Evaluative Research: Definition, Methods, and Types of Application

Evaluative Research: Definition, Methods, and Types of Application

Research is mission-critical to solving navigation challenges in the UX and product design world. In fact, user research helps UX designers to better understand the users beyond their own internal assumptions. 

Therefore, enabling designers to put themselves in users’ shoes to deliver better user experiences. One such research approach that facilitates optimal product and UX design is evaluative research. 

What is evaluative research? 

Evaluative research also referred to as evaluation research, is a specialised methodology that UX designers employ to evaluate a product and collect data to improve it.

It attempts to assess how well something is working. Whether a concept, existing product or service, or even some enhancements one is trying out.

In practice, usability testing is a central part of evaluative research; however, it is not the only part. 

Evaluative research is a core part of the product development process typically introduced in the early phases of the design process. It is used to iteratively test existing or new solutions until the product becomes ‘final’. The fundamental premise of this research vertical is ensuring value is present within a product so that effort and resources are not wasted.

However, evaluative research does not stop when a new product is fully launched. Rather, solutions need to be continually monitored after their release and enhanced based on customer feedback to ensure they continue to add value (or even exceed) and meet the changing user needs.

Why is evaluative research important?

Evaluative research enables designers to test prospective products and collect valuable feedback to refine and improve the user experience. Discoveries from evaluative research are vital to assess what works and what doesn’t, as well as identifying possible areas of improvement.

That being said, evaluative research should always be a crucial part of the product development process. And by enabling users to “evaluate” a product early and often, you can know whether you’re actually building the right solution for the audience.

Additionally, the insights garnered from it can demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of a project. This can consequently help stakeholders to get buy-in for future projects whilst accomplishing product goals efficiently.

Generally, evaluative research benefits can be summarised as:

  • It can help in determining if a product is appropriate to replicate in other locations with similar needs.
  • It can be useful when demonstrating the impact on the product funders.
  • It can prove helpful when suggesting improvements to an existing problem for a better product 
  • It can support any continued product or program development efforts.

Evaluative research methods

Qualitative usability testing

Qualitative user testing is a methodology that allows product designers to intuitively understand the target audience’s pain points, mental models and opinions. This method typically uses the ‘think out loud’ technique to engage participants as they interact with a prototype or product.

Preference testing

Preference testing focuses on deploying subjective but useful tests to measure user opinions about designs. Also called desirability testing, this approach principally focuses on comparing the aesthetic or emotional appeal of a product or concept. This is done to better understand how people perceive and respond to its different product variants.


Here, different sets of questions are shared with prospective users to evaluate their preferences, and attitudes towards a product. Surveys involve closed or open type questions being given to a sample audience that represents a much larger population. 

First click testing

First click testing is deployed to assess the usability of a product by determining whether users are able to efficiently complete a given task. In practice, this approach principally examines what participants will click on first on an interface to complete their intended task. 

This is done with the aim of verifying the most effortless path the user sees to execute a task. As a result, the method is helpful in providing information about user expectations for common interface elements like menus, buttons, and form elements.

Tree testing

The tree testing research methodology enables product designers to evaluate the hierarchy and findability of topics on a platform. Essentially, a text-only version of the website’s hierarchy is laid out in front of participants. 

Consequently, the participants are asked to highlight a category within that structure where they expect to find a particular item or piece of content. Generally, this approach is helpful when structuring an information architecture as UX designers can watch users swing from branch to branch.

A/B testing

Also sometimes called split testing or bucket testing, A/B testing is used to compare two versions of a product, webpage or app against each other to determine which performs best.

Task analysis

Task analysis is an effective method for finding out what users who you hope will employ your product are trying to achieve. Also, how they go about achieving complex tasks, and how effective they are in achieving their objectives. 

Task analysis

Photo by RF._.studio

Card Sorting

A relatively simple technique, card sorting provides actionable insight into how users mentally structure data. In practice, users are given randomly shuffled cards and tasked with organising(sorting) them in whatever fashion they prefer. 

Once the labelled cards are sorted, the users are then asked to explain why they arranged the cards in a specific manner. The results are then documented and analysed by the researchers. 

When to use evaluative research? 

Evaluative research should be performed during the entire development cycle of a product. Preferably, commencing from the early concept of design until the final stages of the product design.

Evaluative research examples

Evaluative research exercises typically revolve around addressing a series of questions. For example: 

  • What are the pain points in the design?
  • Where are people exactly clicking, and at what frequency? Are they getting to the right place?
  • What are the fastest and easiest ways to redesign an existing interface?
  • What ways can conversion be improved?
  • Which of the two designs is better at helping users achieve their goals?

