The following article is contributed by Jeff Piazza, co-founder and user experience director at Behavior Design, an award-winning user experience strategy and design studio in New York City. The firm’s roster of clients includes HBO, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Royce & Associates, Red Hat and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
These days, every brand has a mobile strategy and is tasked with vying for attention in a sea of apps, alerts and news updates. Although smartphone usage continues to rise, there are newer, emerging technology trends on the horizon that will drive brand marketers to evolve the ways in which they engage their customers.
For brands hoping to deepen their engagement with consumers, it’s time to look beyond smartphones and mobile strategy. It’s time to create an umbrella framework—one that embodies the organization’s philosophy on user experience design and can be applied to any emerging technology.
There are several emerging tech trends that I believe will have great impact on UX—this year and beyond.
1. Anticipatory Design Becomes a Crystal Ball for User Behavior
Increasingly savvy consumers are expecting their favorite brands to have a deeper understanding of wants and needs—including anticipation of routine behavior to help arrive at desired products and content. Services that successfully utilize anticipatory design, like Google Assistant, analyze past behavior to serve relevant recommendations and make user experiences more efficient.
Consumers love technology like this because it makes their lives easier. The ability to assemble different pieces of information from user input to make recommendations is what drives this frictionless UX. We will see more of this type of interaction model as systems we interact with learn our behaviors and intelligently predict next steps. We’re going to see more brands adopt an anticipatory design approach to increase customer engagement, and ultimately drive sales, by enabling a more proactive user experience.
2. Voice UI Challenges the Way Brands Communicate to Customers
Platforms and services built around voice user interface (UI) like Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri and Samsung Viv are poised to have a big impact on consumer behavior. Acceptance of this UX paradigm has turned the corner and is gaining mainstream popularity.
Voice control technologies can either seamlessly integrate into the background—not requiring a users’ full attention—or exist at the forefront, initiating experiences. People no longer need to pull out mobile phones or open laptops to search, transact or accomplish tasks. Instead of searching for content, consumers are seeing the value in relevant data coming to them. Brands are asking how to integrate voice command experiences into their user engagement strategies now, and how that concept can itself become an extension of their brand. For example, voice commands within automobiles aim to have a different tone than that of home appliances or phone systems. As voice UI and artificial intelligence advance, these differences will get more sophisticated, and brand personalities will compete and manifest as representations of the user experience.
3. Glance UI Becomes Critical as Wearable Usage Rises and Attention Spans Wane
The tech trend of wearables, like the Samsung S3 and Apple Watch, while not new, continues to break into new markets and offers wide-ranging opportunities. Brands that hope to engage customers through wearable devices will need to understand the nuances of Glance UI and ways to design short-form content that users can receive throughout the day.
For most brands, the company website has been the primary tool for communicating with audiences, usually with lots of room for casual browsing and storytelling. I believe that wearable technology will continue to challenge those notions, and brands will need to learn to design micro-interactions—creating a steady stream of content that can be viewed or consumed more quickly by end users on the go.
There’s no doubt that smartphones are here to stay—and brands can’t afford to ignore mobile when it comes to customer engagement. However, as the hottest technology products become lifestyle purchases for consumers, it will be critical to rethink and reimagine a seamless and engaging user experience. This year, brands will be challenged to embrace the likes of voice control and wearables to craft UX that is deeply integrated with multiple aspects of consumers’ busy lives.