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5 top UX design trends that will rule 2018

By Team PFR


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As always, at this time of year we make predictions for things we think will be big in the world of user experience and digital design over the next 12 months. User research can act as a gauge for what is to come, as we see trends emerging in both the projects we recruit for, as well as off-the-wall enquiries from people scoping out new concepts. Here are our top five UX design trends for 2018:

Voice-activated UX or Voice User Interfaces

I have to start with this one, as I’m sure voice-active user experience and voice user interfaces (VUIs) will continue to evolve and improve as we become more dependent on them for all sorts of devices from all sorts of brands and, therefore, uses. UX design will move away from designing for clicks towards designing for voice activation, and this will eventually lead to the replacement of most screens in the longer term. However, there are still limitations on voice activation – for example, the technology is still difficult to use in crowded areas with too much noise or in quiet areas.

What implications will this have for users, and what impact will this have on the tool box of a user researcher? It is more than likely that voice activation still has some way to go and will live alongside other interfaces that are still necessary. As VUIs improve, this will also offer significant improvements to people with visual and cognitive impairments who struggle to use inaccessible standard touch user interfaces.

Artificial Intelligence

When talking about artificial intelligence (AI), we need to be specific as the possibilities are endless. I mean AI in terms of creating experiences that we can relate to as human beings. So yes, robots are included, but only in the sense that, if the digital experience is perceived as human, then we can relate to it – also, if we recognize this digital experience almost as human interaction, we will buy into it.

This will have implications on the type of collaboration required in UX design and research. Will the industry have all the skills needed to create these experiences or will there need to be extended collaboration with experts in other fields such as psychology and even neurology?

If brands get this right, they can gain trust; and if they gain trust, this will inevitably lead to brand loyalty and potentially big growth.

Real personalisation

This is also related to AI as personalisation is about machine learning, so that the experience isn’t just a general customisation, but becomes very specific and unique over time. The experience is tailored to the user and changes according to the individual, based on the user experience itself!

This will generate real personalised brand experiences. Again, the front runners already know this and are working to develop new products and renewed versions of existing products that offer just this – a new level of brand experience altogether.

Omnichannel UX

Putting all of these innovations – voice-activated devices, new artificial intelligence interfaces embedded in products, the Internet of Things, etc. – in the same bag means that we can finally talk about a continuous digital experience that carries on from device to device, and from location to location. As this article publishe on the UX Magazine rightly points out: “Offering multiple channels for users to interact with your business isn’t enough. You need to put them at the center of a seamless omni-channel ecosystem.”.

Users expect to be able to use any device no matter where they are to perform their task, and they want the most efficient interaction. UX needs to consider ensuring that an interaction can start on one device in one location and finish on a different device in another location.

The industry will have to monitor where this continuous user experience is relevant for omnichannel UX and run research to better understand the user’s expectations.

Failure user flows

I talked about this last year, and although it is more prevalent in UX this year, I believe it will continue to be so in 2018, as less confident audiences find ways to interact in what is becoming an omnichannel world. With more devices and types of user interfaces, failure flows will have to develop accordingly.

It will certainly become more accepted that failure user flows have to be a main part of any UX design, and this may have an impact on the user research and usability testing processes to test these flows across different devices and interfaces.

For People for Research, these trends mean we will be working to improve our knowledge of user interfaces and build this into our user screener process. This is the only way to ensure we maintain the seamless recruitment experience our clients have come to expect.

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About People for Research: We recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.

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