On the usability end, evaluative research can pose questions to users like:

  • How was your experience completing the task?
  • How would you work around performing the task?
  • How did you find it navigating to the page?
  • Based on your previous task, how would you prefer to perform this action instead?

Additionally, if a product has already been deployed, evaluative research can pose questions like:

  • How satisfied are you with the existing product?
  • How often do you utilise the product/feature?
  • Does the product/ help you achieve your goals?
  • How easy is it to use the product/feature?

Generative vs evaluative research

Generative research methods focus on exploration, discovery, and experimentation with different ideas. Generative research methods are thus driven by open-ended questions that allow users to share their life, goals, mental models, and experiences. 

Evaluative research methods fundamentally focus on evaluating how good (or bad) the generated ideas are. This approach is principally driven by closed-ended questions to allow researchers to understand precisely what did or didn’t work to refine the ideas.

Is generative or evaluative research better? 

Generative and evaluative research i quite distinct in character. The objective of generative research is to define the problem one would like to create and design a solution. On the other hand, evaluative research helps to analyse and understand an existing design.

Furthermore, generative research is typically done as a one-off and is in-depth. However, evaluative research is recommended as a regular exercise throughout the design, development, and product delivery process.

How to choose the right method? 

Generally speaking, there is no “best” approach as both research methods have disparate goals and should be performed at different times in the development and design cycle.

Before choosing the right evaluative research approach, it’s imperative to know your research goals and objectives. This can help you choose an approach that takes into account the current stage of your product development cycle. 

Talk to our user experience consulting team on how you can explore and choose the right research method and process better.


Evaluative research should always be a core part of any iterative design process. It ensures that the user experience is shaped and continually refined to truly meet customer needs and expectations.

Remember that the goal of the evaluative research is to iteratively test an existing solution to an existing problem to determine if it meets users’ needs, and is easy to use and access.

As such, evaluative research should only be deployed when one understands the problems they are trying to address, when they strive to get the best implementation, or when they want to create a particular user experience.

Guide to Creating Using Personas for UX

Guide to Creating Using Personas for UX

A great user experience is paramount to any mobile application. 

After all, nobody likes an application that is horrible to navigate, right? A deep understanding of one’s target audience is mission-critical to creating an exceptional user experience (UX). 

One way to derive this desired deep understanding is by modelling user personas that help product teams understand target users’ expectations, concerns, and motivations. 

This consequently helps UX designers to establish a stronger user focus and serves as a constant reminder of whom they are and are not designing for. 

What is a user persona in UX?

A user persona is fundamentally a fictitious and specific representation of target users. The central goal of user persona is to help the user interface (UI) design and development teams to better understand the users and improve their products. 

User personas are primarily a collection of realistic representations of different real-world user characters. 

For instance, the target user of a video game could be boys aged between 10-15 years. So, the ideal persona could be designed around 11,12, 13 or 14, 15-year-old boys. In summary, a user persona should always mirror a group of real-world users.  

Secondly, user personas are, for the most part, imaginary. For instance, a user persona’s name, photo and social attributes are mostly fictitious. This is because these attributes don’t have a considerable impact on the interface design process. 

In a nutshell, a persona is a virtual person created by the UX researchers from refined information extracted from real life, constituting details like a job title, educational background, etc.

Types of personas

Personas are categorised into four main types:

1. Goal-directed Personas: These personas focus on examining the process and workflow that a prospective user might prefer to employ to achieve their goals when interacting with your product or service. 

2. Fictional Personas: Fictional personas emerge from the past experiences of a UX team with the user base and products to deliver an informed picture of what typical users look like. 

3. Role-Based Personas: Role-based personas are goal-directed and also focus on user behaviour and role in an organisation. They are massively data-driven and integrate data from qualitative and quantitative sources. 

4. Engaging personas: Engaging personas integrate goal, role-directed personas, and traditional rounded personas. They are designed so that the designers who employ them become more engaged with them. 

Why are user personas important?

Personas are a well-established “interaction design technique” in user experience research. They help product managers, UX designers and developers decide on product/user requirements, interaction patterns, and presentational design.

As fictional characters embodying common characteristics of the different prospective user groups, personas help explain the end users’ “attitudes towards a product” in relation to their daily lives. 

For example, they help explain how users might respond to, or interact with the new system, thus eliciting key requirements for the system developers.

