July 27, 2018 The New Rules of UX: What You Need to Know

The user experience (UX) is one of the most important parts of any website or app. It’s more than the layout and words. It’s how a user interacts with the site — the easier and more intuitive the better. UX has evolved significantly since it became a top consideration in design and development.

So, how is UX changing? We’ve learned quite a bit in the last decade about UX and what users want and prefer, and it’s forming the new rules for UX. Let’s explore these important trends.

Focusing on the content experience

Content should shape the design of your website or app. This means there should be no distractions from the content itself. Great UX design is usually uncomplicated and highlights the messaging.

Often, users feel that they don’t even have enough information, with 46% claiming that a lack of message caused them to leave a site. You can’t be so brief that someone lands on your page and has no idea what you do or why it should matter to them. The key is to be concise yet helpful and engaging.

In this approach to UX, there is typically a very distinct hierarchy. Hierarchy of content also helps you develop a story. Storytelling has become incredibly integral to UX, and the story should be consistent across all mediums so there’s no confusion. Simply put, the reader needs to know the benefit — what’s in it for them. It’s important to get rid of visual clutter so that the user concentrates on the story.

This approach also leans on functional minimalism. Functional minimalism isn’t just in reference to aesthetics. It’s more about balance and simplicity in design and copy; like the need for white space, which gives your text some room to breathe.

Reduce friction and save users time

If it takes too long to navigate a page or app, your design may be in trouble. In fact, one-third of users will abandon a site because of a poor experience, according to a report from Magnetic North. If a site or app isn’t intuitive and takes too many clicks or selections to reach the end goal, users will become frustrated. Instead, a great UX emphasizes:

  • Clear, clean navigation.
  • Design for context. What information do users need to know to take action?
  • Nudge and guide users. Make the flow easy for the user to follow.
  • Linear design. The site or app tells a story and takes the user on a journey; there’s a distinct beginning, middle, and end.
  • Anticipatory design. This type of design intuits a user’s wants, which requires understanding how people currently use or plan to use your site or app.

UX should be device agnostic

Users typically interact with digital content on a variety of devices. While mobile-first design is critical in most web development, UX designers can’t completely ignore other devices. Users aren’t going to be happy if the UX is limited to one type of device.

With a device-agnostic approach, design should be translatable to any device, allowing users to transition between devices during the experience with the site or app. For example, think about sites that allow users to go from digital assistant to app to desktop (which, granted, may involve a lot on the back end). But all users will see is how easy it is to re-engage seamlessly on a different device.

Designing for real-time interaction

Today, apps have to be able to deliver a real-time UX that just works. There are several industries pushing this need, including healthcare, which is moving toward virtual visits and telemedicine. The way in which an app works has a major effect on whether or not a user will continue to use it. The bottomline is that the user will be wondering, Did the app make things more convenient? If not, then they may feel it’s better to forget the app and go back to in-person interactions.

Another example is the use of chatbots to interact with customer service via web or app. Users rely on these chatbots to answer simple questions and provide information. It’s a good idea for businesses across all industries to invest in chatbot technology to elevate the human experience and deliver real-time answers to user questions.

Gesture-based interaction and its challenges

With the rollout of the new iPhone X, gesture-based interactions are the new norm, which makes it difficult to discover and learn for the first time. To correct these issues, UX will need to focus on gesture-based animation — such as animated hints and transitions — to help communicate clearly.

Color as a functional element

Color has always been an important part of design. Color influences decisions, even if only subconsciously. Color draws attention, sets the tone, and plays on a user’s emotions. Beyond aesthetics, color is a part of functionality, too. Color can help to separate different kinds of notifications or any other key communications in an app or web-based experience.

Are you ready for the new rules of UX?

If you are developing an app or website, or already have existing ones, you cannot ignore UX. And while internal teams know a business and its app inside and out, that can make it hard for them to think like a user. There’s where a resource like Topcoder comes in. We help extend your internal resources and provide new insights and designs fast — so your users can benefit from a unique, intuitive UX in no time.

Beth Osborne

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