by Patrick Foster
While the fundamentals of good user experience don’t really change year on year, the ways in which we approach them certainly do. Over the last couple of years, the standard of UX in ecommerce has become slicker and more sophisticated, and 2019 will see this continue.
What’s more, with some notable technological advancements leading the way, we can expect some monumental changes: encompassing the use of tightly-integrated chatbots and sophisticated voice commands, 2019 will be a year of exciting design changes.
Personalization isn’t a new concept, but its importance is likely to skyrocket in the coming years. The conditions are perfect for improving personalization: people are open to more personalization, and marketers have the advanced tools to make it happen.
People are using their devices more and more and expecting their journeys throughout the web to be convenience and intuitive. With personalization, you can offer each customer exactly what they want, at the right time, on their favored platform, and at the right price.
The advancements in machine learning, data analysis and AI mean you can personalize your site in a detailed way: you can bring in elements like gender, age and preferences. Building a personalized user experience creates a much more intimate experience and leaves each customer feeling cared for.
While voice technology is still relatively in its infancy, by 2030, 30 percent of searches will be done without a keyboard or screen. That’s a huge number of people using their voices to browse and buy products — and if your site accommodates this, you’ll be hugely in favor.
The combination of voice technology, pre-set commands and personalization based on data will mean customers can forgo the tedious activity of scrolling through irrelevant information. Instead, they can simply ask for what they want — and get it.
Incorporating voice technology into your ecommerce site now will give you the chance to experiment and see how it best works for you and your customers. Then, when it becomes a real shopping mainstay, you’ll be ahead of the crowd.
Augmented reality (AR) shouldn’t be dismissed as a fad or gimmick. In fact, it has the potential to change ecommerce in a big way, thanks to one significant reason: AR lets customers bring products into their lives without having to buy them first.
Some ecommerce companies have their own AR apps to allow people to experiment with their products, like Chairish, while others incorporate AR into their site design. Whichever way you choose to do it, it’s likely to pay off. 40 percent of consumers would agree to pay more for a product they can try out using AR.
AR is an easy way to solve the age-old question of “but why do I need this product?”. Instead of reading reviews, looking at pictures and taking in information, customers can go some way towards bridging the gap between real and virtual. This direct experience is far more powerful than any words could be.
Navigation design will undergo big changes in 2019, with an increasing number of companies moving away from the traditional hamburger menu. To increase navigation efficiency and time on site, brands are choosing sticky tab-based menus instead.
While still popular, the hamburger menu isn’t great for user experience. Instead, other alternatives are coming to the fore. Sticky navigation is becoming more prominent, with menu elements at the top, bottom or sides of the page. This won’t disturb your customer and enables more access to different parts of the site.
Spotify was ahead of the trend on this one. The company changed from a hamburger menu to a tabbed menu and saw a 30 percent increase in navigation menu clicks. And the best part about this particular trend is that it has yet to reach the ecommerce world in a major way. See for yourself — try looking at businesses for sale and you’ll notice that the hamburger menu is still dominant, allowing you to can get ahead of the pack.
Chatbots are an increasingly popular addition to any site, helping to enhance user interaction. Since Facebook opened up Messenger to bots, the number of them has soared: in 2016, there were 30,000 active bots, while today there are over 300,000.
As we move into 2019, we’ll see this sophisticated technology become more integrated into site design. Chatbots will move away from simply providing upfront customer service, and instead create seamless web interactions that will be even more effective at driving sales.
This will result in ecommerce sites that know exactly what a customer wants, just by analyzing previous interactions and behaviors. It’s important to include these in your web design: chatbots could give ecommerce sites almost telepathic powers.
2019 will see two different design camps emerge: one pushing flat minimalism and the other backing the attention-grabbing broken grids system. Once, not using a grid layout would result in bad user experience and disorderly designs. However, this is all changing.
Designers have now found ways to use broken grids and asymmetry to create a fresh, bold look that stands out from the crowd. With unusual placements, repeating irregular patterns, lots of negative space, bold typography, and layering colors and textures, designers have made a fresh breakthrough in web design.
But it doesn’t just look great. Broken grids can improve user experience too. Instead of using established design patterns, the fresh shapes and patterns direct the visitor where to look. This new, engaging method is likely to stir things up in 2019.
Mobile-first web design will continue to be a trend going into 2019 – and not just because of user experience. Ever since mobile searches overtook desktop searches, Google has started to index mobile sites first, and ranking them above sites that aren’t mobile friendly.
People are spending more time on mobile devices than on desktop, so it’s vital that site design prioritizes mobile. This key element should form the foundation of your design, rather than just becoming a later addition. While many desktop sites can be made to be mobile-friendly or have responsive designs, it’s no longer enough.
Mobile-first design starts with designing your ecommerce site for mobile users first, with designs for desktop users coming later. It’s a radical shift in how designers work, but is one that’s vital for success and growth in the future — over 40 percent of online transactions are now done on mobile, and it’s set to increase.
From technology to aesthetics, 2019 will see ecommerce sites become more futuristic and seamless. Customers will have a host of new approaches to shopping, letting them make the right decisions and buy without any concerns.
As well as a simplified, integrated shopping experience, customers will have more choice in how they purchase: whether it’s on mobile, using their voices, or via chatbots. 2019 will be an exciting time to be designing ecommerce sites.
About the author: Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — a forward-thinking ecommerce blog that examines the latest insights from the online retail world. Check out the site, and follow along on Twitter @myecommercetips.