Nikos Pappas • Crafting Impactful Digital Experiences
Nikos Pappas • Digital Product & Service Designer


This digital notebook is about documenting interesting ideas, opinions and findings around user and customer experience, product design, strategy, processes and tools.

The role of visual in product design

Quite commonly people ask me: isn’t it better to make something usable instead of just fancy? Should we focus on visual or usability. Well, these two go hand in hand in product design, to be honest.

Recently Jonny Czar, currently product designer at N26, wrote an article on the matter that explains brilliantly The power of visual in product design - I’ll summarize the key takeaways for you (and for myself) in the next few lines:

0. It’s in our DNA

“The first reason comes from our DNA. Eric Jensen, in his book Brain Based Learning, shows that 40% of the brain nerves are connected to the retina; more neurons are devoted to vision than all the other senses combined, and probably 90% of everything that comes to our mind is triggered by visual stimuli. In addition, recent studies show that approximately 65% of the population are visual learners, preferring to study and engage with information when linked to visual elements.”

1. It speeds up data perception

“It happens very fast. According to a study by S.Thorpe, D.Fize and C. Marlot called The processing speed in the human visual system, it takes only 150 milliseconds for the brain to process an image and another 100 milliseconds to understand its meaning.”

“A recent study of 60 participants (Icon recognition speed in interactions in digital interfaces) reviled that that icons illustrating real objects were more recognizable than symbolic and subjective icons (e.g. using a clock to represent the alarm icon - see image below).”

2. People can retain visual data for much longer

“In a study by Roger Shepard called Learning 10000 pictures, it was shown that an audience exposed to 612 images for about 6 seconds achieved a 98% hit rate when asked to remember them in two-alternative tests. Compared with similar tests to remember words and short sentences, the rate drops to 88%.”

3. It triggers pleasure

“When our mind reaches a quick understanding by being exposed to a small cognitive effort, our body reacts positively, triggering a sense of pleasure. This is what’s shown by a study called “Mind at ease puts a smile on the face” by researchers Piotr Winkielman and John T. Cacioppo.”

4. It guides attention

“Eye-tracking studies show that readers pay more attention to information loaded with visual elements. They spend even more time looking at them than reading the text itself when images are relevant (see example below).”

5. It makes it universal

“Lastly, icons, colors, illustrations, and other types of visual components in the interface can make an app or website more accessible, especially when it’s used by people from different countries.

Thus, we can say that the use of icons improves overall comprehension. In addition, images push the boundaries of perception for people who are affected by text recognition disorders, such as dyslexia, have difficulty reading or who can’t read.”


Source: The power of visual in product design

#productdesign #visual

Google search have just added 3D life-sided models of animals and it's amazing

If you’ve got an AR-enabled phone, you can now bring select animals right into your space for a safari (or safe snuggle) with Search. Just open your browser and search (I used Safari on iPhone).

”The animated 3D model also makes noises and you can increase/decrease the scale of the animal or you can drag the animal on your phone screen. Having a 3D model of the animal in the real world gives a clear idea of its size.”

See Google’s tweet:

10-year challenge: Is Minimalism and Content-driven design the current trend?

“As the #10yearchallenge is making its way around the internet, I thought I would look at how some of the most visited websites on the internet have aged over the last 10 years,” Carrot’s co-founder Arun Venkatesan explains in this: nostalgic article about the evolution of various websites over the last decade.

Going through Arun’s article made me realize that content-driven design, with focus on visual elements like images and videos, and minimalism have become the mainstream thing in design and for a good reason: they bring order to chaos of the information available on each page.

Enjoy the extended collection of popular sites’ transformation that Arun has posted on his personal website ( below:

The clever way Walmart is trying to beat Amazon: Real estate

”Walmart hopes to leverage one staggering fact: 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store,” Katharine Schwab argues in her recent article on FastCompany

To achieve that they had to “think of stores like mini warehouses,” Walmart’s chief technology officer Jeremy King explains during an interview.

