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UX Trends to Refine User Experience and Drive Engagement

April 1, 2023

ux trends

Getting users to adopt a product can make or break tech startups. 

If a product isn’t easy to use, no matter how good a purpose it serves or what pain points it meets, you won’t see company growth – or end up with no company at all. A quality user experience (UX) is one of the best ways to engage users and drive optimal growth.

Users become champions and loyal customers when products are easy to use and meet their needs. While making something “easy to use” sounds simple, it requires intentionality in product development. 

Part of UX includes research and feedback, meaning trends often develop and take different shapes. Apply these current trends in your product roadmap to improve usability. 

Planning for UX trends  

When you create a product plan, understand its scope as best as possible. You can iterate as you go, but making sure the plan is feasible with all stakeholders involved is one of the toughest parts. 

The parking lot can get full quickly as different team members contribute requests. Whether you have a product manager, project manager, UX manager, or some other role that keeps a pulse of how things progress and schedules priorities to ensure each sprint hits its goals, this role is vital to success and proper planning. You can plan well, but ensuring you implement well is just as important.  

Here are some considerations for planning UX trends.

  1. Knowing your audience. The key to creating a positive user experience starts with understanding the user and knowing if a user is a direct customer. Identifying the features your users most desire to make their lives easier is the foundation of a quality experience. 
  2. Discovering each persona. UX finds the balance between overall functionality that enough users require and creates key personas to address specific needs.
  3. Building with purpose. When users are central to the process, all departments know who they’re building for and what problem they’re solving.
  4. Continually seeking feedback. Each iteration should incorporate feedback from teams and users to achieve the highest quality.
  5. Being transparent. UX helps form a distinct relationship with customers. Transparency builds trust and helps with product adoption.

UX is critical in product development because it can make engineers develop specific requirements promptly. UX team members typically translate findings from user feedback and survey insights and turn them into digestible pieces. These elements can be communicated to leadership and other stakeholders responsible for key development decisions directly impacting UX. 

One of the fascinating aspects of UX is the ability to look holistically at business goals, design functions, and developer mindset. For every part of product development to operate effectively, you need to ensure the right stakeholders have the information only they need.

  • Engineers: features to prioritize
  • Marketing: the top personas to target 
  • Sales: the benefits for the various groups 
  • Leadership: how UX will impact and translate to the bottom line
  • Product teams: talk to each audience and deliver the most useful information for each role’s work. 

In an ideal world, stakeholders meet up front and understand how the product needs to look and function to be successful. You carry these expectations to the users and understand what they want from a product.

Once you have user feedback, you can develop a product that ticks the right boxes with the necessary trade-offs to present to users and business stakeholders. But you don’t stop there. 

You need to keep evaluating and measuring the experience and expectations as you iterate while collecting buy-in. Another key step is keeping tabs on everyone involved until you're ready to release your product or feature. This cycle repeats itself after launch, so you constantly seek feedback and add new priorities.

Your product roadmap may change based on two key factors: what leadership sees (this includes the C-suite and the board) and what users say (for example, via G2 reviews and NPS scores). When these two factors match, your product development is aligned. UX often balances championing users while supporting business leadership direction. 

The rise of UX in teams shows the importance and value of the role. You need to be resilient and have the right mindset to show value across the business, not just on a nice screen. Merging design and development with a business mindset is the beauty of UX. 

In its “State of UX in 2023,” the UX Collective notes, "many designers who started a UX career to advocate for users are seeing their role shift to one focused on boosting company profits at all costs.” 

You don’t always live in an ideal world; one business decision has to lead to another. Current UX trends emphasize you build the experiences users want, and leadership will eventually see adoption and sales. As the business climate changes and the role of UX becomes more influential, understanding how top requirements are defined and met is a must.

UX personalization 

It can be tempting to lump user experience and customer experience together since they both focus on experiences. But your customer isn’t always the end-user in B2B, particularly for tech products. So, start by understanding the different personas to develop features and iterate for the right use case.

