A

Agile

Agile is a project management methodology often used in software development. The Agile development process enables teams to adaptively plan, test, develop, and continuously improve products. Because teams work in incremental, iterative work cadences, known as sprints, Agile encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

Agile UX

Agile UX adds UX design and research methods to the agile methodology. The most important driver for Agile UX is the close cooperation between developers, UX designers, and UX researchers during the entire process of product development. Ideally, every sprint entails a design and/or research goal. By planning, testing, optimizing, and re-testing elements throughout the project, the UX team can roll out a final product that has already been validated by their target users.

Automated UX Research

Automated business processes save time and budgets. Just like software for Marketing Automation, UX testing tools allow to digitalize user research efforts and accelerate every part of a project. Online UX software not only allows users to systematically plan continuous studies and manage the recruitment process but to automatically gather and filter usability data, create individual research reports based on UX metrics and easily export and share results within an organization.

Accessibility

Accessibility or accessible design is a design process that enables people with disabilities to interact with a product. This means designing for people who are color blind, blind, deaf, and people with cognitive disabilities, among others.

Adaptive

An adaptive interface is a collection of layouts designed specifically for different devices. it detects the device type being used and displays the layout designed for it. This does not mean it is a different website—it means you’ll see a specific version of the website which has been optimized for mobile, desktop, or tablet.

Affordance

Affordances are clues that tell us what an element can do to us. Think of a door. The handle is an affordance designed to tell us it can be pulled or pushed.

On user interfaces, affordances help communicate to users what can and cannot be done on a screen. Buttons on interfaces, for example, afford being pressed to trigger an action.

Analytics

Analytics measure human behavior on a site. They help us better understand and interpret patterns of behavior on the products we use.

A/B testing

A/B testing is when you test two different versions of online content with users to see which one they prefer.

Android

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google. It comes installed on a range of mobile phones and tablets.

Automation Testing

Automation Testing is when a QA uses an automation tool to do tests on a software application.

Avatar 

An avatar is the embodiment of a person or idea. In the computer world, an avatar refers to a character that represents an online user. Avatars are used in gaming and online communities.

Above/below the fold

content that is “above the fold” is content that is visible when a page or screen first loads. Content that is “below the fold” is content that is hidden until the user scrolls. This term gets its name from newspaper design—only content in the top half of a broadsheet’s front page can be seen on the shelf.

Affinity map

a way of interpreting and grouping insights from a user research exercise. For example, in an exercise asking people their favorite dish, those dishes could then be sorted into affinity based on national cuisine (e.g. Italian, Mexican, French)

Application Programming Interface (API)

an API allows two different pieces of software to interact. For example, Facebook’s API allows other apps to access data it holds and use that data to support their functionality.

B

Benchmark Study

To determine the user experience of a website, it is essential to compare it with its competitors. Within a UX benchmark study, participants perform the same tasks / test the same key processes on a company’s and its competitors’ websites. Results help establish best practices, form baseline performance metrics, identify problem areas and build a vision and direction for product strategies for the next product release cycle.

Backlog

The backlog is a list of tasks to be completed. The list is prioritized and ideally, the tasks will be completed in the order listed.

Bug

Bugs are mistakes in software that can cause a product to glitch, behave in unintended ways, or even crash.

Breadcrumb

a breadcrumb is that little string of links that you sometimes see when you’re browsing through a complex content structure. For example, on eBay, you might see: eBay > Clothes, Shoes & Accessories > Men’s Clothing > Men’s Shirts at the top-left of the page.

Button

an interface element that, when tapped or clicked, triggers a specific action (like submitting a form).

Back End (Development)

The back end is the engine room of a website, software, or IT system. Back-end developers deal with what powers the site and its core functionality. The front end is what you see and interact with. The back-end powers the front-end but we don’t necessarily see it. Think databases and servers. 

Beacon

Beacon technology allows mobile apps to understand their position on a micro-local scale. It can send relevant contextual content to users based on their location. It uses Bluetooth Technology

This is a really great post. I like how there’s a singular place that has all the UX terms compiled for easy access. I learnt many new terms that I didn’t even know existed such as “Beacon” technology and “Clickstreams”, and also got a better understanding of certain terms that I knew about.

– Priya Kavdia

Beacons are small Bluetooth radio transmitters. They communicate with the user’s smartphone and are used to share information.

Branch (development branch)

A development branch allows for parts of the software to be developed in parallel. This is so that code they are writing and the code that is completed can be kept separate.

