What can UI designers learn from a baby’s face?

In the presence of a cute baby, you would be hard-pressed not to smile even on your worst day. Have you ever wondered what it is about them that melts your heart; ever thought about possibly capturing this cute-factor in your user interfaces?

Cute baby

Spare a moment to really look at the picture of the baby above and then look at this guy:

Patrick Wilson

By now you must have felt the different ways your body responded to the two pictures, even though the two people may be total strangers to you.

So, what is it about the faces of babies that makes us smile, or gives us the yearning to interact with them? Ted White, my lecturer at the time who later became my mentor taught me a valuable lesson in one of his lectures when he said, “you can’t create a user experience, but you can create the situations that can enable the user experience you desire”.

Being a budding user experience designer, that statement shook my world- I had to learn more, I had to know how he came to that idea. Where that journey took me is an article for another day.

Today, Ted’s statement makes a lot of sense and I will share the few characteristics I presume prime total strangers to smile at the sight of babies they don’t know.

# Innocence is captivating

We find new people a little harder to trust, we remain cautious until we have ascertained that they will not hurt us. This kind of feeling is absent with children because we know they won’t hurt us.

Applying this to the interface:

–       Interfaces should take the blame for things going wrong and assure the user that it is safe to engage with them.

–       User interfaces should never seek more effort/information then what is reasonably comfortable for the user. Ever heard somebody say: “what do you want from me?” You’ll rarely hear that said in a pleasant tone.

# Small is cute

Being less harmful, babies are also small and thus appear more vulnerable and therefore people are somewhat drawn to protecting them. This draws you closer.

Applying this to the interface:

–       As little, yet as much as necessary. This is the mantra of minimalist designers. Minimalism can be understood as a design philosophy where the simplest and fewest elements and content are used to create the maximum desired effect. And so were babies created; as such our interfaces should have no obstacles between the user and the experience we are laying the foundations for.

# Babies’ guards are low

Babies are forever handing out olive branches; as long as you don’t present a threat to them- a baby will accept you and acknowledge you in kind.

Olive Branch


Applying this to the interface:

–       There is a never-ending debate in the usability circles/forums regarding “intuitive” interfaces, one side arguing that nothing is intuitive and the other camp surprisingly arguing that a nipple is the only intuitive interface and that everything else is learned thereafter. Being aware of this debate (regardless of your camp) is important because UI designers need to be aware of the learned things that users already know so that we could make use of interface metaphors to reduce the learning curve of the user interface, in effect lowering our guard.

# Strong emotions are contagious

Babies cry and yell in joy at the top of their lungs, they share all their emotions indiscriminately.

Applying this to the interface:

–       Be passionate about your message and remember that a great interface is selfless, does not draw attention to itself and is devoted to serving a specific purpose for the person using it.

–       Find the right tone of voice for your interface and stick with it. Among other contributing factors to choosing your tone, the most notable is determined by how you want to be remembered. It is about crafting the personality to go with the look.

What other things have you found in your world that light up your soul? Share them with me on Twitter @uxtshepo and we can draw more parallel UX discussions.

Make love, art and live free

Tshepo Lehutjo


The Future of Interaction Design

Ah the joys of the internet. I recently stumbled on this really interesting 18 minute doccie by Basset & Partners on the future of Interaction Design. Particularly excited about the “Internet of things”, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?!



TechEd Africa 2013

South Africa’s premier technology event for IT Professionals and Developers, TechEd Africa, was held from 16-19 April 2013 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.  Offering the most comprehensive education across Microsoft’s current and soon-to-be-released suite of products, solutions, tools, and services; the four days were jam packed with more than 1 000 learning opportunities and hands-on training, 500 unique breakout sessions with Microsoft speakers and industry experts, and more than 200 self-paced labs created by product experts.

TechEd2013 Windows 8 Application

Translating the application from the Windows 8 desktop and tablet devices to Windows 8 phone was a new challenge we embraced with fervor

Due to Origin Interactive’s close relationship with Microsoft SA, we were asked to do the User Experience and Visual Design of the Windows 8 application for TechEd Africa 2013. Using the framework provided on www.tech-ed.co.za, we set out to create an application that would aid delegates not only before the event, but during as well. Pre-event users had the option to check all sessions, speakers, and schedules, and book their days accordingly to ensure that they got the most out of the experience. During the event the apps came to life with Twitter feeds, live alerts, as well as the ability to comment and review sessions you had just attended. Translating the application from the Windows 8 desktop and tablet devices to Windows 8 phone was a new challenge we embraced with fervor . Using the Metro principles and style guidelines, the solution was slick, yet playful, with a modern African feel.

TechEd2013 Application Agenda Page

Pre-event users had the option to check all sessions, speakers, and schedules, and book their days accordingly to ensure that they got the most out of the experience

If you attended the conference this year and made use of the app, we would love to hear your thoughts on it. Fire away in the comments below!

Interactive Prototyping

Review: InVisionApp

In today’s world, where time spent on projects is measured in minutes, where deadlines get tighter and tighter, time is everything. The same can be said for the Interactive world, where the next project is usually waiting in the wings.

A year or so ago I came across InVisionApp, a powerful web application capable of transforming app, web and / or mobile designs into interactive prototypes. It was a little overwhelming and at first I wasn’t sure how InVisionApp would fit into my world. Fast forward to 3 months later, a project arose where the client wanted to preview a web app in preparation for development. I immediately thought of InVisionApp, rushed over to the site, ran through the tutorials and within an hour I had begun uploading concept designs and creating interactive prototypes from Photoshop files.

