, they can also apply well beyond the subject matter.

Navigating Investigative Pathways with Combinations of 2D and 3D Visualizations

“Since the brain is unlike any other structure in the known universe, it seems reasonable to expect that our understanding of its functioning … will require approaches that are drastically different from the way we understand other physical systems.”—Richard M. Restak

As we navigate daily life, we regularly shift our attention between different perspectives and levels of abstraction. Sometimes a flat, stylized transit map is just the ticket for figuring out where and when we need to travel.

Other times, a more dimensional and literal representation is necessary to get a clearer and more complete understanding of a place.

Each view can be useful and sometimes they are complementary. This same idea applies to neurobiology research and medicine in which there are many formats to represent widely disparate aspects of our brains. For example, the brain has a vast number of connections that can be at least partially visualized by either 2D or 3D network graphs. These networks have attributes similar to transit maps with express lines, local stops, and transfer stations. However, in the case of the brain, every stop links to several thousand others. The traffic patterns across these networks are as intimately connected to physical brain structure as transit lines are tied to physical geography. These anatomical features can be best represented by 3D visualizations.

The patterns of connections and activity reveal a great deal of information that can be useful for predicting the course of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The team from LBL/UCSF/Oblong developed a gesture-based interface with 2D and 3D elements. The system has network diagrams that show normal and problematic traffic patterns, combined with mapping the physical structure of the brain. In the picture below, Oblong Industries designer John Carpenter uses gestural control to pull out an area of highlighted activity from its surroundings within a 3D mesh representation of the brain.

Oblong Industries software engineer Alessandro Valli says, “Instead of putting stuff in a screen or window, we put stuff in space and then add screens that act like portholes.”

“Years ago, after seeing Google Earth for the first time, my perception of the world changed,” Valli recalls. “Even though it was still a mouse and keyboard experience and the content was the same, that freedom of navigation really opened up my mind about geography.” Good interactions with blended 2D and 3D systems require thoughtful transitions between the two.

Oblong’s chief scientist John Underkoffler notes, “It is possible to locate really important meaning in data within the transitions. It’s important to be able to see the steps that lead from one process to another.” Underkoffler’s innovative work includes designing the computer interfaces that appeared in the film, Minority Report.

Navigating Investigative Paths with “N.E.A.A.L.”

The physical forces involved in a traumatic head injury event can produce many different aftereffects in the brain. The internal damage can be obscure and the chain of causality complex. How can people ever hope to trace the path from symptoms to sources? There are variety of telltale signs and clues, including aberrant electrical patterns and changes in the diffusion rates of water in brain tissue. These clues can point to specific damage in different neural pathways. Blending various 2D and 3D visualizations that interweave the data into meaningful patterns and relationships can speed and enhance the investigative process. Useful insights can be derived from the transitions between the different views.

N.E.A.A.L. brings together different kinds of data and formats, from imaging to cognitive assessments, and stitches them together so that a user can quickly and easily go from viewing a psychological assessment document to “flying over” a white matter fiber tract looking for potential physical sources of the problem.

In one scenario involving N.E.A.A.L., Chang and I explored a case in which a researcher was investigating a soldier with traumatic brain injury who was suffering from subsequent episodes of epilepsy and depression. The images below are screen shots of an early video sketch showing the researcher exploring an investigative pathway through a series of partially overlaid brain imaging modalities to find the potential origin of depression associated with TBI. The experience is designed to be fluid and effortless, despite the rapid transitions of imaging modalities, image orientation, and scale.

Ultimately, we want N.E.A.A.L. to offer an experience that includes voice and gestural input. Using voice input for actions like changing or overlaying different kinds of images would be helpful in allowing researchers to keep their focus on the brain itself. There should be some visual confirmation that the system “understood” the command, but that’s best kept in the periphery.

Voice commands make sense for certain actions, but not all. Verbally requesting N.E.A.A.L. to display a particular type of EEG, MRI, or other data set works well. However, gestural input—whether with pointing devices or highly accurate and precise motion capture—can provide effortless and effective ways to interact with 2D and 3D visualizations of the brain.