Burger Menu

The hamburger button, so named for its unintentional resemblance to a hamburger, is a button typically placed in a top corner of a graphical user interface. It is like the main navigation menu on apps  

Beta version

a version of a piece of software that is made available for testing, typically by a limited number of users outside the company that is developing it, before its general release.

Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines are a suite of documents that they set out how to use the design elements of a company‘s brand. The brand guidelines should be developed to complement the company’s house style which sets out the language to describe the company and what it does

Brand book

An official corporate document that explains the brand’s identity and presents brand standards. Besides the design aspect, brand books may include a company overview and communication guidelines as well.

C

Card Sorting

an exercise where participants are asked to sort a batch of cards into different categories based on their interpretation. It’s a way of understanding how people intuitively associate different items with one another. This can then be used as a basis for navigation structure or other decisions around information architecture. (See also: information architecture, navigation)

Customer Experience (CX)

CX includes the experiences customers and potential buyers have with a brand whenever the get in touch with a company throughout their customer journey. Every customer touchpoint (physical, digital, human) influences the Customer Experience and thus the brand strength and popularity. User experience is an essential part of CX.

Clickstream

When you land on a site, you click your way through it to complete a task. This is what a clickstream represents: the path of clicks you took on it to accomplish a goal.

Commits

Throughout the development process, developers create commits whenever they have reached a good point in their work. Commits are similar to drafts.

Cache

A cache is a place to store something temporarily in a computing environment. For example, a username could be stored in your computer’s cache and is remembered the next time you log in.

CSS

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a style sheet programming language used to define how a website should be styled. It contains information on fonts, color, spacing, layouts, and graphics among others, and how each should be applied to the website. Think of the top paint coat!

Call-To-Action (CTA) 

any visual or interface element that invites a specific action from the user. In apps and websites, CTAs often take the form of a short snippet of text, followed by a button.

Chatbot

An automated or semi-automated feature, typically found on a website or in messaging apps, allow a user to receive automated answers to their queries using a conversational pattern.

Checkbox

 a UI element that allows the user to make a binary (yes/no) choice for a specific option. 

CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System. It’s a computer application that creates and manages digital content. The admin can manage the content themselves.

Conversion Rate

the rate at which visitors to a specific site, page, or screen, complete an intended flow of action. For example, a landing page that had 4000 visitors and 2000 sign-ups has a 50% conversion rate.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

the practice of making changes to a design to increase the rate at which visitors to a specific site, page, or screen complete an intended flow of action.

Customer Journey Map

this concept is also borrowed from service design. It is a document that shows how a customer moves through an entire service, and the different touchpoints they encounter. For example, if someone uses an airline, their customer journey is about more than just the flight: it also includes searching, booking, checking in, waiting in the departure lounge, complaining, and so on. (See also user journey.)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer Relationship Management software systems help manage business processes, like sales, data, and customer interactions.

Context of Use Analysis

Observing users’ behavior often helps create a website that supports their day-to-day activities. Context of use analysis studies personas, user flows, wireframes, the content map, the site map, and the content strategy.

D

Design Validation

By validating designs UX design teams make sure their design or redesign meets the expectations and intentions of use of their defined target users.

Data Science

Numbers can tell us an awful lot about our users and their needs and can help us define how to best meet them. Data Science focuses on making sense of these numbers or data and uncovering valuable insights that help us make better product decisions.

Design Debt

When we initially launch a product, we design a well-thought-out and cohesive design system for it. As the product grows, we often add new features and elements and scrap old ones.

Pressed with deadlines and the desire to move fast, it is easy to skip over the valuable design concepts we started with. As a result, the new elements or features we add don’t quite fit and a choppy user experience emerges.

A design system that has accrued design debt is made up of elements and features that will need to be cleaned up later on. The efforts made to quickly set them in place eventually generate more work down the line.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a 5-stage method for creative problem-solving. The 5 stages are:

  1. Empathize: Understand the challenge
  2. Define: Define the problem
  3. Ideate: Brainstorm potential solutions
  4. Prototype: Build your solutions
  5. Test: Test your solutions

Diary Study

Think of diary studies as, well…diaries. This qualitative research method is used to collect information about users over time. Participants are asked to write about their everyday lives in a journal over a defined period.

Design Sprint

 a collaborative methodology for rapidly identifying and solving a design problem. The five stages of a sprint are: define the challenge, diverge (ideate possible solutions), converge (choose the strongest concepts to develop), prototype, and test.