Overall, personas help product designers and developers to understand:

  • What would motivate users to employ a product/ service.
  • The needs of the user to employ a product/ service.
  • The pain points of the user while using a product/ service.
  • The primary goals the user wants to achieve through a product or service.
  • The behavioural and emotional states of the users in different situations.

User personas help UX researchers to ask the right questions and answer them while proposing possible interventions and preventing common design pitfalls like:

  • Self-referential design: When UX designers or UX engineers design like they’re building the product only for themselves. Yet the target audience is quite unlike them.
  • Design for elastic users: When product decisions are made by disparate stakeholders who define the ‘user’ according to their convenience.

What should be included in a UX persona?

fictional characters
Photo by Pixabay

Personas are fictional characters in the user-centred design process. Therefore, their creation dictates exploratory research to realistically represent the different user types that might employ a service, product, or website. 

Though it’s relatively straightforward to select a set of user characteristics to form a persona, it’s challenging to create user personas that are effective design and communication tools.

An effective persona that helps product designers and developers fully understand users’ needs, experiences, behaviours and goals typically demonstrates several characteristics like:

  1. Not being composed of fictional guesses at what a target user thinks. In actuality, every aspect of the persona’s description should be tied back to real data (observed and researched, this could be from user research such as user interview insights or survey studies data).
  2. Reflecting real user patterns, not only different user roles. 
  3. Being context-specific, with a focus on the behaviours and goals related to the particular domain of a product.

Steps to create a user persona

The following are some basic steps required to create a user persona:

1. Collect user information (through qualitative and quantitative user research)

Effective personas are derived from a large amount of user data. Thus, before the creation of a persona, one has to extract user insights or data via observations or interviews.

Product developers can also solicit data from reliable third parties, like user research agencies, to provide user data, as gathering user data directly from target users can be time-consuming. 

In this initial step, it’s imperative to avoid generating user personas of users that don’t have any relation to the actual target user’s reality. 

Remember that entirely fictional/imaginary people who aren’t based on research bring no value to the design process. 

In fact, they bring harm as poorly constructed personas can easily undermine the product’s usability.

2. Analyse the research findings

The fundamental premise of this step is to identify patterns in user research data in order to effectively group similar people into types of users. 

To achieve this, ensure to list all the behavioural variables (ways in which users’ behaviour differs), then map each interviewee against the appropriate set of variables.

Afterwards, identify actionable trends by clustering across six or eight variables to derive group trends that will form the basis of each persona.

3. Decide on the number of personas you want to create

In the next phase, it’s important to decide on the number of personas you seek to create. 

To achieve this, find out related user categories for the product, according to a set of tasks, job descriptions or other external factors related to their interactions with the product.

It is easy for product teams to create too many personas with many overlapping user needs, so it is a good idea to streamline this persona creation process a few times to ensure that the personas you are going to create are distinctive from each other. Having too many personas with overlapping needs can become confusing for the product team when designing.  

4. Create persona descriptions based on behavioural patterns

During this phase, assemble a persona’s descriptions around behavioural patterns to describe each in a manner that expresses an extensive understanding and empathy towards users. 

In this stage, avoid the temptation to add many personal details as personas only need to be realistic, not real, as long as they accurately characterise the user base.

5. Create scenarios to integrate the personas

User personas have no value on their own and are only valuable when tied up to a scenario. 

In practice, a scenario is an imagined situation describing how a persona will interact with a product in a particular context in order to achieve its objective. 

Scenarios enable UX designers to understand the main user flows to gather requirements and create design solutions. Fundamentally, scenarios should be written at a high level from the persona’s perspective and articulate use cases that will most likely happen.

Create scenarios to integrate the personas
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

6. Document the personas

Ensure to thoroughly document the persona when designing a user persona template. In fact, ensure to always include information like the persona’s name, photo, gender, age, location, marital status, goals, pain points, and behaviours.

7. Share your UX personas

Ensure to share your personas among stakeholders so that they have a positive association with personas and realise the value in them. 

Remember that a well-constructed persona almost becomes another member of the design team.

User persona examples

Since personas are documents that describe the overall attributes, motivations, and frustrations of a user, you need to conduct enough user interviews to paint a clear picture of a prototypical user. 

If the prospective users of a product distinctly vary, then create multiple personas. For example:

Mary: The Homemaker

  • Age: 38
  • Gender: Female
  • Marital status: Married
  • Children: Two boys, ages 5 and 9
  • Occupation: Stay-at-home mother
  • Education: Associate’s degree
  • Location: Joplin, Missouri
  • Influencers: Oprah, Church leaders
  • Sources of information: Blogs, YouTube, Facebook groups, T.V., radio
  • Goals: To stay on budget
  • Frustrations: Juggling many tasks
  • Aspirations: Desires for her family, friends, and church acquaintances to see her as a successful homemaker.

