User interface is the most significant component of successful software. Ease of use is of the utmost importance. It truly can make or break your product. Feature-rich software that fails to meet the user’s expectations can’t compete with straightforward software. The importance of UI cannot be overstated. Still, many companies fail to see just how crucial UI designers are.
One famous example is the $300 Million Button, in which a major ecommerce site redesigned one button and saw a massive spike in revenue. “The form was simple,” wrote Jared Spool. “The fields were email address and password. The buttons were login and register. How could they have problems with it?” After conducting a few rounds of usability testing, they found that new users begrudged the register button, and returning customers were prone to forgetting their passwords. “The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the register button.” The register button was replaced with a more user-friendly “continue” button, which promptly resulted in a 45 percent increase in sales.
Something as simple as a button could be costing you millions in revenue a year. Programmers don’t catch key usability issues like this, designers do. Every tech company needs a UI designer desperately; it’s just a matter of whether they are aware of it or not.
Here are six ways you can justify hiring a UI designer:
1. Brands that invest in UI outperform those that don’t.
You don’t have to look too far to find examples of UI benefitting big brands. Apple is the perfect prototype of a company continually committed to creating products that are extraordinarily simple to use. They consistently beat out competitors who focus on features rather than usability. Microsoft’s doomed Zune, for example, fought and struggled to claim just an eighth of the MP3 player market share. While the Zune was arguably more robust than the iPod, it simply couldn’t compete with a well-executed UI.
2. They reduce development time.
According to IEEE, up to 50 percent of software specialists’ time is spent on avoidable rework. UI designers cut down on rework as they help catch usability issues early. This greatly reduces the development time since programmers can spend their time doing work that adds value rather than reworking unnecessarily.
3. They improve performance.
UI designers concentrate on creating interfaces that are easy to understand. Ideally, a user interface is intuitive and feels natural. When an intuitive, easy-to-use interface is implemented, user error is markedly reduced, which greatly improves overall product performance.
4. They lower development costs.
UI designers test and develop interfaces alongside programmers. They take the usability guidelines set out by the UX designer and put them into action. UI designers tweak buttons, sliders and text boxes during the development of the product, which is far less expensive than fixing user interface issues after deployment. A whopping 80 percent of unforeseen fixes are attributed to user interface issues. A UI expert can help catch these fixes before they cost you a fortune.
5. They increase revenue.
Investment in greater usability for mobile devices prompted a 70 percent increase in products sold for one ecommerce site as well as decreasing bounce rate and increasing overall traffic. This case is no exception, either. Several studies have shown that enhancing UI drives remarkable revenue growth.
6. Easy-to-use design fosters customer loyalty.
User interface is the art of crafting perception. Even if your software is solidly built, if your users can’t understand it, they won’t perceive it as credible. The user’s experience with your product is what builds its credibility. Effective user interfaces are simple to learn and even easier to use. The less time and energy it takes to use your product, the more willing and able customers are to perceive it as higher quality. Furthermore, once you’ve captured these customers with great UI, they are less likely to be torn away from your product by competitors.
It’s easy to justify hiring UI designers when you consider their staggering ROI, with some estimates purporting a $100 return on every $2 spent. UI designers endeavor to make complex, contrived software as simple and intuitive as they possibly can, and their work almost always pays off. Hiring a UI designer will decrease development costs and development time, improve public perception and product performance, as well as increase revenue. They save teams a tremendous amount of time and money because they force programmers to think of the end user, who is, ultimately, the one who decides whether your product lives or dies. As E.F. Schumacher, an influential British economist, once said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. …It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
APPLE’S STOCK SOURS, MICROSOFT’S SOARS. SAY WHAT?!
Wall Street investors are enamoured with a newly emergent tech company.
It has nothing to do with posting selfies or finding a soul mate. The company is instead making billions of dollars selling cloud-computing and other technical services to offices around the world.
Say hello to Microsoft, the 1990s home-computing powerhouse that is having a renaissance moment – eclipsing Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other tech darlings of the late decade.
And now it is close to surpassing Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.
Yes, that Microsoft. As other tech giants stumble, its steady resilience is paying off.
That Microsoft is even close to eclipsing Apple – and did so briefly a few times this week – would have been unheard of just a few years ago.
But under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has found stability by moving away from its flagship Windows operating system and focusing on cloud-computing services with long-term business contracts.
“They’ve finally turned the corner and have become a viable cloud player,” said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager for Synovus Trust. “They’ve made a very strong transition away from the desktop.”
A brief period of trading Nov 26 was the first time in more than eight years that Microsoft was worth more than Apple. Microsoft surpassed Apple again briefly Nov 27, before Apple closed on top with a market value of US$827bil (RM3.46tril), just 0.5% ahead of Microsoft’s US$822bil (RM3.44tril).
Apple has been the world’s most prosperous firm since claiming the top spot from Exxon Mobil earlier this decade. Microsoft hasn’t been at the top since the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.
Microsoft became a contender again in large part because Apple’s stock has fallen 25% since early October, while Microsoft hasn’t done any worse than the rest of the stock market. But the fact that it hasn’t done poorly is a reflection of its steady focus on business customers in recent years.
