It’s about time.

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Refer a friend is a great idea because it ensures your app will go viral and other unverified claims.

But to simply drop the refer a friend feature anywhere into the user experience usually proves to be problematic, as you’ve probably guessed.

The above image shows how Uber asks you to refer a friend just after you’ve called for a ride. This is not ideal because right now the user should be focusing on getting to a reasonable area to be seen and finding the driver.

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This second example is from DoorDash, it makes so much more sense to ask about referring a friend after you’ve finished with the part of the experience that requires your strict attention, especially at this point where you’ve already answered whether you like the service or not.

All in all, refer a friend is not necessarily an app performance booster. In fact, nothing is always a performance booster. It depends on when it is presented to the user. Asking someone to rate your app in the App Store as they open the app is perhaps the worst possible time to do so (although it is a very common mistake). Personally, this is the time when I’m trying to get passed all the red tape and into the app. I would also be willing to bet that a lot of users share this objective at this point in the experience. But neither of us will know this for sure until we ask our users.

And I think it’s about time we stopped guessing. It’s not just about what we include, but why (of course) and (more importantly, I’d argue) when.

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2015 in Review: Top 5 UX Developments

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Here’s my shortlist of improvements in user experience design for 2015.

  1. Micro-interactions (Apple Watch) – There have been enough articles criticizing the Apple Watch, but I think the potential that Apple Watch brings to the table is unmatched. In time, Apple Watch will do for wearable technology what iPhone has done for smartphones, and what iPad has done for tablets. I can remember a lot of criticism of both of these products the year they were first released. But they’ve proven to be revolutionary products. Obviously, Apple has had its share of failed products, but the world (and Apple as a company) is very different now. Micro-interactions allow us to interact with our technology much quicker, and therefore less often. And Apple has brought popularity to this category.
  2. Material Design – I don’t know which is better: how clearly the standards are presented or the design of the operating system itself. No longer will Google be seen as tone deaf when it comes to design; this was the perfect follow up to their logo’s redesign. I’ve always found that it is usually a good idea to build on the existing platform that users are already familiar with than to completely start over from scratch. And that’s exactly what Google has done here.
  3. Adobe Project Comet – Finally, Adobe is releasing a program specifically for user experience design. One where we won’t have to render the assets in Photoshop, mock up the screens in Illustrator and try and create the interactions in InDesign (which seems to be the furthest from interactive design of the trinity, but still has the capabilities). Perhaps this shouldn’t be mentioned in this list because it hasn’t been released yet, but I simply couldn’t resist.
  4. Adobe MyPortfolio – there is a school of thought that believes designers should design their own portfolio website, everything from the front end to the back end. And I understand why. I would be willing to bet that a lot of those who subscribe to this philosophy do so because there are so many bad templates out there, whether they’re free or paid. But Adobe managed to create a portfolio builder that takes the difficulty out of creating a portfolio so that a designer can focus his/her time on other, more important things (like getting a job). If you have a Creative Cloud membership, as most designers these days do, it is included with your membership and integrates with your Behance profile. It is a smarter, responsive update to Behance’s Prosite, which will be discontinued in the Spring of 2016.
  5. Windows 10 – I know what you’re thinking. But hear me out…
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    Of course, we all know that the benefit of a hardware upgrade means the company gets more money and the consumer gets that warm and fuzzy feeling of having a new device. But what about those who can’t afford a new device (or those who simply don’t want a new device)? Are they now locked out of all of the latest improvements? Doesn’t this sort of defeat the purpose? Even though, everyone has not (and probably will not) upgrade to Windows 10 (and we can’t blame Microsoft for that), they’re still addressing a major issue and attempting to get all its users on the same page (screen?) once and for all.

So that’s that. Enjoy your New Years celebrations but before you go, let me know what developments I may have missed in the comments.

Is Sharing Really Caring?

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I recently came across an interesting app, Adobe Post, which creates graphics for social media, especially Instagram. This got my attention because I’ve been wanting a company that is knee-deep in design and technology to make something like this. There are plenty of apps out there that make it easy to share bad graphics, here’s one that makes it easy to share good ones.

So along comes Adobe Post and, from what I can see, this looks like everything I hoped for. I rarely share the apps I use, but this one was too good to keep to myself. I felt like it would help improve the overall look of my Instagram feed, if nothing else. When I went to Adobe Post’s website, I found no social sharing buttons. I started to ignore it, but when I saw links to their social media, I thought, ‘why would they make it easy to follow them on social media but not include buttons to share their app on social media?’

Their response included an article that makes some great points:

This article points out that share buttons don’t necessarily mean users will share the page (and can backfire because people are turned off by a low share count) and it may also be distracting from the main goal (which, in this case, would be to purchase the product, not share the page). Sometimes share buttons are included simply because it can be done, even if they add no value or utility to the page.


While the article does provide some great insight, it’s important not to paint the web with a broad brush. Adobe Post’s website is very different from the one mentioned in the article. I do understand the point, but it would still make sense to include share buttons on the homepage, if no where else.

All in all, I hope Adobe Post becomes popular enough to have a positive impact on social graphics, including your Instagram feeds. And, yes, there are sharing buttons on this post.