How data is directing the future of UX & UI

Developers and graphic designers alike are always conscious that effective User Experience design (UX) and User Interface design (UI) are both essential elements for enabling a product or service to sell.

Even though each design aspect serves a distinct function, neither aspect can exist successfully in isolation. In general, a developer is responsible for the analytical and technical aspects of a web page – how a user interacts with it (the UI) – while a graphic designer’s focus is on the visual communication side – how a user engages with a page (the UX).

UX / UI did not emerge in the Digital space – anyone successfully selling goods or services will have been fairly UX / UI literate well in advance of this. To enable a successful sale, a positive user experience should be sought throughout the entire sales funnel, from initial enquiry to purchase. Furthermore, a product or service is also sold by its ‘wrapper’ or User Interface – the aesthetic experience of the product or service that enables a user to engage with it meaningfully.

The ability to more effectively capture digital data has evolved significantly in recent years. Now developers and designers alike can draw on reliable information to measure the effectiveness of (and enhance the quality of) design and development decisions to improve the interaction between a user and a company’s entire online presence.

Tools that fight frustration

In recent years, the go-to marketing metrics have been conversions, bounce/churn rates, click-through rates, and acquisition maps, which can be tracked using analytics tools such as GA. In the last few years tools such as TryMyUi, MixPanel, along with a plethora of heat mapping / screen recording tools, have sprung up, providing visualisation of data mapping UI interaction, helping designers to identify and interpret moments of user frustration and struggle. Additionally, A/B testing tools, such as Optimizely and Google Experiments, have become essential tools for UX specialists and Digital Marketing teams alike by enabling measurement of the effectiveness of one UI design versus another. Such tools have rationalised design decisions in light of the behavioural data, also serving to redefine what constitutes UI success.

On the qualitative front, a crowd of outsourced end-to-end UX user testing services has been available for some time, and tools that make user feedback as seamless as possible, such as Usabilia, have sprung on websites everywhere.

Life Metrics

In addition to traditional metrics such as drop off points, bounce rates, and pages per visit, companies are looking to metrics beyond the interface to interpret how well their products and services are integrated into people’s lives. This may include features such as social media sentiment analysis and device usage statistics. Lifestyle products such as Google Glass, Google Pixel Buds, and Snapchat Spectacles promise to add a new level of integration of digital products into people’s physical lives and the potential for a multitude of new “real life” UX performance metrics to go with them.

Mind-reading tech

In some more advanced settings, biometric and neuro-metric technologies are beginning to compliment and take the place of the more traditional methods of data-collection, such as questionnaires. This tech studies the thoughts, emotions, preferences and online behaviours of users through heat maps that track eye movement over a page in real time – even by measuring the sweat on fingertips. Though this might sound like the domain of science fiction, the technology is here and is a step-change from simply tracking the position of a mouse.

Embracing agility

Thanks to rapid prototyping, it is now possible for users and stakeholders to validate the UX and UI for a site before beginning development. By a process of iteration, rapid prototyping software enables speedy creation of mock-ups of a system, allowing designers to respond quickly to feedback and much earlier on in the development process. Rapid prototyping minimises the requirement for late-stage development fixes, saving on development costs, as well as providing the ability to quickly test new designs and application features.

Research, testing, and development

Data-led expertise, while keeping human-centric research and design at the heart, is an essential element in creating a positive user experience that delivers a company’s products and solutions.

Successful companies will hold back from launching a site until it has been rigorously tested so that the page architecture and design can work efficiently for users. Each of these developments helps to build pages that minimise disruption, and instead supports the user from the beginning to the end of their journey and, where relevant, encourage them to return.

For design processes that include user research, analysis, UI design and implementation using agile methods, contact us to see how we can help meet your specific requirements.