User Experience Design Trends for 2020
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2019 has been a significant year for user experience (UX) design with three major factors influencing it. The first has been the onset of voice interfaces within applications (not to be mistaken with using Alexa and Google Assistant) and it becoming a useful addition to the repertoire of interfaces. The second has been the advent of the idea of the next billion users (NBU) in India which is influencing the design of applications in a significant way. The third factor is the increased understanding of the value of privacy after its exposure on Indian and international fronts. Most of the trends of UX design projected for the year 2020 are based on these three factors.
Voice Interfaces are Going to be Big
Voice user interfaces (VUI) have been coming into their own over the past few years and have now been able to achieve the accuracy that is required to be useful. VUI is not only useful to people who are savvy in using smartphones or computers, but are also great for those who are new to technology. Furthermore, this technology has the capability to bridge the language gap as well and is an essential development for India.
Focusing on the Next Billion Users
India has been seeing a surge in the adoption of smartphones and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. This group comprises people for whom smartphones are going to be their first computing platform. As designers, we cannot make the same assumptions about these users as we do with other, more technologically savvy users; as their ways of learning, their fears and even their motivations are going to be entirely different.
A Buddy by Your Side
Especially important when it comes to designing for the NBUs described above, having a buddy or an agent always available to assist will be important. Just as the infamous (annoying?) paper clip assistant helped users learn and use the Microsoft Office product suite, having an agent within applications may make it easy for new users. We’re seeing more of these kinds of agents pop up within applications and expect that this will remain a trend in 2020.
Privacy and Trust Will Need to be Earned
Given that there have been so many lapses in the protection of private user data, people have become extremely wary of providing their private information online. In addition, the number of online frauds has been on the rise among users of digital wallets in India. All this has given rise to the fear of transacting on the Internet. Companies now have to combat this perception and offer ways in which users can transact with them without providing any personal information or if they do, only after establishing the reasons for it.
Multi-lingual? Not Exactly
More companies are developing apps for the tier II, III and IV cities of India and are feeling the pressure to make their interfaces multi-lingual. We have worked with clients whose users fit this description and found that while they don’t speak English very fluently, they have quite a bit of trouble using interfaces completely modified into their regional languages as well. The comfort zone seems to be somewhere in between. “Tamlish”, “Hinglish” and such are the preferred languages for these kinds of interfaces and we expect more of them in 2020.
Sound is Finally Taking Centrestage
Sound is an essential part of interface design and while the capabilities have existed within smartphones and desktops for a while, they were restricted to success or error messages. We are now seeing it being used more and more for the purpose of creating delightful experiences and will continue to see it being applied to a greater extent in the coming year.
3D Interface Design is Taking Shape
While 2D and faux 3D interfaces have been the trend these past two years, the tools for authoring 3D interfaces have become widespread. 3D interfaces are especially economical when it comes to using the same real estate for multiple purposes and this trend is promising to go big in 2020.
A trend that we are hoping to see and one which may be very useful in engendering more trust in the adoption of technology among NBUs are “assistive workflows”. I think it is a common phenomenon where all the youngsters are the tech-support team for their parents. This is only natural as the younger generation has grown up with technology and has a better understanding of its capabilities and failings. The idea is to extend this into the application designs. For example, if my dad got a request to send money and he initiates the payment, the app could ask for me to verify the transaction on his behalf and allow me to keep my dad secure in the digital world. This would be especially helpful in preventing fraud with e-wallets and also enable people like him to become members of the digital world without the fear that it usually comes loaded with.
Trends are cyclical in nature and what may have been visions of the future in some year gone past, have now become practical because certain environmental conditions have begun to favor it. This is undoubtedly the theme of 2020 because voice, 3D and designing for NBUs have been in development before but have only become feasible now because of the prevalence of smartphones, the affordability of Internet connections and the processing power of computers. We are in for a major leap forward this coming year.