Well, I have to admit that it feels kind of rewarding to see more and more companies follow the very same product strategy that we followed at Home Run. Home Run didn’t survived the Death Valley’s menace, but this doesn’t mean the on-demand, no-warehouse, no-delivery-vans model isn’t here to stay.

Photos: Walmart

You find Walmart’s strategy interesting, you could learn more about their shelve-scanning robots, made by Bossa Nova, at the video below:

AR: Current state

I spent 2 hours setting up my first AR project in Unity and it was so refreshing.

Now two projects from my portfolio appear every time that I point my camera towards one of my business cards. I know it's pretty basic, but it's a start.

Well, most professionals working with digital products must have realized by now the limitless potential of AR.

The only problem is that, right now, it is like the early days of the web: only a limited number of people can have access to it, and only through dedicated software.

This is why we need a modern NCSA Mosaic of AR that will allow users to access various AR projects through a single app.


Originally posted on Linkedin:

#AR #futuretechnology #unity #vuforia #bravenewworld


"Ever watch people at an elevator repeatedly push the Up button, or repeatedly push the pedestrian button at a street crossing?

Ever drive to a traffic intersection and wait an inordinate amount of time for the signals to change, wondering all the time whether the detection circuits noticed your vehicle (a common problem with bicycles)?

What is missing in all these cases is Feedback: some way of letting you know that the system is working on your request," Don Norman explains in his masterpiece "The Design of Everyday Things" (originally published in 1988).

Feedback is described as one of the 7 fundamental design principles of design by Don Norman, and, as you can see in the video below (if on mobile tap to expand), applies to all products out there.


Originally posted on Linkedin:
Ref: "The Design of Everyday Things" ⇢

#design #feedback #donnorman #linkedin #userexperience #interactiondesign

UXNikos PappasUX, User Experience
How Expensify acquired tons of new users - a CX case study by Louis-Xavier

This is a slightly different CX case study by Louis Xavier. who decided to do a teardown of Expensify's $5M Super Bowl ad customer acquisition flow.

What good design is: Dieter Rams’ 10 principles

At some point is his life Dieter Rams once asked himself an important question: is my design good design?

To determine that, he came up with 10 principles that define what good design means. Nowadays, this principles are also known as “The 10 commandments” in design circles.

“I summarized my [design] philosophy in 10 points, and I’m actually very surprised that people today, especially students, still accept them. I didn’t intend these 10 points to be set in stone forever. They were actually meant to mutate with time and to change. But apparently things have not changed greatly in the past 50 years. So even nowadays, they are still accepted” he explains.

These 10 points include the following “Good design is” statements:

  1. Good design is innovative.

  2. Good design makes a product useful.

  3. Good design is aesthetic.

  4. Good design helps a product to be understood.

  5. Good design is unobtrusive.

  6. Good design is honest.

  7. Good design is durable.

  8. Good design is consistent to the last detail.

  9. Good design is environmentally friendly.

  10. Good design is as little design as possible.

I was reminded of these principles by a great documentary released recently about Rams’ life in selected theaters across the globe, and that the rest of us can now watch a on Vimeo.

You can watch (paid streaming) the full documentary on following link:

A scene from "Rams", Gary Hustwit's new documentary about legendary designer Dieter Rams, with original music by Brian Eno. Motion graphics by Trollback & Co. Watch the full film now on Vimeo On Demand: More info, trailer, or to pre-order the book/disc edition:

Designing [digital products] for kids - An NNgroup study

Originally published on the following table summarizes some of the main similarities and differences that Katie Sherwin and Jakob Nielsen have observed in user behavior between children (in their recent study, 2018) and adults (across many other studies):

Children’s UX: Usability Issues in Designing for Young People 2019-02-13 at 16.37.51.png
Children’s UX: Usability Issues in Designing for Young People 2019-02-13 at 16.43.03.png

Summarizing the study, Sherwin and Nielsen advise parents and educators the following:

“We conducted this research in order to generate usability guidelines for companies, government agencies, and major non-profit organizations that want to design websites for children. Even so, some of our findings have personal implications for parents, teachers, and others who want to help individual children succeed on the internet:

  1. The main predictor of children's ability to use websites is their amount of prior experience. We also found that children as young as 3 can use websites and apps, as long as they’re designed according to the guidelines for this very young audience. Together, these two findings lead to the advice to start your children on the internet at an early age (while also setting limits; too much computer time isn’t good for children).

