Determining Product Value | Android Design Patterns

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A column by Janet M. Six
July 18, 2011

In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our experts discuss two very different topics:

  • how to determine the value of a product or service
  • design patterns for the Android platform

Every month in Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers readers’ questions about a broad range of user experience matters. To get answers to your own questions about UX strategy, design, user research, or any other topic of interest to UX professionals in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, please send your questions to us at: [email protected].

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The following experts have contributed answers to this edition of Ask UXmatters:

  • Jessica Enders—Principal at Formulate Information Design
  • Suzanne Ginsburg—Principal at Ginsburg Design
  • Adrian Howard—Generalizing Specialist in Agile UX
  • Peter Hornsby—Senior Information Architect at Friends Provident; UXmatters columnist
  • Robert Reimann—Lead Interaction Designer at Sonos Inc.; Past-President, Interaction Design Association (IxDA)
  • Janet Six—Principal at Lone Star Interaction Design; UXmatters Managing Editor and columnist
  • Simon White—Responsable Experience Utilisateur at

Determining the Value of a Product or Service

Q: What are some ways to determine the value of a product or service your company provides?—from a UXmatters reader

To determine the value of a product or service, Robert recommends using the following metrics:

  1. increased sales of a product or service
  2. increased customer use of a product or service
  3. increased customer satisfaction
  4. a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  5. decreased customer support costs
  6. decreased customer training costs
  7. decreased time to market—by virtue of solid UX specifications
  8. decreased development/product marketing churn—by virtue of a solid understanding of customers and a clear design direction

“Obviously, there is not always going to be a direct link between good design and these metrics, because many other factors come into play,” admits Robert. “But it is worthwhile to record these metrics before and after introducing a new design. This data can begin to form a basis for demonstrating the value of UX design to an organization.”

Validating Whether Products Meet Users’ and Organizations’ Goals

I suggest two other approaches to you:

  • Watch users using your product and see how well they are able to accomplish their tasks. Do they seem frustrated or empowered when using your product?
  • For a more formal approach, go back to your original project goals and verify that your product does indeed meet those goals.

“Something has value if it contributes to an organization’s meeting its overall goals,” agrees Jessica. “For organizations, a product or service has value if it helps the organization achieve what it has set out to achieve. Thus, improved organizational outcomes often demonstrate the value of UX efforts as well—for example, higher levels of customer attainment, satisfaction, and retention; increased sales; providing assistance to more constituents; and decreased costs.

“However, what contributes to value is not always easy to actually measure. For example, sales may increase because of an improved online user experience, but also because of faster delivery—thanks to the streamlining of distribution networks. Rarely do people make a decision to purchase because of just one factor. Consequently, it can be hard to untangle the reasons for things’ getting better. So it is important to recognize that value isn’t always a solid, measurable thing.

“Sometimes the value a product delivers is more fluid, more long term. Ensuring something is accessible, for instance, can deliver a chain of value far beyond the initial product or service. Just think how life could be different for someone living in a remote area and suffering from depression if he had access to online mood-management tools—when in the past, the best thing available was an appointment once a month, in a town that’s a two-hour drive away.”

Google Android User Interface Design Patterns

Q: It is well known that, at this point, Google provides little in the way of UI design guidance similar to what Apple provides in their iOS Human Interface Guidelines. For Google, it’s all about implementation. What’s surprising is that it appears there’s essentially nothing on the Web or on bookstore shelves addressing Android user interface design patterns. Am I wrong here? Are there resources to which you can point the UX community?—David Schwartz

Adrian replies, “The good news is that Google is beginning to put together some guidelines,” “They are fairly sparse at the moment, but if you’ve not come across them already, you should take a look at them. There are some recommendations on Android-specific interactions like contextual and option menus, along with some visual design guidelines for icons and widgets. There are also a few templates that should make some things easier.”

Simon recommends these guidelines as well, but cautions, “The problem is the heterogeneous nature of the Android ecosystem, as a presentation we created—in French—shows. This presentation showcases some of our UX design methods regarding mobile development. Color schemes vary, as do hardware buttons, which makes visual style difficult to pin down.”

Suzanne provided links to the following guidelines:

Peter suggests viewing the video and PDF from the Google I/O 2010 session “Android UI Design Patterns,” which the Android User Experience team presented. He also recommends the site Android Patterns. Peter and Adrian both recommend the site Android UI Design Patterns.

“This information isn’t as extensive or detailed as the Apple iOS guidelines,” acknowledges Peter, “but it does provide a starting point. Remember that Google is data driven. This was the organization that tested 41 shades of blue to make sure they got it right.”

Applying Other Platforms’ Design Patterns to Android

“Why not flip the question around?” suggests Peter. “Why wouldn’t the Apple iOS guidelines work for most Android cases?”

“I wouldn’t ignore other resources just because they’re not Android specific,” replies Adrian. “For example, while Josh Clark’s excellent book Tapworthy is subtitled Designing Great iPhone Apps, much of his advice could apply to other platforms.”

“Having worked on most mobile platforms—iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7—I agree that you are quite correct in stating that Apple has the strongest human interface guidelines,” says Simon. “But you don’t become a brand with such UX impact without having strict controls on what application developers can do on your platform. Google is arguably more open than Apple, but they pay the price in a slightly less coherent user experience in their third-party apps.” 


Beckley, Adam. Android Design Guidelines: Version 1. Mutual Mobile, February 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011.

Clark, Josh. Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps. Sebastopol, California: O’Reilly Media, 2010.

Product Manager at Tom Sawyer Software

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Janet M. SixDr. Janet M. Six helps companies design easier-to-use products within their financial, time, and technical constraints. For her research in information visualization, Janet was awarded the University of Texas at Dallas Jonsson School of Engineering Computer Science Dissertation of the Year Award. She was also awarded the prestigious IEEE Dallas Section 2003 Outstanding Young Engineer Award. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications and the Kluwer International Series in Engineering and Computer Science. The proceedings of conferences on Graph Drawing, Information Visualization, and Algorithm Engineering and Experiments have also included the results of her research.  Read More

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