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9 UX Trends to Look Out for in 2018

With so many bright design ideas and stunning innovations this year has brought, we’re excited for what follows in 2018! For this article we highlighted 9 trends in UX you should definitely look out for next year.

Conversational bots expansion

What used to be a largely exploited Sci-Fi idea, became a mundane reality, as it always does. Since Facebook launched its chatbots feature in Messenger app, the number of bots hiked from 30,000 active bots in 2016 to 100,000 active bots this year.
Widely spread from primitive website’s assistance to advanced messenger conversations bots create an alluring new business opportunity both for entrepreneurs and big companies. Starbucks, Harper Collins, Duolingo and National Geographic have successfully implemented bots into their marketing toolkits. To follow these companies’ success, find out some tips how to create chatbot your users will love.

Microsoft chatbots (Source: Bot Tutorials, Kevin Kok)

In terms of messengers, most notably, Telegram app allows enhancing bot feature to deal with almost everything you desire: from railway tickets search to banking services. 2018 will definitely see bots as a much more powerful feature with more UX challenges will follow.


Storytelling design significance

Design no longer relies solely on visual concepts. Eventually, palettes and patterns appear to matter as much as a coherent storytelling and textual elements. Brands explore new approaches to involve potential customers and clients into products and services. That’s where brand identity and new advertising tools meet unconventional thinking. Storytelling allows capturing target audience into an information whirlpool. An interesting, lively and well-crafted storyline can find response among customers without excessive marketing efforts.
That said, storytelling shouldn’t be framed into one separate concept of plain copywriting: every interface design can become a story to tell. Every designer is a writer on his own. Take look at the storyline we designed for WeHealth website.

UX sets a certain level of conversation with user, and requires maximum involvement, understanding of user’s psychology and responsiveness to changes. Earlier this year UX Planet explored “UX writing”, setting an optimistic tone for the merger of design and copy. This trend will expand even more in 2018, as companies drive their focus to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty through UX.


Native advertising potential

Starting from January this year, Google will be penalizing websites that use “intrusive interstitials”, company describes this as anything that obscures the main content. Basically, any sites that complicate user’s access to the content because of call-to-action elements or pop-up ads, will be lowered in search rankings.
To be fair, this decision is a logical reaction from Google. Ads overwhelmed web to the extent it decreased the value of UX and content in general, burying it under pop-ups. However dramatic the consequences are for advertising industry, it will lead to new and progressive approaches. Such as native ads. One of their advantages for both users and companies is the mechanism of interaction.

 

Native ads (Source: Seriously Simple Marketing)

Native ads are those that match the form and function of the website or app they appear upon. Whether a video or an article, native ads promote products  being fully integrated into the main content, still reaching their marketing goal. While not being revolutionary per se, native advertising is a potential lifebuoy for UX design.


AR breakthrough

While Virtual Reality (VR) is yet to be implemented on a desired scale due to technological issues, Augmented Reality (AR) took media like a storm in 2017. From music promo app by Gorillaz to groundbreaking Pokémon GO app that created an unforeseen craze over continents. Apart from entertainment, AR becomes a long-awaited solution for visually impaired.

Augmented reality in action (Source: Home AR Designer app)

At Facebook F8 conference this year, company demonstrated their Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology: phone’s camera is used to integrate 3D into reality. This stunning technology allows user to interact with physical objects. Although this SLAM is yet to be accessed by average Facebook user, company assured that it’s a matter of time before lens replace screens and AR becomes mainstream. Google, Microsoft, Apple dig deeper into Augmented Reality with the same effort Mark Zuckerberg does. With an increase in mobile apps designed for AR, it’s no wonder UX becomes one of the main issues to deal with. Both in terms of platforms interfaces and technology itself. Meanwhile AR itself is a potentially powerful tool for designers with stunning new possibilities for prototyping.


