What does ‘improving customer experience’ mean?

Improving the customer experience is a goal for just about every business, but what does that mean and what challenges does it present?

Well, it can mean a lot of things and, as part of Econsultancy’s latest Quarterly Digital Trends Briefing in association with Adobe, is identified as one of the biggest opportunities in the coming year.

So, what aspects of CX are companies looking to in 2016?

font effect

14 motion design trends for web and mobile interfaces

Simplicity is the key to great design. Anything that complicates or irritates should be immediately jettisoned, in favour of a cleaner approach, and functionality should always come before beauty. 

As such I still get shivers when I think about animation and web design, given the amount of user experience crimes committed over the years. Animation was a dirty word. It meant too many crazy gifs, too many flashing ads, or even worse, it meant ‘innovative’ Flash websites. 

Lots of websites still suffer from animation overload, but when done with appropriate amounts of restraint I think motion can help improve the user experience. 

Moving backgrounds, rolldown navigation and micro UX effects were three of the web design trends I highlighted back in January. I think a broader trend is the rise of animation / motion, and no doubt it will be on next year’s list. 

I thought I’d explore some of the different areas of a website (or mobile app) where motion can come into play, to improve the user experience by communicating meaning, or as a visual flourish that bridges the gap between clicking and loading.

Before we begin, let us doff our hats in the direction of HTML5 and CSS3, not to mention better browsers, faster devices, nicer screens, and quicker internet connections. All of these things have allowed designers to use motion in a way that doesn’t suck.

A bunch of these examples come from the ever-enlightening Codrops, which should probably be on your reading list if it isn’t already.

Ok, brace yourself for some gifs…

48 quotes from the Future of Digital Marketing

What does the future hold for digital marketing, ecommerce and retail?

That’s the question the speakers at Econsultancy’s Future of Digital Marketing conference try to answer every year.

Here are 48 quotes from 2014’s event, ranging from wearables to China, digital transformation to user interfaces, retail to the smart home.

Six brilliant bits of micro-copy you can implement today

Microcopy is one of those things that is hard to define (how does it differ from regular or maxicopy?) but you know it when you see it.

There’s a loyal following of UX bods behind these kind of microinteractions and how they can be enhanced with little pieces of finely judged copywriting.

I’ve written about it before (see previous post on micro-copywriting), but thought I should thrown down some of the finest examples of this fine art.

These are bits of copy most websites could implement somewhere, and without precluding the need for testing, I’m sure they will improve performance.

Are Google’s search UI changes motivated by profit or better UX?

Google is continually tweaking its user interface, often most noticeably on search results pages, desktop and mobile. 

What motivates these changes? Is every change Google makes motivated by profit, or is this a case of constantly improving the user experience? Or perhaps both? 

Here, I’ll look at some recent UI changes to search results on mobile and desktop. Please suggest any I may have missed. 

16 drop-dead gorgeous examples of mobile design inspiration

Mobile apps and responsive websites are looking – and working – better than ever, as designers come to terms with the parameters involved. Smaller screens, it seems, do not necessarily make for poorer experiences. 

If anything, the restrictions of mobile devices are focusing the minds of designers, which is always a good thing. It seems to me that the very best designs really stand out, and do a great job of understanding user behaviour on smaller devices.

I have collected a bunch of examples which go some way towards proving that mobile websites and apps can really look the part, while communicating functionality clearly. In most cases the screenshots link to portfolios, so do click on them.

I haven’t tested all of these apps, not least because a few of them are design concepts, but I think they all show that mobile design can be very, very pretty indeed. If the user experience mirrors design (and it doesn’t always!) then presumably these would all work well.

17 delightful micro UX effects and transitions for your website

After a bit of a break I’m working on a new side project. It is in a very competitive space and I have decided that the user experience needs to be the core USP, for it to attract the kind of crowd – and content – required to establish a presence in the market.

This has made me think once again about what makes for a good user experience. Broadly speaking, it is pretty much all about reducing friction, to help people get from A to B in the most straightforward way possible. 

But is ‘good’ what we should all be aiming for? Why not aim a bit higher?

So what makes a great user experience? I’d say it was all of the above – a friction-free journey – as well as a smattering of pleasant surprises along the way; surprises that delight the user. They say good design is invisible, but I think that great design can leave quite an impression on people.

I’m constantly amazed by my own reaction to the little details in life. The smallest of things can have a disproportionate influence on how I perceive things, both positively and negatively. I’m a stickler for detail, and have been looking for examples of micro design, as a source of inspiration for my own project. 

To this end, two sites in particular have been particularly useful: Codepen, and CSSDeck. Many of these 17 examples can be found over there, and some are very lean indeed, using just CSS to achieve the desired effects. 

Ok, let’s check them out…

Facebook changes its look for U&I

The interwebs have been ablaze with news of Facebook’s newest change for a good week. Today, they made their official announcement about upcoming changes to the News Feed.

We knew it was coming, but what does it mean?