User experience (UX) design standards have changed drastically since the first graphical user interface was introduced in the 1970s. Thanks to the widespread adoption of the internet, the rise of touch-screen devices, and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in daily interactions, UX now extends well beyond simple icons, buttons, and menus.
Over the years, we have seen user experience design place emphasis on navigation, responsive designs, and touch-based controls. As modern users become more dependent on applications for daily tasks, UX designers must implement mobile app design strategies. To do so, designers must understand the modern needs and expectations currently shaping the future of UX/UI design. Here, we’ll outline some trends to keep an eye on.
1. Augmented Reality (AR) in User Experience Design
Augmented reality (AR) superimposes digital information through visuals or audio into the real world. It blends the physical and the digital to enhance a user’s perception of reality.
With roots tracing back to the early days of digital technology, AR is not new. The term was coined as early as 1990—and significant strides followed. The development of the outdoor AR game ARQuake in 2000 and the release of ARToolkit in Adobe Flash in 2009 marked key milestones in its evolution.
Today, AR is a key part of our daily lives—and plays an increasingly vital role in user experience design. Leveraging AR, companies can increase engagement by offering immersive experiences and providing contextual information in real time.
We help companies navigate emerging technologies and create immersive and memorable user experiences. For example, our design team is currently exploring AR use cases with Amazon’s Returns conceptualizing how the tool can play a role in their strategy for 2024 and beyond.
2. Voice User Interfaces (VUIs)
Voice user interface (VUI) adoption has been on an uptick in recent years. A 2022 study by Insider Intelligence showed that 2.9 million Americans use voice assistants. Meanwhile, Statista projects that the global voice recognition market size will grow from $10 billion in 2020 to nearly $50 billion in 2029.
VUIs leverage Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to help users interact with devices, applications, or services using voice commands. This allows hands-free navigation for users; accordingly, VUIs can enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities such as vision impairments or limited mobility.
However, optimizing UX for VUIs can be trickier than application and web interfaces. Users don’t often speak the way they type—so finding a way to determine potential interaction patterns is critical. It’s also important to consider speech impediments and regional accents that could influence communication.
3. Personalization and AI
Personalization is the driving force behind next-gen user experiences. Modern consumers demand curated experiences in every aspect of their lives. Thankfully, with advancements in AI and data analytics, UX designers can tap into a wealth of user data to deliver highly personalized interactions.
We generally help clients view personalization from a design integration perspective—considering how personalization manifests itself on the screen or throughout the user’s journey. We set our clients on the path forward; giving their internal technology and development teams the vision to execute on the vision.
Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to user experience design today; however, many companies are still behind the curve. It’s not that these companies don’t understand the benefits. Rather, it’s that legacy systems often prevent smooth implementation—we find that in these cases, personalized help is often limited to a simple virtual chat assistant, for example. But companies must extend beyond this.
For example, consider the hyper-curation efforts of streaming giant Netflix. The company relies heavily on user data to tailor content recommendations based on shows they’ve seen—and often, to generate content in line with this data as well. Amazon serves as another handy lesson in personalization: the company creates custom product pages for users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Of course, not all companies have the wealth of resources at their disposal that these industry titans do. But the lessons can be learned nonetheless—companies must up their personalization efforts with the help of AI to thrive in the modern world.
4. Minimalist, Clean Design
Rooted in the belief that less is more, a minimalist approach to user experience design focuses on functionality, eliminating visual clutter to reduce cognitive overload. This helps users better comprehend the hierarchy of elements on the screen and navigate the app or website.
Every element placed on the screen is a potential distraction. Each decision must be intentional, working towards an express overall goal. But aside from communication, a minimalist mindset can also help your site’s performance on the back end. Using fewer elements decreases server load and bandwidth consumption, resulting in faster loading times. This also makes your application or site more responsive and SEO-friendly.
One of our guiding principles is: “Make things simple, intuitive and delightful. Show only what you need, when you need it.”