Design System 

a library of user interface elements, components, and guidelines that are used as the basis for any new and updated features in a product. The purposes of a design system include: maintaining consistency across a product when new features are added; making it easier to update components across an entire product; and reducing the amount of development time involved in any project. Atomic Design by Brad Frost has been a very influential framework for thinking about design systems in recent years.

Design Validation

the process of testing to ensure that the design of a product or service meets the needs intended. A design that meets the needs it set out to is described as “validated”.

Dev Ops

Dev Ops focuses on fast technology delivery through the use of agile development. Dev Ops focuses on people and culture. It seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams.

Dots Per Inch – DPI

A way to measure the density of a print or video image. The number of differently colored dots that can fit into a one-inch space provides information about the resolution of an image. If an image is not of adequately high quality, it may not be able to be resized or printed without a loss of resolution.

Data-Driven 

This means using all the available data: analytics, A/B tests, customer service logs, and social media sentiment to develop a better understanding of UX. There are common misconceptions that user experience is pure art, but there is a lot more involved. Understanding how to collect and process data is one of the key tasks you have to face as a UX designer.

E

Effectiveness Ratios

Effectiveness Ratios show if users or test participants complete a predetermined task on a website, mobile website, or app. Also, see quantitative user data.

Efficiency Ratios

Efficiency Ratios show how long users or test participants need to complete a predetermined task. Also, see quantitative user data.

Emoticons

This is a typographic display of a facial representation used to convey emotion 🙂

Empathy Map

Empathy maps are collaborative tools that help us visualize user behavior, attitudes, and feelings. They are split into 4 equal quadrants containing information about what the user is saying, thinking, doing, and feeling. At the center, we place our user persona. We fill each quadrant with information we’ve collected through user research.

End-User

Who are we designing the product for? This person is our end user.

Eye Tracking

To fine-tune and measure our UX efforts, we’ll want to understand what users are doing on our products. Eye-tracking lets us measure user eye activity with specialized tools, showing us where users look and in what order.

Eighty / twenty rule

20% of the functionality and features in any environment will be responsible for 80% of the actions taken within that environment. This is the Pareto principle as applied to any website, web app, or software environment.

Ethnographic study

Ethnographic studies involve talking with people and observing them perform their tasks in their natural context. Its aim is not just to gather information on how people behave and interact, but also how their location, environment, and other contexts affect their day-to-day lives. UX designers take this ethnographic research and use it to solve a problem through a product or technology.

Yellow Slice contact

Expert review

In an expert review, a UX professional examines your product to identify usability, design, and accessibility problems. Unlike other more traditional usability inspection methods, such as heuristic review, an expert review doesn’t follow a strict process. Instead, it relies on the reviewer’s expert knowledge of usability and design best practices. This usability test should be seen as an early activity that occurs before using a research method that involves actual users.

F

Flowchart

Flowcharts illustrate the steps a user can take to complete a task on a product.

Fidelity

a concept in both wireframing and prototyping. Low-fidelity wireframes and prototypes aim to cover basic layout and links between screens, while high-fidelity prototypes and wireframes aim to be very close to final visuals and functionality. 

Flat Design

a design trend that followed skeuomorphism. It moved away from both the imitation of realistic surfaces and the creation of digital interface elements that realistically reference physical interfaces. Instead, it favored simple blocks of flat color, making labeling and iconography more prominent, and increasing the visual simplicity and clarity of interface designs.

Floating Action Button (FAB):

 a user interface (UI) element that sits on top of a screen design, often in the bottom-right-hand corner, and doesn’t move when the user scrolls. An example of a FAB is the floating “plus” button in Gmail’s interface. Learn how to prototype a FAB in Figma!

Form

a UI element that gathers information from the user. Forms range from extremely short to extremely long. An example of a very short form is an email signup, which may have only an email address field and a submit button. An online loan application, however, might have a series of long forms in the flow. Check out our form design tips.

The frame (in design software)

in design packages including Figma, a “frame” is another name for an artboard. Learn more in Figma 101.

Frame (in HTML) 

a region of a webpage that loads another HTML file inside it. Frames used to be much more widely used on the web, but are now almost obsolete, partly because they tend not to work well in responsive web design.