There are many instances where it’s far easier to people to show rather than tell what they want the system to do. Instead of having the system figure out what “a little more to the right” might mean for any particular person, the user can simply gesture to indicate the “little more” that they need, akin to moving a mouse or adjusting a ZeroN element from MIT.

Relating Abstract Data to Anatomical Features

In the screen shot above from the LBL/UCSF/Oblong project, the colored blobs within the left-sided representation of the brain reflect patterns of activity with respect to the brain’s anatomical landmarks, reminiscent of a street map showing traffic patterns. The heat map in the lower right shows connection strength between the elements.

UCSF neuroscientist Jesse Brown researches the functional connectivity of the brain. He looks at patterns of activity, represented by networks, in healthy brains and compares them to those with degenerative diseases. “These networks map pretty well to disease-specific patterns of activity,” Brown says. One of the central questions is determining the origin of the problem. Brown continues: “Network diagrams are good at the populations level, at predicting the patterns of spread from a source.”
Brown and his colleagues are exploring how to diagram these patterns at the individual subject level. He says many researchers represent this kind of activity on a graph and then do analyses to find centers of activity and points of connection. This approach to network analysis and prediction, he says, is somewhat like “playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

Although network diagrams are useful, Brown says, they are also so abstract that you can’t always tell how they relate to the corresponding anatomical features. However, when creating a multifaceted visualization system, “we can point to an anatomical feature and then connect that to a network graph and compare the two … they are all stepping stones.”

Optimizing the Interplay Between Human Intelligence and Machine Learning

“There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons? Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected.”—Tim Berners-Lee

Daniela Ushizima, a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab says, “Mapping the brain’s connectivity means dealing with the representation of tens of billions of neurons modeled as nodes in a network.” Given the scale and complexity, she adds, “We need to push for better network graph algorithms to answer questions about, for example, patterns of activity.”

Ushizima frames the question with a social network graph analogy, “What is the most ‘popular’ or influential group of neurons in a network?” For this kind of massive network and connectivity analysis, Ushizima thinks data mining will play an increasingly important role in brain research. However, she also notes the critical role human perception, thought, and judgment will play in the process. “The fact is, people can use visualizations to help ensure that they are mining the right features. Visualizations enable you to use your domain expertise to seek the most likely features so that the data mining algorithms will actually work.”

While Chang is highly trained to interpret biomedical images, he is also a strong proponent of the power of machine learning and AI to “look” for patterns in the data. Like Ushizima, he sees a symbiotic relationship between AI and UI and believes that, “UX design can help create interfaces that foster both automatic and user-driven analyses.” Chang believes, “As we move toward more intelligent AI systems, they will become more ‘brain-like’—spiking neural networks with deep learning architecture, arranged into functional groups sporting trillions of synaptic connections—since that’s our best model of what intelligence actually looks like.”

Stripping Away UI Artifacts and Letting the Brain Propel the Interactions

One of the main themes from both of the projects described in this article is the value of getting out of the way of the user and the subject matter. Stripping away as many elements of a UI that do not further the interaction is an essential but challenging task. The physical nature of the brain makes it an interesting case study in disintermediation. A virtual representation of the brain can become a primary driver of user interactions. “The more layers you can dissolve between you and the information, the more immersive it gets,” Oblong’s Underkoffler says. “This ability to experience this complex form inside of you is really interesting!”

Reaching a deeper understanding of our brains requires an evolution in thinking about design. How can we best take untapped human perceptual and cognitive strengths and blend them with the raw power of computing?

Creating a new generation of interfaces to explore brain data can bring benefits that extend far beyond the immediate subject area. Because the brain is so many things at once—a complex physical structure, a system of networks, etc.—the solutions for better understanding it could be translated and applied to a many other subject areas and disciplines. Cybersecurity is just one example that immediately comes to mind.