As a classic example of minimalist success, consider Airbnb’s clean, simple navigation. The platform’s straightforward landing page and search tools help users find available listings right away. Search filters—including streamlined slider options to set budget parameters—hide in a drop-down panel, letting users control their results without cluttering the page.
5. Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Design
The link between “going digital” and “going green” is well-established in the public consciousness. However, this is not at all a steadfast rule. Consider: digital ecosystems require data centers that often run 24/7—meaning that without intentional planning, a fully digital operation can actually work against green goals. Data centers contribute more to fossil fuel consumption than the entire aviation industry, accounting for 2.5%–3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In an effort to curb this problem, experts highlight the importance of decluttering in reducing a digital ecosystem’s carbon footprint. This is where sustainable and eco-friendly UX design practices come in.
Optimizing user experiences for efficiency can minimize digital waste and reduce energy consumption. Often, these decluttering endeavors entail relatively simple fixes: perhaps using smaller image sizes, or minimizing the number of clicks to navigate an app or website. Remove unnecessary pages and resource-heavy features to streamline your site further.
In some cases, eco-friendly UX design also has to do with making conscious choices. For example, UpTop has partnered with Amazon to find ways to maximize the focus on sustainability across the user journey, creating designs that try to influence customer behaviors.
Customers’ choices can directly impact Amazon’s carbon footprint—therefore, design choices that influence customers to seek product support rather than immediately returning an item or provide eco-friendly label/box-free return options help Amazon attain sustainability.
Trend 6: Ethical Design and Inclusivity
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 6 people worldwide live with a significant disability. These include individuals with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments. Of these individuals, 43% say accessibility and inclusivity issues often force them to abandon online interactions. User experience design, as the phrase implies, must target the end-user—and that means all possible end-users. To that end, inclusive design is a must.
To ensure your company’s digital experience is up to standards, hire an expert to conduct a comprehensive inclusivity and accessibility design audit. This helps you actively spot exclusions, understand diverse perspectives, and consider the unique needs and circumstances of different groups of users. In doing so, you can remove barriers that might prevent individuals from engaging with what you offer. This can help you expand your customer base—as well as prevent lawsuits regarding non-compliant digital experiences.
We ensure that accessibility and inclusivity are critical metrics in even our most routine audits—building these concerns into the very fabric of our work.
Inclusivity aside, centering an ethical approach to user experience design is quickly becoming non-negotiable.
Trend 7: Data-Driven Decision-Making
Data has become part and parcel of daily living—and this goes for UX design as well. It seems obvious—if you’re going to design experiences that center users, you need hard evidence of what those users want. Gut feelings and guesswork don’t cut it. Data-driven decision-making combines qualitative and quantitative data to get a holistic view of your users; only with this comprehensive understanding can you make genuinely well-informed design choices and strategies.
While by no means an exhaustive list, tracking the following key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you identify points for improvement in the user experience design process.
- Bounce Rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page, without engaging further.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) calculates the percentage of users who click on a specific link, ad, or call-to-action, out of the total number of views.
- Pages Per Session Rate assesses the average number of pages a user views during a single visit or session on a website.
- User Error Rate quantifies the frequency of mistakes or errors made by users when interacting with a product or system, often due to UI design.
- Customer Effort Score (CES) evaluates the ease with which customers can accomplish specific tasks or resolve issues when interacting with a company or its products and services.
- Session Duration refers to the length of time a user spends on a website or application during a single visit or session, indicating user engagement and interest.
We employ a more “data-informed” design approach, analyzing user data side-by-side with other variables such as customer goals and ethical designs. We provide services such as Google Analytics review and analysis, behavioral monitoring review and analysis, surveys, stakeholder and customer interviews, journey mapping, UX Audits, and usability testing. We also use a Rapid Iterative Test and Evaluation (RITE) method to test designs with users, allowing us to generate actionable insights instantly.
