Designing the future: 2017 UX trends

by The Salmat Team
08 September 2016

Nothing lasts long in a dynamic digital world, with one exception: the chase for ever-better user experience. Sometimes, trends and efforts can lead you to digital disaster; remember Microsoft's 1995 monstrosity, 'Bob'? 

The program was meant to be a more user-friendly interface for the Windows 95 operating systems, but its kitschy design and cartoon sidekick dog meant it was destined for Time's 'The 50 Worst Inventions List'. Castigated by critics, Bob was pulled from sale in 1996. At other times, it can lead to intuitive design that makes hardcore fans out of users (think Microsoft's nemesis, Apple).

User needs and expectations are constantly evolving as new tools and techniques are developed, and the best websites take advantage of these. With much of 2016 already behind us, what user experience(UX) trends can we expect in 2017?

Online experiences get personal

In recent years, technology has been driven by personalisation and customisation, but now we’re starting to see a new level of user-centred design. It's most likely, your website is responsive to a user’s device, adapting its layout to a tablet or smartphone, but is it responsive to a user’s age and competency level? Does it invite the user to become an integral part of the experience?

In 2017, websites are likely to become less about ‘one size fits all’ and more about tailored content and interactive experiences (think Netflix, and their brand ethos of personalisation), generating deeper emotional engagement. Based on users’ metadata, font sizes might increase for older people, while stripped-down interfaces will make it easier for less-competent web users.


Haptic becomes hapnotic

Haptic feedback, often referred to as ‘haptics’, is the use of touch through vibration patterns to provide information to a user. The latest smartphones, for instance, vibrate gently to indicate that a touchscreen button has been pressed.

With this technology becoming increasingly sophisticated, designers are developing new ways to guide user interactions through subtle haptic cues. For example, a sequence of gentle pulses might guide a user on a product page to the ‘Buy Now’ button.

This persuasive function of haptics is referred to in the UX world as “hapnotic feedback” (haptic + hypnotic), and designers are just starting to explore its potential (Bloomberg reports that the latest iPhone rumour points to a pressure-sensitive home button using haptic technology).

Story-led design leads the way


As humans, we often find it easier to understand information when it’s presented as a narrative. Whether it’s a movie, a news article, or a TV ad, storytelling is a powerful way to communicate a message.

In 2017, we’re likely to see more websites integrate storytelling to engageusers, evoke emotion, educate, and sell products and services. Online feature journalism has really led this trend, consider this stunning story from the New York Times and the up-take of Shorthand by online publishers.

This Freese Coffee Co website is a great example. It takes you through the journey of the coffee bean, educating users about how to make better coffee. It also makes use of creative scrolling – our next top trend.

Scrolling goes beyond up and down

The concept of ‘above the fold’ is disappearing as designers explore creative ways to use scrolling. When done well, scrolling can be much more than just a way to move up and down the page – it can take users on a journey, delivering an innovative, interactive, and visually beautiful experience.

Apple does this especially well, using the mechanic of scrolling to give its website a dynamic yet seamless feel. On its Apple Watch pages, the product and feature descriptions remain static as the user scrolls through a cascade of colourful devices.

A year is a long time in the world of UX, so it’s wise to start thinking about how you’ll employ these tactics on your own digital assets.

Don’t know where to start? Take a look at Salmat’s digital solutions, where customer experience marketing is at the core of our strategy. Call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
The Salmat Team

Salmat is a leading Australian marketing services provider. We help clients connect with their customers, week-in, week-out. Salmat's unique combination of targeted letterbox and online marketing channels enables clients to Reach, Convert and Serve their customers. We also provide a wide range of back office solutions, through our Philippines-based Managed Services business.

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