As Underkoffler says, “Once we’ve overcome prejudices about some kinds of interactions, then the barn doors get blown off and we can do all sorts of great things.”

We may all have different perspectives, skills, and interests, but each of us has a brain. It will take that diversity of talent and experience to truly understand something we all have in common.



Experience Design is a Perspective, not a Discipline

A discussion about experience design generally comes loaded with semantic traps, especially when you’re talking with clever people who delight in playing devil’s advocate. Since writing the book Experience Design: A Framework for Integrating Brand, Experience, and Value with Kevin Farnham (released in August by Wiley & Sons), I am frequently asked about the meaning of “experience design.”

The first semantic snare usually crops up early on: How can you design an experience? After all, experience is a subjective phenomenon that occurs within the mind of the individual. The best one can do is to influence what someone experiences (such as a sense of value, utility, usability, etc.) through design. So, if you aren’t designing experiences, then what exactly is experience design?

It’s a fair question. The basic definition we build in the book is that experience design is a perspective on design intended to help stakeholders (the different business functions and design disciplines that may be interested in the outcome of a design effort) more effectively use both the processes and outcomes of design to solve problems. Experience design is proposed as a framework for developing shared objectives and criteria, with a focus on the creation and delivery of value (utility, meaning, etc.).

Our intention is to help business and design collaborate more intelligently. Unlocking the power of design allows a business to anticipate, plan for, and deliver experiences that are more likely to engage a customer in value-based relationships—ones that can be differentiated in ways that are both meaningful and measurable.

The Experience Design Approach

With experience design, planning and execution are based on trying to align a business’ products and services with their brand and methods of engaging their market. This approach requires that the meaning and intent of the brand can be articulated in terms that influence experience and value, and are readily available to inform design teams. It sets the priorities for business and design as ongoing customer value and engagement in order to sustain business health and guide proactive evolution and innovation. It also considers a customer’s experience as unfolding over time, across multiple stages and touchpoints, all of which determines how value is perceived and whether or not the relationship is healthy or failing.

We purposefully position experience design as a perspective, not a discipline. While we believe that the skills and practices developed within disciplines are essential to establishing excellence in the craft of design, they need to be balanced with breadth. Anyone who has hired for, or worked in a design studio knows that different design disciplines have different priorities: aesthetics, behavior, brand, methodology, materials, responsiveness, simplicity, usability, etc.

A delightful first-use experience shouldn’t become an annoying delay in getting to utility over time
tweet this

The challenge is that while all disciplines will agree that design is a good thing, each will bring a very different set of objectives, best practices, and ways of measuring success for design. The definition of (and requirements for) design can be too easily tied to the context of a given discipline. This can allow both buyers of design services or design practitioners to fall into bad habits, like failing to consider that there are things they aren’t even aware of and operating under the illusion that they have made a sound and informed choice or decision (when they often don’t account for the trade-offs and influences of interdependencies that have not yet been identified).

The Experience Design Perspective

The experience design perspective is that there will always be important connections—interdependencies, implications, and parallel opportunities—that may involve following mutually exclusive paths that need to be considered. It’s based on the assumption that very few people are aware of everything they should be considering, making it easier to accept the fact that you should always push the boundaries of your understanding of the context for which you design. This means it’s OK to ask questions; it’s good to be curious. It also means that you need a way to understand how to make sense of the answers, or what to do if there are no ready answers.

It can be hard to see past the focal point of a given discipline (even if one is emphatically trying to take a user-centered approach). Experience design is a way of avoiding such myopia by placing importance on input and feedback from different disciplines and business functions, as well as production/distribution partners. Experience design is inherently all-inclusive, never the specialty of a single discipline.

At the same time, it is a perspective that requires all parties to place priority on value for the customer as a primary criterion of any solution. It doesn’t matter if this value is tangible or intangible (ideally, it’s both!), but it very much matters that both the buyer of design services and the design practitioner accept that it is not their perception of value that is most important—it’s the customer’s perception of value, based on their context, that is the measure.

