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UI Components and A/B Testing: How to Improve Design and Usability/



Michael is a software engineer and startup growth expert with 10+ years of software engineering and machine learning experience.

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UI Components and A/B Testing: How to Improve Design and Usability
UI Components and AB Testing How to Improve Design and Usability

UI components are essential building blocks for designing an application’s user interface (UI) and enhancing its functionality. They enable designers to create modular, reusable components that can be tested and optimized over time. A/B testing is an effective tool that can be used during a lean product development process to test UI components and improve the usability of applications. By combining these two techniques, designers can create robust and user-friendly designs that meet the needs of their clients and users..

Benefits of Familiarity with Coding for Designers

Designers who are familiar with coding can be more effective when collaborating with engineers and developers. JavaScript, one of the most popular scripting languages on the web, has a robust community that is shaping the future of the web through the frameworks they are creating. Frameworks like Vue.js, React.js, and Material UI are important for designers to consider because they act as building blocks for robust design systems. Knowing how code works can also help designers facilitate data-driven design techniques in a development environment such as A/B tests.

The Importance of UI Components in Design

On a recent project for a startup that created a patient management platform to connect individuals to mental health professionals, the team found that creating an intuitive browsing experience for patient profiles was crucial. They also focused on setting up an optimal user flow to create, edit, and assign wellness activities to patients. The team aligned the project’s design with the Material UI framework, utilizing base elements like popup modals, display cards, active/inactive buttons, accordion lists, and a series of success and warning notifications. Once the components that would make up the base elements were defined, the product team offered varying opinions about the application’s layout.

Understanding Functional and Display Components

Understanding Functional and Display Components

During discussions about the project’s UI design, the developer explained the difference between functional and display components. Functional components control the flow of an application’s data, whereas display components are relevant to UI and layout. Display components define an application’s visual language, and functional components help bring them to life. This structure offers unique possibilities to designers because, typically, code concerned with managing the logic of an application is isolated to a file separate from the one controlling the UI’s layout.

Defining the A/B Testing Approach

A/B testing is a core component of any seasoned UX professional’s toolkit, and its role in the software development lifecycle is to help improve the usability of applications. Combined with heat mapping data, teams can gain valuable insight into user behavior, especially when it comes to points of friction within an application’s flow. Before starting A/B testing, it is important to focus on some questions like how A/B testing is used in UX, what methods of A/B analysis are available, why to design A/B tests while wireframing, and what are we testing for.

The Importance of A/B Test-Driven Design

During the wireframing process, it is important to consider the possibilities of A/B testing from a layout and navigation perspective. Simple variations of display components can easily shift how information is presented. Component-based frameworks give you the freedom to experiment with how content is organized without having to re-engineer a product’s core functionality. Effective A/B testing should follow a clearly defined methodology. First, decide what variable you are testing for. Next, define what constitutes success. Finish by evaluating the data and determine what the next step should be.

Case Study: A/B Testing Layout Hierarchy

In one case study, the layout hierarchy was tested. Layout A was made up of a two-column grid that had the patient list component on the left of the screen and the patient profile component on the right. Layout B had a single-column patient list that would click through to the patient’s profile component. Once the test was completed and the results were analyzed, the team decided to move forward with the single-column grid layout for the patient list component. This small change had a big impact on the user experience and ultimately improved the overall usability of the application.

In addition to layout hierarchy, A/B testing can also be used to test variations of colors, fonts, button placement, and other visual elements. These tests can help designers identify which design choices are most effective in achieving the desired user experience.

A/B testing can also be used to test variations of functionality, such as different user flows or methods of data input. These tests can help identify which features and functions are most important to users and how they interact with them.

Ultimately, A/B testing is a valuable tool for designers to use during the product development process. It allows designers to test and refine their design choices based on user feedback and data, resulting in a better user experience and a more successful product.

The “Component Box Model”

React is a framework used for building user interfaces that allows developers to create modular components. By composing complex UIs from small, isolated pieces of code, React offers flexibility and modularity, which is especially useful for projects that involve both developers and designers. The Component Box Model is a design principle that draws inspiration from the HTML+CSS box model and offers an organizational modality for building blocks of a web application

Design Principles for Lean Product Development

To keep design thinking agile, a set of design principles that are well-suited to a lean product development lifecycle can be followed. These principles include grouping similar contexts and actions, simplifying the flow of “state” between components, and designing scalable visual systems to streamline how developers understand and implement designs.

Grouping Similar Contexts

Grouping Similar Contexts

When designing for a web application, it’s important to consider users’ mental models and group similar outcomes and actions based on their “context of use.” This means considering whether users need to create, read, update, and delete items within each context and providing feedback for their actions. When defining an A/B test for a specific use scenario, it’s important to consider the layout, how to access inputs, and methods of navigation.

Simplify the Interaction Flow of “State”

The flow of “state” in React refers to how information moves throughout an application, how components help organize data, and how it’s displayed. Typically, state flows into display components from functional components acting as containers. Designers can prepare for A/B tests by preemptively outlining how functional components can alter an application’s layout by shifting how display components are assessed.

Develop Robust Design Systems

Display components can be used to develop standards for visual elements like typography, buttons, inputs, modals, and cards. This helps provide the building blocks for a standardized design language, and robust visual systems have the flexibility to keep UX designers and developers on the same page about components referenced within wireframes.


In conclusion, UI components and A/B testing play a crucial role in the success of a lean product development process. The use of component-based frameworks like React, Vue.js, and Material UI can offer modular and robust building blocks for design systems, enabling efficient collaboration between designers and developers. Additionally, understanding the flow of “state” in an application can aid in preparing for A/B tests by preemptively outlining how functional components can alter the application’s layout. By following a set of design principles that prioritize grouping similar contexts, simplifying the interaction flow of “state,” and designing scalable visual systems, designers can keep their thinking agile and streamline their design processes. Ultimately, utilizing these tools and principles can lead to more intuitive and user-friendly products.