Never mind content, it seems the customer is (quite rightly) king these days. 

User experience (UX) has been one of the most widely discussed marketing topics this year as brands increasingly realise the importance of providing a high quality experience online across all touch points. 

Let’s take a look at the biggest UX trends of 2015, according to our group of experts. 

Customer expectations are higher than ever

Paul Rouke, Founder and Director of Optimisation at PRWD

We’ve seen customer expectations and user behaviour change at a phenomenal rate, influenced by technology enhancements and innovations. 

It’s been an exciting year seeing how UX teams not only keep up with, but go beyond those expectations to delight consumers and grow online business. 

Disruptive brands like Uber and Airbnb have truly embraced what it means to be customer centric, turning expectations around speed, transparency, choice, customisation and ease on their head, not just for their industries but for every industry.

In turn, both brands have flourished.

‘Test and learn’ culture

Paul Rouke, Founder and Director of Optimisation at PRWD 

We saw established brands like AO.com demonstrating what it means to embrace a test and learn culture, rather than the old UX ways of following ‘best practice’.

This means A/B testing changes across the full spectrum, from simple and iterative through to strategic and innovative changes. 

AO.com is making buying washing machines sexy and fun! For this the company should be applauded. 

VMO a/b split test significance calculator

James Abbott, Director of Digital Strategy and Optimisation at A Hume

Our biggest UX highlight is currently in testing, specifically our new responsive site design through which we’ve made significant changes to the mobile UX. 

Key development areas have been to create both a strong IA that supports a strong, intuitive menu system accessed via the Hamburger icon (for the hunters) combined with on-page browsing experiences (for the browsers). 

We are still working on developing the site search capabilities but this is one of the development projects we are looking at for 2016 (for the buyers). 

For more on this, read: How A/B tests improved add-to-basket levels by almost 30%: Case study.

Personalisation 

Alon Even, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Appsee

This past year saw great strides in app UX personalisation, where apps didn't just automatically customise with regards to look and feel but also connected with users based on their behaviour on past app visits. 

This enabled apps to forge more of a bond between consumers and brands, as it gave a strong impression that brands knew what they wanted.

Say, for example, one of your users purchased a particular item in the first week of each month, personalising the user experience would offer them deals on comparable products at the beginning of the month.

Increasing access to UX design tools

Nick Marsh, Head of Product at Lost My Name

Google's Material Design is the biggest thing for me in 2016. I'm seeing these design patterns in so many places now.

It's so good for our industry to have these really well-documented open design systems to build on. 

Another big trend was the simplification and proliferation of dev-friendly motion design tools like Framer. I think these are going to lead to more fluid, personable interfaces in 2016.

Josh Payton, VP of UX at Huge

As Khoi Vinh pointed out earlier this year, Sketch has quickly become the preferred tool for creatives doing wireframes and UI design. Bad news for Adobe.

Typography key for UX

Alon Even, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Appsee App Analytics

In 2015, typography was a big mobile UX design trend. If content is king, then how you present it via typography is queen. 

In the past year we saw designers using fonts as the core of their designs, so that not only did the tag line need to be good but also the way it was presented to the user, with the ultimate goal being a great mobile user experience.

We are seeing more and more designers using vintage fonts that use serifs, both rounded and sharpened as well as geometric.

I feel that while fonts need to be legible, they also need to connect with the user. 

Josh Payton, VP of UX at Huge

Circular is the new black. 

You’ve got to hand it to the guys over at Lineto, because Circular is absolutely everywhere.

Spotify is the most obvious example of a major brand using the typeface, but the more you keep your eye out, the more ubiquitous you realise this typeface has become. 

Email making a comeback

Josh Payton, VP of UX at Huge

Email is (re)emerging as a primary point of entry for content publishers. 

Sites such as Quora and Medium have essentially replaced their homepages with excellent digest emails, more and more individuals have started to migrate to tools like Mail Chimp and TinyLetter to create what are effectively exclusive/private blogs. 

There’s still plenty of awful spam in the world, but at least some folks have started to really get email right.

The evolution of scroll

Alon Even, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Appsee App Analytics

With companies trying to fit more and more information on those small mobile screens, app makers have been finding ingenious ways to optimise the user experience through using not only gestures but scrolling. 

Parallax scrolling was a huge trend in 2015 as it took the user experience to the next level.

While users still appreciated more organised designs that were hierarchical, they also embraced scrolling that combine a number of pages. 

Though load times might be affected, when done right long scrolling can work well, especially for apps that rely on storytelling.

Copy still important

James Abbott, Director of Digital Strategy and Optimisation at A Hume

Another UX highlight for us has been the impact of copy.

Whilst readability, scanability & accessibility are key areas of UX, for those just getting involved in usability CRO, this is often overlooked as it is quite a challenge. 

Whilst our copy tests so far have been positive, we are not done. We know we can still improve the copy further.

Next year we are going to develop tests around typography with potential style sheet adjustments based on screen resolution. 

Bold imagery on the rise

Alon Even, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Appsee App Analytics

Even though UX design has become simpler over the past few years, an element that has actually become more popular is to use big, bold, colourful images and video. 

These assets are highly inviting to the user and increase engagement. As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words.

Jack Simpson

Published 10 December, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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