Just a few years ago, Microsoft’s prospects looked bleak. The company was dependent on licensing fees from the Windows operating system used in personal computers, but people were spending money instead on the latest smartphones. In 2013, PC sales plunged 10% to about 315 million, the worst year-to-year drop ever, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. It didn’t help that Microsoft’s effort to make PCs more like phones, Windows 8, was widely panned.
But a turnaround began when the Redmond, Washington, company promoted Nadella as CEO in 2014. He succeeded Microsoft’s longtime CEO, Steve Ballmer, who initially scoffed at the notion that people would be willing to pay US$500 (RM2,093) or more for Apple’s iPhones.
That bet paid off. Windows is now a dwindling fraction of Microsoft’s business. While the company still runs consumer-focused businesses such as Bing search and Xbox gaming, it has prioritised business-oriented services such as its Office line of email and other workplace software, as well as newer additions such as LinkedIn and Skype. But its biggest growth has happened in the cloud, particularly the cloud platform it calls Azure. Cloud computing now accounts for more than a quarter of Microsoft’s revenue, and Microsoft rivals Amazon as a leading provider of such services.
Being less reliant on consumer demand helped shield Microsoft from holiday season turbulence and US-China trade war jitters affecting Apple and other tech companies.
US President Donald Trump amplified those tariff concerns when he told The Wall Street Journal in a story published late Monday that new tariffs could affect iPhones and laptops imported from China.
The iPhone maker had already seen its stock fall after reporting a mixed bag of quarterly results earlier this month amid fears about how the technology industry will fare in the face of such threats as rising interest rates, increased government regulation and Trump’s escalating trade war with China.
Apple also spooked investors with an unexpected decision to stop disclosing how many iPhones it sells each quarter. That move has been widely interpreted as a sign that Apple foresees further declines in iPhone sales and is trying to mask that.
While smartphones caused the downturn in personal computers years ago, sales of smartphones themselves have now stalled. That’s partly because with fewer innovations from previous models, more people choose to hold on to the devices for longer periods before upgrading.
Morgan said Microsoft is outperforming its tech rivals in part because of what it’s not. It doesn’t face as much regulatory scrutiny as advertising-hungry Google and Facebook, which have attracted controversy over their data-harvesting practices. Unlike Netflix, it’s not on a hunt for a diminishing number of international subscribers. And while Amazon also has a strong cloud business, it’s still more dependent on online retail. – AP
ASUS’ CREATION-TARGETED, REDESIGNED AIO 27 NOW AVAILABLE
Increasingly, PC manufacturers of all-in-one computers are moving the system components to the base, rather than slavishly adhering to the precedent set by the Apple iMac of cramming all the system components into the display — one of the worst places to put them. HP and Microsoft have done it, and now Asus joins the club with its redesigned Zen AiO 27.
The move lets Asus switch from the mobile to the desktop version of the Core i5 or i7 processors, facilitates storage and memory upgrades and allows for the ability to tilt and swivel the display. An additional new perk includes a Qi wireless charger built into the base; carryovers from its predecessor or older siblings include the factory calibrated 100 percent sRGB 4K display and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics engine.
Announced at IFA 2018 in August, it’s now out at $2,000 in the US; the Zen AiO line doesn’t seem to be offered in the UK, and the new model hasn’t made its way onto Asus’ site in Australia yet, but the US price converts to about £1,540 and AU$2,825.
UHD 3,840×2,160, touch optional
Eighth-gen Intel Core i5 or i7
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB
Up to 2TB SATA III, up to 1TB PCI-E SSD, SD card slot
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac x 2 , Bluetooth 5.0
Harman Kardon 8-watt stereo speakers
Four USB 3.1, one USB-C, one HDMI-in/1 x HDMI-out, Ethernet audio (mic/headphone combo)
24.7 x 20.1 x 0.8 in/62.7 x 52.3 x 2.0 cm (WxHxD)
24.3 lbs/11 kg
IOS 12.1 WILL IMPROVE SELFIE QUALITY ON THE IPHONE XS AND XR
Ever since the iPhone XS came out, there’s been criticism of its front camera — specifically, that it overly smooths skin. This, of course, was dubbed “Beautygate” in reference to Samsung-style beautification filters, which Apple has always insisted it doesn’t use.
Whatever the case, it was definitely there, but now it’s going away: during our iPhone XR review, Apple told me that iOS 12.1 will fix a bug in its smart HDR camera system that resulted in smoother-looking photos taken by the front camera on the iPhone XS and XR.
Essentially, Smart HDR was choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when you took a selfie. Instead of choosing a frame with a short shutter speed to freeze motion and preserve detail, it would sometimes choose a frame with longer shutter speed. The front camera also does not have optical image stabilization, so it takes blurrier shots at the same shutter speed as the rear, stabilized camera. The result is a loss of detail that looks like smoothing on the front camera.
This should all be fixed in iOS 12.1, which will pick the sharpest base frame for the HDR merge when taking selfies. I wasn’t able to test it, but iOS 12.1 is in public beta now, so I imagine it’ll be out soon and we’ll all find out shortly.