Eight Digital Design Trends That Will Improve Your UX

As marketers, it’s important that we provide the best user experience (UX) possible for our audience, regardless if it’s an email, website or social post. We do this by making sure we’re satisfying their needs above our own, and thinking through their point of view to ensure we help them find what they’re looking for as quickly — and easily — as possible.

With plenty of time in the calendar to execute development and design updates, I challenge you all to consider implementing some of these top design trends to improve your UX this year.

Serving Realistic Expectations in Small Doses

Have you noticed an increase in the number of article CTAs and page headers showing the expected reading time for a piece of content? I have, I love it and I recommend it on all of our newer page designs! Small callouts like this help boost the likelihood that audiences will consume content. Why? Because it blunts their fear of commitment by helping them see that they’d only be investing a short period of time — say three to five minutes.

One great example of this is taking complex registration forms and breaking them into short sections that use progress bars to show audiences how far they have to go to complete the complex task. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ reservations tool easily breaks up the booking process into four simple steps to make it easy for users to quickly pick the date, select their room, confirm their details, and then personalize their stay; it’s a really beautiful and thoughtful experience.

Letting Users Identify Their Needs

Self-selection tools are a great way for audiences to quickly and easily identify themselves on a website. Upon this quick informational exchange, audiences can receive more relevant content on the pages they view. Brands like Argo Group, with many sub-brands under their umbrella, have diverse audiences coming to the website, for many reasons. Incorporating a self-selection tool at the bottom of all pages globally helps visitors find what they’re looking for faster.

Integrating Stronger Navigation Opportunities

Lots of companies are moving to sleeker, mobile-first hidden navigations, but navigations are still needed. Your users will leave if they don’t see a path to fulfill their needs quickly. Audiences need to have easy paths to find the content they seek. As companies promote and activate more content to improve their visibility, this becomes increasingly important since not all audience journeys start from a homepage where clear paths are outlined, but instead happen on specific, deeper landing pages.

In the same respect, elements that allow users to quickly take a step back — like breadcrumbs at the top of the page — are necessary on pages to help visitors find their way backward should they make a click they regret. This keeps traffic from bouncing completely. Breadcrumbs are by no means new and trendy, but this vintage tactic is definitely a must-have for all sites with deep content.

Employing Functional Callouts

While brands were once trying to show their fun personalities with vague navigation labels and complimentary folder names, the trend is shifting back to prioritizing function over fashion. Similar to other callouts in this post, the name of the game is making it easier for audiences to find what you have to offer. Don’t make them guess. For example, shift from “Drive” and “Sail” over to “Car Care” and “Boat Care” to help audiences quickly identify the route they should take.

Applying Advanced Sender Types for Emails

With email platforms becoming more sophisticated to allow for special segmentation and personalization efforts, we can expect to see alternative sender addresses matching back to business units instead of just one catch-all address.

This helps audiences feel like they’re connecting to the right resources when they interact with your brand’s contact forms, website profiles, or other communication channels. Simply updating the “from” address within certain emails will not only improve your open rate as users scroll through their inbox to see what piques their interest, but it will also help convey to audiences that your company has a robust, supportive structure. There’s a big difference between an email you receive from Nicole’s Clothing Company and one from Nicole’s Customer Service Department.

Video Content Dominating Content Calendars

If content is king, then video content is the king of kings this year. With brands wanting to make it as easy as possible for audiences to digest material, more and more video will be used. The brands that win will be producing beautiful, high-quality video content — especially for ecommerce brands like ASOS, where a 360-degree video view of a product will serve higher consumer confidence rates than flat stock images, and help accelerate the path to purchase.

Increasing Number of Scroll Effects

Video will continue to become a more popular way to engage with audiences to transfer knowledge and evoke emotion. With this abundance of videos on social media and brand websites, scrolling effects will continue to help make it easier for audiences to view content by automatically playing and/or pausing video content. This is most evident with social platforms like Facebook Live and the newly launched Instagram Stories.

Channeling Mobile Content at the Speed of Light

Visitors leave sites quickly if content doesn’t load instantly. While Google announced at the start of the year that AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is not yet part of the search engine’s algorithm, it’s still extremely important that your site’s pages load as efficiently as possible. We believe the algorithm will be revised soon as mobile devices continue to become the tool most consumer audiences are turning to first. Websites with responsive designs and AMP–friendly code bundles will get more visibility for their content and improve their on-page metrics that come from lower bounce rates due to faster loading speeds.

Along the same lines, I expect more brands to also leverage tools like Facebook’s Instant Articles to allow content to load faster in-channel to better serve audiences.

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UX isn’t something that should only be considered by your developers, but instead should be in the minds of all marketers — especially those that own the strategy of your website. You’re a member of your company’s UX department because you sell not only products and services, but the experience served on your site. Brands that do this well will have a huge competitive advantage this year. If you aren’t doing the basics above, now is the time to start.

Let us know if you need help along the way.

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