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Making Avengers ID Card In HTML And CSS




Making Avengers ID Card In HTML And CSS

Kunal Sarkar



Let’s suppose Tony Stark would like to redesign the ID cards of the Avengers, and he needs our help to create them in HTML and CSS. So, how can we help? In this tutorial, we’ll be using Flexbox to create the desired layout while diving into nested flexboxes for some advanced layouts. We will also be using rounded as well as transparent borders to create sci-fi arcs in CSS, and then animating them by using CSS animations around the picture of the Avenger. Last but not least, we’ll be using the box-shadow and text-shadow properties to give our ID card a final sci-fi touch.

By the end of the tutorial, we will build a sci-fi animated Avengers ID card, and also learn the basics of Flexbox, nested Flexbox, CSS animations, borders, shadows, and many other frequently used CSS properties.

Here’s how our final Avengers ID card will look like:

See the Pen Avengers ID Card by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

Let’s get started!

Full-Page Background

We need a div that covers the entire screen. We will use this div as the background to place the ID card:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
</div>

Let’s make the div cover the entire page and give a dark background:

body 
  margin:0px;

.id-card-wrapper 
  height: 100vh;
  width:100%;
  background-color: #122023;

Why use 100vh and not 100% for height?

If you look closely, you will notice that we used 100% for width, but 100vh for height. The vh unit stands for “viewport height”. It is a viewport unit, some other viewport units are: vw, vmin, and vmax.

So, why should we use 100vh instead of 100% for the height? Well, a % based dimension is relative to its parent element. So, if we set the height of the id-card-wrapper to 100%, that would mean it will make the height of id-card-wrapper cover 100% of the height of its parent element (which is the body element).

The problem is — by default — the body element doesn’t cover entire screen’s height. The width of the body element is by default 100% that’s why we can use width: 100% on id-card-wrapper, but since the height is not 100% by default the same won’t work for height.

Since a viewport unit is relative to the viewport, not the parent element, setting the height to 100vh will make the element cover entire height of the visible area (viewport), regardless of the parent’s dimensions.

Note: If you want to dive deeper into the viewport units, checkout this Fun with Viewport Units article on CSS-Tricks. One more thing, there are many ways to create a full page background, Chris Coyier lists them well in this post.

Why margin: 0px On Body?

The browsers by default display some margin around the body. If we don’t set this margin to 0, we will get a white gap around the id-card-wrapper div.

Centering Using Flexbox

There are many ways to center. Now that our full-page background is ready, let’s create the div that will contain our ID Card. We will put only “Test” as content, and build the layout first:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
    <div class="id-card">
        Test
    </div>
</div>

And add some styles to it:

.id-card 
  border: 2px solid #0AE0DF;
  max-width: 30em;
  margin: auto;
  color: #fff;
  padding: 1em;

We are using the border property to give a 2px solid border of #0AE0DF color to the id-card element.

Since a “div” is a block element, it will cover the entire width of the parent element by default. But we don’t want it to go beyond 30em, so we’ll set the max-width property to 30em.

Wait, What Is em Again?

Here’s what W3C has to say about the “em” unit:

“The em is simply the font size. In an element with a 2in font, 1em thus means 2in.”

This means that if your browser has a default font size of 14px, then 30em will be equal to 30×14 = 420px.

But, why use em unit instead of px?

Look, the em unit is relative to the font size. Let’s suppose you are using a browser with 14px default font size. Now if someone views your project from another browser that has 16px as default font size, then guess what would happen?

The content inside will need more space, but your div has a fixed width, i.e. the content will either spill out or break the layout.

It’s always a good idea to have dimensions that scale along with the content, instead of fixing it to arbitrary pixels.

Why Doesn’t margin: auto Center The div Vertically?**

We already know that we can center a block element horizontally using margin: auto, but it doesn’t work for vertical centering.


Screenshot of a horizontally centered element


Auto margin centers the element horizontally

What if I told you that margin: auto works vertically, too? Actually, in normal layout mode, it doesn’t. But in new layout modes like Flexbox, the margin: auto works for vertical centering, too. Go ahead and make the id-card-wrapper a flexbox to see it yourself:

.id-card-wrapper 
  height: 100vh;
  width:100%;
  background-color: #122023;
  display: flex;

Output:


Screenshot of a horizontally and vertically centered element


Auto margin centers the element horizontally and vertically if the element is a flex-item

As you can see, our id-card div is now centered horizontally and vertically. We simply set display: flex on the id-card-wrapper div. When you set display: flex to an element, that element becomes a flex-container and its child elements become flex-items. Check out “Basic Concepts Of Flexbox” on MDN.

Okay, this did center our element, but why did it lose its width? The id-card div is a block element, and since block elements are by default 100% wide, why did the div lose this block level behavior when it became a flex-item?

Actually, it hasn’t lost its block behavior. What’s happening is, as soon as the div comes into the flexbox context, the flexbox algorithm notes that the div doesn’t have any width property set to it (we are giving it only max-width), and then it sets the initial width to 0.

We can change this behavior by explicitly defining the initial width of the element using the [flex-basis](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/flex-basis) property, like this:

.id-card 
  flex-basis: 100%;
  border: 2px solid #0AE0DF;
  max-width: 30em;
  margin: auto;
  color: #fff;
  padding: 1em;

And now the result looks just as expected:


Screenshot of a flex-item set with flex-basis set to 100%


The initial width of the flex-item set to 100% using “flex-basis”

Nested Flexboxes

Now our id-card div is ready for content. Let’s create a profile-row div and two sections in it dp and desc. The dp div will contain the profile photo of the Avenger while the desc div will contain the description of that Avenger:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
    <div class="id-card">
        <div class="profile-row">
            <div class="dp">
                Test
            </div>
            <div class="desc">
                Test desc
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
</div>

We know that the id-card div is a flex-item, but the div we just created inside id-card (the profile-row div) isn’t a flex-item. Yes, only the direct decedents of the flex-containers become flex-items, but not the grandchildren.

Therefore, profile-row is a normal div, and we will make it a flex-container by setting display: flex to it. This will make its child elements, dp and desc, flex-items:

.profile-row 
  display: flex;

Now we can use the flex-basis property to make the dp div 33.3% wide and the desc div 66.6% wide:

.profile-row .dp 
  flex-basis: 33.3%;

.profile-row .desc 
  flex-grow: 66.6%;

Here’s what we get:


Screenshot of two flex-items in a row with 33.3% and 66.6% width


We can define how much space the elements would occupy using the “flex-basis” property.

Profile Image

For the profile image, we will use a cute Iron Man picture for Stark’s ID card (download it here). Include the image using img tag inside the dp div:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
    <div class="id-card">
        <div class="profile-row">
            <div class="dp">
                <img src="img/iron-man-dp.jpg">
            </div>
            <div class="desc">
                Test desc
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
</div>

And give some styles to it:

.profile-row .dp img 
  max-width: 100%;
  border-radius: 50%;

.profile-row .desc 
  padding: 1em;

We set max-width: 100% for the img element because the img element by default displays the image in its original resolution.

If the image is 500px×500px then it will be displayed in that dimension. But we don’t want that. Instead, we want the image to be only as wide as the dp div, that’s why we set its max-width to 100%.

Also, we set the border-radius property to 50%. We are doing this to display the image as a circle:


Screenshot of Iron Man rounded image with demo text


We don’t make the img element a flex-item, but rather put it inside a flex-item.

Making Arcs In CSS

Eventually, Tony visits us while we’re still working on this ID card, and says that this doesn’t look sci-fi enough. Alright, no problem. Let’s make it more sci-fi. We can make two arcs rotate around the image by inserting the first arc dp-arc-inner inside the dp element:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
    <div class="id-card">
        <div class="profile-row">
            <div class="dp">
                <div class="dp-arc-inner"></div>
                <img src="img/iron-man-dp.jpg">
            </div>
            <div class="desc">
                Test desc
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
</div>

Position it in CSS:

.profile-row .dp 
  flex-basis: 33.3%;
  position: relative;

.profile-row .dp img 
  max-width: 100%;
  border-radius: 50%;
  display: block;

.profile-row .dp .dp-arc-inner 
  position: absolute;
  width: 100%;
  height: 100%;
  border: 6px solid #0AE0DF;
  top: -6px;
  left: -6px;

We want the arc div to overlap on the dp div. The only problem is that elements don’t overlap in HTML. However, if we set the position of an element as absolute then that element is taken out of the normal flow of the document and we can set its position as we desire.