Do users love to customize or personalize?

When you emphasize user and customer experience, another entanglement is understanding the differences between personalization and customization. Customers want to customize. Users want personalization. 

Personalization is when you develop a product based on user research and feedback and present it to them as a suggestion. Users are free to choose what suits them to make the product more enjoyable and useful.

Think of personalization as customization but from the developer's perspective. If you create products “made for the customer,” you customize them. Customers can then choose the most appealing and helpful features. 

When you personalize correctly, users feel more connected to your brand and product. When you have UX at the helm of personalization (understanding a user’s preference and a developer’s mindset), your product begins to not only solve a pain point but it fits into a user’s everyday life naturally.

When you have a product that users don’t have to think about, and it just works how they expect and wants it to work, you meet user, customer, and leadership needs. 

UX creates a seamless experience

Users want unique experiences that make sense to them instead of a one-size-fits-all product. They don't think too much about their actions as they become more aware and self-educated. 

As Steve Krug says in Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability: “The fact that the people who built the site didn’t care enough to make things obvious – and easy – can erode our confidence in the site and the organization behind it.”

This is where the rubber meets the road with UX and business bottom lines. If you lack usability – easy, personalized experiences – users might think your company operates like your design – reckless. 

A McKinsey report found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And seventy-six percent get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

In B2C, your customers may be your users. If they become frustrated, your sales will drop. For B2B, your customers have users; if they’re unhappy, they’ll stop using and advocating for your product. 

The report also states, “companies that grow faster drive 40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.” Understanding users enough to develop personalization yields more positive results as UX balances the design aspects and business solutions. 

User experience impacts customer happiness, business sales, and the bottom line. 

Increased mobile UX  

Users want everything on their phones and at their fingertips. You can do anything from ordering food to controlling your home devices from your phone. 

Websites have mobile and web views that you should test for better UX. Through UX research and feedback, you can see if more users are online or on the phone and what they are accessing during that time.

This helps you understand your audience better – who they are and how they interact with content on different devices – and tailor your design capabilities based on user behavior and needs. For example, younger generations are likely to use mobile versions, while older generations may be more comfortable with web versions. 

Ask: Do you have the resources to meet each user’s needs? And what does success look like for those demographics?  

How to create mobile optimization  

Mobile has less space for all of the bells and whistles of web versions. If you don’t understand how users interact and what they need from a mobile version, you waste developer time trying to solve a problem you don’t understand. 

Think about the main functions people want on their phones. Looking at the data and researching which features users need on phones will help you develop mobile functionality created for convenience.  

Another consideration for mobile optimization is accessibility. How do you account for users accessing your content? UX makes the functionality easy, but there are also laws and guidelines by the ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to help create better accessibility for all. 

Content and controls should be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for all users. They should be able to operate and navigate without trouble and access responsive content, whether on the web or mobile. 

UX allows users to find solutions and reduce the cognitive burden of using technology. If you can anticipate user needs before they need it, your product will increase user adoption and satisfaction, sales, and company growth. 

Data visualization  

Tech outcomes rely on data. The buying process involves looking at ROI projections to decide which products to purchase for a company. Your case studies might include data that shows the ROI of other customers with similar pain points, but how do you visualize it? Describing data in detail can get muddled. 

For example, if you're interviewing a customer for a case study, they may tell you, “we aren’t sure how to measure the ROI.” That’s the worst thing to hear in a case study interview! Analytics are key to knowing if the product is worth it, but it can be hard to visualize or describe success. You need robust tools to measure performance and project ROI for customers. 

Creating a feature with analytical capabilities that users don’t have to try too hard to understand is the job to do here. If your sales cycle includes several decision-makers, data visualization should be a top priority as data feeds into the purchase – and renewals.

UX and UI working together  

UX is holistic, while user interface (UI) is a tool in the toolbox. UX expands beyond the screen, but you’ll want UI involved for data visualization. UX makes the process easy. Research and planning tell you users don’t want to slide across the phone to row 75, column 144, to find the answer. UI makes this look appealing.  

