Delivering an exceptional customer experience has been the focus of the most forward-thinking companies over the past year. Now, the rest of the business world is putting this vision into action.
Providing excellent user experiences is no longer just the crux of great design, but also the crux of enterprise application success. As the UI / UX Lead at Altiscale, I have found that user experience design (UX) and user interface design (UI) play a critical role in delivering valuable products and services that are accessible to users of varying expertise.
As the focus on delivering an exception user experiences grows, here are five changes that I expect we will see:
Design with Mobile First Mindset
Companies will continue to shift their design paradigm to ‘here and now’ use cases and center around mobile. The emphasis will be on simple, elegant and concise design as more applications remove visual clutter and distractions, focusing the user on the task at hand.
This not only applies to websites and consumer apps, but it also increasingly applies to enterprise solutions as more business users access cloud applications on the go. I have witnessed enterprise solutions struggle to compete in their market due to a confusing or poor UI for mobile. As mobile becomes the ‘first’ screen, companies will be forced to adapt.
Shift to ”Micro-Agile” Releases
There are more and more “building block” engines that make it possible for people to build basic desktop and mobile apps without extended expertise in design or code. As a result, it is easier to communicate and test new ideas, the development cycle is shorter and more companies are rapidly releasing new features. I believe that interface companies will become increasingly “micro-agile”, releasing each feature as soon as possible and quickly revising them based on user feedback.
With this strategy, I’ve found success in giving users access to feature releases in real time so they can share feedback on what does and doesn’t work for them.
More Collaborative Data Visualisations
Another trend that I’m keeping track of is the increased emphasis on data sharing and data visualisation. Solutions that let you quickly explore, annotate and share data analytics are more popular and widespread than ever. In the near future there will be more companies providing networks of data that users across departments can access. These networks will allow data and analytics to reach a broader set of users that need it, putting data into the hands of everyday business users rather than just data scientists and analytical power users.
Interactive Websites Cater to Users
I’ve also seen website user experience evolve with the increased use of parallax or on-scroll animation for storytelling. Parallax animations are usually triggered on page scroll, giving a user the impression of watching a video without leaving the website experience. I use this feature to allow users to absorb compelling information at their own pace without extra clicks or waiting for a video clip to load. Parallax is becoming more widespread on marketing websites, and it is equally valuable for business since it keeps users within the context of the website.
Data Sharpening Will Deliver Faster Results
Big data analytics has been synonymous with big wait times. To improve the user experience and speed up results, I predict that we will see an increased use of data sharpening. With data sharpening, users will be able to see pieces of the data they are analysing so they can quickly identify important trends and uncover answers to their most pressing questions.
For example, if I am looking at the last 30 days of global sales across all stores, the data could be broken down into daily snippets that are delivered as the results are completed. The top-level view on my data in this case is similar to zooming in on Google Maps: At the bird’s-eye view, I can find the elements that interest me and then get more detailed information as I drill down and focus.
Whether people are engaging with applications as a consumer or as a business user, they expect the same ease of use and the same exceptional experience. My advice is to stay on top of these trends that will drive UI and UX over the coming year, so that companies can up-level their user experiences to those standards.
Nina Stawski, UI/UX Lead, Altiscale
Image source: Shutterstock/Imagentle