The default positioning of HTML elements is static. We set position: absolute on dp-arc-inner to make it absolutely positioned. Now we can use left, top, bottom, and right properties to set its position.

One caution: The left, top, bottom, and right properties are relative the first parent element in the hierarchy which is “relatively” positioned. That’s why we’ve set position: relative on the dp div. If we don’t do this, the left, top, bottom, and right properties will be set respectively to the screen, not the dp element.

One more thing: we are setting display: block on the img element. Why? Because img elements are inline-block by default, and inline-block elements display a tiny gap on its sides and bottom.

This gap generally doesn’t cause any problem, but a little gap around the image in our case will offset the arc’s position. So we set the img element as block element.

Next, let’s make the dp-arc-inner div look like an arc:

.profile-row .dp .dp-arc-inner 
  position: absolute;
  width: 100%;
  height: 100%;
  border: 6px solid transparent;
  border-top-color: #0AE0DF;
  border-radius: 50%;
  top: -6px;
  left: -6px;

What we are doing is, instead of setting the border for all the sides with #0AE0DF color, we are setting all the sides as transparent, and then giving only the top border the color #0AE0DF. Then we set the border-radius: 50% to make it round:


Screenshot of Iron Man’s rounded image surrounded with an arc covering it


The negative margins offsets the width of the border we gave to the arc

Okay, let’s create one more arc, dp-arc-outer:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
    <div class="id-card">
        <div class="profile-row">
            <div class="dp">
                <div class="dp-arc-outer"></div>
                <div class="dp-arc-inner"></div>
                <img src="img/iron-man-dp.jpg">
            </div>
            <div class="desc">
                Test desc
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
</div>

And style it the same way:

.profile-row .dp .dp-arc-outer 
  position: absolute;
  width: calc(100% + 12px);
  height: calc(100% + 12px);
  border: 6px solid transparent;
  border-bottom-color: #0AE0DF;
  border-radius: 50%;
  top: -12px;
  left: -12px;

Wow, what’s that calc thing there?

Calc is a CSS function that calculates the mathematical expression given to it. Look, we had the inner arc with width and height of 100% and a border of 6px, right? That makes the inner arc’s total width 6px + 100% + 6px.

Now if we want the outer arc to be bigger than the inner arc then we need some way to make it 100% + 12px wide. This is where the calc() function comes to the rescue.

Also, notice that we are using border-bottom-color for this arc since we want the arc to display on the bottom.

Output:


Screenshot of Iron Man’s rounded image surrounded with two arcs covering it


The calc function adds 12px to create the 6px gap between the arc and the image

Animating The Arcs

Now that our arcs are ready, let’s make them rotate around the image. We can do this with the help of CSS animations.

Any animation requires three basic things:

  1. The start state of the animation,
  2. The end state of the animation,
  3. How long it should take to go from start to end state (speed of the animation).

We can provide these data in CSS like this:

.profile-row .dp .dp-arc-inner 
  position: absolute;
  width: 100%;
  height: 100%;
  border: 6px solid transparent;
  border-top-color: #0AE0DF;
  border-radius: 50%;
  top: -6px;
  left: -6px;

  animation-duration: 2s;
  animation-name: rotate-clock;

@keyframes rotate-clock 
  from 
    transform: rotate(0deg);
  
  to 
    transform: rotate(360deg);
  
}

We use @keyframes to define the animation. The from and to keywords are used to set the start and end state of the animation.

In the start state, we are rotating the arc 0-degree using transform: rotate(0deg), and in the end state we are rotating the arc 360-degree using transform: rotate(360deg).

To use this animation on an element, we need to give the name of the animation (rotate-clock in our case) to the animation-name property of that element. That’s what we are doing with animation-name: rotate-clock .

We also need to know how long it should take the animation to complete. We can do this by setting animation-duration property to 2s.

See the Pen Avengers ID Card – 1 by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

You will notice two problems in the output. One, the arc is rotated only one time, we want it to keep rotating, and two, the animation is not linear. The animation is fast at beginning and end, we want it to rotate with same speed throughout the animation.

To solve these problems, we will use the animation-iteration-count property to keep the animation repate itself infinite times, and animation-timing-function property to get a linear animation:

.profile-row .dp .dp-arc-inner 
  position: absolute;
  width: 100%;
  height: 100%;
  border: 6px solid transparent;
  border-top-color: #0AE0DF;
  border-radius: 50%;
  top: -6px;
  left: -6px;

  animation-duration: 2s;
  animation-name: rotate-clock;
  animation-iteration-count: infinite;
  animation-timing-function: linear;

See the Pen Avengers ID Card – 2 by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

Okay, the inner arc is now rotating as expected. Now let’s animate the outer arc in the same way, but in the opposite direction:

.profile-row .dp 
  flex-basis: 33.3%;
  position: relative;
  margin: 24px;

.profile-row .dp .dp-arc-outer 
  position: absolute;
  width: calc(100% + 12px);
  height: calc(100% + 12px);
  border: 6px solid transparent;
  border-bottom-color: #0AE0DF;
  border-radius: 50%;
  top: -12px;
  left: -12px;

  animation-duration: 2s;
  animation-name: rotate-anticlock;
  animation-iteration-count: infinite;
  animation-timing-function: linear;

@keyframes rotate-anticlock 
  from 
    transform: rotate(0deg);
  
  to 
    transform: rotate(-360deg);
  
}

We only changed the to state for the outer arc. Instead of rotating it a positive 360 degree, we rotated it a negative 360 degree, to get an anti-clockwise animation.

Note that we also added 24px margin to the .dp so that it doesn’t get too congested. Here’s what our result looks like now:

See the Pen Avengers ID Card – 3 by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

Using A Sci-Fi Google Font

Tony visits again, and this time he is happy with where we are heading. Only one thing though: he asks to use a sci-fi font.

Not a problem. Let’s use the Orbitron font from Google Fonts. Google Fonts gives a wealth of fonts for free and this particular font fits our requirement quite well.

Click on “Select this Font”:


Screenshot of Google Font page of Orbitron font


You will see the “Select this font” link once you visit the Google font link

A popover will appear at the bottom. Click on it. You will get two codes: the <link> code to copy into your HTML, and the font-family code to use in your CSS:


Screenshot of Google Font page of Orbitron font with the font selected


When you click the “Select this font” link a pop-up will be displayed with link and “font-family” code of that font

Copy the <link> code into your HTML file just above the line where you are including your stylesheet.

Now let’s add some details of Iron Man inside the desc div:

<div class="id-card-wrapper">
    <div class="id-card">
        <div class="profile-row">
            <div class="dp">
                <div class="dp-arc-outer"></div>
                <div class="dp-arc-inner"></div>
                <img src="img/iron-man-dp.jpg">
            </div>
            <div class="desc">
                <h1>Tony Stark</h1>
                <p>Strength: Ironman Suit</p>
                <p>Weakness: None</p>
                <p>Known as: Iron Man</p>
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>
</div>

In our CSS, we will use the font-family code from Google Fonts to set the font of “desc” div:

.profile-row .desc 
  font-family: 'Orbitron', sans-serif;
  color: #a4f3f2;

.profile-row .desc h1 
  margin: 0px;

Wait a sec, why are we setting the margin of h1 to 0?

All the heading elements (h1, h2, h3, h4, and h5) are displayed with some margin around it by the browsers. This is usually not a problem, but we don’t want the top and bottom gaps around the heading elements right now. That’s why we zeroed the margin for h1 element.

Let’s have a look at the output:

See the Pen Avengers ID Card – 4 by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

Oh no! What happened?

What’s happening is, the height of the dp div is increasing.

Normally, if the content in the desc div is of more height than the height of the dp div then nothing happens to the dp div. However, in flexbox layout, the height of the dp div will also increase along with the height of the desc div.

