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There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in design. But, there are right choices that you can make to strike the right balance. The right choices always revolve around the balancing of elements and how to go about incorporating them into your design. Design is largely intrinsic, something that depends on how you look at it.Utilizing strong design principles will go a long way in transforming your UX desgin for your users.

 

But, how do I improve it?

The vital ingredient of any design is a discernable pattern. Patterns are universally observed, and by incorporating the right examples in your designs, it can evoke a desired reaction or response to a specific interaction. So the challenge is to decide – how do you want the user to perceive the design while simultaneously solving the usability problem.

Let’s look at some simple steps.


Hierarchy
This is level zero. By setting visual hierarchy, you are communicating to the end-user where to look first. The entire sequence, along the visual journey, has to be laid out first. For example: making an element bigger to draw the attention and set a focal point for the user. Hierarchy can also be set by using white space or bright colours to highlight crucial parts of your interface.

In Fig A, the design has all the information laid out for the user, but it’s set in no particular hierarchy, meaning there is no indication of what is important and what is less important, so a user can feel lost in the visual journey of what message the design actually intended to say.

      

Fig A                                                                                                                          Fig B

In Fig B, by using intentional white space, we bring the most important message to the fore – so what a user sees first is that the game night is between who, where and when, and everything else is kept secondary to it.

Keeping things simple and consistent
By keeping the elements in your design minimal, placing them in your layout will be easier to manage – making it easy for users to navigate through your design. Too many elements in one design can be off-putting and confusing to look at. Consistent use of elements is a better approach, that usually sets the users mind at peace – like the style of a button or the placement of a close button. In this way you are guiding the users on what to see first and where to click next. Interaction consistency is also as important as visual consistency. Always try to minimize the number of ‘clicks’ in your design – no one likes to engage in redundant clicks to get quick information.

In the examples below, the design on the right can be improved by simply reducing the number of clicks from 10 clicks to 5, by reducing redundancies in the information design.

Reducing redundancies in the information design.

 

Mind the space
Spacing is vital for great composition. Using whitespace and negative space correctly, plays a crucial role in your design. It is just like your living room, when you decide what to keep in a particular area and where to leave space – the same applies to your design also. For example, when there is only a line or two of text, try to put the text in the one-third

of your art-board either from top or bottom. If however, there is more text to work with try to group them and set the hierarchy by increasing or decreasing spacing between each group. By incorporating enough white space in your design, there will be sufficient breathing area for users to relax their eyes into.

White space is not just empty space. It’s about creating enough room for your text and design elements to co-exist.

 

Typography
Sensible use of typography can really enhance your design. Selecting the right typography involves certain decisions that include a choice of font family, weight & size, leading, tracking, kerning and scale. Avoid using too many fonts from different font families. Instead, use one or two font family and play around with font weight and size to find what works best for your design. Also remember, If no one can read the text on your design, it defeats the purpose of putting all that effort into your designs. Lastly, avoid using font colour which may clash with your background colour For example, ‘Red’ text on an Orange background, is an extreme choice.

 

Contrast
Emphasizing certain elements of your design is both visually appealing and functional. Finding the right color mix for temperature, saturation, hue, and intensity can help you set hierarchy for the elements you want to bring out in your design. However, contrast isn’t just a colour thing. It also involves shapes, edges, textures, scaling, and size. Albeit, like with almost any other design concept, it can be overdone. You should make sure that the contrast in your design isn’t so dramatic that it’s jarring unless that’s your specific intent.

 

Not a good way to use contrast

 

A more balanced contrast

 

Balance the Elements
This is where you draw the line between your design and your users. A design is not useful if it doesn’t solve a problem. Likewise, it is also not so useful if the user didn’t get the message right. Information is important to get across – it should have a higher priority in your design approach and draw the user’s attention first.

In the images below, the content is the same but what makes the right image better is the complete balancing of all the elements, relaxing the design using appropriate spacing and placement without overwhelming the user with all that textual information.

Making the right design choices for enhancing a user’s experience is all about creating a seamless link between the user and the applications they use. Every designer has their own style and while these design principles are important to consider – it’s more important to stay original and keep practicing.

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A website’s page load time plays an important role in customer acquisition. Google states that if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, over half of the visitors will leave it. Eventually, it leads to conversion and profits. Although there are online tools available to check your website loading time and performance (Lighthouse, for instance), it’s important to understand what affects your website’s page load time. You can then optimize your web page accordingly.

8 Factors that affect the page load time

#1 Web hosting

Today, no one would like to wait for a website to spin and load at its speed. Websites that load quickly perform more in user engagement, conversion rates, and user experience. Hence, it is very important to have a high-availability web hosting plans.

