If you had a brick-and-mortar store, your first concern is usually stocking the products your customers want. But you’d also want an attractive store so you could showcase those products in the best light. You’d also want to ensure your employees were effectively trained to help your customers find what they want—and you’d want to make sure you didn’t waste your customers’ time with long checkout lines. In other words, your products are important, but so is the experience your customers have buying those products—and that applies whether they’re in a physical store or on your website.
Why User Experience (UX) matters
In 2017, user experience made the difference between businesses that win and lose. Say you and your chief competitor offer the same products at the same price. If their website loads faster, your competitor is going to sell more than you. If they personalize the buying process and you don’t, they’ll build trust with customers more than you will.
Consider some of these metrics from Hubspot:
- - 39% of B2B and B2C consumers will abandon a website if images won’t load or take too long to load
- -38% of people will leave a website if the content/layout is unattractive
- - When people have 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds prefer reading something beautifully designed versus something plain
- - 77% of agencies believe that poor website UX is the number one weakness their clients have
In 2018, user experience will matter more than ever, and UX, more than anything else, is what will ensure your business can compete effectively. As UsabilityHub notes:
“UX also continues to be pushed forward by the move towards “experiences” over products. In a more sophisticated market it’s not enough any more to simply have a product. Embracing this thinking enables us to discover new opportunities to empathize, and ultimately improve the experience of users, which will become vital in maintaining a competitive edge in the long run.”
Forward leaning marketers and designers continue to find new ways (and embrace new technologies) to enhance user experience. Here are three big UX trends to watch this year (and beyond):
Chatbots and voice commands
Recent advances in smart technology, coupled with enhanced design, have increased the popularity of chatbots and voice commands—hence the emergence of virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana, and the widespread adoption of home interface products like Amazon Alexa. That same technology and design smarts is making its way into an increasing number of business applications. This doesn’t signal the end of the graphical user interface, but increasingly businesses will embrace these conversational interfaces, and designers will compete to create their most effective use.
Virtual and augmented reality experiences
In July 2016, consumers got their first look at Pokemon GO. There have been Augmented Reality (AR) apps and experienced before, but none of them quite entered the zeitgeist like a game where people walk down the street to capture adorable monsters. At the same time, Virtual Reality (something we really, really like) was gaining traction in industries like tourism, building, education and gaming. Once again, driving the increased popular of VR and AR was technology, in this case, improvements in supporting devices like headsets and enhancements in mobile technology.
AR and VR are still in their early stages as regards user experience, but they did make significant advances in 2017. Expect to see designers finding new ways to engage users and improve usability with AR and VR over the next few years.
(Just a pro-tip, if you get into a convo about VR, make sure you’re actually talking about VR)
Pushing the envelope on personalization
While the past several years focused on pushing responsive design to accommodate the many ways people access the internet, the next few will be about creating increasingly personalized interfaces. As businesses become more adept at collecting increasingly granular data about user behavior, they’ll use that information to offer user experiences which conform to their demonstrated preferences. This could mean everything from interfaces which adapt color to accommodate color-blind users (and a host of other accessibility issues) to those which adjust text size or theme preferences based on previous usage.
Increased emphasis on user experience is part of a larger understanding among marketers and website designers that metrics like clicks and conversions are more than data points—they’re real people with real needs. The companies that commit to improving user experience are the ones which will build user trust and grow in influence.
If you want to learn more about how our digital strategy, design, content and code, and user experience services will help you drive sales and grow your business, hit us up.