As we approach the 20’s of the 2000’s, we are starting to discover what works and what doesn’t in UX design. The ebb and flow of trends has delivered to us flat designs, heaps of parallax, and has crowned content as king and queen of the realm. But the field is not done evolving. There’s much room for improvement, and getting at the core of what users want and what makes them tick is a journey we’d like to explore in this article.
Use Illustrations in Place of Photos
An image can have an emotional impact, and generate a bond with a user, if it is a photo or an illustration. When realism isn’t necessary, try imposing illustrations rather than photos. The things to keep in mind with images, photo or otherwise, is the continuity with the feel of your site and the cost of producing them. Illustrations are usually cheaper than photos, and if they are right for your users, they could make a huge impact.
Mascots Aren’t All Bad
It’s a little gimmicky, but mascots can build brand trust and engage users. They also provide a natural way to maintain consistency across pages. According to a blog published on Usabilla.com, mascots can “make your website more personal, authentic, trustworthy, fun, and engaging.” That’s a lot of power from a single source. One more important tip is this: design your own. Don’t use stock photos or stock mascots for your brand. While you may find the cutest, most perfect mascot on a stock site, that mascot wasn’t designed with your brand and personal image in mind. Personalize yours, and see the return.
Move Beyond Mobile
Smartphones and tablets opened a whole new world of design. Today, one of the biggest game changers in design is wearables. Micro designs are becoming a trend. As with all things in user experience design, identifying the user is important here. Most wearable users are between 18 and 30, are men, and are upper middle class. That’s a great starting point for thinking about user experience on wearable devices.
While measuring website responsiveness isn’t a new trend, it’s definitely not going anywhere. If you build a modern website, expect there to be a need for it to be responsive. Basing a website’s design on the user is a great way to think like a proper UX designer. And since mobile browsing is more popular than desktop browsing, it only makes sense to think about screen size, platform, and orientation. To keep responsiveness in mind, think about the flexibility (ability to adjust) of images and text blocks. In fact, think about the flexibility of every element on the page to maximize responsiveness.
It may sound strange, but how fast can users do things on your website? Does it take them three clicks through two windows to perform a task? If so, consider eliminating steps, making that same task that takes three clicks happen in two clicks on one page. Think about great pages from major companies like Uber. Their homepage is a form that makes a ride a few text boxes and a button press away. Not that their success is entirely wrapped up in the timeliness of their homepage, but I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt their business.
Browse to Google’s homepage and take in all the white space for a moment. The balance is one sided -- the white space dominates the page. The white space allows readers the time to let things sink in. Imagine a book without margins, where the text runs from the very top of the page to the very bottom, and pushes itself all the way to the limits of the page edges. It would be overwhelming (although it would also save paper) to read a book like that. The white space is a necessary element that can be used by a UX designer to create appeal.
Remove the fluff, the flash, and the gimmicks, and what you’re left with is content. Designs are simplified and flat these days, with minimal buttons and sliders and sidebars, which means the content really matters. To a user, the content really does matter. Quality content shows that you’re not out to simply sell products, but that you’re building trust and a relationship that you care about. Tell stories and show your passion through your content.
A Litany of Change
As icing on the cake, here a few little things that might become big things this year:
The power of metadata is such that great amounts of information can be garnished about your users, thereby allowing you to specialize your design based on various factors. Because different age groups respond better to different things, the ability to determine the age of your users and change your design based on that is powerful indeed.
Chatbots can be used to engage users. Think customer service, online marketplace assistance, and even sales leads.
Animated Call to Action
An easy way to get users engaged is through calls to action. Putting focus on a call to action button or form by animating it is sure to make them even more effective.