In 2016 we finally saw flat design becoming a standard practice, mostly due to Google pushing their material design standards. Responsive design has also seen a rapid increase in use, progressive web apps which can run even when the user is offline became popular and scrolling animation took over the web. And all of these trends have one thing in common, and that is to improve the user experience. With better UX come better metrics such as improved bounce and conversion rates, which is essential for keeping any business afloat. This is why we’re going to discuss more on the UX trends you should be watching out for in the following year.
As websites are already formatted to adapt their content and layout to fit a large number of different devices, it’s safe to say that the next step is to make them adapt their layout to fit different age groups. Online advertisers have already been tailoring their content to fit individual interests for some time now, why shouldn’t websites do the same thing? A 7-year-old child and a 70-year-old senior citizen don’t watch the same shows or listen to the same music, then why should they have the same user experience? Using metadata, websites should present age-specific iterations of their pages in order to provide every person with the best possible custom experience.
Chatbots and conversational interfaces
One of the biggest trends in the world of UX is most certainly using chatbots. Although they have been in use for the last couple of years, the reason why they are trending right now is due to major AI advancements made by Google with its Assistant and Apple with Siri. Even Facebook has started using them by incorporating a chatbot in their messenger app. The goal behind chatbots is to one day become a completely new type of interface people will interact with on a regular basis in order to get the information they require.
Gesture and Voice-based Interfaces
The user interface is slowly but surely moving away from graphical towards gesture and voice-based interfaces. This is most evident in various personal assistants offered by Apple, Google and Microsoft which register and respond to voice inputs on iOS, Android and Windows machines respectively. Whether it’s using voice recognition to perform a search query, ask about directions or find out information about the weather, these virtual assistants improve the overall user experience allowing people to use their voices as a means of navigation through the interface.
Micro-interactions represent small visual cues which occur when the user performs a particular action. They are used to provide feedback, communicate status updates and help the users visualize the results of their actions. They can be done as animations or use CSS transitions and the best examples include Facebook Reactions and Twitter’s heart animation. As an excellent method for providing users with rewarding feedback, micro transactions are a sure-proof way to increase and refine the user experience. Expect more UX professionals to start incorporating this feature into their web design. Medium is already catching up on it.
Augmented and virtual reality are creating quite a stir both in the tech industry and in popular culture, with products such as Pokémon Go, Vive and Oculus VR. But what we should definitely expect in the new future is the concept of mixed reality. This is where real and virtual worlds are merged together in order to create new, visually rich environments where both digital and physical objects exist and can be interacted with in real time. Expect this new immersive user experience to change and improve the way people learn and interact with everyday tasks such as studying, gaming, shopping, etc.
Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence where programs have the ability to learn something without actually being programmed to do so. This type of technology has already been put in use by some of the biggest names in tech industry including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Spotify and more. For now, it’s mostly used in making algorithms which are used to personalize the experience and tailor it to each individual customer. The best example of this is the Spotify’s Discover Weakly and YouTube’s Recommended pages.
Scroll-related animations and parallax scrolling seem to be literally everywhere. They’re being used by both small businesses and large companies, as a way to tell their story, show a demo of a product or simply provide their users with relevant information packaged in a new and innovative way. Scroll animations also work very well when paired with web pages which contain more than one section. As users keep scrolling, the animation actually informs them which section they’re currently looking at. Although it’s prominently featured in visual storytelling, this technique is also favored and frequently used by Apple on their websites.
As our digital landscapes become increasingly competitive, focusing on improving user experience can only result in better business performance as well as greater customer loyalty. Trends come and go, but the user experience is something that constantly needs to be improved upon. You don’t have to explicitly follow every single design trend you lay your eyes on, but try to incorporate at least some of them into your business model in order to ensure your brand remains relevant and stays above the competition.
About the author: Sam Cyrus is CEO and co-founder of Algorithm SEO Sydney, a Digital Marketing agency from Australia. Sam is also a creative writer and likes to share his insights on entrepreneurship, business, online marketing, SEO and social media. He currently collaborates with Nirmal Web Design Agency from Sydney.