Front-End Development

a development role focused on engineering the visual appearance and interaction behaviors of a site or app. Front-end development skills typically include HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

Full Stack

typically heard in the context of “full-stack developer”. The term refers to a person or role and means that the person has both front-end and back-end development skills. It’s becoming increasingly common to hear the term “full-stack designer”—this typically means that the person has a mix of UX, visual/UI, and graphic design/illustration skills.

Five Second Test 

A technique that involves showing users a single content page for a quick 5 seconds to gather their initial impressions. Users make important judgments in the first moments when they visit a page. It gives the team insight into essential information about the page.

F shaped pattern

Users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes, followed by a vertical stripe. In a few seconds, their eyes will move at amazing speed across your website’s words in a one-of-a-kind pattern. 

Fish board diagram

A diagram designed to identify cause-and-effect relationships between factors in a given situation. In short, it consists of a “head”, which states a problem, and bones along the spine that represent factors and categories of factors.

Floating Action Button (FAB)                                                                                                   a user interface (UI) element that sits on top of a screen design, often in the bottom-right-hand corner, and doesn’t move when the user scrolls. An example of a FAB is the floating “plus” button in Gmail’s interface.

Fitts’ Law                                                                                                                                   A mathematical model that predicts how long it will take to point at a target based on the target’s size and proximity. The further away and smaller it is, the longer it will take for users to interact with it.

Focus Group                                                                                                                                A focus group is a pointed discussion with a group of participants led by a moderator. Questions are designed to gather feedback about users, products, concepts, prototypes, tasks, and strategies.

G

Gamification

Gamification is the process of integrating game-design elements and principles into products to drive user engagement.

Grid System

Grids systems are organizational tools that help us arrange content on a screen. They are made up of vertical and horizontal lines that create what we call columns and gutters.

Gestalt Principles

 a set of visual principles of grouping, underpinned by the idea that elements sharing proximity or features in common tend to be understood as related to one another. 

Graceful Degradation

the practice of designing and developing a product in such a way that it continues to perform acceptably in suboptimal conditions, such as loading across very low bandwidth or in a very old browser. (See also progressive enhancement.)

Graphical User Interface (GUI): 

any interface that is interacted with primarily through information displayed on a screen. The first GUIs date back over 50 years; smartphones and smartwatches remain examples of GUIs, although they may now also be controlled by voice. Read more about GUIs in our blog post.

Github

GitHub is a web-based service used by developers. It is a way of using a central hub to work on collaborative coding projects.

GIF

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. A GIF is a never-ending loop of images or video clips.

Graphic Design: 

a design discipline focused on the creation of visuals for posters, magazines, packaging, etc. 

Grid: 

a layout constraint that determines the positioning of user interface elements on a screen or page. Grids are fundamental to effective design systems. 

Golden Ratio

A mathematical ratio with origins in ancient Greece, also known as the Greek letter Phi. It is found in nature and has made its way into graphic and print design as people deem it to be the most visually appealing layout to the human eye. The Golden Ratio approximately equals 1.618. We find it when we divide a line into two parts so that the full length divided by the long part is equal to the long part divided by the short part.

Gestalt principles

People do not visually perceive items in isolation but as part of a larger whole. These principles account for human tendencies towards similarity, proximity, continuity, and closure.

H

Hardware

The physical parts of a product or computer are called hardware. Think circuits, chips, plugs, and wires.

Heat Map

A heat map is a graphical representation of the areas on your product that receive the most user attention. They use a warm-to-cool color spectrum to show you where exactly your users are going. The red areas in the heat map below, for example, are the areas users interact with the most on the website.

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, is the standard programming language used to create websites. Unlike CSS, it is concerned with the structure of a website. Think of it as the programming language we use to create the blueprint of a website.

Human-Computer Interaction

HCI is a field of study concerned with the design and use of computer technology. It studies how we interact with interfaces and computers today.

Hack

in software development, a hack is a quick solution to a specific problem or bug, but it probably won’t be a long-term solution.

Hackathon

a collaborative event where designers, developers, and others come together to rapidly create a functioning product by the end of the event. They can be just for fun, or they can be a professional tool to rapidly ideate and problem-solve, much like a design sprint.

Hamburger Button 

a visual pattern of three (or sometimes two or four) horizontal lines that typically indicates a hidden menu. Tapping or clicking it reveals the menu.

Hybrid App

A hybrid app combines elements of both native and web applications.

I

In-Lab Testing

In-Lab Testing refers to tests with users conducted in a usability lab and requires a moderator. A limited number of participants usually perform tasks to test prototypes, mock-ups, websites, mobile websites, or apps. Participants are not in their natural context of use, so data can be distorted. On the other hand, it enables researchers to conduct focus groups and obtain in-depth feedback and explanations.