AI and machine learning shape UX design

One of the most fascinating technological trends that occupied media in recent years was Artificial Intellect and Machine learning. Google’s Artificial neural networks and Facebook’s AI (remember that time chatbots created their own language?) were hot topics throughout the year. However what’s more peculiar than the whole technological advance and trending discoveries, is where and how it will be implemented in the near future. One of the most vivid discussions that stormed the internet was the issue of robotization and replacement of human workforce in most of the industries. Neither new or truly exciting, this “threat”/”opportunity” is a long-lasting prophecy.

While many professions will definitely be replaced by AI, what matters more is how will others utilize AI’s potential in their work. In terms of UX/UI design, machine learning and AI offer a vast scope of applications. From image analysis (user interactions with different elements) to advanced prototyping inaccessible with conventional methods. 2018 might as well be pivotal for designers and AI collaboration.


Voice User Interfaces

2017 saw the rise in screenless interactions between user and software, as top companies developed their brands of Voice User Interfaces (VUI): Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. By mid-2017 Amazon’s Alexa platform obtained over 15,000 skills (compared to 10,000 in February) — number of voice-powered apps that run on devices customized for Alexa. By driving users further away from graphic interfaces, VUI changed the whole concept of our day-to-day technological environment. Hands-free control over everything from your laptop to car.  With this swap of perspective, UX designers face new challenges and new opportunities in audio segment.
However expensive and technologically complicated VUI are at this stage, it’s something UX design gurus will look up to in 2018.

By mid-2017 Amazon’s Alexa platform obtained over 15,000 voice-powered apps


Microinteractions become more essential

Microinteractions are moments or effects of users’ communication that allow them to flow through design by completing a single design task. According to UXPin, microinteractions are used for:

    Communicating feedback or the result of an action

  • Accomplishing an isolated, individual task (i.e., connecting one device to another, liking a friend’s post)
  • Manipulating a setting
  • Preventing user error

Facebook microinteractions (Source: Webflow blog)

Possibly, the most common example of a microinteraction is Facebook reactions to posts, comments and messages in the app. The vibration of your phone whenever you switch to silent mode, pull-to-refresh UI pattern. These moments create a unique type of involvement through actions-respones. In 2018, UX designers will continue developing user engagment via microinteractions, focusing on task completions and feedback.


Disinformation Architecture

In his Medium article UX Unicorn and Design Evangelist Chase Buckley offers a glance at prospects for information architecture. In terms of both digital and physical application, information architecture is about organizing data so that people can better understand their environment. Whether it’s app menu design or mall direction plates, information structure is a crucial UX design element.

What Chase points out is that in the ever evolving world of ours, it becomes more and more complicated to organize information properly and coherently. Furthermore, according to the article, the best way to bring back the simplicity in design is through disinformation architecture – arranging misleading and heavily-filtered information for people to access a more simplified version of their reality.

One of the brightest examples of such approach is any “clickbait” article: instead of pitching complex content in a headline, which users won’t understand, editors use misleading information to grab attention and simplify the contents.

Disinfromation Architecture oversimplifies reality, and drives users into a more entertaining content with clickbaits

Despite of its mischievous nature, disinformation can become an effective tool in a website or app design. It plays with user’s perception and cognitive processes by shaping the interface into an easy-to-use environment, and misleads user to perform initially required UX tasks. With more and more websites applying both types of information architecture, 2018 will surely become a data battlefield.


Split-screen website design

For quite a long period of time, splitting screen was considered a faux pas in website design. This idea came from psychological assumption that dividing the screen vertically forces users’ eyes to go from top to bottom of the page, therefore confusing users with uncertainty of sight focus.
2017 brought split screen design into a mainstream spotlight: more and more sites use vertical division for separating and accenting different information blocks. For instance, one half of the screen grabs user’s sight with a photo, while other half is presented with a text. Thus designers can add more visual weight to both screens without pressuring users, create a much stronger communication with two dynamic content flows.

Image and content split-screen create a powerful design combination to interact with user

Take a spin of UXpin guide into split-screen design which offers a deep insight into best practices.

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