If you’re developing a website using today’s technology, you’re already behind the curve. Users have come to expect near-immediate response times, fully responsive designs that work on any device, and a streamlined user experience that practically reads their minds. Fortunately, there are some emerging design trends that can help future-proof your new site so that you can stay relevant as the technology landscape continually reinvents itself.
Here are 6 User Experience (UX) trends we’re seeing for sites slated for 2017 launch that you can implement now in order to anticipate and meet the needs of your future users.
01. Automate Customization for Non-Technical Users
In 1995, Pew Research reported that only 14% of Americans used the Internet. Fast-forward to 2014, and the numbers have completely reversed: only 13% of Americans are found to not use the Internet. Furthermore, Internet use spans every demographic, from children to the elderly, and from people with little education to those who’ve earned advanced degrees.
Faced with a wide demographic range, even when targeting specific personas, your future-proofed website cannot be designed as a one-size-fits-all experience. An interface that self-adjust based on the age, education, and profession demographics of the user will hold your users interest and keep them coming back. Using your personas, take advantage of the opportunity to present larger fonts for older users, brighter colors and simplified language for children, or tailored blog listings based on user interest.
02. Unleash Your Users with Non-Linear Flows
When it comes to mobile apps that provide a service, most of them walk the users through step-by-step processes that don’t allow much flexibility in the navigation. 2015 and 2016 gave us lean user experiences like Uber that provide single-track user flows. These oversimplified interactions can give the user a bit of a feeling like they’re being herded.
Users don’t like being treated like cattle, and we shouldn’t expect them to. While a single-track operation gives users what they need, tomorrow’s users expect designers to respect their intelligence enough to provide them the freedom to move around in the user flow. These open-navigation designs should allow the user to jump back into the linear track at any point to complete their requests.
03. Require Less Interaction While Providing More Functionality
Remember when you had to manually configure your WiFi or Bluetooth by typing in what amounts to a heap of cryptographic text? User acceptance studies have shown that users don’t enjoy fidgeting with 16-digit, case-sensitive, non-intuitive text. Who know? The users of tomorrow are going to expect single-click interactions that presuppose information based on prior interaction and smart logic.
Imagine restaurant website that remember previous orders and ask if you’d like to start there. Or rideshare apps that remember where you last hailed a car and alert a driver to show up at that exact spot. What if your medical scheduling application remembered your previous appointment days and times and automatically found and suggested similar scheduling? These are the apps of the future – apps and websites that learn from their users so that they can do more with less interaction.
04. Gamify Everything
From stunning visuals to badges and achievements to one-click social sharing, gamified sites attract attention and they keep users coming back. Even if your site contains serious information, your users will delight in an immersive experience that includes them as part of your process. Sites like Khan Academy have revolutionized online learning by creating engaging teaching games that kids love. Fitness apps let users create teams for friendly competition; users set milestones and earn badges for meeting goals.
No matter what business you run, there’s a part of your user experience that can be gamified. Give badges for profile completion. Reward site engagement by filling in graphics for each blog interaction. Provide an eLearning game for user how-tos. No matter how you include gamification, providing fun, interactive components on your site increases your relevance and helps build a fanbase for your site and your brand.
05. Maximize Interactive Potential by Modularizing Your Code
Simple, responsive design isn’t enough to satisfy tomorrow’s users. In fact, it’s fairly expected that your site will function across devices. Your code needs to be able to quickly adapt to emerging technology, and the way to get there is through modular code design. In short, modular code acts like interchangeable puzzle pieces, allowing for fast adaptation to changes to market demands, business rules, and technology advancements.
One of the most critical components requiring modularity in your code design is your visual display functionality. At any point, your developers should be able to quickly adapt to emerging display technology without requiring a complete redesign. Imagine being able to offer the same site functionality you offer now on a VR system or wearable technology. Picture your site becoming fully voice interactive. Now imagine these changes taking place in just a few short weeks, propelling your site to the forefront of the tech curve. That’s modular design. That’s what you need.
06. Offer Substance, Not Sales
We’ve given you five trends that you can implement now… but wait! There’s more! Did you groan?
There are billions of pages of content available on the Internet. Users don’t have to put up with gimmicky sales messages, constant upsells, or high-pressure deals… so they don’t. They simply go elsewhere to find a less intimidating experience. In order to attract and keep visitors on your site, offer valuable information for free and regularly update your site. If you do offer a sale or promotion, use collected demographic data in your user personas to target your offer.
When you create a new website, you are adding the proverbial drop to the ocean. In order to maintain relevance, attract users, and convert customers, your site needs to demonstrate that your company is forward-thinking and tech-engaged. If you’re looking for an agency to help propel your site into the future, give Gate6 a call. We’d love to talk to you!