InVisionApp not only saves hours of explaining, it has become the most exciting phase in all of my projects. It’s the closest step to visually display how any project is intended to work without having to actually build it. From wireframing to click-through interactive prototypes, InVisionApp will leave its mark in the interactive world as a truly remarkable benchmark. The usability of the app is also a huge bonus, as most designers work with large file sizes that haven’t been optimised, but InVisionApp handles all the optimising for the user.

In a nutshell, if you need to create an interactive prototype from wireframes, concept designs, or just plain-Jane drawings, InVisionApp is by far the best tool that will deliver on all its promises.

Top 5 Features:

• Create stunningly beautiful, fully interactive web application prototypes using the tool you know and love — Photoshop.
• Build your wireframes and prototypes in whatever fidelity you like.
• Share prototypes with stakeholders and get feedback directly on the screen.
• Collaborate on your designs and make the UX process a team effort.
• Stage realistic usability tests and get important feedback early.

Take a tour on InVisionApp


If you need to create the visual experience of a concept before further development or design, then InVisionApp is exactly what you’re looking for. It takes only a few minutes to figure out all it’s simple yet powerful capabilities. It falls nothing short of awesome in my books.

Rating: 9/10

Price: $9.99 Monthly (est. R85.00)

The User Interface Revolution Underway

I found this Blog extremely relevant to the future of our industry and the world wide technology phenomenon. This Blog makes me super excited about what the future has to offer the end user/customer when interacting with brands and improving their experiences with brands within the digital world.

So it looks like Origin will be around for a long time!!!

2016: The User Interface Revolution Underway

Looking at the next five years, the role of interface design will only increase in importance as companies compete to win market share worldwide. Ease of use is essential to winning hearts, minds, and customers. With consumer product companies in heated competition, I anticipate a surge of redesign and new design in the near term. These designs will focus on usability, which means we are likely to see breakthrough products over the next several years.

Yet these new interfaces are not going to be uniform; devices and applications will not possess common protocols. For users, each interaction will have to be learned, so despite the improved usability of products, individuals will find themselves learning the quirks and standards of more and more technologies just to get the functionality they seek.

Converging Technologies, Diverging Experiences and Standards

For global companies, the next five years is a time to put their best solutions forward and integrate the UIs and capabilities of their own product suites. As companies work to independently to improve their products within the context of new technical and usability advances, we will see more diversity and incongruence in design overall. In the next several years, differentiation and unique ease of use will matter more than a common standard.

Technologies continue to combine and converge, but much of this convergence happens only within companies. Technologies and products developed by different companies will not truly interact across platforms any better than they do so today, or at least not in the near term. For every new process and device, there continues to be a lack of common standards, which requires that people learn device- and product-specific commands and functions. This problem is still acceptable to most people because that lack of integration and the individuality of interfaces has long been the norm.

Caught up in the daily flow of our lives, we hardly recognize we are in the midst of a rapid evolution in how we leverage technology. We barely acknowledge that we are slowly replacing ordinary and extraordinary functions alike with technology, including purchasing goods via phones, receiving on-demand GPS-based directions, and eliminating hard-wired phones altogether. And it is certain more innovation is just around the corner.

Today and in the next five years, those UIs will remain separate and disconnected from each other. But many decades in the future, we can expect to see shared protocols and standards that enable users to transition seamlessly between devices and appliances, which transmit information to one another to a far greater extent than we see today.

In the meantime, all of our incremental progress toward more usable applications is exciting for the UX industry as a whole. UI designers can rest assured that over the next five years they will not be out of work. In fact, as someone working in the field for nearly 20 years, my concern is there are not enough experts in UI design to meet the avalanche of design and redesign that needs to be completed. The process for designing UIs will continue to come from research related to behavior, and from evaluation of how information hierarchies and protocols can be more intuitively accessed.

Worldwide Vision

All this opportunity to design better experiences is not exclusive to the U.S. and Western Europe. In fact, much work over the next five years needs to be done to create UIs that are more in tune with the rising middle classes of China and India, each surging with unique demographics of potential technology users.

Companies will increasingly look to market consumer technologies to pockets of fast-growing populations that have so far had little exposure to technology as part of their daily lives. For these people, it will be critical that the solutions be highly intuitive to ease the abruptness of the transition.

In making these new technology products, leading consumer technology companies will be delving into new areas of UI design and need to think through language, cultural, and ethnographic particularities to create effective solutions. It will also be important to recognize how specific cultures truly interact with their social environment and technologies within the context of those environments.

Racing to market with products with long feature lists is not the only answer; in some cases, it may prove to be the wrong answer. The technologies must offer users an intuitive and tailored UI to give users full enjoyment of and access to product features within the context of their cultural experience. This is a new challenge that is rapidly unfolding as more solutions are offered to emerging populations.

A Seamless Future

New, improved UIs are part of a transformation that is happening worldwide in technology. As we have seen with Apple and others, the new measuring stick of quality and key to critical acclaim is not just about whiz-bang features, but also about the presentation of the technology and accessibility of features through sound design.

Over the next five years, UX designers will be increasingly called upon to create solutions that join the power of new technology with good usability. Their skills and vision will be put to good use as companies awaken to the new stakes related to intuitive design and strive to roll out a host of products that will be more engaging than ever before.


Consumer and business users alike will experience remarkable forward steps in the evolution of UI design, but they will also grapple with the lack of convergence and common protocols. It will likely be many more years before any common standards begin to emerge.

For emerging populations around the world, leading consumer companies will seek to capture market share. We advise these companies to go beyond the language barrier and truly evaluate the culture they are targeting as they have the opportunity to serve these customers through powerful design.

It is an exciting prospect to think of the millions or billions of more people who will be able to access technology, communicate globally and garner more information than they have before—all through intuitive, intelligently designed interfaces.

Reference: http://uxmag.com/design/2016-the-user-interface-revolution-underway