Lab Notes

5 Design & UX Trends to Watch in 2016

 

As prototyping and iteration took digital design by storm in 2015, the role of a UX designer has, and will continue to rapidly change.

Iterative prototyping (test—destroy—create—repeat), bizarre new UI considerations, and user-protection, will all be key considerations and opportunities for our field.

As more companies turn their focus to digital ecosystems, designers will be empowered to craft simple and clear consumer experiences within these systems.

Get ready to adapt and explore new opportunities at a pace we haven’t yet experienced.

 

1. Light on the Pixels, Heavy on the Interaction

Wearables were just what we needed to start distancing ourselves from our device. And maybe talking to our devices isn’t so awkward anymore? (But it’s still odd to take photos with that iPad.)

With spoken and gesture-enhanced products like Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Echo, and Nest, interface has quickly evolved beyond the input of tap and swipe.

And though Voice as UI has a long way to go, the increasingly rapid enhancement of this technology will undoubtedly expand the capabilities and opportunities for our digital experiences.

Our short-term challenge is to advance this concept of Zero UI so it becomes natural and beneficial to the user.

Long-term challenge: Unique voice recognition and of course, privacy.

2. Designing a Conversation

Part AI, part human or a mix of both, we will leverage machine learning with community manpower and knowledge to solve problems, big and small.

Between the gig economy that will deliver anything to you and the influx of personal assistant products, 2016 is going to be the year of living conveniently.

Keep an eye on Operator, Facebook M, and Clara as well as Amazon Direct, Instacart, Postmates and TaskRabbit as they test new ways to build brand into conversation and service.

Rather than “errors and empty states,” designers will be solving for message length, interaction, and optimal messaging times.

And as these services bestow their greatest potential via access to your personal habits and information, we will find ourselves addressing a new layer of “best-practices” as it relates to privacy in this messaging economy.

 

3. New UX Standards

The rules for UX success are now, more than ever being dictated by your audience, not guidelines.

Snapchat, Medium, even Apple, are breaking the commonly-held standards of good UX.

Simply put, users are more willing to invest time and consider new ways of interacting when the product delivers addictive value. 

Examples: Soundcloud, ReporterVSCO appand Acorns.

Opportunity: The growth of prototyping and iteration will empower companies to experiment with their product UX. 

 

4. Time to Update Your Title

To be analogous to 3D printing, teams big and small are embracing the financial and comprehensive value of digital prototyping.

If you need a primer, discover available tools, options and opinions here and here.

Our value as UX designers will be in our ability to know what tools work best, when to stop designing, when to start testing and how to effectively process the feedback.

 

5. It’s All About the Apps… For Media

We have heard for years that apps are the future of mobile usage, but 2015 taught us that may not be true.

Though two of every three minutes spent viewing digital media takes place on mobile, it is not apps that are driving the audience.

In fact, not only do mobile websites have 2.5x the audience of apps, mobile website audiences are growing twice as fast.

The days when every brand believed they needed an app has come and gone.

Though audiences spend more time in apps than mobile, generating app loyalty is increasingly difficult. Half of all smartphone users’ time is spent within one app (hint, it’s probably Facebook).

Designers will need to critically examine their brand’s digital ecosystem to succeed in a the increasingly flooded app market.

Looks like we’ll be adding “strategy” to our skill profiles as well.


Interested in other trends on the horizon in 2016? Check out our breakdown of the Digital Marketing Trends for 2016.

Southern born, Ohio grown, New York tested and now Minnesota rooted, Bryan is at his best crafting experiences that engage and delight. Whether it's print, motion, or interactive design, he thrives on making the complex simple. Outside of business hours you can find him tinkering with 2-stroke engines and his wonderfully creative family.

  1. Light on the pixels…heavy on the interaction. I guess not getting in the way of the user is the key. Google and Edge (Bing) UIs are good examples, the former enables interaction whereas the latter gets in the way. Good article.