The user experience is critical for your website design. It provides the cognitive framework for the visual elements of design. It’s what ensures that all elements of the site not only appeal to, but also work well for the user. What is the process of discovery that users go through on the site? What is the sequence of actions they take to interact with the interface? How do they think and feel as they move through the site? What are their final impressions? Do they want to come back? These are the questions that UX design gets to the root of, and if your website is doing things right, your answer to the final question should be a resounding “yes.”
Here, we take a look at some of the latest UX design trends to help your business not only resonate with users, but most importantly, to keep them coming back for more.
Estimated Read Time
UX is a time-sensitive issue in the digital world. Users are moving fast, and websites need to keep up with them. Research has shown that when a user encounters text, they instinctively scroll down to gauge how long it’s going to take them to read all of it. If it feels too long, they will most likely scan the article and leave the page. To counteract this behavior, sites are now being more forthcoming and transparent by providing an estimated read time to users.
The average adult can read 275 words per minute, which equates to about 825 words in three minutes. But text formatting can make scrolling through 825 words, all in one go, feel long. A three-minute read time, however, doesn’t sound so bad. In fact, it feels manageable. This is the principle strategy behind Medium.com—a storytelling platform. By placing estimated read times at the top of each article, the site has increased transparency and bolstered UX elements. Users want to move through content as fast as possible, and the estimated read time trend is going to empower them to do so.
This article, posted on Medium.com’s “3 min read” section, actually boasts a two-minute read time
Chatbots are another timesaving trend, currently sweeping through the world of website development. These artificial intelligence systems are now providing immediate customer service solutions—saving time for consumers and employees alike.
Pizza Hut is one example amongst the thousands of retailers now utilizing chatbots to improve UX features. In the past, if a customer wanted to place an order for delivery through Pizza Hut, first they would probably need to do an online search to find the company’s homepage. From there, they’d need to look for the online menu. After finding the menu and selecting their order, they’d have to look up the phone number for the closest location, pull out their phone, dial the number, and wait to speak to a real person, who would then need to record their order and transfer it to the kitchen staff, who would then have to transfer the order to the delivery team.
Now, however, Pizza Hut is using chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Twitter to cut out the lag time. Customers can immediately open up a message window, ask for current promotions, and quickly place their order. The chatbots instantaneously respond and transmit the information through all the right channels. And presto! — everybody is good to go. In effect, bots such as these are strengthening one-on-one relationships, while providing faster, better results for the customer.
Pizza Hut’s delivery chatbot, courtesy of Engadget.
Some of the best website designs are the ones now making use of linear navigation to improve UX elements. This style of navigation allows the user to complete only one type of action at a time. Linear elements reduce noise and distraction, while helping to streamline the overall experience.
Take, for example, Uber’s new booking system. On both the mobile app and website, the user is taken through the entire booking process, one step at a time. The transitions are extremely clear and easy to navigate. This simplifies the entire process, making the user feel totally at ease. And these types of experiences—simplified and streamlined—are the ones going to compel users to come back for more.
Micro-interactions are moments of specific interaction between the user and the interface. Liking a post, using emojis, filing out a form—these are all micro-interactions. At first glance, it would appear that these elements are really all about improving user interface, not so much experience. But think again. In fact, these elements are now allowing developers to gain direct feedback from users so that they can improve UX elements.
Let’s use the like/dislike interaction as an example. Simply adding a thumbs-up/thumbs-down button, coupled with a likes/dislikes count, can do several things for site development. For one, this micro-interaction provides users with a platform to emotionally react to content. What’s more, after clicking the button, users should see an immediate response: the total number of likes or dislikes should increase by at least one. This response engages the user with the content and acknowledges their feelings. But it also collects vital data for the developer. These micro-interactions let developers know what kind of experience the site is delivering—is it actually engaging users? And if it is, how are they feeling because of it?
Review sites such as TripAdvisor use micro-interactions, such as the thumbs-up/helpful vote, to engage community members.
We’ve saved perhaps the most important trend for last. Groundbreaking scroll animations are now shifting the perspective of product development. In fact, the user’s digital experience is becoming the actual product.
Take for example, new scroll animations that are allowing products to be viewed from the inside out. This is what’s happening on Apple’s Mac Pro site. The start of the experience begins at the very core of the product, as the scroll slowly takes the user through an interactive discovery of the Mac Pro’s internal components. It’s a powerful storytelling element, which puts the heart and soul of Apple’s commitment to quality products and consumer education at the forefront of the screen.
Apple Mac Pro’s inside-out scroll animation.
These UX trends—estimated read time, chatbots, linear transitions, micro interactions, and most notably, scroll animations—are becoming instrumental in web design. They’re unveiling a powerful new mode of discovery, hitting on intuitive navigation, and creating emotional responses from the user. What’s more, they’re pushing the traditional boundaries of storytelling, creating awe-inspired final impressions, and last but certainly not least, they’re drawing users back for more.