Trends? Or direction? Keep an eye on these growing innovations and changes in UX design
While I’m no fan of hype, we are seeing a number of UX design trends this year that are worth watching. When I identify trends, I look at topics that tend to be the topic of discussion among a wide variety of groups, appear across companies and industries, and are most likely to stay.
My UX trend list doesn’t include specific aesthetics and design preferences. Those topics — which include what colors designers are choosing or animation preferences — will change and evolve and may be gone next year. What I’ve included here are trends that will impact the UX field over a longer period of time — not just for our users, but also in how we think about the experience itself.
Users have higher and higher expectations of an experience tailored to their needs, so I’ve noticed an increased emphasis on methods to keep up with these expectations. Here are the 2023 UX design trends to watch.
#1 — Increased visibility and use of AI and Machine Learning
ChatGPT stole the headlines in early 2023, and it’s just the beginning. It’s not that ChatGPT suddenly ushered in a new era of AI. Quite the contrary. AI and machine learning are already widespread.
But now that the mainstream has noticed, I expect the use of AI in UX to grow exponentially in 2023. We’re just going to have to figure out how to leverage it as an important tool in our toolbox. Here are areas I expect to see grow in importance for designers.
Personalization is the process of tailoring the user experience to the individual user. By analyzing user data, user preferences, and user behavior, personalization can be used to provide users with relevant content and recommendations,
When AI-powered systems create more intelligent and personalized user experiences, a product can fit more easily into the user’s daily life. And there are more tools within reach to help UX practitioners do this.
AI can analyze user data to better understand user behavior and preferences, which makes it able to better predict users’ needs. And this is useful because 74% of online consumers are frustrated when they don’t find content on websites tailored to their interests. And McKinsey & Company found that 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions.
What’s more, companies have increased their use of AI steadily since 2016. In a survey of marketers, 41 percent of those that use AI saw an increase in revenue. So companies see the benefit in personalization.
There are three levels of personalization:
This is when users see content based on their location. For example, a user in Asia may access a global brand website and see different content than a user in North America. Not just language, but relevant content based on cultural needs and preferences.
This is when users are grouped according to their roles. For example, imagine an application with different user levels, such as admin or visitor. An admin user will see different content than a person who doesn’t have the same level of access.
Individualized personalization is where AI shines. It allows an organization to analyze the needs of individuals and cater content to that one user’s preferences. A great example is an app like Spotify or Apple Music which makes music recommendations based on individual preferences.
Personalization has been difficult in the past because of limits in time, resources, and technology. But as the technology evolves, new tools make personalization more readily available.
Another area UX design will continue to grow in is in chatbots. As AI grows more sophisticated, chatbot interaction will feel more natural for users. Chatbots have already made customer conversations easier for companies, and more businesses will add intelligent chatbots into processes, such as lead generation, customer support, and brand awareness. In fact, up to 90 percent of queries are expected to be handled by bots by 2024.
We’ll also start seeing more use of chatbots in automating payments. Instant payments streamline the customer service experience and allow for personalized transactions.
As AI evolves, it can also be used to create more interactive interfaces and provide users with real-time feedback. UX designers will need to consider how their processes will need to evolve to meet user expectations.
#2 — Voice to speech search or assistance
Conversational design will continue to grow in importance through 2023 as more companies implement enhancements to search through voice technologies.
Voice interfaces allow users to interact with a system or app with natural speech. This makes it easier for users to quickly and intuitively access information and services.
Voice interfaces are important for hands-free experiences. In fact, more than one in four people use voice search on their mobile device. And by 2024, the number of voice assistants is expected to reach 8.4 billion(B).
UX designers will need to understand how voice to speech search differs from the search most of us are used to. And the majority of people use voice search the most while driving.
That means expectations are different for this type of search. When people search with voice, they don’t want to explore. They want an answer they can act on. That means the experience needs to be considered in a different way.
Now is the time for UX practitioners to learn how to design to meet these changing user expectations.
#3 — Rising importance of accessibility and inclusive design
This is the trend I’m most excited about. Over the past several years, discussion about accessibility and inclusion has increased significantly at UX conferences and events. Rather than relegated to a discipline for a specialized group of designers, UX designers are now expected to understand fundamentals behind accessibility and inclusion.
When I first started teaching UX, the curriculum included only a small mention of accessibility, and it was mostly from a government compliance perspective. Now, it’s baked into all levels of what I teach. And expert sources like Deque are providing tools and resources for designers to learn.
I’m excited to see conversations around how to ensure companies reach a diverse set of users for UX research and usability testing. And it’s encouraging to see more and more companies update their forms and other products to include non-English names, emojis representing people with disabilities and minority groups, and non-binary options.
Even clients who are not legally required to meet WCAG compliance standards are asking my company to consider accessibility needs of their users — a wonderful change in my opinion.
#4 — Growing rise of Figma
And lastly, we’ll continue to see Figma dominate the market for design tools. Figma is now used in companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest, like Google and Facebook. More and more Figma users now identify in non-design roles, which means Figma’s reach is growing beyond the design world. The most significant sign of Figma’s impact was when Adobe — maker of competitor Adobe XD — announced in 2022 it would acquire Figma for ~$20 billion(B) in stock and cash. That process is expected to reach regulatory approval in 2023.
I expect a significant number of companies to shift from Sketch and other design tools to Figma over 2023.
I see the UX industry on a trajectory, and these trends are the indicators. AI will grow in importance, both in how we design, but also in how we meet user expectations. Accessibility is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s an expectation. And more designers will learn to integrate voice assistants and voice to speech search in their products.
These trends aren’t going away anytime soon.