A UX critique of Google’s new icons

An abstract painting of red, blue, green, and yellow.
An abstract painting of red, blue, green, and yellow.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

All I see is a mess of red, green, yellow, and blue. By now, you probably know exactly what I am speaking of — Google’s new set of icons. When I first received the update for Gmail on my iPhone back in October, I was looking at my phone for quite awhile trying to understand what happened to my app. Finally, I discovered that the icon design had changed. Not long after that, my other Google icons changed to the new design. A jumbled mess of primary and a lonely secondary color was all my eyes could see.


A UX comparison of navigation apps

A yellow minivan driving on the road with plateaus up ahead in the distance
A yellow minivan driving on the road with plateaus up ahead in the distance
Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Travel is one of my greatest passions in life, and fortunately, I get to drive cross country just about every year. It’s over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go each summer. My kids don’t always appreciate the journey, but they love the destination just as much as I do. We live in Tucson, Arizona, and we have been traveling by minivan to Erie, Pennsylvania to visit my mom almost yearly for the past 12 years.

I remember back to the first couple of trips in the pre smartphone era. We would have our pages and pages of Google map directions printed out on paper, (Still beats the days of unfolding the big cumbersome map in the passenger side of the car.) hoping not to misplace or lose an important sheet. With so many stops and points of interest, the directions were not always straightforward, but even when driving directly from point A to point B, there are a lot of twists and turns and exists to take over the 32 hour drive. Yes! I said it. Thirty-two hours in a vehicle with five children. …


The F logo from facebook with the rest of the letters to spell out Friends
The F logo from facebook with the rest of the letters to spell out Friends

5,000 friends. That’s the amount of friends that Facebook allows a user to have. I will admit that I am personally almost at my cap for friendship allowances, but I probably only know fewer than 10% of my friends in real life. I use my Facebook account to connect with family and friends, to meet new people from all over the world, and to network.

Having so many friends makes it difficult to sort out where everyone is from. There is currently no way to filter your friends by the city they live in. …


UX at the self-checkout.

Three self-checkout machines at a store with a woman purchasing something at the first one and a man and son at the 3rd one
Three self-checkout machines at a store with a woman purchasing something at the first one and a man and son at the 3rd one
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Who’s hungry? You are. Trust me! And let’s say you’re at work right now. It’s lunchtime, and you only have a few minutes left on your lunch break so you decide to head to the grocery store. Shopping is often something that can take up a lot of time, but thankfully you only need to grab one or two things and head to the checkout. Waiting in long lines can be a real-time consumer in and of itself so you opt for the self-checkout.

“It will save me time,” you tell yourself. Or will it?

Self-checkout machines are indeed handy, but they’re not without faults. From errors with the weight machines to card reader glitches, these machines don’t always live up to their promises. Customers often choose self-checkout when they’re in a hurry, and even when they don’t run into these glitches, one of the biggest annoyances, oftentimes, is the confusing screens. Some stores have a better system than others, and today we’ll take a look at two of your options. Along the way, we will check for any usability pros and cons that we see by adhering to Jacob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. So, today you have a choice between your local Arizona grocery store Bashas or the big retailer, Walmart. Bashas happens to be a bit closer to your house, so you decide to go there. …


Coffee with a side of rewards.

Two Starbucks coffee cups on a black table with a purple flowered plant sitting next to them
Two Starbucks coffee cups on a black table with a purple flowered plant sitting next to them
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Who doesn’t love a great cup of coffee? Well, I am sure there are some of you out there who don’t but what about a nice cup of tea or a sugary drink? Starbucks has so many drinks to offer that most people should be able to find one they like.

One thing that I really appreciate about Starbucks is their many ways to earn extra stars. From buying qualifying Starbucks products at the grocery store to completing challenges, receiving extra stars is always a joy.