Invitation Link

With (email) invitation links companies can invite users to participate in a research study. The link redirects to the study. If customer profiles already exist in a company’s contact list (for example by age or gender), multiple invitation links can be used rather than one. If an organization still needs to profile users, participants can be profiled by asking initial questions at the beginning of a study.

IP Address

Internet Protocol Address is a unique address that identifies a device on the internet or local network.

Iterative Testing

Iterative Testing is testing, which is repeated multiple times to detect usability issues and improve usability.

Interaction Design

Interaction Design, or IDX, is the practice of designing interactive digital products and considering how users will interact with them.

Information Architecture (IA)

the structure and organization of information in a website or app. In UX design, it tends to refer to the process of organizing content and creating a navigation structure that makes sense to the user and allows them to find what they need logically.

iOS

The operating system that Apple’s iPhones and iPads run on.

Iteration

the process of repeatedly gathering feedback on a design solution, and acting on that feedback to make targeted improvements and move towards a final design.

J

Javascript

JavaScript is a programming language used to make web pages interactive. HTML is the structure, CSS is the style and Javascript is the behavior.

K

KPI

KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are measurable values that help us understand and track how well a product is doing. As a UX designer, you’ll often work with KPIs like task success rate, user error rate, and time on task.

L

Lean UX

Remember Agile? Lean UX, based on Agile, is a collaborative user-centric approach that prioritizes “learning loops” (building, learning, and measuring through iterations) over design documentation.

Landing Page

a web page that is designed to direct users towards a single specific action, like signing up or making a purchase. A landing page is different from a homepage, which typically presents many possible actions to a user.

M

Modal Window

also known as a modal window, modal dialog, or modal pop-up. A kind of in-window or in-app dialog box that either displays a message to be dismissed or invites some kind of action from the user. Modals are often seen when people first land on a website, for example, to offer a voucher code or encourage the user to sign up. They’re also often used to convey important information, like advance notice of a service outage.

Multichannel Experience

Multichannel or Omnichannel Experiences are related to the experiences customers or potential buyers make when interacting with a brand. They typically use a variety of channels to research product information and compare offers.

Material Design

Material Design often called just Material, is a design language developed by Google used in Android devices.

Mental Model

A mental model represents what the user believes to be true about a product’s functionality. The more a user’s mental model aligns with a product’s functionality, the easier it will be for them to use it.

Microcopy

Here’s a popular one these days. Microcopy is everywhere on interfaces. It’s the small bits of text you see on apps or websites that help you navigate it. Think labels on buttons, error messages, placeholder text in input fields, and text on tooltips. Small bits of text, a big impact on your product’s UX.

Mockup

A term that gets thrown around often in work environments, mockups are static representations of a product. You can’t click through them or interact with them. They are essentially a picture of what the product will look like.

Mobile Web

The mobile web refers to accessing the internet from smartphones.

Modem

A modem is a device that enables a computer to transfer data over telephone or cable lines.

MVP

MVP means Minimal Viable Product. It’s a way of developing a new product (e.g. a website) with acceptable features to suit the users. More features are only developed after considering feedback from the initial users.

Meetup

an event where UX designers meet to network, share experiences, collaborate on projects, critique one another’s portfolios, and connect with job opportunities.

Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing is the same as A/B testing, only you’re testing multiple versions of the same page rather than just two.

Mobile Usability Testing

usability testing conducted on a mobile device being used in an appropriate, realistic context. For example, an app giving driving directions should be tested in that setting, rather than in an office.

Mindmap

A diagram is used to visually organize information. A mindmap is hierarchical and shows the relationships among the parts of the whole. It is often created around a single concept to which associated images, words, and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

N

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement taken from asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others on a scale of 0-10

Near Field Communication (NFC)

a technology that allows two physical devices that are close to share information. This is the technology that allows you to use your smartphone handset to pay at checkouts.

O

Online Survey

Online surveys are a way to gather customer, user, and employee feedback. If UX software allows integrating surveys in a user study, researchers can combine user feedback with UX metrics obtain through task-based usability studies.

Onboarding

this refers to the steps that a user goes through when they first open up an app or join a service. Onboarding is an extremely important part of the overall user experience. Even if you have a user-friendly product, people are likely to abandon it during onboarding if they are not brought up to speed effectively.