When you combine UX and UI to visualize data, users and customers see more value in you. The mix helps them project ROI and share/sell based on the visual outcomes. Users can easily pull up and share the analytics to justify and continue purchasing. This combination meets both user and business needs.  

Device synchronization  

Toggling between web, mobile, and different tech stacks shouldn’t mean losing data or complicating the experience. Synchronizing devices simplifies the cross-device experience.

Device synchronization allows for real-time access. Whether users are on a phone or web app, any information they add or delete is saved in another place, ensuring a seamless experience.

As part of the UX process, when you partner with customer experience teams, you can take device knowledge and feedback to better plan for future integrations in your product roadmap. 

Suppose you build tech integrations intentionally as part of the UX process. In that case, you better understand how to manage developer time and create integrations that will result in more sales in the future. 

Usability heuristics can match the system and real-world language people expect to make your product more user-friendly. Functionality such as “tapping on a bell to silence notifications” is how you build a connection with users and develop products that allow users to understand and adopt new technology. 

Consistency and standards matter. Jakob's Law states that people spend most of their time using digital products other than yours. Users’ experiences with those other products set their expectations. Failing to maintain consistency may increase the users' cognitive load by forcing them to learn something new.” 

Social networks mimic and develop similar features, such as stories or going live. As one company or product launches a new feature that catches fire and is widely adopted quickly, others will add to it and embrace it. Understanding how your target audience uses technology other than yours and creating integrated experiences keeps your product relevant and high in adoption. 

Build intentionally to deliver a good UX

UX is like putting together a puzzle. Each part of the process gets closer to the full picture. Collecting feedback and requirements from all stakeholders and understanding how to best develop and prioritize products and features is a key benefit of UX. 

Good UX is something that users should experience, not see. Users think it should be easy to “just add a button” because it’s natural and seamless for them, but the backend development and thought process takes time and priority planning. 

When you think about user experience or design, it’s not just a button or color. The goal is to reduce the strain on users and make products and experiences user-friendly. 

To take advantage of current UX trends, you must know your users and their tech stacks and build intentionally. While these aren’t new UX trends, they do change frequently and are a good baseline for meeting user expectations and your leadership goals. 

As companies shift focus and the need to perform is higher than before, you must find ways to balance the business needs and the user expectations. The past several years have shown companies they can withstand or succumb to challenges.

Drastic changes in layoffs and rapid hiring sprees cycling around have loomed over employees and employers – and users have felt the result of it and changed their perspective on usability. 

Take a look at your product roadmap and ask: 

  • Are you delivering a personalized experience that users expect now? 
  • Are you offering responsive options on mobile devices to meet users where they are?
  • Are you embracing UI to showcase ROI in a visually appealing and easy-to-use manner? 
  • Are you intentionally building tech integrations that will benefit users and increase partnerships?

As user behaviors change, technology becomes even more competitive, and business leaders double down on ROI, the need to plan for executives at high levels is greater than ever. 

Your product roadmap is the best way to forecast staff time and development. These are not the times to backtrack. The UX process must outline the steps to maintain the balance of humanizing the technology and increasing profits. 

The best way to achieve both is to ensure your product is easily adopted, which can only happen when you intently understand user needs and business requirements.

Patience is not a virtue – at least when it comes to UX. People don’t like to wait. If they can find a faster and more efficient way of getting what they want, they’ll find it.

Don’t let the other avenue they find be your competitor. Rope in a UX designer and create meaningful digital experiences for your users. 

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UX Trends to Refine User Experience and Drive Engagement Improve your usability and meet customer needs with these 4 UX trends – personalization, mobile optimization, data visualization, and device synchronization.
Jennifer Adler Jennifer Adler is the Brand Director of TextUs and an experienced creative and content leader at growth-stage companies. Prior to TextUs, she’s been at multiple start-ups where she developed and managed the creative process from concept to completion across brand, marketing, sales, and UI/UX assets.

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