The aforementioned services aside, UpTop also provides clients with recommendations on how they can further validate and iterate on their UX designs. We can collaborate with internal teams and guide them in collecting qualitative and quantitative data from users to help future-proof design frameworks.
Expert User Experience Design Predictions and What to Expect in 2024
In the past few years, AI-driven personalization has become standard practice, and more industry experts have begun integrating AR and VUI technologies in UX design. In addition, these designers have also needed to keep up with shifting user expectations regarding sustainability, inclusivity, and ethical practices.
Looking ahead to 2024, these trends are expected to continue and expand. The global adoption of advanced AR-compatible devices and the increasing popularity of the metaverse will drive UX innovation. As voice search becomes more intuitive, VUI adoption will likely increase as well in the coming year.
To help you get a head start, here are a few suggestions on preparing for emerging changes in user experience design.
For Non-Mature Companies
Non-mature companies often have limited UX design practices or are unfamiliar with UX initiatives. So before you dive wholesale into the aforementioned trends, consider taking smaller steps toward building a sound base UX strategy first. Here are a few examples:
- UX/UI design. Cultivate a user-centric approach by working on UX and UI hand-in-hand. This can cultivate a more seamless digital experience for your customers.
- Personas. Before strategizing, develop detailed user personas to understand your target audience’s needs, behaviors, and preferences. This gives your strategy direction and allows you to make more informed design decisions down the road.
- Buyer Journeys. Map out comprehensive buyer journeys to visualize the end-to-end user experience, identifying touchpoints and opportunities for improvement. This makes it easier to determine which UX design features you will need.
For Semi-Mature Companies
Semi-mature companies usually have existing UX designs that are variably effective and partly systematic. However, they can sometimes lack structure and efficiency. Below are a few ways you can optimize your process and improve your UX initiatives:
- Personas. If it’s been a long time since you first created your personas, it may be time to revisit them. Conduct new research to realign personas with changing user behaviors and preferences.
- Buyer Journeys. Build on your understanding of buyer journeys by further optimizing touchpoints. Integrate user data to create more seamless and efficient pathways for users.
- Self-Service. Invest in self-service options, so users have easy access to the information they need. This can enhance overall satisfaction and reduce the workload on support teams, contributing to more cost-effective operations.
- Personalization. Leverage user data to take app or website experience personalization to the next level. You can use AI and machine learning in conjunction with analytics to create targeted content and experiences for users.
- Chat. Implement chatbots that can handle more complex queries and provide real-time, contextual assistance for users, improving overall user experience.
For Mature Companies
Mature companies have comprehensive UX designs that are constantly improved upon. While these designs may already be user-driven and integrated, there’s still a chance that you might need to refine them to meet current demands.
- Self-Service. Invest in AI-powered chatbots, knowledge bases, and interactive self-help tools to deliver more efficient and comprehensive self-service options.
- Voice Interaction Integration. For mature companies, focus on voice interaction by expanding voice-controlled features in products and services. Ensure voice interfaces are seamlessly integrated, allowing users to interact naturally with your technology.
- AI Advancements. Explore AI-driven analytics to uncover deep insights into user behavior and preferences, enabling highly tailored experiences.
- Augmented Reality Integration. Begin leveraging AR for your UX design. This is useful for immersive product visualization, interactive customer support, and unique marketing experiences—which all contribute to an enriched user journey.
Bring Your User Experience Design Strategy into the Future
In today’s customer-centric, digital-first world, UX design can make or break your business.
A global study by IDC conducted in 2022 revealed that by 2027, 41% of the average company’s revenue will come from digital products. Consequently, 43% of tech leaders report that they plan to deliver innovative digital solutions at a faster pace in the coming years. This highlights the importance of staying on top of emerging UX design technologies and trends.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, start by reaching out to the experts. At UpTop, we understand just how critical UX design can be for your company. Contact our team today, and let’s talk about your user experience design needs—together, we’ll set your company on a path to success.