John: Business Class

  • Age: 40
  • Gender: Male
  • Marital status: Unmarried
  • Children: None
  • Occupation: Business Manager
  • Education: Executive MBA
  • Income: $120,000/year
  • Location: Los Angeles– travels all over the U.S. and South East Asia
  • Influencers: Elon Musk, Aaron Ross, Steve Jobs
  • Sources of information: The Wall Street Journal, tech blogs, sales blogs.
  • Goals: To earn enough money to have a comfortable retirement.


All things considered, critically understanding the needs of prospective users is mission-critical to developing a successful product. 

Descriptive user personas enable designers to efficiently identify and communicate user needs, which is essential to the product’s overall value proposition. 

Furthermore, user personas help UX designers decide which features to maintain in a prototype whilst iteratively evaluating the end product.

Additionally, user personas help stakeholders to build empathy with users and their needs, and as a result, everyone working on the product could align their design decision-making by having the same understanding of the persona. And when combined with other UX research methods, like usability testing, personas help to launch a useful and usable solution.

To know more about user research and creating personas for your project, talk to our UX consultants at Netizen Experience.

10 Good User Interface Design Examples for Inspiration 

10 Good User Interface Design Examples for Inspiration 

Most online services today have become highly interactive and are delivered via mobile devices. This means that user interface(UI) and user experience (UX) have an ever-increasing role to play in today’s technical world. 

While UX traditionally focuses on the experience that users have with a product and service, UI focuses on the ease of interaction with a product’s interface.

What is UI/UX design?

UI/UX design revolves around a set of activities that seek to deliver a productive, usable, and visually satisfactory interactive tool. 

These activities involve concepts and workflows that aim to produce an experience that is enjoyable and empathetic while remaining aligned with an organisation’s business goals. 

UI/UX design activities typically encompass user research, product design, usability studies, information architecture, content strategy, user interface (UI) design, visual design, prototyping, and more user testing.

So, while UI designers decide how the user interface will aesthetically look, UX designers ultimately determine how the user interface will operate.

For more information, read this comprehensive guide on “User Interface.”

10 innovative user interface design examples

Drink Half Past

This innovative beverage company exploits a unique and dynamic visual colour palette on their website design to show a playful side of the brand.

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Image Credit:www.drinkhalfpast.com/

It maintains a consistent colour match across every block of content for corresponding flavours. 

This unique colour implementation strategy matches the flavour of each drink while reflecting the ingredients inside. In a way, this visually probes website visitors to experience the uniqueness of the product, even before making a purchase. 


Pinterest’s icon UI delivers a waterfall effect to provide users with a seamless experience. In practice, each Pinterest card is given a subtle shade whenever it interacts with the mouse. 

This can be aesthetically pleasing to users whilst giving the perception of “clickability”.

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Image Credit: www.pinterest.com


Headspace provides accessibility options that are inclusive for all users. Users can flexibly choose colours, navigation options, sizing, and even readability preferences on the platform.

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Headspace’s accessibility menu. Image Credit:headspace.com

Furthermore, users can also exploit capabilities like text magnifiers, voice communication, and a virtual keyboard to access medication features. 

Overall, this array of amazing accessibility and usability flexibility enables users to adapt the system to their preferences so they can comfortably use it with freedom and control. It results in a very enjoyable user experience, and in turn, repeat visits.


Pitch is a collaborative mobile and web app for building and managing professional presentations. Hence, its website UI presentation has to somehow reflect its ethos.

Its website intuitively walks users through what their journey would be like if they actually used the application. With a clean and cohesive flow that avoids clutter, it does a great job of highlighting the primary product features of its offering.

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Image Credit: www.pitch.com


Squarespace employs card carousels to display the templates within their application. This allows users to quickly scan through several options at once. Overall, its UI deploys a clean, straightforward design with minimal copy and a centrally aligned navigation. 

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Image Credit: www.squarespace.com

It also keeps a consistent feel with the rest of the app, which enables users to learn it faster. For example, it provides a constant indication of the number of templates available, so users know where they are as they progress.


Dropbox employs responsive colours to great effect rather than employing a single symbolical colour. This colour dynamism helps keep users continually engaged as they navigate the Dropbox website. 

