When designing for the web or creating new branding materials, you might find that following the latest trends can help you create fresher, more cutting-edge designs.
However, keep in mind that your looking at trends. Ask yourself whether the trend you are considering makes your website easier to use. Does it make your business more “pleasant” to engage with?
When applied incorrectly, some trends can weaken the overall customer experience.
Here’s how designers can consider customer experience when creating anything including web pages, app designs, or even product packaging. We will also outline exactly how to tell which trends can improve customer experience, and which ones are worth avoiding.
The Value of CX and UX for Business Design
Customer experience, or CX, is how customers perceive a given business, based on all of the interactions they’ve had with that entity.
Good customer experience is essential for businesses that want to grow their audience, build a loyal customer base, and develop a recognizable brand.
Positive experiences and good interactions encourage customers to keep coming back. Research indicates that buyers will pay more to shop with businesses which can deliver positive experiences. In some cases, this may be a significant premium — up to 140% more, according to research from Deloitte.
On the other hand, as little as one or two negative experiences can be enough to turn a potential customer away from your brand entirely.
Design that accounts for UX is often critical to ensuring positive customer experiences. Thoughtful design can make apps, websites, etc. more pleasant to see or use, which translates into positive brand impression among users.
By Following Trends, What Can Go Wrong?
In an interview with Wendy Liebmann, Andy Murray, the former head of CX at Walmart and ASDA UK, said that customers have three budgets: “a time budget, a money budget, and a frustration budget.”
Well-implemented design trends can make an app or site more visually appealing while also easing its use. This in turn helps improve how users spend their valuable time and avoid frustration. However, not every fad will be able to create a positive impact by default.
When designing for a business, you’ll find a lot of value in keeping up with the latest trends. If you want to keep your company’s look fresh and exciting, this is not an option.
And you can’t really avoid trends altogether, lest you end up with a look and feel that is stale and old looking. You also run the rusk of missing out on creative new approaches that could help you solve design problems and build more effective sites or ads.
However, not every trend is suitable for all businesses. While you might be able to fix some design problems, you should put forethought into why any specific trend is worth consideration.
Does it solve problems on the website or with the customer experience? Does it help improve how people interpret your messaging or use your product or service?
It’s worth taking pause to ensure that you’re helping fix or improve something important before kicking around any new trends you find. Otherwise, you could end up with a poor experience AND an unappealing design.
For example, muted palettes and natural tones may be in style one year, only to be replaced by bright and vibrant colors the following year. When building a palette for a site or UI, a designer should consider what’s in favor and how users will interact with the design in context.
Bright colors are exciting and can grab your attention, but they can also be a bit of an eyesore if you need to look at them for long periods. For this reason, we recommend avoiding bright colors for larger UI elements, such as prominent nav bars or page backgrounds.
Data on how customers interact with web pages or apps can help here. Measuring customer happiness is one of the best ways If you aim to start improving overall customer experience, begin by measuring “customer happiness.” This information will give you a good sense of where poor design may be holding your company back.
How to Identify Trends That Will Improve CX and Reinforce Branding
The best way to identify useful trends is to make CX a central component of your overall approach to design.
For example, if you know customers find it challenging to navigate a specific website or app, consider shifting to a minimalist redesign. This move could very well provide a trendy update, while also allowing you to make the navigation and overall architecture more functional.
At the same time, you’ll often need to push the visually exciting trends aside to focus on simple functionality. If you make a change that improves the look and feel but makes it far less appealing to navigate, you’d be better suited to reconsider the change altogether.
Similarly, if you are concerned about how your brand image is coming across, you should consider design changes that more accurately reflect your brand identity.
For example, let’s say your team is worried that your brand is seen as stodgy or too conventional. Have them brainstorm ideas that will show you as more playful or fun, perhaps using textures and/or bright colors.
Or maybe your brand wants to emphasize its commitment to eco-friendliness and sustainable practices. In this case, you could redesign your product packaging to include more natural and sustainable materials.
In this case, the design change may put environmentally minded customers at ease. Clearly communicate your commitment to green values by showcasing the natural materials front and center.
By carefully applying new design trends, you can position your business to improve customer experience. Alternatively, you could hinder it with the wrong trend.
Regardless, you should make UX a central consideration in your design process. This will enable you to select trends which will help make your apps and website more usable. This in turn will help drive improved customer satisfaction.
By saving customers time and frustration, you can help ensure they walk away with a more positive view of your brand. And you’ll also build a loyal customer base, setting you up to grow your business.
Feature Image Credit: Borys Kozielski, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.
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