Top UX Design Trends for 2016
With over 1 billion websites and 3.1 million mobile apps for Android and iOS trying to attract users’ attention, the online competition is getting hotter than ever. In this battle, great UX is your most reliable ally. What are the main user experience design trends for 2016? Will mobile applications change beyond recognition? What are the external forces that drive UX evolution? Read on to find out!
User experience: more than just design
According to Tomer Sharon (Google’s Senior UX researcher), “user design is the art and science of generating positive emotions among people who interact with products and services”. And we couldn’t agree more! Unlike UI designers who concentrate on graphic content, UX gurus perform a wide range of tasks, including strategy and content development, prototyping, user experience research and project execution.
There are plenty of factors that will shape UX trends for 2016:
- Focus on connected environment and wearables. Your customers use the Web more often and spend less time online, looking for immediate solutions to their questions. People also surround themselves with smart gadgets and expect the devices to smoothly interact with each other. Wearables are trending, too. By 2025, wearable tech market will grow to $ 70 billion, with healthcare (along with wellness and fitness) being the most profitable sectors. Companies that do not consider developing wearable/connected solutions will partner with other businesses to deliver their services to multiple customers;
- The Snowden impact. People are not willing to disclose personal data any more. In order to build a solid email list or generate customer feedback, businesses will have to revise the empathic design concept and clearly explain why they need the information (even at the expense of seamless experience). Enterprises will also employ strong security solutions;
- The next-generation mobile apps. App vendors are likely to follow the trend defined by WeChat. Monthly, the application has 600 million active users and offers multiple in-app functions (messenger/fitness tracker/payment channel/shopping service), which marks the new level of interoperability. Design will still be dominated by the standard tools like service blueprints, journey maps and touchpoint reframing;
- Reinvention of luxury. With the launch of Trunk Club, you don’t have to hire a stylist. The Tablet Hotels website offers rooms in fancy hotels with a 30% discount. One day, the new Facebook M application will replace personal assistants. In other words, technology made luxury affordable. However, people are obsessed with social status, that’s why in 2016 VIP solutions like “diamond iOS” or private tech platforms may actually hit the market;
- Government websites and applications. US and UK governments have already adopted digital trends and developed design guidelines to improve the quality of social services. Basically, the Internet will soon be flooded with soulless websites, and developers’ task is to improve the interaction between citizens and authorities;
- Health is the new fashion. Technology renders the notion of patient education, offering numerous self-monitoring tools for people with chronic diseases and everybody who wants to be fit. New apps for health gadgets are on the way to changing our lives. The Web certainly won’t miss the trend, and businesses can already use the Aetna and Keiser Permanente platforms to connect their smart devices;
- The rise of augmented and virtual reality. By 2020, mobile AR/VR apps are expected to generate $ 150 billion in revenue. The software will conquer such industries as healthcare, education, finance, transportation, gaming and e-commerce. Despite certain development challenges, AR solutions like Webcam Social Shopper and Penguin Navi bring the new, previously unknown elements to user experience;
- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Whether we buy a shower gel or develop a mobile application, we have to make a decision. By giving your customers too many choices, you are losing sales. That’s why major brands like Procter & Gamble tend to reduce their product lines. When the famous Head & Shoulders brand was cut to 15 products, the sales went up by 10%. In terms of UX, the trend means automatization of certain decisions. The Graze website, for example, diminished catalogue browsing by asking users what food they like and delivering suitable products (subscription model).
UX design 2016: Web trends
- The power of flat design. Designers adopt grid structures, simple icons, clear typography and lively colors; the fascination with visual effects is finally over. WordPress powers almost 26% of all the websites; with a handful of ready-to-use WordPress flat design themes, every webpage looks quite the same, and it’s fine. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, after all. As for creativity, it is achieved through video content and interaction;
- Standard interaction patterns. Changing the whole structure of a website just because you can is not one of user experience best practices. Instead, enterprises should focus on their customers and provide high-quality services. There are multiple interaction pattern libraries which allow companies to choose suitable design elements (even for free). By the way, new interactions do not necessarily require a new screen (the Facebook M vendors, for example, will soon enhance the service with text response functions inside the Facebook Messenger app);
- Time-centered design. Traditional websites provide all the available information at the same time (Amazon main page). The 2016 tendency is to timely distribute information according to user needs. The strategy has already been implemented by Uber (set pick up location, enter the address, rate your driver);
- Refined content strategy. In order to promote their goods and services, most enterprises run several websites and applications. The amount of data coming through those channels is hard to estimate. Since content is an important part of user experience, companies will turn to marketing research to optimize expenditures and increase brand value;
- The Internet of People. With the launch of Apple Watch and other connected solutions, 2015 has definitely been the year of IoT. However, next year IT companies will again switch to their customers, improve user experience and conduct more testing.
Mobile UX 2016
User experience qualitative analysis and best practices are no longer relevant. We will witness a growing demand for quantitative data retrieved through A/B testing (running two versions of an app at the same time to see which one works best) to validate design ideas. Vendors who provide full-cycle development services will refine in-app advertising options and move design back to the browser.
Multi-interactions (single-task engagements in a smartphone interface) will also undergo certain changes. Touch-free input functions introduced in 2013 (eye scroll, pause and play), as well as 3D Touch technology (apps responsive to different types of pressure), will continue to trend.
Finally, let’s address the “End of the apps as we know them” post published by Intercom. The article received over 150 thousand views and…widespread criticism. However, the post did not imply that mobile apps are dying. Considering recent changes made to iOS and Android notification systems, it is reasonable to say that the number of app engagements via notifications will increase. It will change the whole mobile app concept and user experience, since any skillful designer or developer will have to treat an application as a destination and publishing system. Still, users will need to open applications to generate content.
If you still underestimate the power of UX, it is worth mentioning that 45% of US users are likely to abandon an online transaction if the process is complicated and unclear. Naturally, trends come and go, just like your customers. And it’s your top priority to make them stay. By addressing an experienced UX designer, you can certainly boost your sales and increase customer loyalty.