We don’t want the dp div to increase in height with the desc div, and we can do that by using [align-self](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/align-self) sub-property of flexbox:

.profile-row .dp 
  flex-basis: 33.3%;
  align-self: center;
  position: relative;
  margin: 24px;

See the Pen Avengers ID Card – 5 by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

The align-self: center makes the dp div to center keeping its height the same.

Adding Glow

Let’s add some glow.

But wait, CSS doesn’t have any glow property.

No problem, it does have the [text-shadow](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/text-shadow) property. If we give a bright color to the shadow, the shadow will look like it’s glowing:

.profile-row .desc 
  font-family: 'Orbitron', sans-serif;
  color: #d3f8f7;
  text-shadow: 0px 0px 4px #12a0a0;
  letter-spacing: 1px;

In the text-shadow property, the first value, 0px, is the x-offset, how much the shadow is away from text in the x-direction. The second value, 0px, is the y-offset, telling us how much the shadow is away from the text in the y-direction. The third value, 4px, is the amount of blur you want to give to the shadow. The fourth value, #12a0a0, is the color of the shadow.

Note, we also added a 1px space between the letters of text using the [letter-spacing](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/letter-spacing) property because the text was looking a bit congested.

Next, let’s add some shadow to the ID card and the image:

.id-card 
  flex-basis: 100%;
  max-width: 30em;
  border: 1px solid rgb(97, 245, 245);
  margin: auto;
  color: #fff;
  padding: 1em;
  background-color: #0D2C36;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 3px 1px #12a0a0, inset 0px 0px 3px 1px #12a0a0;

.profile-row .dp img 
  max-width: 100%;
  border-radius: 50%;
  display: block;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 4px 3px #12a0a0;

The text-shadow property gives shadow to the text, and the [box-shadow](https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/box-shadow) property gives shadow to the elements.

The first three values for box-shadow are the same as text-shadow: x-offset, y-offset, and blur. The fourth value is how much you want the shadow to spread, and the fifth value is the color of the shadow.

Notice how we are giving two shadows, outer and inner, to the id-card div in a single line:

box-shadow: 0px 0px 3px 1px #12a0a0, inset 0px 0px 3px 1px #12a0a0;

The first five values create an outer shadow. Then the “inset” keyword specifies that the next five values are for inside shadow. We separate both with a ,.

See the Pen Avengers ID Card by Kunal Sarkar (@supersarkar) on CodePen.

The Avengers ID card is ready. Yay!

Wrapping Up

In this tutorial, we learned an effective way of making a full-page background, and centering elements with Flexbox and auto margins. We saw the basic usage of Flexbox and nested Flexboxes to make single dimension layouts.

If you want to dive deeper into Flexbox, check out “A Complete Guide to Flexbox” by Chris Coyier at CSS-Tricks. If you are more of a video learner, then you will enjoy the free 20 video course by Web Bos at Flexbox.io.

We also used CSS animations and the rotate transform to make animated arcs, however, we used a limited number of CSS properties and values. If you want to explore more about CSS animations then you will love this detailed MDN guide.

Finally, the glowing elements gave our ID card a unique sci-fi look. We used the “box-shadow” property to give the glow to our elements. Sometimes manually setting the values of the “box-shadow” property becomes cumbersome. Use CSSmatic’s Box Shadow CSS Generator to easily generate box shadows.

Smashing Editorial
(rb, ra, il)


Original post: 

Making Avengers ID Card In HTML And CSS

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How To Design Emotional Interfaces For Boring Apps




How To Design Emotional Interfaces For Boring Apps

Alice Кotlyarenko



There’s a trickling line of ones and zeros that disappears behind a large yellow tube. A bear pops out of the tube as a clawed paw starts pointing at my browser’s toolbar, and a headline appears, saying: “Start your bear-owsing!”

Between my awwing and oohing I forget what I wanted to browse.

Products like a VPN service rarely evoke endearment — or any other emotion, for that matter. It’s not their job, not what they were built to do. But because TunnelBear does, I choose it over any other VPN and recommend it to my friends, so they can have some laughs while caught up in routine.

tunnelbear

Humans can’t endure boredom for a long time, which is why products that are built for non-exciting, repetitive tasks so often get abandoned and gather dust on computers and phones. But boredom, according to psychologists, is merely lack of stimulation, the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity. So what if we use the interface to give them that stimulation?

I sat with product designers here at MacPaw, who spend their waking hours designing not-so-sexy things like duplicate finders and encryption apps, and they shared five secrets to more emotional UIs: gamification, humor, animation, illustration, and mascots.

Games People Play

There’s some debate going on around the use of gamification in UIs: 24 empirical studies, for example, arrived at varying conclusions as to how effective it was. But then again, effectiveness depends on what you were trying to accomplish by designing those shiny achievement badges.

For many product creators, including Akar Sumset here, the point of gamification is not letting users have fun per se — it’s gently pushing them towards certain behaviors via said fun. Achievements, ranks, leaderboards tap into the basic human need of esteem, trigger competitiveness, and supposedly urge users to do what you want them to, like make progress, keep coming back to the app, or share it on social media.

Gamification can succeed or fail at that, but what it sure achieves is an emotional response. Our brain is packed full of cells that control the levels of dopamine, one of the major neurochemicals of happiness. When something enjoyable happens, these neurons light up and trigger a release of dopamine into the blood, but what’s even better, if this pleasant event is regular and can be predicted, they’ll light up and release dopamine before it even happens. What does that mean for your interface? That expecting an enjoyable thing such as the next achievement will give the users little shots of happiness throughout their experience with the product.

Gamification in UI: Gemini 2 And Duolingo

When designing Gemini 2, the new version of our duplicate finder for Mac, we had a serious problem at hand. Reviewing gigabytes of files was soul-crushingly boring, and some users complained they quit before they were done. So what we tried to achieve with the achievements system is intensify the feeling of a crossed-out item on a to-do list, which is the only upside of tedious tasks. The space theme, unwittingly set with the app’s name and exploited in the interface, was perfect for gamification. Our audience grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, so sci-fi inspired ranks would hit home with them.

Within days of the release, we started getting tweets from users asking for clues on the Easter Egg that would unlock the final achievement. A year after the release, Gemini 2 got the Red Dot Award for a design that exhibits “clarity and emotion.” So while it’s hard to measure how motivating our achievement system has been, it sure didn’t leave people cold.


Gamification in UI: Gemini 2

Another product that got it right — and has by far the most gamified interface I’ve seen — is Duolingo, an online service and mobile app for learning languages. Trying to master a foreign tongue from scratch is daunting, especially if it’s just you and your laptop, without the reassurance that comes with having a teacher. Given how quickly people lose interest in their language endeavors (speaking from experience here), Duolingo would have to go out of its way to keep you hooked. And it does.

Whenever you complete a quick 5-minute lesson, you earn 10 points. Take lessons 30 days in a row? Get an achievement. Complete 20 lessons without a single typo? Unlock another. For every baby step you take, your senses are rewarded with triumphant sounds and colorful graphics that trigger the release of that sweet, sweet dopamine. Eventually, you start associating Duolingo with the feeling of accomplishment and pride — the kind of feeling you want to come back to.


Gamification in UI: Duolingo

If you’d like to dive deeper into gamification, Gabe Zichermann’s book “Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps” is a great way to start.

You’ve Got To Be Joking

Victor Yocco has made a solid case for using humor in web design as a tool to create memorable experiences, connect with users, and make your work stand out. But the biggest power of jokes is that they’re emotional. While we still don’t fully understand the nature of humor, one thing is clear: it makes humans happy. According to brain imaging research, funny cartoons activate the reward network in the limbic system — the same network that responds to eating, music, sex, and mood-altering drugs. In other words, a good joke gives people a kind of emotional high.

Would you want that kind of reaction to your interface? Of course. But the tricky part is that not only is humor subjective, but the way we respond to it depends a lot on the context. One thing is throwing in a pun on the launch screen; a completely different is goofing around in an error message. And while all humans enjoy humor in this or that form, it’s vital to know your audience: what they find hilarious and what might seem inappropriate, crude, or poorly timed. Not that different from cracking jokes in real life.

