The term user experience (UX) was first coined in the early 1990s by Don Norman who was a cognitive scientist for Apple at the time. The briefest explanation of the term from the Nielsen Norman Group: "User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products. The generally held meaning of UX has shifted to a focus on design elements of websites, apps, and other digital products. Always evolving due to the changing nature of technology, UX will continue to transform as we head into 2019. Here are some trends we anticipate moving forward.
1. The Role of Automation
Automated technologies, to include artificial intelligence (AI), will continue to become more sophisticated and responsive to consumer needs. For example, chatbots will become more conversational and better able to “think” through interactions with customers. Companies have seen increased booking rates as well as an increase in the average spend in conjunction with the release of automated resources like the “Sephora Assistant”. 2019 will see more websites incorporating conversational marketing platforms like Drift as the technology becomes more mainstream.
This type of automation brings with it concerns regarding personalization. Individually tailored experiences continue to be important to consumers and help brands build trust and loyalty with their customer base. Advancements in machine learning and AI are allowing marketers to provide more personalized online experiences through smart content, data enrichment and a number of other emerging tools. While human UX designers will still have a place in the process, their role will continue to evolve as computer-aided technology does more of the hard labor while the humans provide touches requiring emotional intelligence and a greater understanding of user behavior.
Virtual reality is another technology that will continue to work its way into mainstream use. Marketers envision virtual reality as a completely new channel for connecting with potential clients. There are still a number of challenges to address to make this technology one that used by smaller organizations with tighter budgets but more and more companies will look to create virtual reality videos and define a set of best practices.
2. Making Nice with Mobile Devices
Statista anticipates there will be in excess of 2.87 billion smartphone users by 2020 compared to only 1.57 billion users back in 2014. Given this statistic, responsive website design is no longer a choice, it is a must for businesses with an online presence. Fewer organizations will go the route of multiple website interfaces – one for desktop, one for mobile. More companies will design this one version of their website to provide an excellent user experience regardless of the device being used to view the site.
In fact, we anticipate that we’ll actually see design elements originally intended for mobile to make their way into desktop design. Large typography and sticky elements placed on the bottom of the page that ensure easier accessibility on a mobile device will become commonplace elements, especially as consumers become more familiar with this type of functionality.
Phones are growing. 2019 will bring even larger mobile device screens as Apple, Samsung, and others release new smartphone versions. With that in mind, your website and mobile applications should be designed with larger screens in mind. Keep an eye on the trends and continue to optimize the UX for thumb and one-handed device use, regardless of the size of the device.
3. The Use of Storytelling
Websites that tell a compelling story instead of simply presenting information will become more common as brands compete for the attention of consumers. Our brains are wired to remember persuasive narratives and storytelling utilizes elements that encourage human connection. Inspiration, motivation, empathy, and more can be woven into the fabric of the brand story and what it has to offer to strengthen UX design. This approach requires an in-depth understanding of the target audience and will necessitate research and analytics that will help companies speak directly to the needs of their consumers.
4. Clothes Aren’t the Only Wearables Nowadays
The use of smartwatches and portable devices from the health industry is becoming more widespread as people seek to solve their everyday problems with the aid of technology. Minimalism takes on an entirely new significance when it comes to UX design for wearable devices and has proven to be a challenging endeavor, even for big-time players like Amazon and Google Maps. Both companies have pulled wearable device apps from the Apple Watch App Store after finding their interface worked poorly on a wrist-sized screen. 2019 will see UX designers continue their quest to create products that not only simplify UX on wearable gadgets but also provide visual aesthetics that speak to the everyday user.
5. The Inclusion of Micro-Interactions
According to microinteractions.com,
Micro-interactions are contained product moments that revolve around a single use case—they have one main task. Every time you change a setting, sync your data or devices, set an alarm, pick a password, log in, set a status message, or favorite or “like” something, you are engaging with a micro-interaction.
