Feature Flexes 💪 Going The Extra Mile During Project Development
What are feature flexes?
Put simply, feature flexes are user experience enhancements added to a project during the product development process. They can be widgets, easter eggs, animations, real-time events, and countless others that add an extra layer of polish to a product (we call it the hotness coefficient 🔥 of a product). Feature flexes are an important part of the Lithios product development mantra. We believe in pushing beyond the basic business-ready flow of a product to add enhancements that excite and delight customers.
In this post we are going to explore a few of our favorite feature flexes, including several that our team members have created for clients, internal tools, and personal projects.
Feature Flex #1: Loading Animations
Loading pages and animations are ubiquitous in today’s world of software development. They keep users informed of transitions between parts of an application and while uploading or downloading data. Most loading animations are pretty standard and unassuming (everyone is familiar with the spinning wheel or progress bar). These basic animations are used on countless projects, and are so common that they can be almost invisible to users. In cases where it is important to highlight loading of an important task, such as searching for an automated match or calculating a final result, we specifically design loading animations to be fun and match the context of the project.
The example above shows the custom loading screen we designed for a client’s product, which automatically finds matching auto mechanics for a new career. This quirky animation lets users know that an important task is being processed, while also keeping them engaged in the purpose of the platform.
Feature Flex #2: Confirmation Celebrations
Confirmation states are an important part of user experience design and product development. When a user completes an action on your platform, they expect to see a visual representation of the action being completed. This commonly takes the form of checkmarks or basic pop-up modals, which inform the user their action has been completed. However, some user experience developers have seen this as an opportunity to flex. We call these enhanced confirmation states “celebrations” for the fun and engaging experience they add to a ordinarily basic action. These celebrations can range from virtual confetti raining down on the page to a virtual doughnut having a bite taken out of it, and many others.
The project management tool Asana (which we use internally at Lithios) has a few great examples of celebrations. In the one shown above, a user completing a project task has a random chance of seeing an fantastical, animated animal fly across the screen.
Feature Flex #3: Dark Mode Experiences
Dark mode design coincides with a push by software platform developers to provide a low-light color theme for their products. Both iOS and Android devices have the ability to automatically switch between dark and light mode depending on the time of day, and compatible apps can adjust their themes accordingly. Not only can dark mode be easier on the eyes in a dark environment, but it can also provide a unique experience for your product by emulating a real-life environment. For example, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all default to dark mode themes, emulating the feel of a darkened movie theatre experience.
For more information on dark mode and thoughts on how to incorporate it into your project, check out this blog by one of our wonderful UI/UX designers, Sarafina.
Feature Flex #4: Real-Time Demos
Product demos are a great way to engage users and potential customers early with your product. Demos typically show off the core features of the platform to help users to visualize how the product works and how it can directly service their goals. Most software demos however require a real salesperson to call the customer and walk them through the product, which can be time consuming for both the business and the user. To solve this, we have worked with clients to design real-time demos built directly into the marketing website of the product itself. These demos allow a user to start the demo on their own time, walk through the product, and even interact with simulated events, messages, and notifications.
The example above shows a custom demo built by one of our team members for an asset management company. The demo begins on the company’s website, and prompts the user to download the company’s mobile app. Once downloaded, the website walks the user through the asset scanning process with demo assets on the website, and even shows a confirmation when the asset is scanned. This demo showcases how easy it is to use the product, and makes it more likely that a customer will explore further.
Feature Flex #5: Interactive Marketing Pages
Every software product company needs a marketing website. It is often the first place your potential users will go to learn more about your company, and it can include signposts to your product, blog, legal information, and much more. However, marketing websites can feel very “static” compared to their web application counterparts (a good reason why they are referred to as “static websites”) and are often lacking in their user engagement. When designing and developing marketing websites, we seek to add interactive elements wherever possible to increase user engagement. These flexes can be as small as delightful button animations or as complicated as the hand-drawn avatars of team members shown above. All in all, these features add a sense of life to an informative website.
Planning and honing the user experience of your project is one of the most important pieces of the product development process. A well thought out user experience attracts and retains customers for its ease of use. With the advent of more streamlined design tools and frameworks, it is easier and easier to create a solid user experience for a product. And since more and more products have great user experiences, it can be more challenging for your product to stand out among the crowd. We believe that sprinkling in a few feature flexes here and there adds the delightful detail needed to engage users and make your product stand out.
Here at Lithios, we strive to build products with world-class user experiences. We consult closely with our clients and development teams to add feature flexes throughout the product development process that engage and delight our clients’ users and support future growth. If you have any questions about our process or want to get in touch, drop us a line here.
Brendan Michaelsen is the Director of Technology at Lithios. He enjoys designing and implementing complex technical systems. A fun fact about Brendan, he sleeps on textbooks to absorb knowledge while dormant.