#2 Size of files

The page speed always depends on the size of the assets loaded on the browser. It is, therefore, good to have an optimum number of assets with the least possible file size. This will require lesser bandwidth.

#3 Number of HTTP requests

Greater the number of HTTP requests from a browser to server/server to server, the higher will be the bandwidth consumption. Therefore, keep the number of HTTP requests to the minimum possible.

#4 Absence of CDN

Using CDN will boost the performance of the web site. The absence of it will affect the load time. CDN is a content delivery/distribution network. It is a network of proxy servers and their data centres distributed across the globe to increase the performance and availability of services to the end-users.

#5 Mediocre coding

Bad coding will always affect the page performance and SEO ranking of the website. It is good to follow best practices starting from the initial stage of development.

#6 The number of redirections

The number of redirections impacts the DNS lookup time.

#7 Lack of Keep-Alive

If you’re using HTTP/1.0 protocol and have not configured Keep-Alive, then there’s a higher possibility that the browser to server connection will break. It will not load the page properly. 

#8 Hotlinking

Sourcing page content from other sites might affect the load time and performance of your website.

You might also like to read about 11 proven techniques to optimize website performance.

Strategies and checklist for website optimization

You can implement either bottom-up or top-down strategy for website optimization (discussed later). However, website optimization is an iterative process and you can repeat the following loop after completing a cycle.

How to optimize the website - Infographic
  1. Ideas: Prepare a checklist of all the possible strategies for the target website to optimize.
  2. Prioritize: Prioritize the prepared checklist strategies and act on them.
  3. Test: Test the applied strategies for enhanced performance.
  4. Analyze: Analyze the impact and performance of the website and check if any further strategies are required.
  5. Optimize: For further enhancement, perform the cycle again until you achieve the best.

#1 Bottom-up strategy

This strategy starts from planning to production (Proactive). It defines a set of rules and actions before/while starting the actual development.

Bottom up strategy for website optimization

The above infographic represents the lifecycle of Bottom-Up strategy in web page optimization.

#2 Top-down strategy 

It is a reactive method, which analyses the existing process to find the issue/lag, then reworks on behavioural grounds to accomplish the target. It is a reverse engineering process to identify the performance-issue gap and methods to fix them.

You can identify the resources which are affecting in maximum page load by considering the following-

  • Resource size
  • Asset positioning
  • Render blockers
  • Uncompressed contents
  • Bad requests

Once you’ve identified the sources, lay down the process of optimizing the content and keep iterating to achieve the desired results. 

Basic checklist for both bottom-up and top-down strategies 

  1. Layout performance principles
    1. Page load time
    2. Responsiveness
    3. Minimizing the number of requests
    4. Use Cache headers
    5. Minify CSS and JS contents
    6. Use CSS sprites
    7. Encourage Lazy loading on contents wherever possible
    8. Avoid iframes and redirects
  2. Executive performance principles
    1. During application design
    2. During application development

Consider the following aspects during the design and development phase.

#1 Application design optimizations

  1. Simple & lightweight: Include only key functionalities on load to keep it lightweight.
  2. Client side components: Adopt client side validation to catch errors.
  3. On demand data loading: Use on-demand data instead of pre-loaded data. (E.g. use paginations, pop-up contents on click instead of on load)
  4. Asynchronous calls: Adopt implementation of AJAX calls from the presentation tier and the business tier.

#2 Application development optimizations

  1. Include JS files at the bottom of the page (to avoid render blocking of page).
  2. Combine multiple CSS files and optimize unwanted rules as per page requirements.
  3. Avoid using external scripts at the beginning of the page.
  4. Combine smaller images/icons to sprite & have optimi.
  5. Use CSS rules/files in the head section of the document.
  6. Reduce the number of requests to server.
  7. Implement server/browser caching on possible sections.
  8. Implement Mobile-specific sections to avoid overloading on small screen devices.

Below are few improvisation observations which are affected by optimizing the Webpage and it’s assets.

UI performance optimization and the performance gains - Infographic

We’re technology tinkerers, experimentalists, and experts in customer experience consulting. Get in touch with us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com to know more about our ventures in website design and experience consulting. 

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In a country that ranks second in the world for video consumption, cheap data is often attributed as the primary driver behind it. Although data is cheapest in India (Rs. 18.5/GB in 2018, Rs. 3.4/GB in 2019), regional content curated and consumed by natives contributed a great deal to the adoption of digital in rural India. Digital content consumption is expected to double, with over a billion of the population having a smartphone by the next decade. Let’s see what will change in the coming decade? But before, a quick insight into the existing Indian digital landscape.