Open Source

the practice of making code or other design collateral publicly available for inspection, copying, reuse, and modification. You can use it, modify it, and build with it without running into trouble.

P

Panel (User Panel)

User panels are specialist groups, which evaluate the design, usability, and content of a site. With their feedback and insights, it is possible to create products and experiences along with the expectations and needs of a company’s target group.

Prototype Testing

UX designers usually create prototypes of websites or features and test the Information Architecture before new products are further tested, designed, and programmed. A prototype usually As the name suggests, Prototype Testing is a test of any kind of designs and concepts: functional prototypes hosted online in tools like Axure, Justinmind, or iRise, other high-fidelity prototypes, low-fidelity prototypes, mock-ups, and other new product concepts.

Prototype

an interactive mockup of an app, website, or device. Typically used to illustrate a concept and gather early feedback from users and other stakeholders. The advantage of a prototype is that it can usually be built quickly, and without having to engage engineers/developers. Prototypes can also encourage people to focus on usability rather than aesthetics. Prototypes can range from low-fidelity (e.g. an interface sketched on pieces of paper—known as “paper prototyping”) to high-fidelity (e.g. a website prototype that includes final graphics—see also fidelity).

Paper Prototyping

the creation of a product prototype using roughly sketched interfaces on pieces of paper. Paper prototyping is often used in design sprints and any other setting where rapid prototyping is needed.

Pairing / Pair Programming

Pair programming is when two programmers work together. One writes code, while the other reviews it. The two programmers often switch roles.

Persona

a persona is a document that takes findings from multiple user research data points (such as interviews and questionnaires) and synthesizes them into an archetype. Although the “person” in a persona doesn’t exist as a real individual, each persona comes to represent an idealized end-user of a product. 

Picker

a picker is a UI element that allows the user to choose, for example, a date, time, or color. Pickers tend to be used where there is a very high number of options, or the input is highly conceptual.

Plus Button

a UI element that typically allows the user to add a new item, or start a new document or file. (See also floating action button.)

Progressive Enhancement

the practice of adding functionality or visual finish as technical constraints are removed. For example, a browser that supports cutting-edge web standards might allow extra touches when it comes to interaction and animation.

Progressive Web App (PWA)

an app that runs in a web browser, but has a level of functionality more like traditional standalone software. Examples of PWAs include project management platforms like Asana and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Pixel

These little guys are the smallest controllable units on our screens. Pixels are tiny squares used to construct the images we see on our device displays. They aren’t a specific color, but rather, change to be able to show different images and graphics.

Pull Request

Pull requests let developers share changes they’ve made to code with others involved on Github.

R

Remote Usability Testing (RUT)

RUT is an unmoderated task-based online study on any web-based interface (website/app, prototype, mock-up) with geographically dispersed participants. Participants take the study simultaneously, in their natural context, using their PC or device. Unlike traditional in-lab user testing, RUT does not require a moderator and lab facilities; this enables companies to reduce research costs, save time and improve the frequency of testing.

Responsive Web Design

the practice of creating websites that are optimized for the device they are being viewed on. Today, almost all websites are designed responsively. It means, for example, that a website will look quite different in terms of layout between desktop and mobile, but that the text should be the right size for easy reading in each case.

Return on Investment (RoI)

the extent to which expenditure of time, money, or effort is returned in the form of positive results, such as increased revenue. RoI can be positive (it yielded more than it cost) or negative (it cost more than it yielded).

Refactoring / Code Refactoring

This is the process of tidying up existing code without changing how it works. For example to improve code readability or to simplify the code structure.

Retro / Retrospective

A retro in software development is when the team looks back on an iteration to improve the process for the next iteration.

S

Screen Recording

While users perform a task of a study, their screen will be recorded to analyze and understand the users’ behavior.

Screenshot Click Testing

Screenshot Click Testing allows you to evaluate first impressions and first clicks on your wireframes or website screenshots. Users’ click locations are recorded and conveniently presented as a heatmap, displaying first and all clicks. Screenshot Click Testing is perfect for design and UX teams testing the design validation of new or existing sites, as it allows to measure effectiveness by gathering success and error metrics, in addition to the findability of important content. Screenshot Click Testing is an integral part of the roadmap in a navigational redesign.

Spike

A spike is development work that cannot be estimated until a development team runs a trial. The result of a spike is an estimate of the time it will take to do the work.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation. The advantage it has over pixel-based graphics formats like PNG and JPG is that an SVG can be resized infinitely without losing quality.

