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Posted by Mitchell Wakefield on 13 December 2016

How UX design and digital innovation will change the way we do business

As we ring in the new year it’s time to cast our eyes to what technology trends we can look forward to in 2017.  As a result, we've rounded up the top 5 user experience practices and trends that we believe will shape the landscape of user centred design and technology in 2017.

The UX world is evolving 

While by no means new, User Experience (UX) is certainly not yet a part of every business’s culture. Many organisations unfortunately still fall behind in embracing a user-focused approach to problem solving, and by doing this they are missing out on some major benefits.

Being able to understand your users wants and needs (both before and during) the process of building / designing an app or website, delivers the benefits of improving user satisfaction and heavily influencing customers to remain loyal to your brand.  A focus on user experience is not only great for ensuring people love your product or service; UX is also good for business, demonstrated by the compelling fact that design-driven companies tend to outperform the S&P 500 by 219%.

So how can organisations start to take a more user centred approach? And what UX practices and trends should they be adopting? With the UX world constantly evolving and new trends continuing to emerge it can be confusing to know which areas to invest in. To help I’ve rounded up the top 5 user experience practices and trends that I believe will shape the landscape of user centred technology in 2017 – read on to find out more…

Top 5 UX Practices and Trends in 2017

1. The rise of Mixed Reality

At the moment Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are creating a real buzz in the tech community and popular culture with products like Oculus VR, Vive, and Pokémon Go enjoying high profile coverage and user adoption.

But we can expect the less talked about experience of Mixed Reality (MR) to make a powerful entrance in the near future. 

For anyone not familiar with Mixed reality the Wikipedia description is a good starting point:

"Sometimes referred to as hybrid reality, MR is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality takes place not only in the physical world or virtual world, but is a mix of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality".

Products such as Microsoft HoloLens and the secretive MR start-up Magic Leap (fresh off a $793.5-million-dollar series C funding round from investors such as Google, Warner Bros, Alibaba, and J.P. Morgan) aim to offer users a truly immersive user experience where digital and physical realities blend together seamlessly. The engaging experience which mixed reality brings to users has huge potential to transform the way we interact and learn. Expect this new technological experience to alter and enhance the way people engage with everything from ecommerce and gaming to education, healthcare and pretty much everywhere in between.



2. Machine Learning - AI and UX

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. It’s no question that machine learning will continue to evolve as a captivating subfield of computer science. Even if you haven’t noticed it yet, machine learning is already an ingratiated and valuable tool for improving the user experience of an application or physical service. Have you ever wondered how YouTube and Netflix suggests videos you might enjoy or how Amazon displays products you might want to buy? These are all examples of algorithms that are designed to evolve and change based on data that is inputted into a system or collected in real-time, in the case of platforms and services like Amazon, Youtube, and Netflix data is generated by the user to improve the overall experience and, in turn, business performance.

I believe that machine learning is positioned to make a big impact in the field of user experience as trends such as self-driving cars and speech recognition grow in importance. 

3. Luxury brands embracing technology to improve UX

The luxury industry as a whole has been traditionally hesitant to embrace technology but in recent years luxury brands have started to embrace digital strategies to improve client experience and engagement. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group study, e-commerce only accounts for 7% of turnover in the luxury industry, but 6 out of every 10 sales are influenced by digital technology.

Digital is happening fast and forcefully, whether brands are ready for it or not. It enables new products and services, and it opens up opportunities to create personalised offers and provide bespoke services to more customers. Recognising this trend allows brands to start adopting digital technology to help catalyse growth and improve client loyalty through a better user experience.

This shift to embrace technology can be seen throughout a variety of notable brands. In the summer of 2016 luxury powerhouse LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) partnered with the Viva Technology show in an effort to bring together major players in digital transformations. The new focus on how digital can improve client experience through an omnichannel touchpoint strategy will be a trend you can expect more luxury brands to adopt in the future. 

4. Designing for voice and audio technology

As our technical devices are becoming smarter and more connected, we’re starting to move towards new interaction methods that no longer rely on screens and keyboards. Innovation within voice input technology are making communication with these devices more natural and intuitive.  

Products like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and other voice recognition technologies are leading the way in a transformational trend that takes display user interface out of human-computer interaction.

Building a voice based experience that works seamlessly within the lives of users is an uncharted territory and lends itself to a wide array of exciting new challenges for user experience professionals. Expect voice recognition interaction to become a more prominent user experience methodology in the future.

5. Micro Interactions

Microinteractions are the contained moments that do one small task. Examples include actions such as the ‘Like Button’ on Facebook, Twitters heart animation, and Uber’s Halloween theme, all which deliver subtle but powerful user interactions that bring digital experiences to a new level.

These details typically serve essential functions such as communicating feedback or the result of an action, and helping users visualise the results of their actions and preventing errors. Micro interactions are a great technique for giving rewarding feedback to users. The features of your product may be what attracts users, but the details are what keep them there. Moreover, details are what makes the best products stand out from the average ones. Microinteractions create a feeling of well-being once they are discovered by users. Attention to each and every detail is key to making user interaction both easy to use and pleasurable for humans. Expect more UX professionals to take a “full-stack” approach from functionality right down to microinteractions when designing products in the future.

Have a look at Nick Babich's article for a few speaking examples of microinteractions, such as the one below: 

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Conclusion

In an increasingly competitive digital landscape a focus on UX is key for securing user loyalty and business performance.

We believe that these exciting new areas of technology and adoption will prove to be major drivers of future human-computer experiences. If you want to find out more about new technological innovations and how UX can help your business grow, then please do get in touch - we would love to share our experience and expertise with you.

As new trends, behaviours, and shifts in user experience take place Status Digital will be covering them every step of the way, so if you want to keep up to date be sure to subscribe to our blog!

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