  2. Parents and educators should also be aware of how they model behavior with devices. Kids learn from what they see around them. In a study by AVG Technologies, conducted with participants in nine countries, 54% of children 8–13 years old felt that parents checked their devices too often. Nearly one third (32%) of children felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by a mobile or tablet device. Adults must not put the full burden of responsible device use on children, without recognizing the role their own behavior plays in influencing them.

  3. Campaigns to sensitize children to the internet’s potential dangers and to teach them to be wary of submitting personal information are meeting with success. Keep up this good work.

  4. On a more negative note, children still don’t understand the web’s commercial nature and lack the skills needed to identify advertising and treat it differently than real content. We need much stronger efforts to teach children about these facts of new media.”

    #uxresearch #uxreports #nngroup

The art of persuasion & the role of Scarcity

In 1984, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini wrote a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Since then, it’s been widely hailed as a seminal book on marketing, something everyone who’s doing product development should read.

The book is quite revealing, as it is effective in outlining the various tactics used to affect people through influence and persuasion. In this book, Cialdini also reveals for first time the Six Principles of Persuasion (Reciprocity, Commitment & Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority & Scarcity), a collection of very effective “shortcuts” that someone could employ in order to persuade individuals or groups.

Over the years, these tactics have found their way into digital interfaces too.

Source: - by  David Teodorescu

Source: - by David Teodorescu

David Teodorescu wrote really interesting article reviewing the use of Scarcity on the modern web.

“It [Scarcity] makes things desirable. Scarcity is the psychological bias that makes us place a higher value on things that are scarce than those in abundance. Basically, we tend to like things that are harder to obtain,” he writes in order to explain Scarcity effect. ”You know how it works,” he continues. “Casually watching a review on Unbox Therapy about this mug that apparently is unspillable. I’m having a laugh but by the end of the video I’m also intrigued what people ask for it. There it is on Amazon! On sale at $14.99 from $24.99. For a limited time only. Only 3 left in stock for the stainless steel version. It’s a bargain and it will soon be gone,” he explains.

Then, he analyses some real cases of use:

Lightning Deals on Amazon: Good

They last a few hours and show the deadline. They are accompanied by the percentage claimed by other people to highlight the urgency.

Source: - by  David Teodorescu

Source: - by David Teodorescu

Courses on Interaction Design Foundation: Smart

Present the time until enrolment ends. Fully booked courses are still displayed to show people what it’s like to miss the opportunity.

Source: - by  David Teodorescu

Source: - by David Teodorescu

Buying things on eBay: Bad

Time limited products are marked with a red icon and a vague “Almost gone” tag. Not showing when the offer ends is unthoughtful and manipulative.

Source: - by  David Teodorescu

Source: - by David Teodorescu

He continues with even more examples on his article “Scarcity in UX: The psychological bias that became the norm” that you can find at the following link:

Right before summing his article up, Teodorescu highlights the following paragraph:

”Some might argue that this forces them to make a decision, but as long as the numbers are real, what’s the alternative? Isn’t the sense of regret or frustration caused by us failing to tell them about the scarce product in time just as bad? Aren’t we offering an awful user experience if that happens? Rushing people into making a decision seems rather fair as long as we’re presenting them the facts.