Humor in UI: Authentic Weather and Slack

One app that nails the use of humor — and not just as a complementary comic relief, but as a unique selling proposition — is Authentic Weather. Weather apps are a prime example of utilitarian products: they are something people use to get information, period. But with Authentic Weather, you get a lot more than that. No matter the weather, it’s going to crack you up with a snarky comment like “It’s ducking freezing,” “Go home winter,” and my personal favorite “It’s just okay. Look outside for more information.”

What happens when you use Authentic Weather is you don’t just open it for the forecast — you want to see what it comes up with next, and a routine task like checking the weather becomes a thing to look forward to in the morning. Now, the app’s moody commentary, packed full of f-words and scorn, would probably seem less entertaining to my mom. But being the grumpy millennial that I am, I find it hilarious, which proves humor works if you know your audience.


Humor in UI: Authentic Weather

Another interface that puts fun to good use is Slack’s. For an app people associate with work emergencies, Slack does a solid job creating a more humane experience, not least because of its one-liners. From loading screens to the moments when you’re finally caught up with all your chats, it cracks a joke when you don’t see it coming.

With such a diverse demographic, humor is a hit and miss, so Slack plays safe with goofy puns and good-natured banter — the kind of jokes that don’t exactly send you rolling on the floor but don’t annoy or offend either. In the best case scenario, the user will chuckle and share the screenshot in one of their channels; in the worst case scenario, they’ll just roll their eyes.


Humor in UI: Slack

More on Humor: “Just Kidding: Using Humor Effectively” by Louis R. Franzini.

Get The World Moving

Nearly every interface uses a form of animation. It’s the natural way to transition from one state to another. But animations in UI can serve a lot more purposes than signifying a change of state — they can help you direct attention and communicate what’s going on better than static visuals or copy ever could. The movement stimulates both visual and kinesthetic learning, which means users are more likely to stay focused and figure out how to use the thing.

These are all good reasons to incorporate animation into your design, but why does it elicit emotion, exactly? Simon Grozyan, who worked on our apps Encrypto and Gemini Photos, believes it’s because in the physical world we interpret animated things as alive:

“We are used to seeing things in movement. Everything around us is either moving or changing appearance because of the light. Static equals dead.”

In addition to the relatable, lifelike quality of a moving object, animation has the power of a delightful and unexpected thing that brings us a lot more pleasure than a thing equally delightful but expected. Therefore, by using it in spots less habitual than transitions you can achieve that coveted stimulation that makes your product fun to use.

Animation in UI: Encrypto and Shazam

Encrypto is a tiny Mac app that encrypts and decrypts your files so that you can send them to someone securely. It’s an indispensable tool for those who care about data security and privacy, but not the kind of tool you would feel attached to. Nevertheless, Encrypto is by far my favorite MacPaw app as far as design is concerned, thanks to the Matrix-style animated bar that slides over your file and transforms it into a new secured entity. Encryption comes to life; it’s no longer a dull process on your computer — it’s mesmerizing digital magic.

encrypto

Animation is at the heart of another great UI: that of Shazam, an app you probably have on your phone. When you use Shazam to find out what’s playing, the button you tap starts sending concentric circles outward and inward. This similarity to a throbbing audio speaker makes the interface almost tangible, physical — as if you’re blasting your favorite album on a powerful sound system.

shazam

More on Animation: “How Functional Animation Helps Improve User Experience”.

Art Is Everywhere

As Blair Culbreth argues, polished is no longer enough for interfaces. Sleek, professional design is expected, but it’s the personalized, humane details that users smile at and forward to their friends. Custom art can be this detail.

Unlike generic imagery, illustration is emotional, because it communicates more than meaning. It carries positive associations with cartoons every person used to watch as a child, shows things in a more playful, imaginative way, and, most importantly, contains a touch of the artist’s personality.

“I think when an artist creates an illustration they always infuse some of their personal experience, their context, their story into it,” says Max Kukurudziak, one of our product designers. The theory rings true — a human touch is more likely to stir feelings.

Illustration in UI: Gemini Photos and Google Calendar

One of our newest products Gemini Photos is an iPhone app that helps you clear unneeded photos. Much like Gemini 2 for desktop, it involves some tedious reviewing for the user, so even with a handy and handsome UI, we’d have a hard time holding their attention and generally making them feel good.

Like in many of our previous apps, we used animations and sounds to enliven the interface, but custom art has become the highlight of the experience. As said above, it’s scientifically proven that surprising pleasurable things cause an influx of that happiness chemical into our blood, so by using quirky illustrations in unexpected spots we didn’t just fill up an empty screen — we added a tad of enjoyment to an otherwise monotonous activity.


Illustration in UI: Gemini Photos

One more example of how illustration can make a product more lovable is Google Calendar. Until recently there was a striking difference between the web version and the iOS app. While the former had the appeal of a spreadsheet, the latter instantly won my heart with one killer detail. For many types of events, Google Calendar slips in art that illustrates them, based on the keywords it picks up from event titles. That way, your plans for the week look a lot more exciting, even if all you’ve got going on is the gym and a dentist appointment.

But that’s not even the best thing. I realized that whenever I create a new event, I secretly hope Google Calendar will have art for it and feel genuinely pleased when it does. Just like that, using a calendar stopped being a necessity and became a source of positive emotion. And, apparently, the illustration experiment didn’t work for me alone, because Google recently rolled out the web version of their calendar with the same art.


Illustration in UI: Google Calendar

More on Illustration: “Illustration That Works: Professional Techniques For Artistic And Commercial Success” by Greg Houston.

What A Character

Cute characters that impersonate products have been used in web design and marketing for years (think Ronald McDonald and the Michelin Man). In interfaces — not quite as much. Mascots in UI can be perceived as intrusive and annoying, especially if they distract the user from an important action or obstruct the view. A notorious example of a mascot gone wrong is Microsoft’s Clippy: it evoked nothing but fear and loathing (which, of course, are emotions, but not the kind you’re looking for).

At the same time, studies show that people easily personify things, even if they are merely geometric figures. Lifelike creatures are easier to relate to, understand the behavior of, and generally feel some way about. Moreover, an animated character is easier to attribute a personality to, so you can broadcast the characteristics of your product through that character — make it playful and goofy, eager and helpful, or whatever you need it to be. With that much-untapped potential, mascots are perfect for non-emotional products.

The trick is timing.

Clippy was so obnoxious because he appeared uninvited, interrupted completely unrelated tasks, and was generally in the way. But if the mascot shows up in a relatively idle moment — for example, the user has just completed a task — it will do its endearing job.

Mascots in UI: RememBear and Yelp

TunnelBear Inc. has recently beta launched another utility that’s cute as a button (no pun intended). RememBear is a password manager, and passwords are supposed to be no joke. But the brilliance of bear cartoons in RememBear is that they are nowhere in sight when you do serious, important things like creating a new entry. Instead, you get a bear hug when you’re done with stage one of signing up for the app and haven’t yet proceeded to stage two — saving your first password. By placing the mascot in this spot, RememBear avoided being in the way but made me smile when I least expected it.


Mascots in UI: RememBear

Just like RememBear, Yelp — a widely known app for restaurant reviews — has perfect timing for their mascot. The funny hamster first appeared at the bottom of the iOS app’s settings so that the user would discover it like an Easter egg.

“At Yelp we’re always striving to make our product and brand feel fun and delightful,” says Yoni De Beule, Yelp’s Product Design manager. “We reflect Yelp’s personality in everything from our fun poster designs and funny release notes to internal hackathon projects and Yelp Elite parties. When we found our iPhone settings page to be seriously lacking in the fun department, we decided to roll up our sleeves and fix it.”

The hamster in the iOS app later got company, as the team designed a velociraptor for the Android version and a dog for the web. So whenever — and wherever — you use Yelp, you almost want to run out of recommendations, so that you can see another version of the delightful character.


Mascots in UI: Yelp

If you’d like to learn how to create your own mascot, there’s a nice tutorial by Sirine (aka ‘Miss ChatZ’) on Envato Tuts+.

To Wrap It Up…

Not all products are inherently fun the way games, or social media apps are, but even utilities don’t have to be merely utilitarian. Apps that deal with repetitive tasks often struggle with retaining users: people abandon them because they feel bored, and boredom is simply lack of stimulation. By using positive stimuli like humor, movement, unique art, elements of game, and relatable characters we can make users feel a different way — more excited, less distracted, and ultimately happier.

