User Experiences are evolving. 2019 will see a more dramatic push towards curating and enhancing those experiences. We’ll see a greater emphasis on the user through personalization, accessibility, and a reduction in things like Dark Patterns. We will also see more frictionless design, device agonistic strategies, and micro-interactions. At Hedgehog, all these things are part of what we call the Wholistic UX Journey. As Strategists, UX Designers, and Developers, we no longer have the luxury of thinking about only one instance of a user’s experience at a time. We need to consider how these experiences connect and overlap. The continuum from the first interaction with a brand and all the interactions that follow must be carefully considered. This is where we will be heading full steam through 2019 and beyond.
Here are some of the ways they will play out through the paradigms mentioned.
The necessity of personalization
A period of Big Data has now enabled the era of algorithms, machine learning, and highly personalized experiences. The latter of which will be paramount for marketers to embrace as they think about consumer needs and how to win their hearts. Personalization will be far more than the name of a person peppered throughout an offer. Personalized experiences will consider where the person is, what their past behavior has been, the stage of the specific brand interaction journey they are at, and the device(s) they are using. Capturing a person’s attention just right will help foster the bond between brands and consumers in ways that are much more relevant to the consumer.
Creating content and designing experiences that transcend specific knowledge of the user's device is known as Agnostic Design. As technology moves towards voice and face recognition, gestures, and other forms of user input, the paradigm that content creators and designers must plan for not only becomes broader but unknowable. Thinking about experiences holistically and accounting for multiple variables will enable marketers to be more strategic when mapping out the interactions their brands have with customers. Content will be decoupled from the platforms of experience whether that platform is a website, watch, TV, car, refrigerator, Echo, kiosk, or any other devices. Technology will enable the right content to be dispersed as needed, and the device will not matter.
As more accessibility cases hit the courts, designers and developers need a greater awareness of how persons with disabilities perceive their designs. Improving a website's overall accessibility rating is an important goal and can no longer be an afterthought. Designs with poor readability, reduced contrast, and inadequate labeling are going out the window. Designers are instead creating experiences that can be accessed by people with vision impairments, auditory impairments and any other impairment that may affect their web browsing experience.
The decline of dark patterns
Dark patterns are UX techniques that trick users into doing things they did not intend to do. A simple example is when a button says something that implies a negative like “No Thanks,” but is in an affirmative color like green. They gained popularity with business stakeholders because they often showed short-term improvement in conversion rates. While they may make many stakeholders happy, they typically end up providing an inferior experience to the user. After the user realizes they have been tricked, they often foster negative feelings toward the brand, unsubscribe from their services, ask for their money back, and write poor reviews that other potential users will read. These actions create long-term consequences for the business and impact KPI's. In today's world, a single disgruntled user can destroy a brand's image. Because of this, UX designers need to help businesses move away from this practice to focus on long-term benefits instead.
Frictionless design is about reducing the energy required during an experience. An example is using face recognition to unlock a phone rather than a user having to input their passcode. The future will see this strategy being used in many ways. Users will be able to walk into a store, take products off a shelf, and leave without ever having to stop at a register; facial or thumbprint recognition will be used rather than passcodes or pins, and devices will be smarter in what they show users and how those users purchase products. Every business from banks to restaurants to clothing stores to gas stations will deploy frictionless experiences.
Micro-interactions utilize minor changes in design to give visual or audio feedback to a user and entice them to act. An example is the small pulse of an "add to cart" button. These "micro-animations" guide a user through an experience intuitively and effectively. When an interaction occurs, the user is presented with instant feedback - helping them to notice the results of their actions. This attention to detail is what differentiates an ordinary experience from an unforgettable one—usually without the user evening realizing.
We are always ready to help design ideal platforms and experiences for your specific target. If you want to talk more about User Experience, give us a shout.