Image Credit: www.dropbox.com

Semplice Labs

Semplice Labs offers a beautiful but functional UI that features fluid animations and smooth transitions that are desirable to users. This company boasts a reputable WordPress portfolio created by designer Tobias Van Schneider, who is known for his work with Spotify, BMW, and Google.

Image Credit: www.semplice.com


Cognito’s brilliant UI shines best after loading with unique illustrations that come to life to display sophisticated motions. This dynamism illustrates the brand’s offering at a glance whilst keeping users intrigued.

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Image Credit: www.cognitohq.com/


Tumblr’s UI design also enables users to customise their palettes and views in a manner that works for them. 

For example, it provides various options to change page width and the colour palette with options like ‘canary’, ‘vampire’, or ‘ghost’. 

As a result, the palette choice can support better readability, satisfy users’ aesthetic preferences, and enhance the speed of navigation.

Image Credit: www.tumblr.com/


This music streaming powerhouse’s website exploits colour gradients to convey emotions or highlight a specific feature of their offering. This allows its mobile application to be more engaging and fun to use over extended periods.

Image Credit:www.careerfoundry.com/


An aesthetically pleasing design cannot really save a UI that’s confusing to navigate. 

However, a well-thought-out user experience can be overshadowed by bad visual interface design that makes navigating an application unpleasant. 

That being said, both UI and UX design processes need to be executed in tandem and perfectly aligned with user expectations to create a cohesive user experience. And when these elements align in perfect symmetry, the results can only be eye-catching!

Information Architecture in UX – A Complete Guide

Information Architecture in UX – A Complete Guide

Due to the proliferation of mobile devices, information available to humans keeps growing on a daily basis. The more data we have, the harder it is to sift through to find what you need.

Fortunately, a well-thought-out information architecture (IA) can help users find their way while ignoring what isn’t relevant to them.

After all, who would like to utilise an application that constitutes unorganised content that makes navigation difficult?

If users easily get lost or feel aggravated, they may not give your application a second chance.

Product owners, product managers, UX researchers and UX designers, therefore, have the responsibility of constructing content and navigation systems in a manner that accommodates users’ perceptions. This is the fundamental premise of information architecture with regard to user-centred design.

eCommerce site Information Architecture

The information architecture of an eCommerce website. Credit: tutsplus

What is information architecture?

Information architecture is a scientific discipline that fundamentally focuses on data organisation within digital products. For instance, whenever web designers create apps, they lay out each screen so users can easily find the exact information needed.

The primary idea behind IA is to create a flow that lets users seamlessly navigate between application screens without much effort. This means that information architects’ work revolves around organising content, describing it clearly and providing ways for users to access it.

As a software discipline, information architecture plays a critical role in defining the user experience of a website or mobile app. The design is usually dictated by the target users’ needs and the organisation’s business goals.

For instance, the information architecture of a blog website and an e-commerce shopping site will differ considerably. This means that a UX architect designing the online shopping site will design the IA of the site with the principal motive of making it easy for visitors to find what they want while still showcasing the business offerings.

information architecture

The information architecture of a bike-sharing app. Credit: practical.guide

When to do information architecture design / appropriate timing

Information architecture design is typically performed at the beginning of a project to fully understand the depth of the information to be worked with.

This usually involves figuring out how to portray the top-level aggregated nodes which users will first encounter (for example, top or left navigation contents), or even what efficiencies need to be provided for search, faceting, short-cuts, etc.

It is also suitable timing when there are a lot of new categories of content/services being added to a company’s offering.

For example, a company that used to sell internet subscriptions has now expanded to provide smart home products, then its website information architecture ought to be reexamined to see if it still supports visitors to find information easily.

Principles of information architecture

As mentioned above, an intuitive, well-designed, and user-friendly information architecture ensures that visitors spend less time and effort searching for the information they need.

The discipline of IA was founded by Richard Saul Wurman, an American architect and graphic designer. He conceptualised and popularised the discipline as a means of organising content for users to easily find everything they need without much effort.

As a starting point, ‘information architects’ consider the specifics of their target audience’s needs and impose user satisfaction as a priority.

Furthermore, the information structure also depends on the type of product or offers that the companies have. For instance, a retail website and a tech blog will possess two completely different structures to accomplish specific objectives.

Generally, the key components of information architecture are:

  • Organisation schemes and structures: These dictate how one categorises and structures information.
  • Navigation systems: These focus on how users browse or move through information.
  • Search systems: These dictate how users look for information.
  • Labelling systems: These dictate how information is presented.

