May 24, 2022
UX Trends 2022: Towards a More Inclusive User Experience
Our UX team recently took a look at current trends at Genuine and in the industry at large. Overall, there’s a huge push for more accessibility and inclusivity which means plenty of opportunities for brands and companies looking to improve their customers’ experiences.
What was innovative is now standard
Practices that were perceived as innovative a few years ago are now becoming not only widespread but expected.
Design systems as the norm
For years companies have needed to consider the cost of creating design systems — a complete set of standards that allows brands to manage design at scale through reusable components and patterns, including governed component libraries and robust style guides — assessing whether it was worth the level of effort and time required to create and maintain. However, with a growing list of design tools making this easier, more companies are investing in proprietary design systems. We find that if you are building more than a single site within the same brand or framework, a design system is something to consider.
Uber style guide highlighting elements of a design system
Accessibility as an expectation
Web accessibility refers to the ability of all users, regardless of visual, auditory or physical disabilities to access all content and functionality available on websites. Most enterprises and larger tech companies already have accessibility guidelines in place, but now even smaller companies are asking about accessibility. While there is still much work to do in the field, the heightened interest in accessibility compliance we’re seeing is very promising.
Increased focus on inclusivity
In 2022, companies are starting to understand the importance of being inclusive. Some of the most popular tech platforms are adding emojis and featured imagery representing people with disabilities and other minority groups. Shifting attitudes towards gender and cultural inclusion such as non-English naming conventions are reflected in online forms with non-binary options and “Preferred Name” fields, providing users with a more personalized and inclusive customer experience. Companies are also seeking diverse test participants and interviewees when conducting user research.
Page load speed is another consideration when discussing inclusivity. With the rise of faster networks in certain parts of the world, many devices are able to quickly load large media files and 3D models. But there are other areas in the world, including within the United States, where high speed internet is not yet available. Companies will need to start asking themselves if users in different areas will enjoy the same experience when choosing to include HD features.
Disability representative emojis on iOS
Responding to a more connected market
Even before the pandemic, enhanced digital integrations have been changing the way we shop, live, work and play.
Further meshing of online & offline lives
More companies are investing in platforms that can bridge the gap between online and offline interactions and engage customers at different touch points. Social commerce is the next frontier of e-commerce, especially with continued innovation like Instagram live shopping events, or Augmented Reality apps that show how home goods and furniture might look in your home.
Some retail companies have even designed entire stores to be hosted within the metaverse, where users can go and virtually peruse clothing or products as they would in a mall. Whether this level of online interaction will catch on soon, we can‘t say, but the blending of worlds will continue as digital connectivity expands globally.
Instagram shop path to purchase
Seamless commerce & digital experiences
Companies used to develop microsites for different services or niche campaigns, but now we are seeing a movement towards a single platform. Others are approaching the problem through platform cross-integration so that users can complete all of their tasks in the same hub. Apps like WeChat and Instagram have set their sights on being ‘one-stop shops’ for social interaction, e-commerce and travel. Banks are now allowing you to easily transfer money, make purchases and trade investments within a single app.
Remote user testing as the norm
One byproduct of pandemic living has been the widespread use of remote user testing. Companies were once limited to testing only those users who lived nearby. Now with access to many platforms offering online usability testing, companies can reach participants from all over the United States and from all walks of life with as little effort as a zoom call.
Emphasis on Ethics
Most encouraging for us is seeing how many companies are enacting practices that prioritize the wellbeing of their users.
Focus on energy sustainability
Climate concerns have led to many companies reducing their carbon footprint, but some are taking energy sustainability down to the gigabyte. For example, a French energy company had been adding expiration dates to their social media posts, calling attention to the unseen energy usage of our digital lives.
Companies are looking to conserve their users' mental energies as well. Many media and streaming services now offer visitors the option to digest content through text, audio or video. And more apps are integrating your cell phone’s native controls putting controls at user’s fingertips so that they don’t need to navigate across multiple screens just to execute simple commands. Instead, you can complete actions like “skip ahead 15 seconds” or “repeat this chapter” directly from your phone's lock-screen.
Promoting healthier relationships with apps
Over the years, many companies have been called out for their use of dark patterns — elements of a user interface or user experience that are carefully crafted to trick users into doing things like interacting with a pop-up or remaining focused on an app as long as possible. Anyone that has found themselves aimlessly scrolling a social media feed has experienced this first-hand.
Luckily, now we are seeing a shift to more responsible design that discourages infinite scrolling, alerts users to the amount of time they are spending on an app, and encourages them to take breaks. Although this can be at odds with business goals, especially for companies with metrics like “daily active users” and “time spent on app,” UX designers see the negative impacts of these practices and are actively pushing back.
(More and more applications are providing dark mode options — not to be confused with dark patterns — which have been helping many people reduce the negative impacts of looking at a screen all day aka, the dreaded ‘zoom fatigue’.)
Instagram in-feed notification alerting users they’re “all caught up” (in dark mode)
What does this mean for us at Genuine?
We’re definitely feeling the effects of these trends. More and more clients are coming to us asking about accessibility and design systems. And as the “new normal” increases the demand for connectivity and inclusion, we will continue looking for new ways to be inclusive and ethical in our UX and design choices.
Are you looking to enhance your user experience? We’d love to help. Get in touch with us.