Top 10 UX Articles of 2021

The following user-experience articles published in 2021 were the ones our audience read the most:

The 6 Levels of UX Maturity
Our UX-maturity model has 6 stages that cover processes, design, research, leadership support, and longevity of UX. Use our quiz to get an idea of your organization’s UX maturity.
Mapping User Stories in Agile
User-story maps help Agile teams define what to build and maintain visibility for how it all fits together. They enable user-centered conversations, collaboration, and feature prioritization to align and guide iterative product development.
Using “How Might We” Questions to Ideate on the Right Problems
Constructing how-might-we questions generates creative solutions while keeping teams focused on the right problems to solve.
Design Systems 101
A design system is a set of standards to manage design at scale by reducing redundancy while creating a shared language and visual consistency across different pages and channels.
Why Does a Design Look Good?
Visually aesthetic designs use consistent typography, establish a clear hierarchy, utilize a refined color palette, and align to a grid.
PM and UX Have Markedly Different Views of Their Job Responsibilities
A survey of people in user experience and product management shows that these professionals disagree on who should be responsible for many key tasks, like doing discoveries and early design.
Sticky Headers: 5 Ways to Make Them Better
Persistent headers can be useful to users if they are unobtrusive, high-contrast, minimally animated, and fit user needs.
Left-Side Vertical Navigation on Desktop: Scalable, Responsive, and Easy to Scan
Vertical navigation is a good fit for broad or growing IAs, but takes up more space than horizontal navigation. Ensure that it is left-aligned, keyword front-loaded, and visible.
UX vs. Service Design
User experience is focused on what the end user encounters, whereas service design is focused on how that user experience is internally created.
Problem Statements in UX Discovery
In the discovery phase of a UX project, a problem statement is used to identify and frame the problem to be explored and solved, as well as to communicate the discovery’s scope and focus.

Bonus: Top 5 from Last Year

These five articles from 2020 got so many hits in 2021 that they would have placed high on this year’s top-10 list:

Dark Mode vs. Light Mode: Which Is Better?
In people with normal vision (or corrected-to-normal vision), visual performance tends to be better with light mode, whereas some people with cataract and related disorders may perform better with dark mode. On the flip side, long-term reading in light mode may be associated with myopia.
7 Ways to Analyze a Customer-Journey Map
Evaluate your journey map to identify low and high points, failures to set expectations, unnecessary or too long steps, channel transitions, and moments of truth. Use this information to find opportunities for improving the journey.
The Discovery Phase in UX Projects
Although there can be many different instigators, roles, and activities involved in a discovery, all discoveries strive to achieve consensus on the problem to be solved and desired outcomes.
5 Principles of Visual Design in UX
The principles of scale, visual hierarchy, balance, contrast, and Gestalt not only create beautiful designs, but also increase usability when applied correctly.
Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists
Listboxes and dropdowns are compact UI controls that allow users to select options. Listboxes expose options right away and support multi-selection while dropdowns require a click to see options and support only single-selection.

See Also

Top 10 UX videos of 2021
Top 10 UX articles of 2020