To design all these systems of information, one needs to understand the inter-dependent nature of the content, users, and context.

  • Context: This encompasses business goals, politics, culture, technology, resources, and constraints.
  • Content: This revolves around content objectives, volume, existing structure, document and data types, governance and ownership.
  • Users: This focuses on audience, tasks, information-seeking behaviour, needs and experiences.

To contextualise the information ecology, let’s dig deeper into some basic principles of information architecture.

The Objects Principle

It is imperative to perceive all content as an organic whole, with its own strengths, and weaknesses.

The initial stage of developing an information strategy involves organising all the categories of content objects. This is done while simultaneously determining the types of interactions that users need to have with the content objects.

The core idea is to present the content to users in the most efficient manner.

The Main Entrance Principle

This principle dictates that despite a site’s home page being the main entrance to the website, it shouldn’t be the only landing page on the website.

The Growth Principle

Most existing websites understand the importance of updating their content periodically.  However, as the complexity and magnitude of the content increase over time, it becomes more vital to employ a flexible approach to content management.

This means that the complete structure of a site and its search tools should be flexibly scalable. This helps the website grow sustainably, regardless of the different types of content that spring up in the future.

The Principle of Gradual Disclosure of Information

This principle recognises that most users can perceive and process only a minimal amount of information at a time.

The best design approach is to always display only as much content as is necessary for visitors to know what to expect next.

This can be achieved by either incrementally revealing more information on the same page, or displaying it on another page. Nonetheless, the user should be able to assess the data on a page to subconsciously predict what information might appear on the next page.

The Multiple Classification Principle

Different internet users can employ the same site in different ways, and may even use disparate methods of searching for the same information.

For example, some might rely on search, while others may prefer to extensively browse through a site.

As such, it is important to adapt the website’s content to various user behaviours, needs, tasks, and scenarios.

The Focused Navigation Principle

It is important not to mix dissimilar categories of information within an individual navigation structure. The UX designer’s task is to provide all users with the elements necessary for effective navigation.

For instance, in a menu containing products that the business sells, try not to mix support services that the business offers into the same menu.

The Examples Principle

Whenever possible, ensure to provide visual examples of content types to improve the user experience. This can help users navigate the site faster, even without fully understanding what a label for a category exactly means. Therefore, the effective use of images in the menu could be very helpful to signal to users what they should expect the content to be.

Generally speaking, once a UI/UX designer learns to employ these principles, it becomes relatively easy to solve the most complex information challenges and build user-friendly websites.

What do information architects do?

Many organisations do not have information architect as a standalone role, it is usually being done by someone in the UX design team.

However, if an organisation is able to have a dedicated resource to have an information architect, their main job would be to design actionable and useful content structures and navigation systems from sophisticated sets of information.

This happens before the UX designers and developers add any functionality to the website or app.

Most of the work of information architects revolves around identifying common features in content, linking documents to other documents on the same topic, and forming groups of similar information objects.

This work typically involves the generation of sitemaps and navigation systems that UI/UX designers can then subsequently incorporate into the mock-ups of their webpage designs.

Whenever information architects collaborate with UI/UX designers, the result is a high-quality website that effectively communicates and facilitates interactions.

An information architect seeks to address the challenge of cognitive overload. They do this by adding sufficient structures, labels and browsing aids to sites and software applications to improve usability.

Cognitive psychology revolves around how the human mind works, encompassing mental activities that occur in the brain and the different elements that influence human perception.

Information architects rely a lot on cognitive psychology in order to organise information within products.

Generally, the more content an application has, the more important the role of an information architect is in the UX design process.

Here is a summary of the everyday activities that the average information architect engages in:

  • User research and interviews.
  • Card sorting and tree testing to understand users’ mental models.
  • Usability testing to determine whether the structure they have created works for their users.
  • Creation of hierarchy and navigation by creating simple, low-fidelity prototypes to demonstrate the hierarchy of information and navigation.
  • Visiting users in real-world environments to examine how they interact with a product.
  • Classifying and grouping items using categories, sections, or metadata tags.
  • Identifying the relationships between information.
  • Performing content audits for insight into how useful, accurate, and effective the content is.
  • Mind mapping to organise information connected to a single topic and structures in a systematic and meaningful way.

Information architecture vs UX

If you have reached this far down the article, you are probably asking yourself if IA design is the same as UX design.

Despite being closely connected, they aren’t the same.

User experience revolves around the way a user thinks and feels when using a system, or service. Principally, UX focuses on usability, utility, and the satisfaction of using a system— more than only the content’s structure.

