Web design trends for 2019: Part III – Interface smarts

In the final instalment of our three-part series on design and UX trends, Luminary Design Director Tess French explores what to look for behind the scenes when considering interface design.

Tess French

By Tess French, 4 minute read

There was a time where web design existed solely as flat layouts in Photoshop. Perhaps there were a few different layers in the file that simulated interactions and different states, but not much else. More and more now we're seeing interfaces that are more than an aesthetic layout, leveraging knowledge gained from user research, and the technology they’re running on, to streamline a unique user experience. Here are a few cases in point...

Never ask users the same question twice

Think about what you already know about users, at each point of their journey though your brand. Are you asking for things that you already know, or can get elsewhere? 

Superhost screen grab

Estimate Page – Superhost by Mateusz Dembek via Muzli

This form on the Superhost website remembers previously entered information associated with a user’s account so that the user can get on with filling out the more nuanced details about their home. The benefits here are twofold: a smoother experience for the user, and natural error avoidance and correction for the client. 

Show, don’t tell 

Water recycling could be a really dry topic, but this interactive Future Water City one-pager from VCS Denmark showcases new technologies for more efficient ways to handle drinking water and wastewater. Rather than a technical slideshow, they’ve opted to go with an isometric map that shows an interconnected water system, showing how all the technologies are connected. 

This interface makes you want to explore, disguising what could be a bit dull with interactions reminiscent of SimCity. 

Use your words

Search-as-a-service solutions like Algolia and Azure Search have improved the search experience significantly. At the same time, natural language processing services like Azure Language Understanding and IBM Watson allow for cognitive searching via a conversational interface, allowing a chatbot experience to guide people to the content they are looking for. 

Hashnode gif

Natural language search powered by Algolia. 

Here, we’re seeing instant results really fast with Algolia. And while this visual interface is great, our prediction for 2019 is that we’ll be seeing more voice-based search utilities using the same technology. For example, the voice command “Search for Samsung mobile phones and accessories” will replace all the conventional mouse clicks. 

Natural language search and chatbots arrived a few years ago, and will only become more common moving forward. When thinking about where to use these kinds of interface, it’s important to know your audience and where they are within the brand journey. Used in the wrong context, they’ll be considered a gimmick and time wasting (for instance, imagine trying to navigate a chat-based UI while cooking). So consider your users’ context if you’re thinking about implementing these. 

Both the above and below concepts showcase the possibility of an interface-within-an interface, where brands can exist within the apps people are already using. 

Automated personalisation

Personalisation is a bit like a new toy at Christmas. It’s on everyone’s wish list, it looks all shiny out of the box, and it’s fun to tinker with – but after a while, it gets relegated to the bottom of the toy box. Why? Because it’s great in theory, but the reality is that to do personalisation well can take up a lot of time and effort. 

CMS providers have been aware of this problem for some time and the solutions are now available to deliver automated personalisation. Underpinned by Artificial Intelligence (AI), these systems are increasingly being used to strengthen customer engagement by offering features like hyper-relevant content or product suggestions.

Recombee recommendation engine

A simple example of automated personalisation is on the Luminary blog, with related blog post suggestions driven by AI content personalisation engine Recombee

The wrap-up

Interface design has moved past static experiences – through features like animation, video and micro interactions. Online experiences are becoming far more immersive for the user, and clever user interfaces are reducing friction in the user journey. The brands that jump on these trends quickly will still be able to capture some degree of early-mover advantage, but pretty soon all of these things will become expected benchmarks (and you’ll have to wait for the next update of this blog to get ahead of the curve again!). 

In the meantime, here’s a bite-sized summary of the key take-aways for design and UX in 2019:

Be bold: From contrasting colour schemes to grid-breaking layouts, digital design is becoming more adventurous. Don’t be scared to stand out from the crowd. 

Be detailed: Users will soon expect purposeful animation that enhances both the content of the interface and the experience. 

Be smart: Reduce any barriers your users encounter, improve the search experience, and (machine) learn from users’ time on your site.

This is the final instalment of a three-part series where we looked into visual and user experience trends for 2019. In case you missed them, here are the first two parts in the series:

Part I: Purposeful motion

Part II: Bold visual styling 

Want to take the design of your site to the next level?

Let's talk!