Digital experiences are more critical to business success than ever before. Due to the pandemic, the race to digitize has reached top speed. Enterprises are under pressure to evolve, compete and disrupt in the face of an increasingly uncertain global economic climate. Consumers and businesses alike have raised the stakes in terms of what they expect and demand of digital.
As business leaders recognize that human-centered, ultra-personalized digital experiences are in high demand, UX design is coming into the spotlight like never before. Enterprises instinctively understand the importance of optimizing how customers interact with their brand. But how can they tell the UX hype from the long-term trends?
Let’s take a closer look at five UX trends to watch in 2023.
1. Beyond AI Assistants to AI Creators
AI-driven solutions have already impacted UX design. Automation and analytics solutions have sped up the design process, improved usability and increased customer satisfaction. However, the rise in AI/ML-generated visual design tools promises to shake up UX design in 2023. Random face-generating apps as well as art generating tools are becoming sophisticated enough for use in visual design. Companies like Jasper AI are re-shaping the UX space with their combination of offerings: AI-generated artistic content with AI-generated written content, making creative design faster, more accessible, and opening new possibilities in experience customization.
We’re only just starting out on the AI/ML design journey. Although content will increasingly be defined, organized, managed and delivered by AI, UX designers will continue to play a critical role in understanding this new paradigm and shaping how we engage with digital products and services.
It is paramount that enterprises are transparent in discussing the ethical and security considerations surrounding AI-generated content. It’s a technology area that shows great promise but that will not fulfill its potential without trust and good governance.
2. A New Dawn for UX in the Metaverse and Web3
We are currently in the Web2 iteration of the internet but progressing into the Web3 era. This presents users and designers alike with a new set of challenges and opportunities. Web3 aims to build on the positives of Web2 (user participation, social media sharing, personalized content and so on), while enhancing the internet experience. Web3 focuses on creating content (Semantic Web), which bolsters cybersecurity and eases information exchange amongst web users. Web3 also ushers in an era of de-centralized, blockchain engineered digital experiences.
UX is the final hurdle before mass Web3 adoption. Perhaps the most important factor in determining Web3’s success will be how well it enables users to navigate experiences seamlessly while retaining control of their personal data. In other words, UX design is going to play a pivotal role in how the new internet takes shape. It should come as no surprise that experienced UX/UI designers are currently in high demand among Web3 start-ups.
Pioneering sectors like gaming and fintech are already leading the way with Web3-enabled apps and other industries are catching up fast. The global Web3 blockchain market is growing at more than 40% CAGR and is expected to reach $23.3 billion by 2028. Web3 adoption is being driven in large part by Gen Z and millennials — half of whom see themselves as conducting business in the Metaverse within the next two years.
3. Increased Agility and Engagement Through Analytics
Today’s brands are in fierce competition to remain relevant in their customers’ lives by curating delightful, seamless digital experiences. Data-informed design decisions help to create experiences that are continuous, consistent, customized and omnichannel. The continuation of this mega trend will see real-time audio and visual analytics become integrated into the customer journey.
This enables enterprises to optimize their interactions with customers as they happen, rather than relying on analytics that predict behaviors based on historic data. Understanding how customers are engaging with your brand in real time allows enterprises to listen, adapt and respond to their customers more effectively.
4. Curating Cross-App Experiences to Boost Customer Loyalty
Cross-application experiences are quickly growing in popularity. While we currently think of cross-app integration as enterprises integrating specialized systems from independent suppliers — ecommerce platforms, CRM systems, ERP and so on — the next generation of cross-application integration will be defined by a focus on extending and improving customer experience. When it comes to choosing cross-app partners, enterprises will consider providers whose offering complement the needs of their customers’ own journey and requirements. Cross-application experiences have the potential to deliver superior customer experiences that inspire greater engagement, loyalty and satisfaction.
“Superapps” are among Gartner’s top 10 strategic tech trends for 2023. Gartner defines superapps as platforms that provide users with a set of core features and then, nested under that core proposition, sit multiple, independent, complementary mini-apps. By 2027, Gartner predicts more than half the global population will be daily active users of these superapps.
5. Universal, Inclusive, Accessibility Becomes the Norm
The pandemic focused attention on digital accessibility because digital became the only way to access business, leisure and education. Enterprises now have an added incentive to make sure their accessibility initiatives don’t slip: Digital accessibility lawsuits have been increasing year-on-year thanks to legislation like the ADA. According to a recent Forrester survey, 36% of companies have pledged executive-level commitments to accessibility and grassroots efforts are driving change in 48% of companies. An inclusive design mentality is finally shaping how digital products are created, rather than being an afterthought.
This is important: Forrester highlights that in the US, we have a 1 billion-strong market of people with disabilities with an annual disposable income of $1.2 trillion as well as a rapidly aging population.
More broadly, there’s a realization that almost everyone has had negative experiences with digital accessibility, regardless of whether they have a permanent “disability” or not. For example, being unable to see a screen in bright sunshine or typing with one hand because the other is in a cast. This strengthens the case for normalizing universal, inclusive and accessible UX design.
Designing for the Future
2023 promises to be a disruptive year for UX. The big trends on the horizon — many of which have been maturing for some years — will reach a critical stage, changing how designers create experiences, how enterprises engage with customers and how customers perceive brands.
Enterprises that can navigate these seismic shifts while continuing to delight and engage customers will be the business success stories of the future. However, there will also be the losers, those who failed to adapt quickly enough to changing customer expectations. UX will prove the make-or-break differentiator.
This article originally appeared in CMS Wire.