Now that the web is an indispensable part of our lives, whether on not a business should be represented online is no longer the question. What most businesses are now concerned with is where and how to represent themselves online. And few things come close to being as important as user experience in this online representation. The way users interact with a business’ website and other online channels has a lot to do with how that business will be perceived.
Personalization is the word of the day when it comes to designing successful UX experiences. Although it can include numerous factors and new tools and techniques are popping up every day, it really all just boils down to knowing your audience, their behavior, and nailing the content and habits that they’re used to and want to see. It starts with simple audience segmentation and following their behavior and trends.
Personalization can come in the shape of advertising or content marketing, as we’ve seen Facebook, Google, and apps like Apple’s Spotify achieve in a big way. Gaming apps and digital games have also shown very advanced methods and practices in personalization, while all of this is now moving into e-commerce and even offline shopping experiences.
Personalization is simply successful matching of content or settings on a website to a user’s or target group’s preferences. These days, the readily available information that users already have online means that a website doesn’t necessarily have to ask users to input all of this information, but can merely seek to use permission to use what’s already on social networks or search engines.
These factors include search and keywords, device type, previous ad clicks, the source that referred the user to your website, location, time and date, navigation history, shopping history, demographics, other preferences that the user has indicated elsewhere, and, in today’s semantic day and age, even the tone and voice a user prefers or is prone to using.
All of which has brought us to chatbots and AI, although the latter is still in its infancy. While chatbots are still far from what we’d like them to be and certainly nowhere near the Odyssey’s HAL 9000, they have proven to be a phenomenal tool in initial customer service, customer retention, and in making user’s feel engaged on a website or social media.
Again, user preferences, trends, and knowing a particular target group are imperative in successfully employing chat bots to do this sort of work. Chatbots, unlike opt-ins and pop-ups also resolve one big issue that users obviously disliked – the feeling that they were being forced or nudged too harshly into something.
Chat bots are obviously taking over a good chunk of providing great UX, but we are still in the trial and error phase of this new feature, with many websites still making the same old mistake of being too pushy with an exciting new tool.
Like with everything UX-related, it all comes down to knowing an audience before employing a new tool. Nailing the right tone, voice, and vocabulary for the chat bot is where it begins. Using natural, flowing, modern language rather than professional, formal tones has proven to be a much better route for most websites.
In most cases, especially when it comes to B2C websites, using emojis, images, and even video has proven to be very successful. More often than not, people find this sort of content and behavior natural in the online world and respond to it more openly.
When it comes to more business-oriented websites, the tone, interaction and usability has also changed plenty. In today’s connected world, we are often reminded that there are actual human beings behind these businesses, which has led to many people and many markets growing a preference for a more casual tone and language.
Another thing users today prefer on business-related websites is getting straight to the point. Having a chat bot available or a practical online channel open and ready for communications 24/7 is great, but users also look for specifics and clarity. This is often found – or complicated explanations are conveyed easily – through video.
Because keeping messaging short either on websites or social media is recommended, video has proven to be a great way to say or explain anything longer than a couple of sentences. In fact, 2017 has been hailed as “the year of video” as online video content is slowly, but surely, taking over the lead on the internet. For anyone just getting into or considering a career in web or UX design, knowledge of manipulating video content is going to be a strong must, and it’s best to be on the lookout for design schools and courses that include that sort of thing.
Aside from the rise of video, images will also remain both popular and useful in UX design, in particular considering the direction in which all mobile devices are being developed. Less junk but more rich content, less text but more conversations, and fewer words but more (visual) explanations is the recipe for UX success in the days and years to come.