Experience Design, Customer Experience, and Interaction Design

Consider this when comparing the roles of user experience and customer experience, or user experience and interaction design. Through an experience design lens, they are additive to an overall design solution, and can have independent, yet related roles.

For instance, in addition to helping make sense of how humans understand and execute tasks and processes, interaction design can begin to include systems that do not have a direct user interface or an experience exposed to humans (if it isn’t already)(e.g. M2M interfaces and interactions) since what a human encounters will depend on how interactions at this level are defined and designed.

User experience designers taking a human-centered approach can also consider how differentiation can better support commercial objectives (near-term and long-term) and not just balance usability and delight. The feasibility of a business is based on on-going customer engagement, not just lowered learning curves.

Customer experience designers can define experiences that extend beyond the purchase of a product or service. A good purchase experience, or even user experience, doesn’t guarantee future business. To ensure feasibility of a business, customers must remain engaged, and this requires thinking across all stages of the relationship and looking for ways to add or increase value.

Every design discipline needs to be aware that the customer—the end target of all this effort—is not evaluating the contribution from each team or skill set independently. A customer’s experience is made up of many moving parts, and the context in which these are evaluated changes over time.

Difference in Differentiation

The position we take in the book is that the need for the perspective of experience design is a natural outcome of how the modern world has progressed. With paradigm shifts in production and distribution (such as the industrial revolution or digital technology/media) the cost to produce a good at specific level of quality decreases dramatically with the increase in volume produced. This same shift rewards speed-to-market often at the expense of time spent on design and quality of experience.

As the number of goods and services available for any given need proliferate, competition for attention increases the need for differentiation. If design is already challenged to work faster to produce greater differentiation, this can come at the expense of true utility and value; difference becomes only skin deep. Compound this with the marketing of brands as beliefs, and you help to justify superficial differences by reinforcing a consumer’s “rational” choices that are really based on more “emotional” motivations. And it becomes self-perpetuating if the designers’ capabilities or influences are continually constrained to producing differences that are merely superficial.


My conversations eventually end with a final semantic quandary: If emotion is a key component of experience, how can you call it experience design and not be about targeting and activating an emotional response in people? This is extremely important, and all design needs to consider this, but we also believe that choosing which emotions to target, and how best to do so, changes over time and by type of need.

A delightful first-use experience shouldn’t become an annoying delay in getting to utility over time. And we shouldn’t forget that a customer’s context shifts over time. If activation of emotions is the value needed, then the product or service had better deliver, but if activating emotions is used for attracting awareness and creating desire, real value had better be in the equation somewhere.

Simply put, businesses don’t get the full return on their investment in design if the outcome is only a momentary emotional response from customers. Any long-term positive emotional response has to have a strong value component.

What is encouraging is that once the semantic traps have been cleared (or at least acknowledged), the usual outcome of the conversation is an extreme enthusiasm for the difference that design can make when more people understand the experience design perspective and begin to let it guide their thinking.

Designing for Brains: the Psychology of User Experience

By now, you probably already know the importance of user research, and better understanding your users’ needs and tasks. But it’s also important to dig deeper, into the psychology of what motivates them, and understand how humans really behave and think. Leave off those rose-colored glasses and see how users actually perceive an experience. In reality, humans have limited memory and focus; we’re swayed by emotion more than we’d care to admit. Carefully considering every single thing in our lives would be far too overwhelming, so humans often revert to using their more primitive fight-or-flight “lizard brains” to make decisions quickly.



Three no-nonsense reasons why your company should invest in UX


money-loyal-customers-01Here at UserTesting, we often hear the same question coming from two different angles.

Here’s what we hear from CEOs and CMOs: “User experience sounds nice, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a bottom line to think about. How do I justify a UX budget to our investors? Where does the ROI come in?”
And here’s what we hear from designers and researchers: “I know that user experience is important, but how do I convince our executive team to invest in it? How can I prove that it’s not just a bunch of feel-good stuff, and it’ll actually pay off?”
When most executives think about user experience, they think of creating a delightful workflow, building a beautiful interface, or improving accessibility. And let’s be clear: those things ARE important. But for most companies, they aren’t enough of a reason to justify a significant investment.

