As you would probably know, when people use a service, system or product, their emotions, attitudes and behaviors constitute user experience. It includes the valuable, meaningful, affective, experiential and practical aspects of the interaction between computers and humans and covers people’s perceptions of aspects such as efficiency, ease of use and utility.
User experience design covers the enhancement of user satisfaction through the improvement of ease of use and the pleasure derived out of the interaction between the product and the user. It addresses all the ways in which users perceive a service or product, in addition to the human-computer interaction.
Based on what we have observed in 2014, regarding user experience, the following are a few predictions for 2015:
1. Flat design for websites and apps
While you may credit Swiss designers of the 1950s with flat design’s origins, it is after the appearance of ‘life tiles’ and the release of Windows 7 for mobile that flat design has gained prominence. As far as web design is concerned, minimalistic flat design offers aesthetics which are very pleasing.
Flat design is supposed to be skeuomorphic design’s antithesis. Skeuomorphic design is based on creating objects that retain ornamental cues from the original structures.
Bounce rates drop as the attention of users is directed towards the content due to the elements of flat design. Designers are free to direct even more focus on the products rather than the background.
If we look at history, trends in design have shifted between the simple and the complex. In that sense, flat design is also a trend, even as it is based on significant principles. At its core, it’s about using the simplest elements of design and bringing the most important aspects to the fore without the message being clouded by extra visuals. Theoretically, this is recommendable as it follows function approach. However, we, being humans, like visual appeal.
The question then arises whether flat design is just another approach or it will last. The chances appear high that it will remain dominant at least during 2015, even as ‘material design’ by Google could lead to some evolution. Material design takes flat design and arranges its elements as material in three dimensions, where physical properties like shadows, lighting and height affect these.
2. Ghost buttons will be part of the user interface
The ghost button provides a number of visually pleasing hover options and leads to a minimal amount of clutter as it sits atop any image. Therefore, it goes rather well with the larger images that are becoming increasingly popular.
These buttons are likely to be in demand for as long as designers continue to use large images and that is likely to continue throughout 2015.
3. Larger typography and images
Both typography and images appear to have been following a similar trend and have become larger in size.
A number of websites have parallax backgrounds you can scroll through or full page images. These not only provide visual appeal, but can be powerful tools for storytelling.
In the meantime, the choice of font has become even more significant and typography has gained prominence in web design. Not so long ago, Tahoma, Times New Roman and Arial were the standard fonts considered ‘safe’ for the web and web designers had to use those. At the most, they could use Serif or Sans Serif to provide fonts that would be readable in a browser. Otherwise, they had to convert font elements to images.
Now, web fonts are affordable and freely available to the designers so that they can add various elements of typography. They have greater access to font kits that offer beautiful typography.
Just like a colour palette that is very distinctive, a consistent and well-designed font palette can also form part of a brand’s identity. As an increasing number of designers express ideas and emotions through typography and as companies use it to make their brand identities distinct, it is a trend likely to continue through 2015 and beyond.
4. More websites will offer app-like experiences
According to a comScore report, tablets and smartphones account for about 60% of all traffic online. Mobile apps provide 51% of that traffic. Cisco expects 75% of traffic on the internet, by 2018, to be connected through mobile devices.
So, as mobile usage continues to go farther ahead of desktop, users are becoming more and more accustomed to the simplicity of interface that mobile devices offer. This is bound to affect the desktop experience.
So, websites are being increasingly designed with navigation similar to mobile apps. This is in contrast to the traditional navigation bars for desktop that had a number of drop down menus which were toggled when accessed through smaller devices. Icon driven and single line menus are more in demand. It’s no longer about just making desktop site elements responsive. Mobile experience fundamentals have now taken the lead in considerations for design.
Websites are designed for mobile first and the desktop experience is designed quite close to it. That’s because designing for mobile leads to simpler designs. Visitors get sites that are easy to use and let them quickly find what they are looking for.
This trend is likely to extend to an increasing number of websites in 2015 and beyond.
5. Fewer clicks and more scrollability
Single page websites continued to become popular in 2014. This was due to their ease of use and simplicity, especially on smaller screens. In 2015, the number of such websites is likely to increase as people access the internet increasingly using their tablets, phones and other mobile devices.
Visitors can consume content seamlessly and quickly through such websites, which load quickly and don’t make the visitors click too many times. This is easier for them than the way they had to access content earlier on several pages that loaded individually. Companies have greater control over how visitors experience their brands, when the companies’ websites have engaging content and utilize long scrolls. Users find scrolling easier and more intuitive and it reduces load times.
You can create an interactive virtual experience with a service or product and tell the story of a brand using single page design. One page websites offer a good medium for telling linear stories. Intuitive user interface and great design combined with engaging content is likely to keep visitors longer on your website.
Parallax scrolling, which is very important for story telling through one page websites, has also become a significant trend. It lets users control the pace at which they want to digest information.
6.Video will be even more prominent
As the average user’s attention span becomes shorter, video is fast replacing large text blocks. Video is a great way to deliver your message quickly and has become cost effective and easier to produce. Scientifically, the human brain processes visuals faster than information in any other form. Text takes much longer as it has to be processed sequentially.
You can even use video as a background element to make an impact within seconds and highlight your services and core strengths. Several websites use looping videos in the background on landing pages or home pages. These improve user experience and help with storytelling for brands. When used in moderation, these can engage the senses of visitors as soon as they arrive on your web pages and help create a thought provoking impression of your organization.
You can expect background video to go mainstream in 2015 and choose to be among the first to enhance your site with it.
7. Responsive design will continue to grow
The importance of having a design that is accessible and functional on all platforms continues to increase. Responsive design can re-arrange all elements according to the size of the screen you are using.
As the number of people who browse the web through their tablets and phones rises, responsive design is likely to continue to grow throughout 2015.
Mobile design need not simply be a desktop design adaptation and a secondary thought. Rather, it should be as important as desktop design in design thinking.
Responsive design is likely to replace separate solutions for mobile and desktop and eliminate the need for sites specifically for mobile.
8. Micro interactions will rise in user experience
Moments or contained experiences related to a product that are generally concerned with a single use case are known as micro interactions. For example, you indulge in a micro interaction when you turn a feature off or on or adjust any of the settings on a website or app. Quite often, micro interactions can make the difference between a product that users love and a product they tolerate. These may not be necessary features but add subtle touches that improve the user experience. As the web gets integrated with people’s daily lives even further, better micro interactions will separate popular products from their competitors.
Micro UX effects include larger image displays when hovering over images of products, display of website path during navigation, colour altering animation and hover effects for navigation bars, among others.
9. Card design layouts will gain significance
When you want to convey content in concise bursts in a rapid fire manner, card design layouts are highly effective and functional. These cards can let visitors to your website get a quick glance of your business philosophy, products, news, services, etc.
Because of their small size, you can easily integrate the cards into responsive layouts.
10. New approaches to wearables will be seen
The applications being so disparate seems to be a significant barrier for wearable technology. However, 2015 is likely to witness a lot of experimentation, leading to new activities and approaches. You can expect wearable technology to become more accessible and, therefore, a more significant position for it on the user experience agenda.
While other trends and advances will certainly occur in 2015, those mentioned above are likely to be of importance and you should consider them while designing the user experience for your website or app.
Do you have any predictions of your own? Please share with us in the comments section below.