My most recent experience with trying to earn bonus stars; however, didn’t go so well. I was on my way to getting 125 bonus stars, but somehow there was a glitch in the system. I purchased a White Chocolate Mocha and a Pumpkin Spice Latte early last week. I had received two checkmarks on my challenge. Later on last week, I bought a Java Chip Frappuccino. I was expecting to see the last check mark get filled up, but that never happened. I know the cold drink was the only one that I had not yet purchased so I was confused as to why I did not receive my stars. Perhaps the barista rang up the wrong drink. I really do not know what happened. (I have since contacted Starbucks customer service, so I’m waiting to see if they can help me out.) …


The good and the bad of reply suggestions.

A whiteboard with orange, yellow, pink, and blue sticky notes on it and a paper with a red arrow that reads suggestions.
A whiteboard with orange, yellow, pink, and blue sticky notes on it and a paper with a red arrow that reads suggestions.
Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay

Who doesn’t like to save time? I would assume most people do, and with the amount of time we all spend online, it’s pretty convenient to have time savers built into apps and websites. There are many accelerators out there like swiping, double-tapping, and using keyboard shortcuts. But the time saver I want to talk about today are suggestions. We’ve all seen them from Google search to LinkedIn.


What is UX design?

An illustration of a man wearing all black holding a tablet. A thought bubble shows 3 smiley faces for his reaction choices.
An illustration of a man wearing all black holding a tablet. A thought bubble shows 3 smiley faces for his reaction choices.
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

UX stands for user experience. UX design is designing for user experiences. Don Norman coined the term user experience in the 90s when he was an electrical engineer and cognitive scientist at Apple. He created the user centered design process which places the needs of the user first and foremost at every stage of the product life cycle. UX is all about discovering problems and solving those problems for users. A great design is an intuitive design. It should be so easy to use that the user doesn’t even need to think about it.

UX design isn’t art. UX design is what can be found behind the visuals. It isn’t about making things look beautiful. Although a visually appealing product makes it more enjoyable to use, UX design isn’t responsible for the pretty graphics, color choices, or typography. That is considered the visual design or the user interface design (UI) and is handled by the UI designer. The flashy or entertaining animations are also an enjoyable part of a design, but those are the job of the motion designer. So many designers are responsible for the look and feel of a product, but it is the UX designer who is responsible for the first step in the design of a product. Great UX should be useful, usable and desirable. …


A man in a blue jack and blue jeans pumps gasoline into his white hatchback car.
A man in a blue jack and blue jeans pumps gasoline into his white hatchback car.
Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash

User Experience Design has undoubtedly become a part of everyday life. Something as simple as going to the gas station to fill up your car’s gas tank involves UX. People often don’t think about user experiences in their daily life activities. They only know if a product makes them feel good or bad in some way. Examples of good and bad UX are all around us. Today I want to take the time to express a frustration I personally have with the gas pump payment screens at my local Circle K. Here I will walk you through the payment process and see if you can spot where the user experience could be improved. …


And how a startup gave me the encouragement to continue

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash

UX as a career choice just sort of landed in my lap serendipitously. I was on a mission to change direction in my life and knew I needed to find an educational opportunity that would not take me very long to complete.

This desire to seek out a career that wouldn’t require years of schooling led me to the world of coding. I am passionate about learning new langages so the thought of speaking a computer language fascinated me. I was on Instagram one day when I saw an ad for Lambda School’s nine month coding bootcamp which promised a zero upfront cost and no tuition payments until I got hired. …


Help and documentation.

Black background with black and red question marks
Black background with black and red question marks
Photo Credit: Arek Socha from Pixabay

Have you ever felt frustrated when trying to use an app or website? This can mostly likely be due to two different reasons. First, there was probably a lack of user testing, and second, they failed to perform a heuristic evaluation. In order to deliver great user experiences and identify issues within a digital product, many usability experts adhere to Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design. This article will focus on the tenth and final one of these principles which is Help and documentation. If you missed the ninth one, you can check it out here.

Principle #10 Help and documentation

Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large. …

About

Melissa Velazquez

Domestic Engineer and UX Researcher striving to make a positive impact on the world. I’m passionate about travel and other cultures. I love learning languages.

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