A lot of companies monitor their KPIs, make sure that they don’t have any severe bugs, and say, “good enough.” If they have the budget and bandwidth sometime in the future, maybe UX would be nice to look into.

But here’s the thing: “good enough” is holding these companies back. User experience research and design can give companies a huge advantage, and it’s worth the investment. Whether you’re a CEO, a marketer, a designer, or a researcher, here are three no-nonsense reasons why your company should invest in UX now.

1. Improving your UX saves you money
Reduce wasted development time

Developers’ time is extremely valuable. In a perfect world, developers would spend 100% of their time building awesome new products and features. In reality, an estimated 50% of engineering time is spent on doing rework that could have been avoided. What’s more, fixing an error after development is up to 100 times as expensive as it would have been before.

Don’t forget, in this context, an error isn’t necessarily a bug. It could be…

An incorrect assumption about how users will behave
A unique value proposition that doesn’t make sense to users
Confusing navigation that causes users to get stuck or lost
A design choice that isn’t accessible
A “really cool” new feature that nobody actually wants to use
A little up-front UX research can save you hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars.
Getting early feedback from your target market—and making research-backed, user-centered design decisions—can help you avoid those expensive errors, saving hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars.

Decrease the cost of customer support

We frequently recommend that companies dig into their chat support log when they’re getting ready to start user testing. What problems are your users constantly running into? How many hours does your support team spend responding to those problems?

If you test and fix those problems proactively, and then use your findings to inform future designs, you can dramatically reduce the burden on your support team and save thousands of dollars.

2. Focusing on UX increases your revenue
Increase conversion rates

Everyone and their dog wants to improve their conversion rates. If you’re looking to double your revenue, it’s often easier, cheaper, and smarter to focus on doubling your conversion rate than doubling your traffic. Most companies are already investing in conversion rate optimization tactics like A/B testing, but these efforts fall flat if they’re based on guesswork rather than an actual understanding of the user.

Doing some up-front user research will give you real insights for improving your conversion rates. You can find out where users get frustrated, where they have trouble understanding your offerings, and what would keep them from converting. Then you can make fast changes to your design and copy to boost conversions right away for an automatic win.

UX research is a great complement to A/B testing and analytics: it helps you understand why customers behave the way they do, so you can make higher-converting design and marketing decisions.

Improve customer retention and loyalty

Customers who have a positive user experience are going to be more likely to stick with your products—and to become your brand advocates. Investing time and resources into customer experience (and we don’t just mean good design, but the entire relationship the user has with your company) will help you reduce churn and guarantee customer loyalty.

Investing in customer experience will help you reduce churn and ensure loyalty.
Measuring your Net Promoter Score is a great place to start. How likely would your customers be to recommend your company to a friend? How can you increase that likelihood? How much revenue could you generate from referrals made by happy customers?

3. Good UX gives you a competitive advantage
Gain competitor insights

User research is a great way to “spy” on your competition. You can easily run user tests on your competitors to find out what they’re doing right and whether users trust them over you. You can also find out which other companies in your industry your users are already doing business with, and why they like working with those companies.

Don’t fall behind

More companies than ever before are investing in UX and customer experience—and chances are, your competitors are, too. Customers are growing to expect good user experiences and becoming increasingly intolerant of bad ones.

Let’s be brutally honest. If your customers have an easier time doing business with your competitors, then that’s exactly what they’ll do.



Visual Design Basics


Visual design focuses on the aesthetics of a site and its related materials by strategically implementing images, colors, fonts, and other elements. A successful visual design does not take away from the content on the page or function. Instead, it enhances it by engaging users and helping to build trust and interest in the brand.

