Experience Design

The UX trends shaping 2017

Sam Bowler
Sam Bowler

The web as a medium moves so fast that it can be hard to keep up. But what do the experiences of tomorrow look like? What’s the next big thing? Here are my thoughts on the UX trends that will be dominating and shaping 2017.

Person sketching wireframes

Accelerated Publishing Platforms

Facebook’s accelerated publishing platform, Instant Articles, led the race to reduce reading friction for users on mobile devices early in 2015 and Google has since joined the party with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). For editorial content, responsive is no longer enough. Users want and expect high performance all the time, everywhere.

Example of Accelerated Publishing Platform

AMP pages in Google’s search results on mobile.

Watch Google’s intro here.

AMP works by delivering a stripped-down version of a page with very strict rules in place that allow Google to optimise showing that page to the user. They can deliver pages up to four times faster and use 10 times less data - the key benefits of AMP stem from this massive improvement. Users are more likely to engage at a deeper level with singular pieces of content and go on to explore further content more frequently than non-AMP pages.

Facebook’s Instant Articles, launched in 2015, has the same focus on speed and reliability but only from within its mobile app. In April 2016, Instant Articles was opened up to all publishers meaning anyone can import their content into the social network and add it directly to a user’s News Feed.

Despite the clear benefits to users, many publishers have raised concerns about the platforms making monetisation more difficult - Google have moved quickly to assuage those fears by introducing AMP for Ads. The pseudo-HTML code required to deliver AMP pages has also been questioned by open web advocates as a further dilution of web standards but whilst Google and Facebook have such wide audiences, those users will visit content in the quickest way possible and right now, those are AMP and Instant Articles.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps are incredibly fast and reliable in-browser web apps that utilise the cutting edge of web technologies such as service workers – have thrown the argument over native vs web back up in the air recently and that will only continue in to 2017. 

PWAs can load instantly and provide near-native speed they also bring with them all the other benefits of the web.

While AMP seeks to move away from traditional web standards (for better or worse), PWAs are the embodiment of embracing new technology to enhance the users experience.

It’s well documented that 53% of users abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Past the first experience, PWAs can load instantly and provide near-native speed for all but the most taxing of tasks and they also bring with them all the other benefits of the web: no app store politics, painless update releases, no requirement for users to commit to an install.

Of course, an app isn’t appropriate for all use cases. PWAs at their heart are just a combination of cutting-edge web technologies that enable functionality such as offline usage, sending of push notifications and full screen display, amongst others. Those technologies can be individually plucked to enhance more traditional experiences when an app simply isn’t necessary.

UX and UI Development

More than ever, the links between development and user experience are becoming blurred. Lower barriers to entry and greater flexibility brought about by more robust browser support of modern web technologies have allowed UI developers to dedicate more time to delivering great experiences rather than wrangling with blockers.

After all, the experience is only as good as the end-product that users interact with and that is primarily realised by developers. Wireframes and other UX deliverables help to guide the direction of development but are just the start of the story.

At Ridgeway, our UI developers are part of the UX team and, as such, are a key part of the UX process. The ability to prototype in the browser and a more technical mindset can make all the difference to a sketching session.

Faster Payments

There is nothing that infuriates users more than a slow, difficult, and clunky checkout process, and this is evident from high check out abandonment rates, particularly on mobile devices. 

Example of Groupon's Apple Pay

Apple and Google are looking to change this by bringing payment APIs to the web which will facilitate an accelerated checkout process. These efforts will allow customers to check out incredibly quickly online using their mobile devices, reducing those ‘AARRGGHHHH!’ moments that everyone can relate to. Technologies such as fingerprint scanners have enabled the big players to make online purchases enjoyable and seamless. Users can securely provide their payment, shipping, and contact information to check out with just one touch. In some cases, the security can actually be greater than a traditional checkout process as there is no requirement to share account info directly with stores.

Eliminating purchase friction can only have a positive impact on conversion rates and brand loyalty. It’s clear that this outlook transcends not only the online shopping experience but also the physical experience with initiatives such as Amazon Go.

Groupon is a happy user of Apple Pay and it claims it has improved conversion and enhanced the overall Groupon mobile experience. They have replaced the “Buy” button with Apple Pay, which provides their users with an express checkout where new customers can purchase a deal with a single tap. For new users, Groupon seamlessly creates an account when they make their first purchase.

To find out more about how our UX experts can help you with your digital project, why not get in touch?