Further Reading

Smashing Editorial
(cc, ra, il)


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How To Design Emotional Interfaces For Boring Apps

The Future Of Mobile Web Design: Video Game Design And Storytelling

As technologies change and design techniques evolve, it’s inevitable that we’d experience massive growth in terms of design quality. There are similar parallels we can see within video game design as well. For instance:

This was CERN, the very first website back in 1991. Just some basic HTML and ample white space:

CERN was the first website created just with plain text and hyperlinks.


The very first website to appear online back in 1991. (Large preview)

This example from Smashing Magazine is how we design websites and share information online in 2018:

Smashing Magazine demonstrates how much we can do with web design in 2018.


A much more complicated and yet beautiful web design… 27 years after the advent of websites. (Large preview)

Now, if you look at the history of video game design, you’ll note a similar track; one in which early games like Pong were incredibly simplistic and devoid of any real story:

But now there are games like Grand Theft Auto that put players in the actual driver’s seat, allowing them to control the pace, direction, and outcomes of their experience:

As technologies improve and design techniques evolve, improvements in digital design are inevitable. What is truly impressive, however, is how we are now able to use design to tell a story. In other words, we no longer need to use long scrolls to set up plots or describe what a company does. This is especially great when designing for the mobile experience, which already sets pretty strict limits on how much we can “tell” versus “show.”

In this article, I want to look at three ways in which video game designers get the storytelling aspect of design right, and how web designers can use these techniques to provide users with an immersive experience and drive them more quickly and effectively to conversion.

Three Video Game Storytelling Techniques We Need More Of In Web Design

Video games have come a long way since they were introduced in the late ‘70s in terms of graphics, user controls and, of course, story development. With video game design evolving around the same time as web design, there are similar features and trends that can be found between the two. The only thing is, I don’t know if many web designers think to look to video games for design tips.

Granted, the overwhelming use of shocking colors and cheesy dialogue won’t work that well when you’re developing a professional website. However, it’s the way in which video game designers tell a story with design elements — and effectively guide players to the end by using those elements — that we need to pay attention to.

As your visitors’ attention spans shorten and demand grows for more engaging experiences, web designers can greatly benefit from using these storytelling techniques on the web and, more importantly, for mobile.

1. Make Your Visitor the Hero

Ever since the early days of video games, the goal was to put the player in the front seat and to let them be the hero of the story.

Take PAC-MAN, for instance:

The player was always the hero (i.e., PAC-MAN), and his or her mission was to work through the situation (i.e., to fight the ghosts) and get to the end.

The same holds true for modern gaming as well, though many games go the route of giving players the impression they have control over their heroic journey. A good example of this are the Telltale games.

Basically, each of their games is crafted around a well-known story. In the example above, the game is based on the events that unfold in the T.V. show Game of Thrones. Throughout the game, players are called upon to step into the world and make active choices about what happens next. Sometimes this is through dialogue (at 6:00), and sometimes it happens through action (at 11:55).

In the end, every player of the game ends up at the same place regardless of which way they turn or what line they utter. This doesn’t make the experience any less enthralling for the player as they are actively engaged throughout, and there is a reward in the end — even if it’s one they share with every other person who has played this game.

That’s exactly what websites should do for their visitors, right? They allow visitors to take full control over the experience so that they want to get to the end. For the web, this translates to conversion. And the best way to do this, as evidenced by video games, is to give visitors the ability to pick and choose how they traverse through the story.

Here are some ways in which you can do this with web design:

Create User Personas

Develop user personas before you do anything else when strategizing and planning for a website. Your personas should have a key “problem” they face. It’s then your job to establish the user’s journey in a way that helps them discover solutions to that problem.

Enable Avatar Setup

For those of you with websites that allow for users to create profiles, this is a great opportunity to enable them to define their own unique identity. Allow them to upload a photo of themselves and to personalize their profile. You can also give them different access settings which directs what kinds of content they see, what types of offers they receive, and so on.

WordPress membership websites like WPMU DEV are a good example of websites that do this. Users can create their own profiles and earn points and special statuses based on how much work they put into the community.

WPMU DEV enables users to create their own profiles.


A fun community where web design and development professionals can set up individual profiles. (Large preview)

Use Relatable Content

In video game design, there is something known as “ludonarrative dissonance.” Basically, it “is the unpleasant situation where we’re asking players to do something they don’t want to do… or prevent them from doing what they want.”

You’ve likely encountered this sort of resistance as you’ve designed websites in the past.

You review the analytics and discover high bounce rates on certain pages or even right from within the home page. You discover that there’s a visual element or a line of copy that just doesn’t sit right with your audience. That’s because it’s a disruption in what should be an otherwise immersive experience. By using content that resonates with the visitor, that makes them feel like you’re telling their story, they won’t feel disconnected and want to stray from the goal.

Spin a Fantasy

Here’s an interesting fact: people are 22 times more likely to remember data when it’s presented in a narrative form.

Let’s face it; if you’re building a website on behalf of a business or other professional entity, you don’t have some dramatic tale to spin like a video game does. And that’s fine.

Consumers aren’t visiting websites in order to get caught up in hours of epic storytelling. That said, they do still expect to be engaged by what you’re sharing with them.

So, why not depict a fantastic scenario through visual storytelling? The brain digests visual content 60% more quickly than written content, so your web designs and other visuals (like video, animation, and so on) are the keys to doing this.

The Airbnb blog always does a great job of this type of visual storytelling.

Airbnb’s blog uses images that tell a story within themselves.


The Airbnb blog is a master of visual storytelling. (Large preview)

While every story is probably told through 800 to 1,000 words, it’s also accompanied by highly attractive visuals that tell you something about what you’d experience at this specific destination.

2. Minimize Distractions by Using Symbols

Let’s talk specifically about websites viewed from mobile devices for a second, shall we? As of August 2017, 52.64% of all visits to websites were done via a smartphone. And, starting in 2017, the most popular size for a smartphone was between five and six inches and will only continue to grow in popularity as the years go on.

That’s not a lot of space to fill with content for the majority of site visitors, is it? So, how do you effectively tell a story if you have limited real estate? If we’re to take a page out of the video game design handbook, then we should turn to symbols.

Kontra makes a good point about this:

“[O]ne, often overlooked, strong point of game UX is the preference towards symbolism. The ability to transform meaning into symbols was a huge step towards visual decluttering.”

Functional minimalism is already something you’re doing in your own web design efforts, but have you thought about how it can tie into the storytelling aspect as well? When it comes to video games, symbols help clear the way so that players can focus on the story before them. You’ll see this most often in two-dimensional, side-scroller games:

Street Fighter and other fighting games place the health bar at the top:

Sonic the Hedgehog places the life counter at the bottom:

There are even ones like Virtua Racing and other geographic-dependent games that put their navigation off to the side for players to reference:

As you can see, the use of symbols keeps the gamespace clear and easy to follow along with.

Whether you’re designing mostly for desktop or mobile users, your aim is to design a space that encourages users to follow along and not get caught up in distractions. So, while you might think that full-screen, overlay navigation is a creative choice for your website or the ever-present live chat pop-up will get more engagements, you may be doing yourself a great disservice.

By employing the use of easily recognized symbols throughout your site, you can keep the design clean and clear and distraction-free. The story you’re weaving throughout is the most important thing, and you don’t want to stand in the way of visitors being able to get to it.

MSR is a beautiful example of this done well:

MSR minimizes distractions from the main content area by using symbols.


A good example of how to minimize navigation and directional cues so visitors can focus on the main content and story. (Large preview)

The website is for their architecture design firm. Rather than write volumes of text about what they’ve done and how they do it, they allow the images to speak for themselves. They’ve then employed a number of symbols to help visitors continue on to other points of interest in their journey.

Here are some ways in which you might use symbols to declutter your site:

  • Hamburger icon (for the navigation)
  • Profile photo icon (for account details)
  • Pencil icon (for an editing interface)
  • Gear icon (for settings)
  • Shopping cart icon (to checkout)
  • Magnifying glass (to expand the search bar)
  • Connector icon (to open social sharing and RSS feed options)
  • Question mark (to expand live chat, search, or help options)
  • And so on.