Read: What is UX design?

However, it’s practically impossible to create a great user experience without a solid information architecture. This is why every competent UX designer should learn the skills to be a relatively good information architect.

Remember, the information architect’s main job is to create an experience that enables users to focus on their tasks.

Information architecture pertains to the blueprint of the design structure necessary to generate wireframes and sitemaps of a website. UX designers use these wireframes and sitemaps to plan the navigation of a system.

This consequently enables UX designers to build a pleasant interaction model, so that users feel comfortable when using a product. Thus, influencing users’ behaviours and actions like emotion and psychology.

Why is information architecture important in UX?

Content is the main reason why most users visit websites. While it is important to produce content that users find valuable, it is equally important to ensure that the content is easy to find.

Time is a precious resource, and people expect to find solutions to their problems with the least effort.

Unfortunately, when finding information becomes challenging and complicated, there’s a high risk that people will just abandon it. And whenever visitors abandon an application or a website, it’s more challenging to bring them back.

This is where information architecture comes into play to frame the skeleton of any design project. As we have seen, functionality, interaction, visual elements and navigation are typically built with IA principles.

Overall, the information architecture is not visible to end-users but is the backbone of any app design.

How to create the information architecture for websites?

There are four key steps necessary to develop IA for any website or app, namely:

  1. Group, prioritise and label the content using card-sorting techniques.
  2. Define the navigation and create a site map.
  3. Determine the usefulness of pieces of content to ensure that the content that users see is exactly relevant to the page they are on.
  4. Test early and often using quantitative and qualitative techniques like:

  • Tree testing: to determine if key information can be easily found in the information architecture of the website.
  • Closed card sorting: to determine the strength of category names.
  • Click testing: to show how users use the available UI components.

Information architecture examples

Simple tree structure

In this example, the developers built on top of a basic site mapping and then added in both child pages and actions.

Furthermore, the addition of number values helps to denote the priority of pages in the information hierarchy instead of leaning on colours.

tree structure



Image Credit: xd.adobe.com/

Felesky Flynn Website

This information architecture for a Canadian tax law firm laid the foundation for its website.

The user flows convey the actions their users could take while navigating through the site, tied into the functionality goals desired for the intended audience.

user flows



Image Credit: www.topdraw.com/

UI/UX Design Services

NX logo
NX logo
Key Highlights
  • Provides UX design services for businesses & organizations
  • Uses a human-centered design approach to create digital products that meet users’ need
  • Conduct research to understand users’ needs
  • Create wireframes & prototypes to test and refine a design
  • Conducts product analysis, validation & testing


All things considered, information architecture is a critical part of UX design for all types of apps and websites.

It is actually more important for websites that constitute many pages and extensive content.

Creating an IA should be a collaborative and iterative process that involves product managers, UX researchers, UX designers and information architects.

The process should also evolve organically, with as much of the structure defined up-front as possible. While many companies do not yet see the true value of information architecture, others realise that it is an effective tool to guarantee reduced usability or navigation problems.

In turn, well-thought information architecture can help save an organisation both time and money, which they otherwise would have spent on fixing future usability issues.

User Interface Design Guidelines Explained

User Interface Design Guidelines Explained

Even if an application has multiple important features, or delivers a revolutionary way to solve humanity’s biggest problems, it means little if its interface repels users and is a nightmare to operate. 

A user-friendly has a strong effect on user engagement and retention. And is therefore essential for the commercial success of any organisation. 

However, creating a great UI design is a non-trivial task as it involves careful consideration of elements like background, position, size, form, colour, fonts, etc.

User interface design process

The UI design process revolves around creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences for users. 

It involves research and analysis of all user-related information, consideration of content hierarchy, navigation design, and functionality of the visual elements. 

The core principles when undertaking the UI design process are:

  1. Design with problem-solving in mind.
  2. The design begins with pen and paper, not software tools.
  3. Always fight for the user.
  4. Design with research, such as insights from user interviews and usability tests.
  5. Listen more and be eager to be proven wrong, just as you’re to be proven right.

Typically, the results of a good user interface design process are:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced errors
  • Reduced training and reinforced learning

Components of UI design

  • Typography: This involves consideration of font type, typeface choices, and font sizes that can be utilised.
  • Colours: This considers colour choices that can be employed, including primary, secondary, and tertiary colours.
  • Interaction & Behaviour: This principle covers actions and user interactions with a component (such as hover, scroll, click, etc.)
  • Error & System Status: This guide entails information if an error occurs and displays the status of an action.
  • Buttons: This considers the shape, colour, text, radius, size, and button behaviour.
  • Icons: This considers the icon type and size.
  • Input & Form: This serves as a guide for the shape and size of the input field.
  • Spacing: This guides the manipulation of the distance between components and white space.

