For a website, app or product to stand out and be successful in 2023, it needs to do more than just look pretty. Now, there are more active users online than ever before - around 5 billion people. And as more and more people research, shop, and exist online, UX design has become critical to the success of any business or brand.
In 2023, a well-considered UX-led strategy is crucial if brands and businesses want to increase engagement, boost conversions, generate more revenue, and stand out in highly competitive markets.
Our Design Director, Rik Hopkinson, shares his opinions on UX design trends for 2023. Before we delve into what UX design trends you need to consider, it’s essential to understand why UX is valuable.
What is UX (User Experience) and Why Is It Important?
User experience (UX) refers to how users interact with a website, software, or product. It encompasses many aspects, including how easy it is to use, how efficient and effective it is at helping the user achieve their goals, and how pleasant it is to interact with.
UX is important because it directly affects the satisfaction and loyalty of a user. If a product has a poor UX, users may become frustrated and less likely to continue using it, leading to decreased sales and revenue. On the other hand, a product with a good UX can improve customer satisfaction, increase sales and revenue, and foster loyalty. The return on investment for successful UX design has been reported to be as high as 9,900%, according to experts from Forbes.
Digital marketers often praise UX design for its role in positive conversion rates. Prioritising your users’ needs when designing websites, apps, or products is crucial to the success of a website.
UX design can be used to encourage users to make an action on your website, such as making a purchase or clicking a button to download the latest whitepaper or subscribing to a newsletter - any goal you’re trying to achieve online, UX can help.
With the digital arena becoming so competitive and in certain sectors, saturated, brands and businesses must stand out to gain market share and retain customers.
While we’re not really talking about robots and other human-like technology, the use of machine learning, adapting and self-correcting for our benefit is a reality. Artificial intelligence is the simulation or imitation of intelligent behaviour in computers. — Merriam Webster. Artificial Intelligence (AI) doesn’t always mean a personification of a human entity but can be thought of as an intelligent processing power.
AI has been a part of design in a general sense for a few years from enhancing photos to enabling personalisation on a website. However, AI-driven images have really started to take off in the UX design world creating a whole new viewpoint on imagery.
Gone are the days of everyone using similar stock imagery hoping that the user hasn’t seen it before and will provoke the right emotions or experience to get them to convert.
AI-driven imagery uses a system such as DALL·E 2 to create a whole new experience. The system can:
- Create original, realistic images and art from a text description, combining concepts, attributes, and styles.
- Expand images beyond what’s in the original canvas, creating expansive new compositions.
- Make realistic edits to existing images from a natural language caption. It can add and remove elements while taking shadows, reflections, and textures into account.
- Create different variations of an image inspired by the original.
Take the image below, using DALL·E 2, I asked for a photo of two people sitting at a desktop looking at a laptop. This is what we got…
But it doesn’t have to be used for just plausible images.I wanted “A bowl of soup that is also a portal to another dimension, digital art” and this is what we received…
This type of design can create an immersive experience - how memorable, how intense? By using experience design, we create an environment to inform how users interact with their work and at a minimum to ensure that they walk away with a very specific experience.
Every element is carefully considered and designed for a desired effect. Dim lighting and darker images can be used to make the user feel anxious or unsettled but use bright colours and airy imagery to create happy and excited users.
The world is your AI-powered oyster.
Dark Mode & Low Light Sites
For those of you unfamiliar, dark mode is a design term which uses a low-light user interface utilising a dark colour as the primary background colour. Dark mode reverses the default light-on-dark interface that designers have used for decades.
Having the choice of dark mode or low light mode truly puts users first. Rather than bright white backgrounds which cause eye strain, dark mode is less saturated making it easier to comfortably read content.
Whilst most devices have the dark mode feature, more and more organisations appear to be adopting this for their websites too. We expect the presence of dark-mode websites to continue well in 2023 as we become increasingly conscious of our health and how we can do better for the sake of our bodies and minds.
It wasn’t that long ago that gradients felt outdated. We wanted solid, minimalist layouts using beautiful photos. Times have changed - gradients have changed.
When we talk about gradients now, in terms of design, we’re talking about something more complex than the old Microsoft Word Art gradients of the 90s & 00s. They have vivid, unusual tones with blurred layers utilising semi-transparency and shadows.
Using gradients enhances flat designs. They can have a multitude of purposes from adding a colour overlay to photos as well as texture to backgrounds. Gradients aren’t limited to imagery either, we’re seeing more and more use of them as a type fill in typefaces and fonts.
Image source: Apple UK - https://www.apple.com/uk/iphone-14/
The beauty of gradients is that they feel quite natural. Whilst they’re new in some respects, we’re very familiar with them. They’re everywhere in nature from the colours of a sunset to the greens of a tree, we’re surrounded by gradients of colour every day.
We’re excited to see the use of gradients used especially within re-brands and website redesigns where they can be fully embraced and incorporated.
Within most areas of design and marketing, storytelling is essential. Whilst online retailers and brochure sites have done their best to showcase their products to convert their visitors. 2D imagery has never won the hearts of web designers or anyone in charge of a website and it certainly doesn’t help a website replace the experience of in-store browsing.
While online spending has continued to stay above pre-pandemic levels, creating a realistic browsing experience online is key to revenue growth and preventing high levels of returns.
3D imagery enables greater storytelling power for users to immerse themselves within a product and experience a product online much more similar to an in-store encounter.
When we’re talking about 3D imagery, we’re not limiting ourselves to product images. 3D objects within websites and apps complement the more natural feel of online browsing.
Gradients also play a part in this. Where two or three colours side by side may abruptly smear together which can create depth to objects.
Immersive web experiences are here to stay and with them comes a whole heap of realism around 3D objects and imagery.
Data visualisation isn’t new. There are the veterans of this space such as Spotify and TikTok who are spearheading engaging data-based design. They’ve created a way for marketers to deliver data in a fun yet informative way for users to enjoy and seek out.
The most obvious example of this is Spotify’s Wrapped Up campaign. They display a yearly wrap-up of a user’s top-played artists, songs and genres. They use interactive infographics to show demographic trends including how many minutes of music you’ve listened to and where you sit in terms of being the highest ranked listener of a band or artist. This personalised approach to data sharing has encouraged users to look forward to their results and share with friends.
Whether it’s infographics or video content, sharing data creatively with an audience has been tipped as a trend to watch for 2023.
The Future of UX Design
2023 will see us bring back some basic elements with a modern twist for a more switched on audience who crave realism and more natural feeling experiences.
As we look ahead at UX design in 2023, one thing is for certain - As our devices continue to evolve and adapt at such a rate of knots, maintaining good UX design that is accessible for all is a must. No matter what trends fizzle out and which become a staple UX design must, mobile optimisation will continue to remain a priority to maintain high retention of users.