Moving into 2019, more businesses will incorporate micro-interactions into their websites. These interactions have been found to encourage engagement or provide instant confirmation that a user’s task was completed. Animations like a “clap” or a “thumbs up” are the most commonly used micro-interactions but we’ll see more integration of this technology into call to action buttons, system status messages, and more. The ultimate goal is to create engaging, welcoming moments and technology-rich micro-interactions will help accomplish this goal.
6. Take Hamburgers Off the Menu
The hamburger menu was an initial answer to the need for a more mobile-friendly way to present website menu options. However, hamburger menus decrease discoverability, efficiency, and overall UX. Bottom-dwelling, tab-based navigation menus, like the one on Spotify, have seen an increase in menu clicks. We anticipate that website designer will continue experimenting with alternatives that will increase the number of navigation menu clicks and, ultimately the number of conversions.
7. Forget About the Fold
Today’s consumers are accustomed to scrolling so the concept of squeezing myriads of information above the fold is no longer applicable to website design. If visitors don’t seem to be scrolling on your pages, odds are it’s because the content isn’t motivating them to do so. Focus on quality of content instead of what is above or below the fold.
E-COMMERCE SPECIFIC TIPS
Many UX strategies are widely applicable but there is certain care needed when looking at UX as it applies to e-commerce. For that reason, we’ve included some best practices focused specifically on e-commerce UX.
1. Focus on Functionality
Slow loading and poor functionality are unfortunate side effects of some of the “prettier” design elements like image carousels and hidden navigation. Instead of frustrating your customers, provide better functionality. Ensure that products are easily found, viewed from multiple angles, and have all details included. Navigation and information are the keys to a well-functioning e-commerce site with high levels of UX.
2. Purchasing Personalization
E-commerce offers excellent opportunities to personalize your customers’ experience and increase your overall UX. Offer product recommendations and related products based on your visitors’ prior purchasing patterns. Include a section that shows what else people bought in conjunction with a given pattern. Your customers will embrace the embedded social proof of their purchase and will appreciate the opportunity to find new products they might like to buy.
3. The Value of Video Descriptions
Today’s Internet users have become used to videos available with every click. Consider showing people how your products work or can be worn. Let visitors watch your product descriptions instead of reading them. We anticipate that video descriptions will not only continue to improve e-commerce UX but will also positively impact conversion rates.
4. Don’t Falter at the End
People tend to remember most vividly the last part of a brand experience. If your e-commerce site has offered amazing UX throughout the shopping experience but crashes and burns at check-out, people will leave the interaction with a bad taste in their mouths and, often, without completing the purchase. To minimize your cart abandonment rate, minimize the number of steps required to check out. Include functionality that lets buyers go back and forth between their cart and shopping mode. Ensure forms contain only the fields necessary to complete the transaction. Offer a guest checkout in addition to the ability to create or log in to an existing account. Make sure the tail end of the purchasing process has the best possible UX to encourage visitors to recall a positive memory of their experience with your brand.
Embrace the expanded role that automation will have.
A device responsive website is no longer an option. Take into account the trending growth of screen sizes and ensure your site offers amazing UX regardless of how a visitor chooses to view it.
Learn how to use your site to tell a compelling brand story that speaks directly to the needs of your target audience.
Keep an eye on the wearable gadget market if it is relevant to your business. And position your brand to make the most of those opportunities as the technology becomes more accessible.
Create engaging micro-interactions not only to entertain visitors to your site but also to optimize their experience while they are there.
Ask your site designers to experiment with new menu options to see what works best for your business and your target audience.
Concern yourself more with the quality of your site content than with what content appears above or below the fold.
If you have an e-commerce aspect to your online presence:
Functionality before beauty.
Personalize the purchasing experience.
Incorporate video product descriptions.
Offer a quick and friendly check out experience.
2019 will see an increase in technical assistance to the world of UX design. An effective UX design attracts and retains visitors as they browse through your website and e-commerce pages. Simplify the processes and eliminate common challenges to best optimize your brand’s overall UX and grow your business.
The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing make it their business to stay on top of, if not ahead of, digital and marketing trends. We’d love to help you make the most of your online presence by helping you create and maintain a website with amazing UX. We’re also experienced pros with all things e-commerce and can help your efforts there as well. Contact us today to get started!