UXperts Weigh In: Designs We Love, January Edition
It’s a new year, and that means it’s a perfect chance to soak in some new designs, hand-picked by UXperts from around the world. Each website or app demonstrates some best practices in UX design. Check out these excellent websites and apps, and be sure to share the designs you’re loving as we kick off 2018.
Krys Blackwood, senior lead user experience designer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pick: Google Sky Map
Right from the moment you install Sky Map, you can use it. It reads position and movement from your phone to show you where stars, planets, meteor showers, and even constellations are. However, it also has a couple of really considerate features that, as a stargazer, I find delightful.
First, it has a night mode, which applies a special brightness and color profile so you can use it without ruining your vision. This lets you stare lovingly at even the dimmest of stars. Second, it has a time travel feature, which allows you to see how the sky appeared on a different date. It’s not perfect, but as a tool that’s easy for anyone to adopt, I think it’s a shining example. I feel comfortable handing it to a kid and letting them explore the sky, and I love the way they always come running to show me that they just found Jupiter, or ask what the Perseids are.
I’m a huge music fan, and music has always been a big part of my life. My dad is a classically-trained violinist, my cousin writes songs for some of the artists you’re probably listening to right now, and I spent the better part of my twenties travelling the world with my band. That love of music didn’t stop with me, and now my four-year-old son is just as pumped about making music as I am, which is how I came across Bandimal.
Music creation can be as simple as sitting down and hammering out a few chords on a guitar, or tapping a few notes on a piano, or it can be incredibly complex. What I love about Bandimal is that the team at Yatatoy have managed to make a sequencing app that’s not just intuitive enough for a child to make music in a matter of minutes, but one that’s also super fun to use.
From the opening screen, it’s easy to know exactly what to do, and with very little exploration, my son was able to start making his first series of sequences. Couple that usability with hilarious motion feedback from the characters when a sound is triggered (lookin’ at you, jellyfish), and you’ve got a music-making app that makes the process just as fun as the output.
Overall, Bandimal is a blast, and I have a feeling I’ll be spending more time making cool music sequences with it than my four-year-old will.
Katharine Atwood, marketing associate and UX designer at Arkus
Pick: IBM Design, Data visualization guidelines
My most loved design discovery this past year was the section of the IBM Design website they’ve devoted to their data visualization guidelines. Created originally as a reference for its internal design team with help from design agency, Accurat, the guidelines are now public on IBM Design’s site. The result of their collaboration is the legible delivery of some reasonably complex info via a beautiful, simple interface. It’s a good-looking goldmine of content corralled into a navigable series of pages by minimal color, just enough white space, beautiful icons, and well-chosen words.
The UX here does what all good UX should — houses purposeful content in a usable structure and happens to look very good while doing so. Visuals riff expertly off IBM’s original iconic design language while remaining fresh, modern, and sharp. Fellow Edward Tufte devotees and design lovers may agree few things are more enjoyable than intelligently placed graphs and, if nothing else, the beautiful bunches here are a pleasure to scroll past and click through. A couple minutes or a couple hours would be well spent digging through these guidelines and the equally lovely page explaining the project found on Accurat’s site.
Udacity offers online courses and what they call a “nanodegree” — a very focused and modern training program that includes only the necessary pieces to take careers to the next level. My wife has three nanodegrees in Frontend Development already, and it’s impressive to see how much she loves the experience. Their site is clean, modern, polished, and beautiful, but most importantly, it’s very functional.
Students can get excited by seeing real professionals sharing the ins and outs of each career, within a learning platform that just works. One section shows videos with captions, another section has exercises with code reviews and areas for direct support, all there to make sure the student sees high-quality content, can practice, and can receive real feedback.
What websites or apps are you loving right now? Let us know in the comments, and for UX insights sent straight to your inbox, sign up for Adobe’s experience design newsletter.