As a full-service digital agency, user experience (UX) design plays a crucial role in our day-to-day operations. Like most processes, UX design is influenced by new trends, innovations in technology, and growing user needs.
Every year, there is speculation as to which trends the following year will bring and, here at Coast, we have some realistic projections of our own to add to the mix.
We dig deeper than just focussing on design component trends such as illustrations, page transitions or design systems, as these aspects are pretty much consistent considerations across the world of UX design and their applications change from client to client.
Instead, here are 8 progressive UX design trends that we think will transform the digital marketing industry throughout this coming year and thereafter.
#1: The rising need for the business designer
This year, we anticipate the “rise of business designer”. By this we mean a role that intricately weaves business and design.
When we say business designer, we’re referring to those with the mind of a businessperson, the heart of a designer, and the ability to effectively communicate across the full lifecycle of a product—from research and development to design and testing to marketing strategy execution.
Our UX designers are set to think beyond the baseline considerations of design and ease of use, and instead begin to factor in more business-driven considerations as well. Such as how can our design give our clients a better scope to capture a broader audience and how can we enhance not only the experience but the monetary business as well.
#2: A growing focus on accessibility and inclusive design
Inclusive design and accessibility are becoming increasingly central to the UX design process. Inclusive design factors in user diversity, so that something like a website can be usable by as many people as possible without the need for specialised adaptations.
Organisations should kick-off the whole design process with the diversity of user needs already in mind. As reported in Forrester’s Inclusive Design Imperative, “focusing on the margins not only opens doors to new markets but also yields the desirable side effect of innovative solutions that even those who are not at the margins benefit from, too.”
This statement is also supported by the Paradox of Specificity, a concept discussed in Alan Cooper’s book The Inmates are Running the Asylum. This theory claims that focusing on the needs of a narrow market segment results in products that are more broadly useful. This has been proven time and again with products, such as the Swiss Army Knife, for example.
#3: A higher demand for specialist UX professionals
Organisations are prioritising and promoting more advanced experimentation and testing methods as the importance of innovation in UX design becomes clearer.
Therefore, we anticipate the rising demand for specialised in-house collaborative UX teams, product designers, and business strategists in order to stand apart from the competition as technology and advanced UX testing processes continue to develop.
#4: Utilising the art of story telling
Human beings are natural story tellers. From early cave paintings that detailed the stories of our ancestors’ survival, to poignant stories of good vs. evil that teach us the values of being honest individuals, storytelling is an integral part of our lives and how we communicate with each other.
For some time now, we’ve been starting to see the shift from UX design as simply a means to create basic wireframes to solve specific issues, to it becoming a richer process for helping users truly interact with the brand itself, as opposed to just interacting with a static digital tool.
Creating an experience through storytelling can build a strong connection between businesses and their customers. The more a user about the context and history of a brand, or even their products/services, the more likely they are likely to trust and relate to that brand.
All relevant details and information can be weaved throughout the user experience, and that linear progression should uncover more and more to the user, page by page (or with each scroll), with new details unfolding – such as who the brand is, what they do, how they can realise a user’s vision etc – to truly position the brand within the marketplace.
In essence, UX design must factor in the art of telling a story in order to guide users through a unique, well-thought-out online journey.
#5: Tapping into behavioural science
Involving science in UX design methods help to enhance the whole online experience, which is particularly important given the effect the pandemic has had on supercharging eCommerce and online shopping. Putting more effort into understanding your users better is key to getting the most out of your marketing efforts.
Utilising behavioural science in marketing isn’t a new thing, but the cutting-edge research tools we have at our disposal certainly are.
With the ability to carry out advanced user research and testing methods here at Coast, we have given ourselves an edge in order to better understand and gain unique insights into our target audiences so that we can make their online experience as fruitful as possible.
Navigation on websites has pretty much always centred around familiarity so that users don’t have to work too hard in figuring out how to find their way around a site. However, many UX designers are experimenting with navigation in an attempt to give users the most relevant, interesting and bespoke experience.
We see website navigation in a similar way to real life journeys, meaning that it should consider all the transitional scenarios and reflect logical progression in order to make sense within the context of the site itself.
There are also sites that utilise more interactive navigation, giving users the ability to choose how they would prefer to explore the website. You can see an example of this here.
When it comes to navigation, the key is to give users enough freedom of choice to check out areas of the site that most interest them, while still providing a logical, easily accessible, and progressive ‘journey’ of sorts.
#7: Virtual reality
For the last few years, we have heard that Virtual or Mixed Reality is “the future”. Now that Facebook changed its name to Meta and presented its vision of their future — this may now begin to pick up speed as a trend.
There an also rumours that Apple will present their Mixed Reality device soon. We all have heard about Apple Glasses or iGlasses, and some expect to see their release in 2022. Even if Apple delay the launch, Augmented Reality in iOS devices work excellently and may be adapted to the new purposes. When it comes to this topic, the Possibilities are endless – with things like haptic gloves, users will even be able to feel digital things!
UX designers should learn as much as possible about virtual reality (and its variants) and experiment with relevant tools where possible in order to properly prepare for a time when creating excellent virtual or augmented experiences is the norm.
#8: Creation of more interactive prototypes
In recent years, design tools such as Figma and Adobe XD have improved tremendously in terms of providing the ability to create better, more interactive prototypes in design wireframes. These tools give UX designers the ability to better showcase their vision of incredible online experiences. This change of software will see wireframes improve which in turn will give a UX designer the ability to dabble in interactive animations and have more control over the end result.