The visual interface is now your brand

At the recent Interaction 11 conference, I spoke of the growing importance of visual interface design to both brand and user experience in an increasingly digital world. In this new world, visual interaction designers face big challenges and bigger expectations, from both users and clients.

While designing visual interfaces for dense, complex products, designers can also influence brand perception by creating experiences that are both memorable and useful. In my session, I discuss how to design a unique visual interface that puts the needs of the users first; how to add surprise and delight to critical moments of the experience; and how to use craftsmanship and attention to detail to set your design apart in a visually complex medium. Finally, I talk about how visual designers can effectively frame conversations with stakeholders about brand and experience by using personas, experience attributes, and stories to convey design ideas. Enjoy!

Presentation on Slideshare

You can also view a crisper version of the slides on Slideshare: Slideshare.

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Ryan Winzenburg
It was nice to see this talk at Interaction 11. A lot of the talks at ixda and the ia summit focus on us interaction design and information architecture folks, it was good to be able to bring back a talk for the visual designers on my team.
Nick Myers
Thanks Ryan, It's a great point that there were few talks about visual design and aesthetics at IxDA11 and I was one of the lucky few to be invited there to speak. Mike Kruzeniski also spoke at IxDA and gave a great talk. He also posted recently about the lack of importance placed on style and aesthetics in interaction design. This requires time to write some follow-up posts on visual design and its importance to our field. Here's Mike's post:
hi nick ... i have a dumb question :) once you have the experience keywords, how do you translate those into visual attributes. for e.g., if the experience keywords are professional, trust-worthy, and modern... how would you communicate them visually? 'modern' seems easy... i think of steely colors, thin sharp lines. professional might need dark tones, high contrast accents?, conservative patterns, solid colors, perhaps short variation in gradients. as for 'trust-worthy', my mind is drawing a blank. how do you come up with the visual styles? i know that it's mostly your artistic talent... but do you have any advice to offer in that regard? thanks so much :)
Thomas Marzano
Hi Nick, thanks for commenting on my post about UX Design. Your story is awesome! You give a great view about how visual design plays a role in the total experience of a brand. Will be stealing some of your points! :) Ciao @ThomasMarzano
Nick Myers
Hi Vijay, Good question! And there are many points I can make here regarding designing for trust. Here are just a few brief, general thoughts: Creating trust doesn't happen overnight. Trust is built over long periods of time and thus the visual design can't influence it too much. The ongoing experience your customers have will influence how they perceive the trustworthiness of your company/product. From a visual perspective, I personally don't think you can really design for trust and create something truly memorable and differentiated. It's more of a hygienic, functional attribute that the visual design should communicate but can't really embody. Designing a trustworthy experience is about creating a design that feels professional, high-quality, dependable, and secure (speaking generically). Professional and high quality gives the impression that you handle your customers with care and thus you present yourself in that way. Someone who's considered professional might wear a crisp suit and tie, for example. The design should be well-crafted, organized, and polished and perhaps even conservative. Dependability and security are also established by companies that have existed for a long time. Examples include banks, large global companies, enterprise software companies (no one got fired for hiring IBM as the saying goes), They are considered trustworthy because they've been around for a long time and have track records of success. The typical visual styles that personify trust are conservative colors, straight lines, sharper corners, classic typefaces, etc. There's a reason all banks look the same, use a lot of blue and grays and beiges. Blue is often used because it's a neutral color across most cultures and is considered a color used for information (think road signs). Mercedes is a company that's both modern but also conveys trust. Their visual style is minimalist but they have a design that's very sharp and crisp. They also use classic fonts and mostly gray colors. If you're working within a specific industry, your visual palette might differ and you might have more opportunities to rely on. For healthcare, trust can be about creating a design that's white, clean and sterile to communicate a sense of safety for patient health. Likewise, you could use paper textures for clinicians that are otherwise skeptical of technology. you may also be able to build on your company or product's heritage in more unique ways. Most importantly, it's good to be authentic. You want to build a sense of trust at all times but it's more about your continued behavior than visual style. I mention banks being perceived as trust early but with the recent financial crisis they've done incredible damage in their customers' eyes and no visual design can fix that overnight. Also, feel free to check out this post I wrote in 2009 about trust:
Nick Myers
Hi Thomas, I'm really glad to hear you like it and am equally interested and impressed with your points of view on this topic. Nick
Tedde van Gelderen
Hi Nick, Liked your presentation, your last point about the selling of visual design in the context of interaction design resonates with me. Great to see you share the brand in relation to customer experience life cycle thinking we have at Akendi! Tedde

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