One thing to note here is that you don’t want to overdo it with icons. As you can see from the video game examples above, the entire interface isn’t strewn with icons. They’re simply there to hold the place of elements players are already familiar with and will refer to often. That’s the way you should handle icons for your own site. Think about how easy your icons will be to decipher as well as which ones are absolutely necessary. Decluttering doesn’t mean hiding every element under an icon; you simply want to tidy up a bit.

If you’re concerned with the potential for confusion over what your icons mean to users, then use labels, alt text, or tooltips to provide further elaboration to those who need it.

3. Be Smart About How You Use Space

One of the nice things about video games is how they use actual walls and roadblocks to prevent players from navigating into territory where they shouldn’t be. One of my favorite games that does this right now is called LittleBigPlanet. While it is similar to side-scrolling adventures like Super Mario, its design expands beyond the basic two dimensions usually experienced in these kinds of games.

As you can see, the player encounters a number of hard surfaces which then prompt him or her to move back and forth between layers, to climb up various elements, and to find a more ideal route towards the end of the game.

First-person shooter games like Halo also use physical elements to keep players confined to the main gamespace and on track to completing the mission and story.

As a web designer, you don’t have the luxury of crafting walls around the user’s journey on your site. That said, you don’t have to design a website and leave it all to chance. There are ways to steer visitors through a direct path to conversion.

Kill Screen did an interesting write-up about the art of spatial storytelling in video games. In it, writer Sharang Biswas explained the idea that “Spaces can be designed. They can be made to promote certain pathways, encourage specific behaviors, even elicit emotional reactions.”

There are a number of ways in which you can do this with design:

Use a Spotlight

In video games, you can use light and darkness to draw attention to important pathways. On websites, it’s not always easy to employ the use of lightness or darkness as too-dark of a design or too-light of text could lead to a bad user experience. What you want to do instead is create a “spotlight” of sorts. You can do this by infusing a key area of your design with a dramatic color or a boldly stylized font.

In a site that’s otherwise pretty light in color usage, Kappow does a nice job using it to highlight two key areas of the site where it’s clear visitors should visit: its case studies.

Kappow uses bright swatches of color to draw attention.


It’s more than obvious where Kappow wants visitors to focus their attention as they scroll through the home page. (Large preview)

Add Clues

If you’ve ever played a horror video game before, you know how critical the element of sound can be for it. Here’s an example of how Until Dawn uses sound (as well as visual footprints) to try to steer the player in the right direction:

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of music on websites, even if they’re from auto-play videos that I visited the website for in the first place. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way as there aren’t many websites that employ the use of background music or auto-play audio anymore.

That said, while you might not be able to direct visitors down the page with the sound of something playing down below, you can use other elements to lead them. For one, you can use interactive elements like animation to draw their attention to where it needs to go. Let’s take a game like Angry Birds, for example.

See how the little red birds are hopping up and down while they wait their turn? It’s a subtle gesture, but one that is sure to draw first-time players’ attention to the area of the screen in which they should directly interact if they want to move on to the next level. Animation on a website would work just as effectively if you’re trying to lure visitors’ eyes down to a key element like a contact form or a clickable button.

But it doesn’t just have to be animation. Other video game designers simply plant clues around the landscape to steer players through the journey. I’m not suggesting that your site start hiding Easter eggs all over the place. Instead, you may want to think about using subtle arrows or lines that define the space in which visitors should “play” and then move down through.

Employ a Mascot

For some brands, it might make sense to employ the use of an actual mascot to guide visitors through the story. If it’s an already established mascot and it won’t intrude too heavily on the experience, then why not bring it on the journey to ensure that visitors are checking in at all the right spots?

Or you can do like BarkBox and use a series of related mascots to guide visitors through different parts of the site (especially the signup and subscription process).

Black-and-white illustrated mascots on BarkBox website.


BarkBox uses a series of illustrated black-and-white mascots to guide visitors through the conversion processes. (Large preview)

Summary

As attention spans shorten and visitors just want to get to the good stuff on a website, designers have to get more creative in how they communicate their website’s “story.” Ideally, your web design will do more showing of that story instead of telling, which is how video game design tends to succeed in this matter.

Remember: Storytelling isn’t just relegated to big brands that can weave bright and shiny tales about how consumers’ lives were changed with their products. Nor is it just for video game designers that have hours of gameplay to develop for their audiences. A story simply needs to convey to the end-user how their problem can be fixed by your site’s solution. Through subtle design strategies inspired by video game storytelling techniques, you can effectively share and shape your own story.

Smashing Editorial
(da, ra, yk, il)

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The Future Of Mobile Web Design: Video Game Design And Storytelling

Designing Friction For A Better User Experience

In experience design, friction is anything that prevents users from accomplishing their goals or getting things done. It’s the newsletter signup overlay covering the actual content, the difficult wording on a landing page, or the needless optional questions in a checkout flow. It’s the opposite of intuitive and effortless, the opposite of “Don’t make me think.”
Having said that, friction can still be a good thing sometimes. In game design, for example, friction is actually required.

Credit:

Designing Friction For A Better User Experience

11 Surprisingly Awesome Popup Design Examples – Scored by The Delight Equation [Tool]

I admit it. I’m a geek. Or am I a nerd? Definitely not a dweeb, but probably a keener (that’s a Canadian term).

One of my favorite things to do (as a marketer) is to reverse-engineer marketing experiences – good and bad – to define an equation that can be used to score them. It’s primarily a heuristic exercise, but I find it’s an incredibly helpful way to analyze a design, especially when it has the ability to leave you with a simple checklist of things to consider to make it better.

In the past, I’ve created The Clarity Equation (for value propositions), and The Testimonial Equation (for customer social proof).

For today’s post, I focused on popup design examples that exude positive characteristics, to create The Popup Delight Equation.

What Makes a Popup Design Delightful?

Hands up if you thought “That’s an oxymoron.”? I know, I know, how can a popup be delightful? Well, just like any other aspect of marketing and web design, it’s all about the details, and finding those magical ways of combining what makes your brand special, with a dose of responsible interaction design.

I see delightful popups all the time, usually because the copy is hilarious, or the design is surprising.

If your perception of a popup is one of those ugly WordPress template type things with three big green checkmark bullet icons (see below), and a Johnson box (those fat dashed red lines that resemble a coupon cutout), then no, that’s not delightful. That’s just shitty.

It is possible to make a popup delightful, and it’s not that hard if you know which aspects of interaction and visual design are required to do it right. Which brings me to…

The Popup Delight Equation

The equation (shown in the image at the top of the post) is broken down into 7 principles; Clarity, Control, Creativity, Relevance, Charm, Value, & Respect.

Each principle has a few checklist questions that build up a score between 0 and 1 (you can choose 0.5 for any of them if you like) for a maximum score of 7. These are then combined and turned into an overall percentage score as shown below:

EXAMPLE POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
0 1 1 1 0 1 0 57%

I’ll explain each of the delight principles, and then I’ll get to the popup designs.
(skip to the examples)

Principle #1 – Clarity

The clarity principle represents how easy it is to understand the offer presented by the popup. First, there’s the immediacy factor, can you read and understand it very quickly. The second part concerns the use of a primary “hero” image and whether it helps or hinders visual communication.

Clarity = ( Immediacy + Hero ) / 2
Immediacy Can you explain what the offer is after looking at it for only five seconds? Yes 1, No 0
Hero Is there a primary image (not a logo) that shows what you will get (or who you will get it from)? Yes 1, No 0
If it’s a generic site-wide offer like a discount that doesn’t need an image, score 1.

Principle #2 – Control

The control principle represents a visitor’s ability to fully control the experience. This includes being able to easily accept, reject, or discard the interruption.

Control = ( Close [On] + Close [Out] + Close [Esc] + Continue + Cancel ) / 5
Close [On] Is there a close button (typically an x) on the popup? Yes 1, No 0
If it’s a fullscreen “Welcome Mat” you can take a 1 here unless there’s no “No thanks” button.
Close [Out] Does the popup close if you click on the background surrounding it? Yes 1, No 0
If it’s a fullscreen “Welcome Mat” you can take a 1 here.
Close [Esc] Does the popup close if you press the escape button on your keyboard? Yes 1, No 0
Continue Is it clear what you need to click in order to accept the offer? Yes 1, No 0
Cancel Is it clear what you need to click in order to decline the offer? (Score 1 if there’s only one option) Yes 1, No 0

Principle #3 – Creativity

Like any type of marketing communications, a creative popup will be more likely to be well received. This principle is comprised of visual design esthetic, the inclusion of (non-tacky) animation, and how on-brand it is.

