eBay is a Spammer

One of the biggest and very common UX failures is spamming without user’s permission. I am still not sure if it’s intended or just an error in the script that selects the users to spam, but considering the number of cases and the variety of services that are “failing” with this, I tend to think they are doing this on purpose. Especially, when you see big names like eBay. Just received eBay Deals email, rushed to my Communication preferences to unsubscribe from everything and what do I see? I am already unsubscribed. Maybe, they rely on the fact that most people receive tons of emails these days and they won’t notice.

eBay International AG sent this e-mail to you at kirill.vechtomov@gmail.com because your Notification Preferences indicate that you want to receive general email promotions.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 15.02.49 eBay Spamming


Yelp Refresh Mascot

I love them. Making boring things interesting. We will be seeing more of these to come.


Awesome Yelp Refresh Mascot

Medium mobile app requires Twitter

Another example of forcing people to do something or even to use Twitter. I guess the reason was to have hardcore minimalistic approach, specifically no browsing or search. Oddly, the website doesn’t force you to log in with twitter just to start reading. It’s a good idea to tailor the content to the user’s interests, but only as an additional feature. I wasn’t expecting this from Medium, whom I love.

Medium Mobile App

Forcing native email client

Seems like a great idea and eye-pleasing UI, but asking users to set up native email client to provide feedback about the app is ridiculous.



Warm Gun: UX Antipatterns

Anytime you find yourself offering a hint to users about how to use an interface, that’s a moment to stop and change your interface to work the way people expect it to.

Luke W’s notes from Warm Gun conference

GonnaGo Mobile App – No Facebook = No Access

Quite frustrating and annoying experience is when I download a 35 Mb iPhone app to find out that I can’t use it without a facebook account. Looks like an interesting app, but can’t use it. You think it’s a good user experience, Travzy? It is NOT. At least, give me some another option.

Reminder to myself: Never do this.

GonnaGo Mobile App

PS I rarely read app descriptions.

iOS 7 Challenges

Another example of the new UI specifics that were introduced in the latest iOS 7. Took me quite a lot of time to notice the button at the right top – “Salon Info”.

Great Clips Mobile App

Card Sorting

One of the very important components of User Experience is Information Architecture. Card Sorting is the one of the most popular techniques to get it right. There are quite a few online tools available, but I still prefer good old offline method with real paper cards or post-it notes.

Types of Card Sorting:

  • Basic Card Sorting is the one I like to start with. The idea is to gather a few representatives of your target audience and give them a stack of cards (one card for each piece of information your product is going to offer), so they can sort all the cards into several piles, then they should name the piles, the way they think will be more descriptive for the cards that are located in each group. Another option is to offer users a pre-set “categories” names, but I prefer giving them the freedom, as sometimes it can give valuable ideas.
  • Reversed Card Sorting, on the opposite, is when you have existing categories with cards in them and you ask users to re-arrange the cards among existing categories, as how they feel it is right.

You can offer full freedom to the tested users, when they can create their own categories (Open Card Sorting), of just use the fixed categories (Closed Card Sorting). Sometimes, I want to see what category names users can come up with, however, I see better results when there is a limitation in place, proving my belief, that constraints are very good, for everybody =)

Basic Open Card Sorting
Basic Open Card Sorting
Image by Rosenfeld Media

That said, I agree that this method may have its flaws (→) (if not used properly). In this article, the author seems to have a wrong impression of the goal which card sorting can help you to achieve. The main idea he is pushing, is that card sorting limits you to choosing only one single way of presenting information. I fully support his concerns that different types of users will be likely to expect information to accessible through different paths. However, I don’t think that using card sorting forces you to divide all information following only one path. I believe this technique is just a tool that helps you get the understanding of where target user expects to see what information. The more users you test it with, the more possible navigation paths you can discover. As a UX designer, you should treat all received insights as food for thought, and make sure all information is accessible through those different paths.

Site Maps

Site map is a structured representation of the content. In other words, site maps are used to visualize Information Architecture of a website or mobile app. As a tool, site maps are more often used for websites. I strongly recommend using site maps even for small projects, though some people think it is not necessary. I believe that laying out all content in a structured way really helps to optimize the Information Architecture and makes it easier to people to navigate your website or mobile application. I am not saying that you should go extreme and create a site map for all 2-3 pages website, it’s all project-specific, so use your own judgement. Look at the example site map of a medium-sized website:

Site Map

As lots of UX designers, I am a huge fan of using sticky notes when working on a site map, especially for big projects. Visual representation of a website’s tree structure with all the content sections right on my wall makes it easier for me to move stickies around in order to get the optimal Information Architecture.

Site Map

What are the Benefits of UX Design?

The primary benefit is improving usability of the product, so people could enjoy using it, no matter what the goal is. I will tell you this: if you already have a product or planning to create one, you’d better think how to make your users happy with it. Let me explain you what I think and what is the current trend. We live in the 21st century and the technical progress is so darn fast, that it’s impossible to create such a valuable and unique product (web-service, mobile application, etc.), that nobody will be able to create a clone or at least very similar competitor. So if you have an interesting product with a so-so user experience, as a matter of fact, a bunch of clones will be released right away, but chances are they will have a better user experience and they will win your customers, because you think that UX design is not that important. You should realize, that today there are so many amazing designers, developers, engineers and other professionals, so your brilliant idea can be easily stolen used as inspiration for a competitor’s product with a greater user experience. And it is likely that users will prefer a product, which was created with thinking about end-users and what THEY need. That is one of the keys to success today.

Other benefits of UX might include:

  • Finding the balance between company’s and users’ goals.
  • Creating a product that users need, not what you think or tell you they need.
  • Avoiding unnecessary product features and therefore saving development time.