Then, he ends the article with some interesting DOs and DON’Ts, for who are interesting in keeping a balance between a fair, ethical and sincere use of this tactic:

”Below are some suggestions for making the best out of scarcity and actually improve the UX:


  • use scarcity to increase perceived value and expedite conversions

  • use time scarcity to promote products that are time sensitive

  • use quantity scarcity to make people aware of stock shortages

  • use access scarcity to highlight the advantages of the restricted features

  • use A/B testing to test what scarcity message works best for your audience

  • use usability testing to test the impact of messages on credibility and trust

  • use animated elements to emphasise urgency (e.g. showing a glowing red icon to highlight the real-time status)


  • do not use scarcity without testing it first with users

  • do not use scarcity if stocks are not reliable

  • do not use scarcity if the messages are not bug free

  • do not use fake numbers to create artificially scarce products”


#artofpersuasion #scarcity #cialdini #productdesign

Designer's toolkit 2018

What were the most popular product design tools in 2018?
Which tools (if any) do digital designers use for handoff?
What tools are designers most excited to try in 2019?
And many other questions answered by 2,775 designers from all over the world in an extensive survey about product design tools from


Read the full report on:
#uxtools #tools #designtools #product design

Modality: The UX Concept That Most Designers Don’t Fully Understand
  1. “Use Modal Screens for self-contained processes, use Non-Modal Screens for everything else.

  2. Use Modal Screens for critical information that requires a specific user task, decision, or acknowledgement.

  3. Try to minimize the use of modality. Generally, people prefer to interact with apps in nonlinear ways. Consider creating a modal context only when it’s critical to get someone’s attention, when a task must be completed or abandoned to continue using the app, or to save important data. “


Intrigued? Read the full article by Fabian Sebastian at the following link:

Barry Katz on [Product/Service] Design

“High quality of design, and I mean that in the sense not just of how a product looks or even just how a product works but the entire emotional valance of using product from beginning to end, is now a condition of entry into the market. It's the competitive difference and the competitive advantage that functionally similar products will have.”


Originally posted on YouTube at the following link:

#productdesign #customerexperience #servicedesign

To be strategic

How to be strategic” by Julie Zhuo is one of the best essays I’ve ever read on product strategy.

According to Zhuo these 3 things are the “secret sauce” of being strategic:

  1. Create alignment around what wild success looks like.

  2. Understand which problem you’re looking to solve for which group of people.

  3. Prioritize. And cut.


The full post is well worth a read.
Find it at the following link:

#productdevelopment #productdesign #productmanagement #strategicthinking #strategicdesign

Product image galleries break out of the carousel
Nike Pages.gif

“There is simply no comparison between scrolling through six lovely images and seeing the product from every angle, and clicking staccato-like through a series of tiny thumbnails in a left hand side carousel.

The new Nike product page is all about showing off that trainer. Adidas is no disgrace, this thumbnail carousel is pretty much the default for all ecommerce product pages. Nike used to use it, too (check it out here).

Where the new imagery layout really comes into its own is where autoplaying video is part of the image tiling. Here’s an example (I’ve only captured a very short loop of the video, it is actually much longer).” (Ref: Why Nike’s refreshed product pages improve CX (& beat Adidas) | By Ben Davis • March 4th 2018)

And this is how “video is not anymore a single explainer video on top of your home page. This is how video became a continuum embedded in the customer journey. Go to any other website, app, or social feed from one of the digital unicorns and the use of video transcends the typical boundaries. You see motion graphics interacting with content; delightful micro-narratives explaining key featuresanimation merging with UI elements; even self-generated videos incorporating real-time data.” (Ref: Move over, UX. A new movement is here | Yann Lhomme  •  Jul 26, 2018)


Read more on: &

Craving technology-driven experiences

Reading "The myth of human-centered design," I thought that I couldn't disagree more with the author on what Don Norman's "human-centered design" means.

According to Norman, "human-centred design" is about "making technology work well with people". Hence, it's not about who comes first, people or technology, but instead, it's about "how we can build a bridge between human capabilities and technology".

However, I also couldn't agree more with the fact that people indeed crave experiences that are driven by technology:

"All of the critical ways we define ourselves are being changed by our relationship to technology. To suggest that technology must be designed strictly around what people want is missing the central theme of our time: We crave experiences that are driven by technology. And from this, technology has become inseparable from who we are, and from any notion of what we want."


Read more on:
An article by Mark Rolston