Creativity = ( Design + Animation + Brand ) / 3
Visual Design Esthetic Is it unique looking (non-rectangle), or just look awesome to you (some subjectivity is okay here)? Yes 1, No 0
Animation Does it include some motion as it appears that makes it more noticable. Yes 1, No 0.5, Yes, but it’s annoying 0
On Brand Does it match the site’s design or look like a cheap template that could be from any site? Yes 1, No 0

Principle #4 – Relevance

A popup that isn’t highly relevant will convert poorly and moves you closer to the wrong end of the interruption spectrum. This principle includes congruence (how aligned the offer is with the page you are visiting) and targeting.

Relevance = ( Congruence + Targeting ) / 2
Congruence Does the offer feel related to the page you’re on? Yes 1, No 0
If it’s somethng like a site-wide discount it’s a 1, but if it’s a blog subscribe popup on a homepage, product or pricing page etc. (not your blog), that’s a 0.
Targeting Score 1 unless one of these scenarios is true: it doesn’t apply to you (such as wrong country), or it’s referring to you coming from a page/partner/place that you didn’t come from (and in general if it’s making assumptions about you that are incorrect), in which case it’s a 0

Principle #5 – Charm

You know a charming marketing experience when you see one. Same goes for popups. If the design and/or copy make you laugh, or smile, or want to share it with someone, it’s a winner.

Charm = ( Smile [Design] + Smile [Copy] ) / 2
Smile [Design] Does the visual design make you smile? Yes 1, No 0
Smile [Copy] Does the copywriting make you smile? Yes 1, No 0

Principle #6 – Value

Some popups only contain information, some have a discount, others ask you for personal information in order to claim the offer. The value principle is concerned with how fair of an exchange it is, and it’s completely binary. If the reward is equal or greater than the ask/effort, you win.

Value = ( Reward >= Ask )
Reward > Ask Is the offer worth more than or equal to the requested information/effort? Yes 1, No 0
Score a 0 if it seems unfair, such as a ton of form fields for very little in return.

Principle #7 – Respect

The respect principle leans on the concept of “a responsible use of technology”. The biggest offense in this regard is the idea of “Confirm Shaming”. This is where there are two options (continue or cancel), but in order to cancel, you have to click a button/link with offensive copy – such as “I don’t like free money”. You get penalized extra for this offense.

Respect = 1 – 2*(Confirm Shaming)
Confirm Shaming If this is a two-button Accept/Decline popup, and the decline button is offensive in any way, it’s confirm-shaming. Yes 1, No 0
A 1 here results in a -1 score for principle 7.

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Brands Appearing in Today’s Popup Design Examples

Thanks to these awesome companies/people for inspiring me to include them: Tim Ferriss, Leesa, ClassPass, How-To Geek, Groupon, Tasting Table, Get Response, Lemonstand, PetSmart, Travelzoo.

Note: None of these popup designs score 100%

I’m sure you’ll like some, and dislike others. I’m including a wide variety of examples because they each show different aspects of the delight criteria.

Popup Design #1: Tim Ferriss

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
0.75 0.8 1 0.5 0.5 1 1 83%

Analysis

This fullscreen “Welcome Mat” popup takes over the screen when you’re leaving. I dislike this style when it happens when you arrive, but on exit, it’s totally cool. It’s a simple and classy design. Let’s score it!

  • CLARITY:
    I gave it 0.5 for immediacy as I had to figure out what the content was (fortunately I just bought a book about Seneca so I caught on). Having Tim in the background makes it very clear it’s coming from him.
  • CONTROL:
    The only failing here is the lack of the escape button working, which is my favourite way of dismissing a popup (I’m a big keyboard shortcut fan). It’s much faster than hunting for a close icon/button.
  • CREATIVITY:
    I love the design. It’s fresh and open. The visual hierarchy of the buttons is perfect: dominant continue, secondary cancel.
  • RELEVANCE:
    It loses out a bit on relevance, as it’s a speaker contact page, making this popup incongruent.
  • CHARM:
    Visually, yes. His authentic smile makes you feel welcome.
  • VALUE:
    It’s a 2-step opt-in form (email address if you click “Unlock”), which is a fair deal.
  • RESPECT:
    “No thanks, I’m not interested.” is great. It’s all you need to do on your cancel button. No confirm shaming here.

Popup Design #2: Leesa Mattress – Countdown Timer

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 1 0.83 1 0 1 1 80%

Analysis

There are so many mattress 2.0 companies out there now, it’s hard to tell them apart aside from the colour. This one’s really plain, and quite boring, but it does get bonus points for the countdown timer, and not breaking any of the fundamental delight rules.

  • CLARITY:
    Easy.
  • CONTROL:
    Full control.
  • CREATIVITY:
    It got it’s creativity 1/3 only for being on brand, but I added a 0.5 bonus for the countdown timer, which is a nice touch for ecommerce.
  • RELEVANCE:
    Timely and on point.
  • CHARM:
    Nah. They could do way more with the copy and the visuals are kinda bleh.
  • VALUE:
    Hard to argue with a discount.
  • RESPECT:
    No problems here.

Popup Design #3: Tasting Table

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 0.8 0.17 1 0 1 1 71%

Analysis

I like the use of a question headline in this popup. If you aren’t then you probably shouldn’t be on the site, so they’re helping to self select their ideal customer/subscriber. I’m not a foodie, however, so I’m closing it ;)

  • CLARITY:
    Get an email, about food. Easy.
  • CONTROL:
    No escape button close on this one either. Grrr.
  • CREATIVITY:
    It gets a few points for being on brand, but nothing original otherwise.
  • RELEVANCE:
    It’s food.
  • CHARM:
    Lots of potential, but doesn’t deliver.
  • VALUE:
    I was going to ding it for asking for a zipcode, but it probably increases the value so it get’s a pass.
  • RESPECT:
    Great.

Popup Design #4: Get Response

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 1 0.67 1 1 1 1 95%

Analysis

Simple and a bit weird (and basic) looking, but it rocks the scores beacuse it doesn’t break the fundamental delight rules, and adds some playfulness to stand out. Give it a little wiggle animation to go with that cute little alien thing and it would get a perfect score.

  • CLARITY:
    Pretty clear, and they get a few extra seconds of reading because it’s cute.
  • CONTROL:
    Full control.
  • CREATIVITY:
    Not the slickest design, but I think it’s got a lot of fun in it.
  • RELEVANCE:
    It’s SaaS, and this is for a free trial. Totally relevant.
  • CHARM:
    This one made me smile based on the copy and the design. Nicely done.
  • VALUE:
    It’s no different than clicking any other signup button on the site, so it’s regular ol’ fair.
  • RESPECT:
    Yes.

A quick contrast break…

Some pretty amazing score so far, and that’s because they’re doing it right. Before I continue, I just want to run one of the examples from yesterday’s “6 Really Bad Website Popup Examples” post through The Popup Delight Equation to provide some perspective.

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
0.5 0.6 0 0 0 0 1 30%

NOT delightful.

Popup Design #5: Groupon

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
0.75 0.4 0.67 1 0 1 1 69%

Analysis

  • CLARITY:
    I would’ve given it a higher score if there had been a photo of Vancouver in the popup, as it gives that immediate sense of locale.
  • CONTROL:
    Neither the escape key or clicking the background close the popup, which is really annoying when the “No thanks” link is so tiny. I dinged it extra for that.
  • CREATIVITY:
    This is what I’m referring to re: looking different from a shape perspective. Yes, it’s a circle and not a rectangle, but that’s the point. 99.999999% of popups are rectangles. So this simple change makes a world of difference. And the transparency allows lots of breathing room, and for it to not look like it’s completely shutting out the site.
  • RELEVANCE:
    Perfect.
  • CHARM:
    None.
  • VALUE:
    Hard to argue with deals.
  • RESPECT:
    Good job.

