User Experience was first officially born around 25 years ago when Don Norman, now Director of the Design Lab at California University coined it. Back then, he said
‘I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose its meaning.’
What does UX mean in 2018, and beyond? What can we expect from the world of User Experience in the next year? We explore concepts that are making waves below.
Mobile First UX (Mostly)
An obvious yet still crucial point to make. Because we’ve reached a point where more websites are loaded on phones than desktop computers. Which means there has quickly been a rapid shift in designing better, faster, easier experiences on mobile screens. And to give this change even more momentum, and to offer the best possible experience for the user, Google is now using the mobile version of websites to determine rankings. So in 2018 it will be a case of adapt or die. Adapting mobile browsing that is, or your website will die a slow and painful death.
Say what now? In a nutshell, it’s defined as the ‘perceptual condition of mixed sensation.’ In human speak that’s basically when one sense awakens another. This technique can be applied in design. A real world example would be Facebook using neural technology to reduce language to vibrations that can be read by a user’s’ skin. Yes, really.
Video has become more prominent every year, to the point where Facebook video views have increased 360% across people’s newsfeeds, and people make a career out of a thing called ‘vlogging’. Audiences are demanding a multimedia experience when it comes to websites, which includes consuming unintrusive video at key stages in the user journey.
Progress is continual
Progress bars so far have been a little bit too black and white, when in reality, people don’t see progress as a bar that ends, they view it as continual. A really good example of a site offering site progress as a spectrum rather than a bar is LinkedIn. On people’s profiles, there’s a rating of how good their profile is, and is never completely empty or full. ‘Profiles exist on an infinite spectrum — there is always some task left to complete.’ See more about this here.
Otherwise known as failure mapping. Many designers spend their entire careers focusing on what makes a website a success but flips things around, and you get a uniquely fresh and useful perspective.
What happens when a user visits your site and fails? Why did they fail and what could you and they have done better? Mapping out the architecture and process of failed website visits offers a myriad of priceless information. Expect disinformation architecture to become more prominent in 2018.
Mind Blowing Web Design
And we don’t just mean web design that’s really really, ridiculously good looking. We’re talking design that goes one step further and taps into the brain. Chase Buckley, had this to say about his prediction for the ‘mood as interface’ trend. ‘Design pioneers can leverage brain-wave biometrics to create highly customised interfaces that are shaped by user’s moods and emotions.’ It’s about analysing emotional cues and inputs and then masterminding a design that adapts to a user’s feelings and emotions.
Whilst designs will continue to be simple and clean in order to produce the most straightforward user experience, content will lengthen. Clickbait type content and pages will become less important and instead replaced with meaty, hearty content that people read from start to finish, and actually take something away from. We will start to not only see longer blog posts next year but also landing-pages with a wealth of information. The average word count of top-ranking content in Google is between 1,140 and 1,285 words.
Adapting Websites To Voice Search
Voice search is another trend that’s on the rise and certainly something to pay attention when it comes to UX next year. According to ComScore, ‘50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.’ Sites should aim to serve up content that’s relevant to those searching via their voice, and keep in mind that queries are more conversational and not just one-word searches.
If you can design your site aesthetically, technically and content wise to adapt to this then you will stay ahead of the game and capture some of the voice search audience. Locationworld claims that 40% of adults now use voice search once per day, who knows how this might evolve in the next few years.
Web sites are generally going through an enormous tidy up. No more fussy content, no more annoying flashing banners that take up half the page. Not only will Google penalise you for using irritating popups (see Google’s intrusive popups update), your audience will become disengaged and probably leave your site.
Sites are usually designed around numerous audience ‘personas’. These are various characters with varying interests who might want to use your site for a particular reason. Designing your site around these people helps keep it relevant and targeted. However, doing so can also occasionally alienate some of your audience.
Enter ‘rogue personas’, people who you wouldn’t usually target, but still might use your site. For example, you may have a product that you feel is mainly for young people, so you build your site around that. Then an older person stumbles upon your site, is interested in your offering, but because it’s not designed around them all the content is completely irrelevant.
This also links to age centric design, which is a strategy that recognises a one size fits all (ages) approach won’t work for everyone. Sites that present the right pages and content to the right audience at the right time will see huge improvements in conversion.
UX and Smart Tech
And finally, we just might see smart tech such as AI which is being used in many sectors, make its way into UX in minor ways. There is a company out there (Logojoy) who offer an AI-based logo design. Whilst machines can by no means replace the human element of web design and knowing what makes me people tick, they can be used in combination with smart designers who can play around with AI generated ideas. Watch this space.