Judging by the amount of buzz created by the end of 2016, this year is going to be all about chat-oriented interfaces, artificial intelligence, responsive designs, along with virtual and augmented reality in the mobile app universe. In order to succeed and build apps that are useful and functional, one needs to prepare for new challenges. Hence, it becomes important that we identify the biggest trends of the time.
Following are five of the most impactful mobile UX trends for this year:
1) Conversational Interfaces
According to a recent study, an average user only uses about three apps frequently and one of them is usually a messaging app. People enjoy chatting, so everyone wants to take advantage and tap into the trend. But, while doing so it’s also important to create features that are unique. For example, the Luka app, which makes it possible to converse with bots on a number of topics varying from restaurants, daily news to thermonuclear physics.
This is why voice-activated communication platforms, powered by artificial intelligence are going to be more popular, both as standalone apps as well as integrated features.
We have already seen what virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Echo and Microsoft’s Cortana are capable of doing. As this technology progresses, we can expect conversational interfaces to become the greatest hits of 2017.
2) User Experience Analytics
Mobile apps have now been around long enough for everyone to know their potential. We can safely conclude that they are no longer used only by the young and technology-savvy, but by everyone. And, users are aware that they can get the best, hence it’s made them more demanding.
In order to achieve the best user experience, it’s important to note that people sometimes do not use apps in the way that they are intended to. This leads to them getting frustrated and consequently leaving a negative review about the app. Therefore, it’s crucial to have proper communication and analyse individual user experience to improve apps.
Analysing user experiences in apps can be done through Qualitative Analytics tools like user session recordings and touch heatmaps. With the help of these tools developers are able to eliminate bugs, pinpoint weak areas and design a more intuitive interface. Qualitative Analytics enables developers to ensure that their apps are being used properly. This trend is sure to pick up significantly and will have a great effect on user experience.
3) Personalisation in UI Design
Personalisation of UI Design is similar to ‘Responsive Design’. The difference between them is that responsive design is about a website adapting to the layout of a wide range of devices, like 4K TV, HD monitor or a phone. And, personalisation in UI design (or age-responsive design), can be compared to a design adapting to the layout of a person.
This can be done with the help of already available metadata, i.e. tapping into the information already provided by a user through the device, app or through different platforms/apps. They can provide information about whether the font size should be increased, level of brightness should be decreased, or if flashing images and sounds should be eliminated. Mobile app UI design can be expected to move further away from being device-focused and become more user-focused.
Augmented and virtual reality technology (AR & VR) is another promising direction towards completely changing the way we see and use apps. The concept of AR and VR has started making an impact on the mobile industry.
This concept has become a possibility as mobile devices are now able to offer a great amount of processing power. Galaxy S7 Edge, Google Pixel and Xiaomi Mi 5 all have VR-ready displays and are available on the market.
VR and AR have huge potential in areas such as tourism, construction, shopping, education and communication. For example, ‘visiting’ a tourist location before actually visiting the place, a ‘walk’ around the new house before renovation, trying out clothes before purchasing, learning anatomy in ways that could not be imagined ten years ago, or having a virtual boardroom meeting.
A good example of this technology is a Fabric Rendering App designed by Tailwebs that enables customers to test design platters in textiles and furnishings, helping them to finalise products conveniently.
Also, an interactive platform called Tailor – I has been launched by Textronic, which can be used to select customised clothing. It is like your online garment stylist and tailor store that enables you to choose collars, cuffs, lapels, plackets and a lot more. The selected elements can then be combined and the garment instantly visualised.
With proper infrastructure in place, AR and VR tech for mobiles will soon have greater focus.
Another trend that is surely picking up is providing users with different alternatives to move through an app. Presently there are three navigation issues prevailing in apps – Linear navigation, hamburger menu, and one-handed navigation (apps not being usable with one hand on big smartphones).
Linear navigation enables users to navigate through the app the same way. Uber is a good example as users have to follow a similar path – 1) Set a pickup location, 2) Set the destination, 3) Press ‘request’, 4) Rate the driver. What is now expected is new and creative navigation solutions that allow users to move through an app freely. A good example is Amazon Shopping, where users can browse through a number of categories without having to go down a certain path to get to them.
Problems with one-handed navigation are also expected to phase out slowly. These days, most smartphones are quite large and people are not able to reach the corners by just using one hand. A good solution to this will be implementing a smarter navigation system that keeps in mind how people use smartphones.
Also, the hamburger menu is not liked by most people, and is considered to be the main reason for poor user engagement.
All of this means that this year will be a lot about parallax scrolling (like the one Google Maps has), non-linear navigation and removal of the hamburger menu.
User experience can be completely revamped with new navigation solutions. Since mobile devices are becoming faster and better, apps need to follow suit and become more robust as well as personalised.