Basic Elements of Visual Design
The basic elements that combine to create visual designs include the following:

Lines connect two points and can be used to help define shapes, make divisions, and create textures. All lines, if they’re straight, have a length, width, and direction.
Shapes are self-contained areas. To define the area, the graphic artist uses lines, differences in value, color, and/or texture. Every object is composed of shapes.
Color palette choices and combinations are used to differentiate items, create depth, add emphasis, and/or help organize information. Color theory examines how various choices psychologically impact users.
Texture refers to how a surface feels or is perceived to feel. By repeating an element, a texture will be created and a pattern formed. Depending on how a texture is applied, it may be used strategically to attract or deter attention.
Typography refers to which fonts are chosen, their size, alignment, color, and spacing.
Form applies to three-dimensional objects and describes their volume and mass. Form may be created by combining two or more shapes and can be further enhanced by different tones, textures, and colors.
Principles for Creating a Visual Design
A successful visual design applies the following principles to elements noted above and effectively brings them together in a way that makes sense. When trying to figure out how to use the basic elements consider:

Unity has to do with all elements on a page visually or conceptually appearing to belong together. Visual design must strike a balance between unity and variety to avoid a dull or overwhelming design.
Gestalt, in visual design, helps users perceive the overall design as opposed to individual elements. If the design elements are arranged properly, the Gestalt of the overall design will be very clear.
Space is “defined when something is placed in it”, according to Alex White in his book, The Elements of Graphic Design. Incorporating space into a design helps reduce noise, increase readability, and/or create illusion. White space is an important part of your layout strategy.
Hierarchy shows the difference in significance between items. Designers often create hierarchies through different font sizes, colors, and placement on the page. Usually, items at the top are perceived as most important.
Balance creates the perception that there is equal distribution. This does not always imply that there is symmetry.
Contrast focuses on making items stand out by emphasizing differences in size, color, direction, and other characteristics.
Scale identifies a range of sizes; it creates interest and depth by demonstrating how each item relates to each other based on size.
Dominance focuses on having one element as the focal point and others being subordinate. This is often done through scaling and contrasting based on size, color, position, shape, etc.
Similarity refers to creating continuity throughout a design without direct duplication. Similarity is used to make pieces work together over an interface and help users learn the interface quicker.
Example of Pulling it all together
Applying design principles to the basic elements can seem overwhelming at first but once you start pulling a page or concept together, it becomes easier.
Additional Information
Alex White’s The Elements of Graphic Design (2nd Edition)
Jim Krause’s Design Basics Index
Poppy Evans and Mark Thomas’ Exploring the Elements of Design
UX Design Defined Site exit disclaimer
Elements and Principles of Visual Design Site exit disclaimer
Visual Design and Usability Yellow Brick Road Site exit disclaimer
Jesse James Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond (2nd Edition).

Why Is UX Important?

Nowadays, with so much emphasis on user-centered design, describing and justifying the importance of designing and enhancing the user experience seems almost unnecessary. We could simply say, “It’s important because it deals with our users’ needs — enough said,” and everyone would probably be satisfied with that.
However, those of us who worked in the Web design industry prior to the codification of user-centered design, usability and Web accessibility would know that we used to make websites differently. Before our clients (and we) understood the value of user-centered design, we made design decisions based on just two things: what we thought was awesome and what the client wanted to see.
We built interaction based on what we thought worked — we designed for ourselves. The focus was on aesthetics and the brand, with little to no thought of how the people who would use the website would feel about it.
There was no science behind what we did. We did it because the results looked good, because they were creative (so we thought) and because that was what our clients wanted.

But this decade has witnessed a transformation of the Web. Not only has it become more ubiquitous — the Web had at least 1.5 billion users globally in 2008 — but websites have become so complex and feature-rich that, to be effective, they must have great user experience designs.
Additionally, users have been accessing websites in an increasing number of ways: mobile devices, a vast landscape of browsers, different types of Internet connections.
We’ve also become aware of the importance of accessibility — i.e. universal access to our Web-based products — not only for those who with special requirements, such as for screen readers and non-traditional input devices, but for those who don’t have broadband connections or who have older mobile devices and so forth.