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Part 2: UI/UX Best Practices

Strategically Speaking
Jan 28, 2015

Author: Derik Sutton,

In part one of this blog post we discussed what UI/UX is and why it’s important. In part two we will highlight some specific UI/UX influences and some best practices to consider when evaluating your digital channels.  

Let’s start with a UI/UX influence that you may have noticed more and more lately. Have you noticed how much the web and mobile web have been taken over by cards? 

Services such as Google Now, Pinterest, Facebook, and many, many others are all delivered through a card-based UI.  To learn more about card-based UI, read this article.

So why is that? 

It turns out that cards are a great way to view information across multiple device types, sizes, and orientations. 

Cards can be:

  • Stacked on top of one another in a single column.
  • Laid next to one another in two columns.
  • Stretched from their corners to be made bigger.
  • Elongated to accommodate more information.
  • Flipped over to supply even more real estate.
  • Made available to be arranged by the end user. 

The use of cards on the modern web and mobile web displaces the previous practice of single page/destination delivery to a much more flexible, customizable experience.

Cards are great at:

  • Creating small, digestible views of information.
  • Aggregating multiple data sources into a single view. 
  • Offering mini apps within an app by isolating common features/functionality.
  • Accommodating personalization by the end user.
  • Introducing new features, functionality, and services by introducing new cards to the end user.
  • Promoting information based upon user and device context.

If you hadn’t noticed the influence of cards before now, it is interesting to go through your commonly used web pages and mobile apps to evaluate their UI/UX and whether or not they use cards.

So when it comes to implementing UI/UX best practices it really starts with understanding the expectations being set by companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Capital One that I highlighted in part one. So with those companies as the standard, that begs the question, “How am I ever supposed to produce an experience that meets the expectations established by Apple of Google?”

Good news, Apple and Google really want you to produce great apps for their platforms.  To guide developers through the process, both companies publish a software development kit (SDK).  Following best practices of app development and leveraging each of these SDKs leads to the best end user experience possible on each of these amazing operating systems.

The SDK has the blueprint, tools, and materials needed to build an app that maximizes the end user experience.

Well that was easy, so what’s left to decide? 

The truth is that developing native apps requires significant effort from the app developer.   Each SDK has its own development language.  So to build an iOS app and an Android app both 100% native to each device, a developer would have to build the same app, TWICE. 

Because of that conundrum, companies don’t always build native apps.  They actually have the following choices of development:

  • Native mobile apps
  • Hybrid mobile apps
  • Mobile web apps
  • Cross platform development apps

There is another long blog post that could break these down, but I suggest a quick Google search on each of those terms for articles and definitions. 

As a recommendation, I believe it is in your best interest to develop a baseline understanding of each option, the potential user experience tradeoffs, and the ability to prepare your customer base for the next wave of products, services and features based upon:

  • Camera functionality
  • Biometric capabilities
  • GPS sensor
  • NFC transmission
  • Secure data storage     

As a recent example, we have seen the ripple from Apple Pay.  Overnight Fintech went from a cloudy view of mobile wallets to receiving customer calls about mobile wallet integration timeframes. 

I hope these two posts have helped in some way enhance your understanding of UI/UX. My belief is that financial institutions are well served by gaining a summary level understanding of UI/UX and its impact on their customer base.  From there it is up to you to align yourselves with vendors that share a common goal of best representing your digital channels to your customer base. 

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