Creating a great user experience (UX) isn’t a difficult concept to understand, but often not quite as easy to execute effectively and the impact on your business can be substantial. Website visitors and product users now expect seamless and smooth interactions and transactions. Mobile devices have made browsing the internet while working, walking or stopped at a traffic light an everyday occurrence. If your website or product isn’t up to the task, visitors will quickly disappear to your competitor who does a better job at providing good UX.
What’s more, our understanding of good UX is constantly evolving. Last year some of the biggest trends we saw included the alchemy of mobile first design, user-centred design, the rise of parallax scrolling and the rise of content-focused design.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest UX trends that will become your biggest talking points and which ones you should take into consideration for your next digital project, so you won’t be left in the dust.
1. Cover the basics, focus on the details
There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to understanding the problem your user is trying to solve and deciding on an interaction design pattern. Interaction patterns refer to a solution to a common usability or accessibility obstacle. There are many pattern libraries and guidelines available to designers to assist in giving ideas of the type of familiar model that makes it easier for users to understand your interface and arrive at their task goal. People respond well to familiar cues and it's important to lower the user’s cognitive load when asking them to make decisions online.
Pattern libraries and guidelines allow your designer to meet basic usability standards while allowing them to focus on special elements that can make your digital product more memorable and delightful for the user. The benefit of giving your team the right resources to do their job means you can lead an organisation where everyone owns the customer experience.
Today every aspect of usability must be automated for seamless collaboration within your team. Tools like Sketch (which brings real data to design mockups) and Invision (a high-fidelity prototyping tool) are examples of workflow automation tools that will help your designer cover the basic patterns, which can allow them to be less protective of their work. Today bots are even introduced to help with research. Automated systems, like HubSpot can assist in collecting data, you just need to connect them. This releases you from task-oriented work to more strategic thinking. It can give you the ability to focus on a holistic approach, once some of the heavy lifting, such as user research, is removed. By employing these processes, you’ll be providing your team with the skills to correctly test and measure strategy.
This year, we also expect to see a considerable increase in smart personalisation, with some changes. World events such as Brexit and the US election highlighted that the personalisation of information can bring sour surprises to some. Many people found themselves questioning the recommendation of articles with unbiased views, and so this year we expect to see more options to ‘opt out’ or consciously add in opposing opinions to places like Facebook’s News Feed. The upside of covering the basics is being able to see true audience insights, which will help you to optimise best practices.
2. Responsive Design (and others words) that aren’t a thing anymore
It’s not so much about a design being ‘intuitive’ anymore, but that you can prove a solution and ‘experience’ works through user testing and positive feedback. Here are some words that you should probably remove from your vocabulary this year;
Responsive design: This was talked about a lot in 2011, when the possibilities of adapting a design fluidly to multiple screen size was, at the time, impressive. Now with more of a focus on mobile design, responsive design is just another norm. It should be an assumption that every website is responsive, making this term irrelevant.
Mobile-friendly: In 2016 Google removed the label ‘mobile-friendly’ from its search results and now according to Google ‘85% of all pages in the mobile search results meet the appropriate criteria and show the mobile-friendly label’. All websites should now be mobile-friendly and so we shouldn’t really need to mention this.
Above the fold: There are now less arguments about whether content should be placed ‘above’ or ‘below’ the fold as the huge amount of varying screen sizes used today are making this an outdated squabble.
2 clicks away: We used to brag that something ‘is only 2 click away’. This was more of an issue when our internet speeds were less than extraordinary and clicking a link was a burden and interactions were limited to cursor control.
Human-centred: The whole ethos of user experience design is based on guidance for creating superior user journeys for human beings. It's becoming an irrelevant term due to the no brainer fact that every company should be bringing their user into the their thinking in the design process.
So why should you pay attention to the relevant industry terms? By remaining up to date with the current UX techniques and processes you’ll be utilising the best marketing technologies, giving your company a competitive advantage.
3. Make it a conversation
You’ve probably heard the new ‘it’ term ‘chatbot’ by now. In 2017 we expect to see more focus on the ‘conversational interface’. This reflects the idea that every user interface becomes a conversation that mimics what it’s like to speak with a real person.
Look at Uber, for example and the way their app poses questions to the user. It uses the simple goal of ordering a taxi to engage in a conversation-like exchange with their customer. You tell Uber you need a ride, it then asks where you are and once it’s located your driver, the app will give you a time estimate. When you’ve arrived at your destination the app asks you how it all went, to which you give your opinion using a rating system. Users can even request a ride without having to touch their phone. The structure is similar to a traditional question/answer format, but users can now use words and emoji’s to tell a system what we want.
Apps like WeChat are used by over half a billion people in China. This app covers everything from banking, dating, gaming, marketing, instant messaging, buying food, paying bills and booking hotels, to mention a few, all rolled into the one system. It all operates through conversations and mini-apps that allow for a central destination service. Other voice interfaces like Siri and Alexa are a next step opportunity for business that will make you think differently about how your digital product can interact with your user in a relevant way within their own environment.
The benefits of this can be time saving for your users’ as well as your employees by using chatbots to deal with basic interactions, allowing the robots to do the hard work, so you can remain focused on the business opportunities and goals that underpin and shape your customers experience.
So there you have our 3 top UX design trends for the year ahead! We hope these pointers have highlighted their impact on your users’ behavior and will help you to create a superior and memorable experience for users. Keeping ahead of the curve in UX is important to help drive your company in offering a remarkable user experience design that weaves data driven and collaborative ideas with your campaign vision and strategy, to keep your user returning for more.
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