Scrum

a set of project management practices emphasizing daily communication, flexible planning, and short, focused phases of work.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

the practice of shaping web content to maximize the ranking of webpages in search engines like Google.

Switch or Toggle

a UI element that allows the user to turn a setting on or off. 

SAAS

Software as a Service is a way to deliver applications over the internet. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you access it via the internet. This frees you from complex software and hardware management.

Slack

This is a team collaboration tool that allows teams to communicate. It is effectively an internal online messaging service.

SDK

A software development kit, or SDK, is a software package that contains the tools required to develop products for a specific platform or operating system. They help expedite the development process by providing “parts” developers can use instead of having to write the code for them from scratch.

Site map

A site map is a visual representation of a website’s pages and hierarchy.  

Sketching

We do it all the time as designers. Sketching is quick freehand drawing intended to help us brainstorm and jot down ideas. Sketches aren’t polished or finished products—think of them as visual note-taking.

Software

We’ve gone over hardware or the physical parts of a computer. Running on it, you’ll find a collection of programs called software. The software can be anything from an app to the tools you use on your computer, like Sketch. 

Sprints

In agile software development, we call defined periods assigned to complete certain tasks “sprints.” Their length can vary but is usually around 1-3 weeks.

Storyboard

Storyboards are a visual representation of a user’s experience with a product or problem space. They are a film technique we’ve adopted and look a lot like comic strips.

Sixty-thirty-ten rule

A timeless decorating rule that can help you put a color scheme together easily.  To put it short, the 60% + 30% + 10% proportion is meant to give balance to the colors used in any space.

T

Task-based user research

Task-based User Research is a task-based study that is normally conducted in a usability lab and requires a moderator. A limited number of participants test interfaces (prototypes, mock-ups, websites). A critical aspect is that participants are not in their natural context of use, which can lead to imprecise results.

Think-aloud

Think-aloud is a qualitative research feature that can be enabled in Remote Usability Studies and Mobile Usability Studies. During a research session, UX researchers can capture audio feedback, user videos, on-screen activity, and keyboard/mouse input. Because users participate in their natural user context, UX researchers can analyze the participant’s user experience under real conditions.

Tech Debt

An example of technical debt: You have a piece of functionality that you need to add to your system. You see two ways to do it, one is quick to do but messy. It’ll make further changes harder in the future. The other results in a cleaner design, but will take longer to put in place. (example from Agile Web Operations). Tech Debt is the extra time it will take to do the better option, having done the messy option.

Tree Testing

A tree test is a usability technique to evaluate the findability, labeling, and organization of websites’ navigation structure or information architecture. It helps to detect navigational issues early in the design process and to measure how well users can find items in a hierarchy.

True Intent Study

True Intent is a research approach that enables companies to obtain a more holistic view of how well their website, mobile website, or app is doing. True Intent Studies bridge the gap between Web Analytics and Online Surveys. By capturing both attitudes and behaviors of your actual site visitors in the context of what they are trying to do on the site, researchers are empowered to make informed decisions about site changes.

Task-Based User Testing

testing of a digital product that involves setting the user a task or set of tasks to complete. The user is then observed completing the tasks and may be asked questions after the test. This kind of testing is particularly helpful in establishing how intuitive a product’s navigation and information architecture are. 

Testing

any process that involves getting people to use a product to gather insight into its strengths and weaknesses, its performance, or to get targeted feedback. 

Task Analysis

Task analysis is the process of listing tasks or the steps a user takes to complete any given goal from the user’s perspective. It is typically done during the early stages of product development to help us identify and communicate problems in the user experience.

Three click rule

The theory that users will abandon a website if they are unable to complete their task within 3 mouse clicks.

U

Usability Testing

Usability Testing is conducted to detect usability barriers and to improve the usability of human-computer interfaces. The testing methods include Card Sorting, Tree Testing, and Screenshot Click Testing among others. Good usability is one of the requirements for a positive User Experience.

UX Dashboard

Companies that continuously conduct user experience research can implement UX monitoring programs. They define how often and with how many participants data will be collected. To analyze and track results and trends, they develop a standardized view to visualize result data. On a UX dashboard, data will be updated in regular intervals. For example, a UX Dashboard can contain information about conducted online surveys, Competitor’s Benchmarking, and Conversion Rate Optimisation on single Pages of the company’s website. In this way, companies can ensure that the results are being addressed to the proper recipient.

