UXperts Weigh In: Designs We Love, May Edition
Spring has officially sprung, and that makes it a great time to get inspired by new designs and new UX design techniques. We asked a few top UX designers to share some great user experiences that have recently inspired them. Here are the designs they’re loving right now.
Rick Messer, senior experience designer at HomeAway
Pick: Cash (Square)
The Cash app experience resonates with simplicity and brevity in an intensely complex space (payments, banking). Users are given a compelling affordance to enter an amount of currency and send or request it.
Once a user sends their first transaction, they are left with a feeling of “I can’t believe how easy that was,” which instills confidence for the next use. The app not only processes payments (the primary value proposition), but it also handles all the heavy lifting behind the scenes, which is really what makes it such a great design. The team at Square really does an excellent job of only showing the user what they need at each specific step in the experience.
Several memorable micro-interactions are fun and intentional: the sent icon, which is shown as a check mark when you’ve sent a payment, animates back into a clock icon representing your history. This simple and fun animation also calls attention to the history section of the app.
As users become more familiar with Cash, they might discover gestures for navigating between the main sections with a simple swipe gesture. While these are fun ways to let advanced users utilize their muscle memory to navigate, there are always explicit text or icon navigation controls for explicit tap interactions.
The app also takes full advantage of the device’s built-in features, like touch/face ID (to authenticate transactions), and “enable nearby,” which allows you to find users nearby, to interact with on the app. Square has always been known for their simplicity and that really shines through with their cash app. While it feels simple and quick on the surface, what’s under the hood is extremely sophisticated.
Ainsley Wagoner, senior experience designer at Adobe
Pick: Golden Thread Tarot
I love the Golden Thread Tarot app because it’s easy to use and organizes several streams of complex information. The app is a companion to a stunning physical tarot deck (the Golden Thread Tarot Deck).
As an educational tool, it’s incredibly usercentric because it creates entry points at many different levels. At its most accessible, you can draw a card each day and record how that makes you feel. It keeps track of that and gives you some quantified summary metrics. You can also use it as a database to look up and assist readings you may be doing with a physical deck. It’s handy and straightforward, the copy is easy to read, and it’s written in an accessible voice. At its deepest level, it can be a tool to learn more broadly about tarot and begin to conduct and interpret multi-card spreads.
Aesthetically, I love the dark color palette with simple line illustrations. It feels witchy and magical, like any good tarot deck, but also contemporary and fresh. It does a great job of representing through design and UX its mission of being a “modern approach to an ancient tradition” and onboarding curious new witches into a tarot practice.
Victor Elizalde, principal UI/UX designer at RealMassive
Admittedly, I had low expectations for the Kasa smart app when I installed some lower cost home automation devices (TP-link plugs, lights, and switches). This situation was ripe for a lackluster mobile app to control and integrate these devices, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I was first struck by how easy it was to setup a new plug and switch the first time I used it. I didn’t have to run through any onboarding or watch a tutorial – it was intuitive and simple. Kasa certainly doesn’t have a flashy UI, but the UX is superior to most similar apps. I can complete actions with minimal clicks, I can add new devices in seconds, and it puts me in control. It also integrates with a ton of other devices such as Nest, and allows you to create “scenes,” timers, and set schedules for everyday use and “away” time. It exceeds expectations.
I have not tried the Alexa and Google Home integrations that are newly supported in Kasa, but I’m certain they will be similarly great experiences.
Paul Russo, Creative Director at Accomplice LLC
Pick: Google Tasks
While there’s no shortage of to-do apps out there, Google has launched their own new standalone productivity app: Google Tasks. The app itself is a pretty straightforward to-do list that allows you to create lists, sub-tasks, and assign due dates.
The really exciting part of the new Tasks app is the introduction of a bottom-oriented UI design. While Google is by no means the first company to introduce bottom-oriented design, it has become a more recent trend. This allows users to easily navigate and create tasks all within a comfortable reach of their thumb.
As we’ve seen phones continue to grow in size, mobile design has shifted from being top-oriented to bottom for better usability. This is a result of designing for the “thumb zone,” a term coined in Steven Hoober’s book “Designing Mobile Interfaces.” The thumb zone is defined as “the most comfortable area for touch with one-handed use.” Designers must accommodate their designs for the thumb zone as this will be a constant for touchscreens. The Google Tasks app is a great example of how a small change like that can make a huge improvement on user experience.