India’s Digital Demography

Users: 94% of the urban population in India has an internet subscription; which falls to a considerable low among the rural populace (only 24%), according to TRAI.

There are four categories of internet users – Digital sophisticates (3%): these are tech-savvy, wealthy, and urban and prefer global and original content; Digital enthusiasts (36%): these are mainly smartphone & TV streaming users with preference for Hindi and regional content; Digital mainstream (59%): these are predominantly smartphone users and seek free content available online or bundled TV packages; Fringe users (2%): these are irregular users belonging to remote areas where internet connectivity is poor. (India’s Digital Future, KPMG, 2019)

Temp-infographic

Preferences: Nearly 30% of google search in India is voice-driven (Business Standard, 2019), indicating voice assistance will further progress linguistic democratization.

In India, YouTube accounts for nearly 265 million unique, active users. 95% of these users watch videos in their regional languages (Economic Times, 2018).

Google and Facebook account for nearly 80% of the digital advertisement in India (KPMG India analysis). In 2018, Google reported INR 93 billion in revenues from its operations in India, with 67% accruing from its digital ads platform. Also, video ads contribute to most of ad-spent (53%).

In 2018, there were 340 million smartphone users in India, which is projected to reach 829 million by 2022, according to the CISCO VNI report.

New Trends in Digital Content Consumption

Today, video streaming services have more subscribers (613 million) than traditional cable connection (556 million), according to VentureBeat news.

The media consumption in India has grown at a CAGR 9% during 2012-18 (IBEF, 2019), which is almost nine times that of the US. Print media and television remains the largest platform for advertisement, however the future might witness a shift.

The Indian FMCG sector spends the most on digital advertising. However, considering its overall budget, it’s only 16%. Interestingly, the BFSI sector spends nearly 38% of its marketing budget on digital advertising. (Dentsu Aegis Digital Report, 2019) This indicates that industries have started to realize and invest in digital platforms.

Regional content: According to KPMG in India analysis, consumers spend 35-43% of their time on regional videos on digital platforms. Digital content and media platforms like Zee5, Hotstar, Voot, and Amazon Prime Video are keen on producing original and region-based content. According to Financial Express, the cost to develop regional content is 30-40% lower than that of Hindi and has a larger viewership. 

Original content: The increased digital content consumption also demands originality. Today, content generation is not limited to the media and entertainment industry. For instance, in September 2019, Zomato launched a video streaming service on its app. The primary goal remains the same- customer engagement. Addressing the fact that food is not the only thing people consume these days, businesses are penetrating the minds of youth through quality and original content. 

Hotstar reports 80% of its viewership from dramas and movies and plans to invest INR 120 crores in creating original content.

The Future of Content in India and APAC

The next significant disruption in content consumption will come from 5G technology. Because digital content needs internet and India’s still dangling between 2G and lower cap of the 4G network. Setting up a 5G network will require a $500 billion investment in the next 5-7 years. The government is expecting the initial deployment of the 5G network by 2020 and roll-out by 2022.

5G technology will be able to handle more traffic at a higher speed, satisfying the demand for high data and the growing number of mobile users. HD content will become a thing of the past and consumers will be interacting with augmented reality in their everyday life. It will not only enhance augmented reality and virtual reality experiences but will also support IoT, autonomous vehicles, and automation to name a few. However, India isn’t quite ready for 5G technology yet. The following graph illustrates the countries which are about to enter the 5G era.

5G-Adoption-across-the-world

An overview of digital behavior in Japan, Korea, and Singapore which are among the top 10 countries to deploy 5G.

 JapanRepublic of KoreaSingapore
Internet penetration93%99.5%84.0%
Mobile penetration89.9%95.8%147.3%
Preferred device to go onlineSmartphone (59.7%)Smartphone (94.3%)
Online activityEmail (80.2%), weather report (65.8%), transport (63.4%)Communication (95.2%), information search (94.0%)

Source: SourceSource: India’s Digital Future, KPMG

5G will also make technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, cloud-based gaming, IoT and OTT services commercially available.

Apart from this, AI (Artificial Intelligence) will continue to retain customer engagement through predictive analytics, machine learning, and natural language processing capabilities.

For example, Hotstar uses machine learning algorithms for personalized movie recommendations. It predicts user preferences by calculating total watch time per user per month. The company is leveraging AI technology for translations, audio to text conversions, video compression, object detection, and scene classification.

Also read – Your Shopping Cart just got a whole lot Smarter, this festive season.

We’re an AI-first products and solutions firm with extensive experience in insurance and consumer internet domains. Feel free to reach us out at hello@mantralabsglobal.com for an intelligent digital solution to your business requirements.

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