UX Management

UX Management is the discipline that takes care of providing business outcomes through optimizing the experiences that users have while interacting with the company brand. UX management is important to show the impact a good user experience can have on business and why it is worth investing in UX research.

User Journey

a description of the steps a user will go through when using a product. This usually takes the form of some kind of diagram, but formats vary widely. Journey mapping is also a concept in service design. Read more about the difference between UX design and service design in our blog post. (See also customer journey map.)

User Scenario 

a story-like description of a specific situation or chain of events in which a user might interact with a product. User scenarios help designers and developers understand the context in which a product is going to be used and to grasp any special constraints or opportunities that the situation presents. 

UX Analytics

the use of data—like detailed app usage statistics—to inform UX design decisions.

UI Element

User interface (UI) elements are all the different parts found on an interface we need to trigger specific actions or get around an app or website. Think of the buttons, input fields, toggles, and radio buttons.

UI Pattern

UI patterns are reusable solutions to common usability problems in products or on the web expressed as a collection of UI elements. Think about a login screen. A common login UI pattern is made up of two input fields, one for a username and one for a password, and a button to submit these. We call this collection of elements a login pattern.

Unit Testing

The process of testing parts of an application to ensure they’re working properly. It can be done manually or can be an automated process.

User-Centered Design

Like the term suggests, user-centered design, or UCD, is an iterative design framework in which users and their needs are always kept at the center of every decision.

User Experience (UX)

The user experience refers to a user’s emotions, attitude, and perceptions about a product, system, or service. In other words, it is how you feel while interacting with an app or website. Good UX makes a product useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, and credible.

User Flow

A user flow describes the intended series of steps a user needs to take to complete a goal on a product. They often include a name, steps, and a description of what happens during each step.

User Interface

The user interface is a set of visual components a user needs to interact with a product, made up of UI elements 

User Journey Maps

User Journey Maps are narrative documents that help us visualize the process a user goes through to accomplish a goal. They document the stages the user goes through, the tasks executed during each stage, user emotions, and product opportunities.

User Stories

User Stories share actions different kinds of users can take in a product. The formula for user stories is simple:

“As a <insert kind of user>, I want <insert feature or action>, to be able to <insert the desired outcome>.”

User Persona

A persona is a representation of our target user. They aren’t necessarily a real individual but are constructed using real information and data based on real users.

V

Video Questions

Video Questions allow UX researchers to record customer feedback during a remotely conducted mobile usability test. Participants film their feedback and ideas on their mobile devices. Users record their comments while they are surfing on your mobile web or prototype or while they are experiencing your product in one of your stores or at home.

Voice of the Customer (VoC)

VOC studies are user tests that are based on online surveys. They enable companies to improve the user experience of their websites, generate user profiles, assess user behavior, and measure the level of customer satisfaction. Immediately before or after their visit to a website, users are invited to a study through a layer or a feedback tab. Participants perform tasks and provide feedback to different issues that vary considerably, depending on their sector of activity.

VPN

Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet.

Vertical Rhythm 

This concept originated from print typography. Vertical Rhythm keeps the vertical spaces between elements on a page consistent with each other. This is often done with the help of a baseline – a common denominator used to create consistent spaces.

W

Waterfall

In software development, the Waterfall Model is when each phase must be completed before the next phase can begin. Unlike agile which is a technique for incremental software development.

Whiteboard Interview

Common in tech job interviews, whiteboard interviews are designed to assess a candidate’s communication and problem-solving skills. In it, candidates are given a problem and a whiteboard to develop the solution on. 

White space

White or negative space refers to the unoccupied or blank space on a page. In the shot below, white or negative space is used cleverly to shape a cursor.

Wireframe

Think of wireframes as the blueprint of a screen. They are a low-fidelity representation of a website’s layout and content.

Web Analytics

The measurement, collection, and analysis of the internet to understand and optimize web usage.

Widget

A widget is an on-screen element that users interact with. For example, social media icons, sliders, buttons, and contact forms, to name a few.

FAQs For Glossaries In UX Design

What is Agile UX?

Agile UX adds UX design and research methods to the agile methodology. The most important driver for Agile UX is the close cooperation between developers, UX designers, and UX researchers during the entire process of product development.

Can UX Testing be Automated?

UX testing can be automated and also done systematically.

What is the purpose of Affinity Mapping?

Affinity mapping is done to group users’ needs and insights for better research, concept, and design creation.

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