News Segment

Our first news story is a very interesting service outage from Facebook – not exactly interesting on the surface, but part of the outage disabled Facebook photos and instead replaced the photos with internal Facebook tags, a.k.a. how Facebook’s AI automatically labels photos. The tags were, well – it’s a lot to take in. Tags include “one person,” “people dancing,” “wedding,” “indoor,” “people smiling,” “cat,” “beard,” and more. We’ve known that Facebook uses tags like these for some time, but there has never been such an obvious example before. We’re still not quite sure how these tags figure into Facebook’s algorithm or why they need to tag like this, so many questions still remain unanswered!

Second, YouTube is handing more power over to viewers with new features that allow for greater control over your YouTube homepage and what videos are likely to pop up next after you finishing watching something. The homepage will offer personalized suggestions and broad topics in addition to videos, and you can tailor the options further by removing suggestions you don’t want to see, or look more closely at exactly why YouTube is offering.

Finally, take a moment to check out some of the latest targeted monochromatic color schemes for websites, and see if any would make a good fit for your brand.

But now it’s time to check in with our guest for this episode, Bruce Pobocik from TBX, a creative design firm that specializes in “change” for digital brands: That means shifting focus, rebranding if necessary, and creating plans to get businesses over the gaps to their online goals. Today, we’re going to talk specifically about the website experience and how websites can develop a great user experience

UX vs. UI and More

UX stands for User Experience, and UI stands for User Interface. But what does that mean? UX is generally a very broad term that applies to all the different ways a website is designed – and how users feel about. It’s about a top-down map for website architecture, navigation, and usability.

UI, meanwhile, is more focused on the website aesthetic – the style and graphics it uses to display content. The colors, effects and other visual aspects of the website make up UI.

Of course, the two aren’t always separate! There are a number of website choices that will affect UX and UI at the same time, especially when choosing the design for things like menus, layouts and buttons. Overall, the goal of both UX and UI is to make content easy to access.

How Do You Pick the Right User Experience?

Businesses are not always great at understanding user experience, or what it requires. There are best practices for user experience, but every website needs to be designed based on brand goals and choices.

So, that means the first steps are finding out how the brand is using their website, what their primary goals are (sales, subscriptions, information, etc.) and how they want the audience to interact with their site. This may sound simple, but it can take a surprisingly amount of time depending on the client (websites by committee can be a headache). The key is to avoid getting pulled in too many directions and developing a clear vision before making the smaller decisions.

However, to talk about trends for a moment – video is, unsurprisingly, very big right now. People watch videos all the time when browsing websites! It’s a great way to help keep them on a webpage for longer and get visitors engaged with content, not just on the video but throughout the site. If you aren’t using videos on your webpages, now is a great time to start.

Do You Use Past Data To Build Websites?

It depends. One common issue we come across is that replacing old sites with new sites requires a total overall. The old sites are often so behind the times or sometimes nonfunctional that analytics, if available, don’t really tell you anything worthwhile. The most analytics can say in these situations is “This website was poorly designed.”

However, in some cases we update or redesigned newer, better websites that have been collecting regular traffic analytics and other information that we can use. On our side, we try to gather a lot of heat pathing analysis and similar data to study user behavior and find out where the weak points are. On these occasions, the problem may be with the design (putting buttons in different places) or with content (the content isn’t drawing visitors or isn’t explained well enough).

What Other Major UX Trends are You Seeing Now?

One quickly rising trend is what we call “resource hubs” or sources of information on sites (often, blogs, but it can take varying forms). These resources hubs are where people can go to find specific information or deep-dive down into a topic. The hub is where all sorts of in-depth content lives, and businesses can push this content to other pages as needed to help explain or announce important things. We’ve found that it’s a great way to describe and map content for sites that want to improve.

But now it’s your turn. What have you learned about user experience and your website in the past? Were there any UX realizations that helped you understand how visitors used your site? Let us know on social media @21handshake – we’d love to hear from you!

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