With 2017 drawing to a close, the future of software utility looms especially large for business leaders. Just as members of their development team read up on new software releases, software designers also looking ahead to how UX/UI trends in 2018 that will challenge their ability to meet end users on increasingly personalized interfaces.
The first part of this blog post can be found here.
How Will Businesses Engage Users Next Year? Must-Know Web Design Trends 2018
Microanimations & Microinteractions
Animated icons and features can serve as helpful beacons along pathways in UIs.
These subtle animations prevent change blindness, improve users’ comprehension of content, and can make for a more human-focused experience.
Even though a user’s journey in software unfolds entirely behind a layer of glass, life-like buttons can minimize confusion by registering UI manipulation immediately.
Microanimations can serve some of the following purposes:
- Convey system status to user
- Highlight navigational options to make pages distinct within UI
- Deny or confirm the user’s action
- Clarify expectations by giving the user an idea of the result of one action
- Tell users how they can and should interact with elements on the screen
- Provide feedback (a field shakes when an incorrect password is entered)
While microanimations can delight the eye, they can also cause major distraction. How can designers walk the fine line of attracting users while not turning them off with annoying or distracting experiences in software?
- Microanimations should always showcase software functionality and not the animation itself. Anything else can prove distracting. Worse, heavy-handed animations can slow down the software and the user’s journey within it.
- Designers should consider how a microanimation will impact the user not just once, but repeatedly. Will it get annoying over time, or will the user stop paying attention to it altogether?
These design elements are not mere accessories to software functionality. Microinteractions can streamline UI functionality and the user’s flow within an application.
For example, a microinteraction can eliminate the “next” in UX. If one screen hosts one interaction, designers can design the UI to switch to the next screen when the action is completed on the first screen.
Before integrating microinteractions, the user might need to proceed through one or more screens to access the same information. When screens are eliminated to access the same information, UX improves and the user journey becomes more fluid.
Typography Meets Visual Design
Long-form content has to contend with short attention spans. How do you make the former more engaging? Designers that push the boundaries of UX best practices can engage businesses’ audiences in visually captivating ways.
The editorial treatment of content — switching standard grid arrangements with editorial arrangement — can add new layers of meaning to an article. Large, stylized text interspersed with images lends new meaning to text as design, and vice versa, lending the content more depth of meaning.
Drop caps have grown in popularity for treatment digital-first long-format content over the last few years. More than ever they are paired with unusual arrangements of text within the page.
Design elements in typography have always facilitated reading and communication of ideas, but web design trends 2018 will see the continued synthesis of these different elements. While none are new in and of themselves, their continued interactions and interpretations have the potential to pull users deeper into content that is relevant to their interests.
From Siri to chat-based banking and responsive health apps, chatbots are becoming increasingly important features for businesses to include in their digital landscapes. More chatbots arrive on the market everyday, providing users with weather forecasts, travel information and flight booking, and online shopping resources.
While human interaction is generally more popular when it comes to customer support, evolving AI capabilities allow businesses to reach their target audiences around the clock for a lower cost.
The day of prescriptive DOS commands are gone. People expect to be able to ask ‘What is the weather” and receive information in a way that makes sense.
Already people interact with devices using more natural language thanks to advances in AI and Natural Language Processing. Web design trends 2018 will also see improvement on the AI behind chatbots so that answers feel less robotic and more authentic to the user.
How can designers build chatbots that are effective business tools?
- Identify objectives — what information should the chatbot provide for a specific type of user?
- Information architecture — the business objective and chatbot purpose can inform a dialogue flow. Both this and information architecture can inform early conservation models to test amongst users, helping to identify pain points and a response for every scenario.
- Fail early and often — multiple tests can guide designers as they the inputs and outputs of a chatbot narrative. Aiming for a natural and sustained conversation will differentiate the chatbot from past failures
- Define navigation flow – what navigation options are possible? Are you able to skip a step or go backwards in a procedure?
Additionally, successful chatbots:
- Are context aware. The chatbot should understand its context and require little user input to do so.
- Have a personality. Chatbots that have a distinct personality add an engaging, human element to an otherwise transactional experience
- Avoid open-ended questions. Choice-based questions (would you like to A or B?) both define and limit the chatbot UI, guiding the user through a more streamlined experience.
Web Design Trends 2018: Why Business Leaders Need to Tune In
The rapidly changing world of software keeps everyone on their toes. As the new year promises new technology releases and software updates, business leaders and software designers are wise to combine forces to engage users in brand new UX/UI experiences.
By looking into web design trends 2018 ahead of time, businesses leaders can understand how their software should evolve to impact users in the new year and beyond.
Image Source: Unsplash, Ian Dooley