As we come up on a new year, predicting upcoming trends has become a tradition almost as fun as breaking New Year’s Resolutions. But let’s do something a little different this year. Let’s create our User Experience Trends for 2023 by starting with the user.
Our users are Jack and Jill. Jack’s a 35-year-old executive at a construction company. His days of swinging a hammer at the job site are over. Now, Jack’s pushing pencils at the corporate office. Jill is a 33-year-old marketing director for a regional restaurant chain. They’ve been married for 7 years. They had big plans to go to Rome for their 5-year anniversary but instead, in 2020, Jack and Jill went into lockdown. The following two years weren’t much better for our famous couple. So, let’s predict what 2023 will be like for our weary digital users.
After a few years of eating fast food delivered by Uber drivers, avoiding in-person human interaction, and wearing sweat pants 7 days a week, Jack and Jill have decided 2023 is the year they grow up and make the New Year’s Resolution all adults make…it’s time to “get healthy.” It’s that decision which leads us to our first UX trend of 2023…
A Focus on Heath and Wellness
Taking a renewed focus on their mental, emotional, and physical health, Jack and Jill download apps to count their steps, count their calories, and track their routes. Jack wants data showing the number of miles he swam and the calories he’s burned while Jill is looking for the encouragement (and music) she needs to break her personal record while training for a marathon. Mental health will also be a big focus for the couple.
We will see an increased focus on data visualization and analytics. This data will not only be used to record achievements but will also be used to change daily habits. Push notifications will help Jack and Jill limit screen time while micro-animations provide little interactions that give our couple an encouraging sense of accomplishment.
Of course, the tracking and recording of this data leads us to our second and third UX trends of 2023…
The reason Jack and Jill’s health and wellness content is so engaging is because that content is hyper-personalized. Hyper-personalized content is always relevant to the user and holds the user’s attention longer.
The next user experience is always compared to the last user experience. Users are getting hyper-personalized content from apps and now want the same bespoke experience on websites. This is already happening with the most popular websites (Amazon always recommends what I like and Google knows my favorite pizza place is 5.3 miles away). More emphasis across both websites and apps will be placed on creating 100% personalized experiences with tailored content, imagery, and interactions based on user preferences and location.
Wearables (Not on the Wrist)
It’s obvious that wearables are required when it comes to focusing on health. Jack and Jill each have Apple Watches but they’re also going beyond that. Jack has a new set of hearables while Jill wears Sensoria workout gear. The hearables could not only monitor Jack’s health but they could also act as a translation tool to help Jack at work. Jill’s Sensoria clothes help analyze her movements and provide recommended changes so that Jill reduces her chance of injury.
We’ve seen a focus on voice UX over the past few years. We will continue to see an expansion of voice UX along with other non-screen user experiences interacting with more of the user’s senses. And, of course, the UX evolution of screen-based wearables and apps, as well.
Jack and Jill are head to toe in multiple wearables, all delivering hyper-personalized data and content. Data and content from their wearables are being pushed and pulled to and from mobile apps and web pages accessed across all devices. This leads us to our last couple 2023 UX Trend…
Jack and Jill are constantly swapping one device for another throughout the day. Jack researched a number of different mountain bikes on his laptop. But, now that Jack’s in the store, he’s pulling up additional data on each manufacturer’s website. Jill copies content from a website on her iPhone and pastes it into a spreadsheet she’s creating for work.
Cross-device design allows user to engage with multiple devices at different points in a customer journey through a common/similar user experience. Designing for multiple devices is a required skill for today’s UX designers. Design elements like immersive scrolling (sometimes known as “scrollytelling”) use common elements across devices to build an engaging and consistent experience. As new features and functions appear on existing devices and new devices come to market, building a consistent experience across devices is a trend that will continue for quite a while.
AR/VR E-Commerce Goes Mainstream
Jack and Jill love their new, healthier lifestyle and have decided to purchase new bedroom furniture along with a brand new bed (after all, a good night’s sleep is essential for better health). Wanting to see what the room could look like with different furniture sets, Jack and Jill step into a world of augmented reality. Using IKEA Kreativ, our excited digital users preview many different bedroom furniture options IKEA has to offer.
Augmented and Virtual Realities will take another large step towards the mainstream with a real business application. Shopify states that visitors were 65% more likely to place an order after interacting with a product in AR (https://www.shopify.com/blog/ar-shopping). The pandemic changed a lot of user behaviors, one of which is that many users prefer to shop from home. Designing interfaces and interactions for AR/VR platforms will keep UX professionals very busy.
And that leads us to our final and, perhaps, most important UX trend for 2023…
A Return to Qualitative Research
As stated earlier, COVID outbreaks, lockdowns, and self-imposed isolations have permanently changed the lives of all of us. For the past few years, UX professionals have focused on quantitative data because that was all we had. But, as we turn the calendar to 2023, we see people throughout the world striving to regain their individualism. This renewed focus on self allows us, as UX professionals, a chance to return to the most basic element in creating a user experience; asking “Why?”.
Of all the ideas listed in this article, this simple return to the exploratory research required to generate a deeper understanding of users is the most essential, and will be the most impactful, User Experience Trend of 2023.