Trends in UX design: Driving factors

  Jun 24, 2014 5:38:44 AM

User eXperience (UX) on devices has become very important than ever because the features of all devices are almost identical and one of the differentiating factors to sell could be through having an attractive UX. It has become a challenge for UX designers to provide UX design for devices that vary in size, shape, components. This blog briefly gives details of evolution of UX design and factors driving the changes in UX design.

There have been marked changes in User Experience (UX) design as we have evolved from the era of Personal Computers (PC) to Mobile phones. In the case of PC’s, there were no limitation in terms of space, display area and input options. However, in the case of mobile phone applications there are many constraints that a UX designer has to consider. In a mobile phone, there are limitations such as keypad buttons, numbers, alphabets and navigation options. As users migrate from PC’s to mobile phones, their habits make them seek and perhaps expect the options that they were comfortable in the PC environment.

The principle challenge for UX designers with mobile phone is to make the UX intuitive and ensure that the application can be easily used via a keypad. The advent of touchscreens in mobile phones has considerably simplified user access to applications. Touchscreens became more common because of the sense of engagement for users. Developers now need to develop applications for both keypad based mobile phones and touch screen based mobile phones till such time touch screen based mobile phones become the de-facto input mechanism.

There is a migration of traditional laptop and note book computers to adopt touchscreen with the introduction of tablet computers, the sales of which have started eclipsing traditional computing devices. The challenge for UX designers now is to ensure the UX is similar for both mobile phones and tablets and the user interaction pattern remain the same.

The next wave of disruptions are industry specific, like gestures being convenient way of input in television, voice commands being preferred in automotive. . Gesture based inputs are going to minimize the need of number of soft-buttons on the screen, thus providing more real estate on the display. The number of soft buttons is currently being reduced by using multiple finger gesture inputs like long press, double tap, single tap, swipe up, swipe down, swipe with two fingers for different operations. In addition, a number of other intuitive gesture based inputs like hand, face and other body language gestures are also gaining popularity.

Some OEMs are increasingly using ‘voice based inputs’ to provide ease of access, safety and near natural human machine interaction. Though there is an attempt to include voice based input in mobile phone applications, this has not met with much success. Some possible reasons could be the inability of current underlying technology to handle variations of voices and accents and the need of internet access.

Televisions have become ‘smart’ and offer seamless internet connectivity and have enabled services like gaming, edutainment, conference calling etc. This force of convergence is driving user expectations who now look forward to a UX across different categories of consumer electronic devices. Application developers therefore need to design UX keeping in mind that these applications will be available on a variety of devices such as mobile phones, tablets and televisions.  It is not cost effective to have different UX design for these devices. Hand, Face and other body language gesture based inputs are going to be very important for television because such interactions are more intuitive, easy to use and result in greater user engagement with the application.

Gaming consoles have also adopted gesture based inputs. The use of gestures for inputs makes the complete screen available for content as there is no waste of space to provide controls.

As user sophistication increases after using a few generations of these smart devices, their expectations increase dramatically. This has to be considered while designing the UX. Consumers now look beyond just the brand when they make a decision to buy a product and invariable end up buying products that offer the best UX. It is increasingly becoming clear that UX will be a critical differentiation factors as other artefacts like hardware, OS and applications seem to be more or less standard across OEMs.

It has become necessary for UX designer to keep track of advances in technologies like 2D/3D graphics that help in designing UX. UX designer has to be ready to provide UX design suitable for Internet of things and wearable devices like smartwatch.

Authored by: Krishna Kishore

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