Read our blog piece on “UX Design and UI Design – What Is the Difference?

User interface design principles

1. Pay attention to feedback

Feedback can either be visual, audio or through the sense of touch. Every action should have some form of feedback to indicate whether an action was successful or not. 

user interface feedback

In essence, feedback can you help to answer issues related to users like: 

  1. Status: What’s going on? Is it still going on?
  2. Location: Where did the issue occur?
  3. Future status: What is next?
  4. Outcomes & Results: What really happened?

2. Get started with a black and white design and add on to it

It is advisable to avoid beginning user interface design with visual details like the colour scheme. Most wireframes start with varying tones of grey as colours and details are distracting.

black & white designs

Actually, most UI designers start with the basic bones and layout of screens in black and white. 

This allows them to focus only on the efficiency of the space, prioritising elements like the visual hierarchy of key components. Over time, they build on this grey base and introduce more details. 

3. Utilise and maintain standards 

Design standards are usually in place for a reason as humans only have a limited amount of memory for tasks. 

For example, existing standards suggest not to employ a dollar icon to login, or not putting the main menu on the footer of a website. 

Users are conditioned to expect specific visual elements in certain areas. On the other hand, heuristics can be exploited as they are based on patterns and research, and can improve a user’s experience.

4. Keep the interface consistent

Consistency fosters familiarity, and familiar interfaces tend to naturally be more usable. 

Additionally, consistent design usually reduces friction for the user as it offers predictability. And predictable designs are always easier to understand without instruction. 

5. Keep it simple & clear

Simple interfaces always offer a classic and timeless feel, and never go out of style. So, with modern techniques, you can still aspire for an elegant and simple design. 

Take Slack as an example. The app keeps the content and designs simple for giving a smooth onboarding experience to users. The layout makes it simple to understand and there is a prominent “call to action” button for guiding the user to the next step. 

Slacksimple & clear user interface

The layout avoids clutter, provides easy to navigate tabs and is laid out in a simplified design which is easy to understand for beginners. 

6. Reduce cognitive load

This concept revolves around not making users ‘over-think’. There are a few different ways and principles you can utilise to reduce cognitive load, namely:

  • Employ the 3-click rule where it shouldn’t take more than 3 clicks to find any information
  • Avoid chunk actions and information, for example, breaking up phone numbers in a 3-3-4 manner, rather than using a 10-digit sequence results in fewer errors. 
  • Minimise recall in favour of recognition by using common images and icons in context to help users easily identify functionality. 

However, this is only a guideline. As long as the users are able to confidently know what or where to click for their next step, it is still ok to have more than 3 clicks.  

7. Minimise actions and steps per screen

Ensure to streamline the tasks and number of actions required of a user so they can be performed in as few steps as possible. Each screen should maintain one primary focus. 

8. Flexibility

Ensure to build your UI to function optimally across multiple platforms. 

UI function optimally across all platforms
Credit: Macworld


Of course, it may need to be tweaked occasionally depending on the form factor of a device, and its operating system (for instance, Android and iOS). However, it should remain flexible enough to work on any platform.

10. Use real-world metaphors in your UI

Despite the fact that most users are now extremely familiarised with digital products, it’s still a smart idea to use real-world metaphors. Take for instance the “delete” or “edit” icons on most apps. Most sites/apps use the trash bin for depicting the delete or recycle bin. Similarly, a pen is used to show the edit sign.

Since these are metaphors that are easily understood by most users, it does not leave them anxious and searching for simple tabs on an interface. 

Most designers strongly feel that these metaphors improve the general usability of a product since they’re so simple to understand, even at first glance.


In summary, in today’s evolving digital world, UI sits up there with speed and content as the crux of any website or app. 

Unfortunately, even the smallest change in UI Design can have a considerable impact on the user experience. So, a company’s UI design speaks to clients and should be taken seriously if the business wants to succeed. 

The goal of effective UI design is to produce a user interface that is self-explanatory, efficient, and enjoyable (user-friendly). 

In addition to the aforementioned principles, remember to follow industry standards and conventions within your design elements. Make sure that you provide multilingual support that matches your operational location. Finally, endeavour for uniformity.  

The article is a part of our comprehensive series on “User interface.”