UXperts Weigh In: Designs We Love, April Edition
When you just need to get things done, you want the apps and sites you rely on to be intuitive, easy to use, and effective in solving your problems. This month, our UXperts are sharing their top picks for practical apps that nail the UX — whether you need to concentrate on work, on your home, or just pay for your coffee, these products are all about function, not friction. Here are the designs they’re loving right now.
Evgeny Vasenev, freelance UX designer
I like apps that solve different small human issues, especially if they have simple interfaces that are understandable without any tutorials. Tide helps you focus on work tasks with various sounds such as rain, ocean, cafe, wind, etc., much like white noise. It has two modes, Focus and Sleep, so it is useful for bedtime as well. But I use it primarily for focusing on different tasks.
Although it solves a simple issue, it has quite powerful functions. Users can change modes, sounds, and duration; they can set timers and see inspirational quotes. It even has a dashboard with user statistics, and everything is so intuitive, incredibly aesthetic, and visually beautiful. The app uses a lot of small animation effects that definitely add engagement.
The whole interface is built on swipes and understandable buttons. It doesn’t have a standard mobile menu, but is so intuitive and precise that it’s very easy to figure out how it works, even the first time you use it. Different settings are located in different places and they depend on user needs. For instance, users can change the session duration in general settings, and, at the same time, they can quickly change it for a current session, which is so useful.
The thing I like the most is I can start to focus really quickly; just two taps is all it takes to get me to focus on my task and stop thinking about the app itself. If I want to explore Tide, I can do it and it’s a joyful experience, but if I want to use it for what it’s been built for, I can achieve that in just two seconds.
Melanie Löff-Bird, UX designer at Frog Design
Notion is a “Type A” person’s dream. It builds on the simple functionality of many existing note-taking and to-do apps, but goes a step further in it’s flexible model of note linking and hierarchy.
The Notion paradigm of hierarchy moves away from how we usually understand file organization as linear, comprised of folders within folders (i.e. General/Projects/New Client/Kickoff/Notes). With Notion, you can create a note “landing page” and embed a spreadsheet, then link an individual cell in that spreadsheet to another more detailed note. You can quickly access that note in preview mode directly from the spreadsheet or jump to its full-page location.
The note-taking capabilities are also lovingly and smartly designed. With an easy click of the backslash key, you can create a new to-do list, embed a Google map, insert a video, or display a breadcrumb (and the list goes on).
Overall, I have a deep appreciation for products like Notion. They can be easily adapted by users who need only the simplest features, but can also be taken to the next level for those who want to get crazy with color coding and collaboration.
Nava Teja Tummalapalli, UX designer at Adobe
Pick: Samsung Pay
Another payment/wallet app? Don’t we have enough already? Yes, but not anything like this. Unlike the NFC technology that requires a payment device upgrade, Samsung Pay is powered by Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) that allows mobile devices to transmit information to a card reader using magnetic signals to emulate swiping a physical payment card.
Sustainability, scale, and an easy learning curve are some of the principles that are very important to me as a designer, and Samsung Pay does it all. Regular magnetic card readers don’t go to waste as merchants are not required to upgrade their hardware to support this application like other payment apps that are built on NFC. This, in turn, helps expand the usage in any given scenario with traditional card readers, and of course causes less friction for a new or existing user as the app is always docked to the bottom of the mobile screen. I literally can roam around without a physical wallet in my pocket.
From a UI standpoint, the first screen after you swipe up is a carousel view of all the cards you have loaded. Dismissing this screen will show the rewards and how you can redeem them; offers and deals are organized in a feed-and-cards-based view with main navigation at the bottom of the screen. The UI elements that are necessary to perform a transaction are readily available, just as they should be.
Phu Truong, director at Clusters
Pick: ADT Smart Home
One app I recently discovered that is changing the game for home alarm system management is ADT’s Smart Home App. It seamlessly combines peace of mind with a beautiful interface. The app lets you check on and set/unset your home alarm from anywhere in the world, via your smartphone or tablet (providing you have wifi), using just your fingerprint.
It can be connected to your property’s cameras, allowing you to view a live feed through your phone, and adding an extra layer of security. ADT’s motion camera sensors capture images and video clips when someone trips the alarm, before alerting you by email so you can view the images through the app. Its security log feature, which lets you monitor the property’s comings and goings, also serves as a way to check whether anybody is home yet. Users of the app can easily add new alarm fobs and users within the app who can be named and tracked for when they arrive and leave.
However, one feature which, in my opinion, is the app’s best feature, is its ability to be used on many devices, such as your cleaner’s smartphone or your keyholder’s iPad. This eliminates the need for easily forgotten alarm codes, and I’ve found it to be a much more convenient way of managing my home alarm system. Ultimately, I think what sets this app apart is the way it lets you take control of your home alarm system remotely at the touch of a button. It’s so easy to use, and means forgetting to set the home alarm or misplaced alarm codes can now be a thing of the past.