Popup Design #6: How-To Geek

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 1 0.17 1 0.25 1 1 77%

Analysis

I bet you didn’t expect a score like that. Which just goes to show that when you do some of the fundamentals correctly: it’s very clear, it’s easy to control, relevant, fair value, and respectful. It looks pretty awful, but that’s why it scores so poorly on creativity and charm. The fundamentals matter a lot. Get those right, and you can spend your time being exceptional.

  • CLARITY:
    Super obvious.
  • CONTROL:
    All functional.
  • CREATIVITY:
    On brand but nothing else positive from a creative standpoint.
  • RELEVANCE:
    Yup.
  • CHARM:
    I gave it a tiny bit cos of the nerdy logo guy.
  • VALUE:
    Standard newsletter value.
  • RESPECT:
    All good.

Popup Design #7: ClassPass

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
0.5 0.4 0.33 1 0 1 1 60%

Analysis

I thought this would do better when I first saw it, then after playing with the interaction it let me down a bit.

  • CLARITY:
    This is an entry popup, so the visuals are covered. Having a photo in the popup would help with the clarity around what kind of class they’re talking about for a first-time visitor.
  • CONTROL:
    no on, out or esc. The reason having no visible close button is undelightful is because it forces you to choose (and read) one of the buttons to close it. That’s too much effort when I’ve decided I want to get rid of it.
  • CREATIVITY:
    On brand, nothing else.
  • RELEVANCE:
    Yes.
  • CHARM:
    A bit cold.
  • VALUE:
    Without question.
  • RESPECT:
    Good job.

Popup Design #8: Lemonstand – Squishy Animation

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 1 0.67 1 0.25 1 1 85%

Analysis

I stuck an animated GIF in for this one so you could see the animation. It’s a prety plain looking popup aside from that, but you can see how it does add that extra attention-grabbing effect.

  • CLARITY:
    Ebook with an image of a book. Done.
  • CONTROL:
    Full control.
  • CREATIVITY:
    Scores for animation and being on brand. Mix in a different shape or a design like a lemon stand for bonus points :D
  • RELEVANCE:
    It’s on the blog, so full points.
  • CHARM:
    Only the squishy animation saves it here.
  • VALUE:
    Fair indeed.
  • RESPECT:
    No confirm shaming here.

Popup Design #9: PetSmart

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 1 0 1 0 1 1 71%

Analysis

Granted, this is the lamest of the bunch, but I included it because of its simplicity. Sometimes an offer is just an informative statement.

  • CLARITY:
    Crystal.
  • CONTROL:
    Complete.
  • CREATIVITY:
    Nope. Sorry.
  • RELEVANCE:
    It’s an ecommerce store. Yes.
  • CHARM:
    Nope. Add some kittens!
  • VALUE:
    Definitely.
  • RESPECT:
    All good.

Popup Design #10: Travelzoo << The worst!

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 0 0.67 1 0 0 -1 24%

Analysis

Looks sure can be deceiving. At first glance I really like this one. Then I started playing with it. And it became the worst popup of them all.

  • CLARITY:
    Yep, super clear with the photo of Ireland.
  • CONTROL:
    Can’t click the background to close. Oh, and wait, no matter what you do, IF you manage to close it you get turfed to the homepage. Horrible.
  • CREATIVITY:
    Minor points for the rounded corners.
  • RELEVANCE:
    Very.
  • CHARM:
    Started with zero, got worse from there.
  • VALUE:
    See respect, below.
  • RESPECT:
    Wow. If I were critiquing this solely on a screenshot, I’d have given them a 1 for respect. But I just tried to interact with it. If you close the popup (without signing up) it redirects you right back to the homepage. You can’t even see the deal. That’s seriously gnarly. Shoulda put this one in yesterday’s post.

Popup Design #11: Tim Ferriss

POPUP DELIGHT SCORE
CLARITY CONTROL CREATIVITY RELEVANCE CHARM VALUE RESPECT TOTAL
1 0.6 0.67 1 0.5 1 0.5 75%

Analysis

We close it out with another from Mr. Ferriss. It’s from the same page as the first one, but instead of being an exit popup, it’s triggered when you click a small banner that appears in the lower-left as you scroll down the page. Because it’s an on-click triggered popup, you typically get full points for relevance and clarity as you asked for it specifically.

  • CLARITY:
    Super clear
  • CONTROL:
    No escape key function, and the close (x) button doesn’t always show up.
  • CREATIVITY:
    Looks great,and on brand.
  • RELEVANCE:
    Perfect.
  • CHARM:
    As before, the friendly photo works.
  • VALUE:
    As expected.
  • RESPECT:
    Not quite as nice as the other one on the cancel link, so I’m dinging him a little.

Alrighty then, that’s a wrap for those 10 delightful popups, and one most certainly not delightful (Travelzoo) popup. Let me know if you agree/disagree with my ratings.

How Delightful are Your Popups?

I showed you mine, now show me yours! I hope you enjoyed learning about the delightful side of the website popup. I’d really love to see some of your popups, and how you score them, so drop a URL in the comments with your score and we can see if I agree.

Cheers
Oli

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to the weekly updates.

Taken from: 

11 Surprisingly Awesome Popup Design Examples – Scored by The Delight Equation [Tool]

Minimalistic Design With Large Impact: Functional Minimalism For Web Design

(This is a sponsored post). As web design focuses more and more on good user experience, designers need to create the most usable and attractive websites possible. Carefully applied minimalist principles can help designers make attractive and effective websites with fewer elements, simplifying and improving users’ interactions.
In this article, I will discuss some examples of minimalism in web design, things to consider when designing minimalist interfaces, and explain why sometimes “less is more”.

View post: 

Minimalistic Design With Large Impact: Functional Minimalism For Web Design

When Large Isn’t Large Enough: Designing With Hero Images

(This is a sponsored post). When users come to your page, they’ll feel some kind of reaction. Whether it’s positive or negative, that reaction is determined in large part by what they see. Because vision is perhaps the strongest human sense, a hero image is one of the fastest ways to grab the user’s attention. Bold, graphic and intentional imagery engages the user. It draws the user in immediately and makes a perfect centerpiece for a minimalist app or website.

Source: 

When Large Isn’t Large Enough: Designing With Hero Images

Just Keep Scrolling! How To Design Lengthy, Lengthy Pages

(This is a sponsored post). Websites with long or infinite scrolling are becoming more and more common lately, and it’s no mere trend or coincidence. The technique of long scrolling allows users to traverse chunks of content without any interruption or additional interaction — information simply appear as the user scrolls down the page.
Infinite scrolling is a variety of long scrolling that allows users to scroll through a massive chunk of content with no finish line in sight (it’s the endless scrolling you see on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds).

Link:  

Just Keep Scrolling! How To Design Lengthy, Lengthy Pages

Beyond The Browser: From Web Apps To Desktop Apps

I started out as a web developer, and that’s now one part of what I do as a full-stack developer, but never had I imagined I’d create things for the desktop. I love the web. I love how altruistic our community is, how it embraces open-source, testing and pushing the envelope.

Beyond The Browser: From Web Apps To Desktop Apps

I love discovering beautiful websites and powerful apps. When I was first tasked with creating a desktop app, I was apprehensive and intimidated. It seemed like it would be difficult, or at least… different.

The post Beyond The Browser: From Web Apps To Desktop Apps appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

See the original post:  

Beyond The Browser: From Web Apps To Desktop Apps

Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation

Pull-to-refresh is one of the most popular gestures in mobile applications right now. It’s easy to use, natural and so intuitive that it is hard to imagine refreshing a page without it. In 2010, Loren Brichter created Tweetie, one of numerous Twitter applications. Diving into the pool of similar applications, you won’t see much difference among them; but Loren’s Tweetie stood out then.

Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation

It was one simple animation that changed the game — pull-to-refresh, an absolute innovation for the time. No wonder Twitter didn’t hesitate to buy Tweetie and hire Loren Brichter. Wise choice! As time went on, more and more developers integrated this gesture into their applications, and finally, Apple itself brought pull-to-refresh to its system application Mail, to the joy of people who value usability.

The post Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Original article:

Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation