User experience (UX) trends evolve every year to keep up with the expectations of end users. What sets these expectations? Increasing digitization is one factor. As more services get digitized and as more people get comfortable with an online experience, user expectations increase. Tectonic shifts in digital technology are another. For example, the advent of voice-activated assistants meant that a lot of companies started including voice-activated searches on their platforms. Likewise, as AI-enabled solutions became more profitable, they resulted in the proliferation of chatbots.
But why should businesses care about UX trends? Simply put, if you fall short of delivering a great customer experience, you can quickly fall behind in a hyper-competitive landscape.
As a business leader or UX designer, what should you be looking out for in the year ahead? What UX trends are likely to be adopted by a large number of companies in the near future? Here are my bets.
Chatbots have been around for more than a couple of years now. But ChatGPT has taken the game to the next level. The chatbot’s ability to process natural language inputs is unprecedented. Microsoft is already planning on integrating this technology into some of its applications, including its search engine. I expect other big companies will follow suit.
In the near future, a conversational search function is likely to replace a keyword-based approach. This year might see the beginning of that trend. For example, “best hotels Vancouver” could make way for “What are some of the best hotels in Vancouver?” almost as if you are asking your very own personal assistant. In fact, as natural language processing and speech recognition mature further, voice-activated conversational searches could start to become the norm. As a brand, to stay ahead of the curve, it can be helpful to start beta-testing ChatGPT APIs to enhance your customer experience.
Businesses have been using personalization to deliver more contextual experiences to end users. Personalization isn’t going anywhere. In fact, if anything, it is going to be further amped up to keep users’ attention. Spotify Wrapped is one example of hyper-personalization done right and generates a lot of traction at the end of the year.
Examples of hyper-personalization in UX include adaptive interfaces. A website may adjust its layout and content based on a user’s past browsing history, location and device type. To my mind, adaptive interfaces can be really useful for accessibility. Imagine a website or mobile app automatically increasing its font size and layout if the user is above 60 years of age, or a platform adapting to a different color scheme for people with color blindness.
Personalized recommendations and pricing pages have been there for quite some time, and they will continue to become the norm. Personalization in search could be the next game changer, especially with ChatGPT on the scene. The AI-enabled chatbot is constantly learning with each query and keeps a history of queries for each account, which helps it build context. It can use historical context to give personalized recommendations based on a user’s specific search history. For example, if a user has a recent history of looking for organic food recipes, ChatGPT can prioritize organic skincare search results when the user looks for skincare products. In this case, the user hasn’t specifically searched for organic skincare products. But since their history suggests a preference for organic products, ChatGPT can contextualize the latest search queries to throw results that are more likely to resonate with the user. Imagine the possibilities in customer experience with that kind of power.
Amazon launched augmented reality features in 2020. But it was only last year that the tech giant started pushing it out actively to its users. This might be the year AR becomes a necessity for e-commerce platforms rather than just a gimmick—think clothing brands that enable customers to try out different looks from the comfort of their homes. Or home decor brands that show you how that sectional sofa will look in your living room. There are brands that have integrated augmented reality into their online experiences, such as Home Depot and Ikea, but they are far and few between. Faster internet speeds, wider access to the World Wide Web and people getting more comfortable with digital engagements are all contributing factors to the likely rise of augmented reality.
Remembering passwords is a real struggle for a vast majority of internet users. Password resets can hamper customer experience and cost businesses real money. As more services continue to be digitized, the number of platforms an average user interacts with every month is expected to increase exponentially, too. This will exacerbate the problem of having to remember an increasing number of passwords for each new account. UX designers will have to tackle this problem in 2023, which will result in the rise of new UX trends.
For example, biometrics for login may become more commonplace. I believe two-step verification and one-time passwords will continue to be adopted by more businesses.
Other Likely Upcoming UX Trends
While those were my top four UX trends for the year, here are a few more: more proliferation of no-code and low-code tools, especially in the B2B space; buttonless user interfaces, especially if voice-activated search improves; more platforms experimenting with immersive scrolling for a more engaging experience; and micro-interactions continuing to be important for an engaging UX, especially in conjunction with buttonless UIs.
With artificial intelligence in the mainstream now, it is an exciting time to be a UX designer. The key to winning in the UX space is going to be about creating more inclusive and personalized experiences and moving away from the gimmicky stuff to things that actually add value to the user experience.