UX Trends for 2022

At XAM we are a leading UX/UI Agency for the whole of Australia, we design applications and experiences that are loved by users. We are excited about what Design can do for our customers now and into the future.

While we all hope that 2022 will finally be the year that life gets back to normal, there is no doubt that it will be a new kind of normal. The global pandemic has permanently changed the way we work and live, predominantly thanks to digital services. We can now connect, meet and create in new ways. This new way of communicating and connecting has shaped user experiences and will continue to do so. After all, while user experience is based on solid principles and should be a reflection of core needs, it also changes with the times. 

In 2022, we will see new technologies as well as cultural shifts that will no doubt impact the discipline. There is no way to know exactly what will happen; the last few years have most certainly shown us that. However, it’s worth being aware of the major themes to look out for. Some of them are a continuation of trends we’ve seen before, others are new developments, but all have the potential to make a significant impact on our digital designs. 

Rise in Remote User Research

Remote user research and usability testing isn’t a new thing in the world of user experience. However, the tools that are used for this will mature further in 2022, not least because of the new hybrid working pattern that has developed. Many firms already had remote user research systems in place prior to the pandemic, but the past two years has given them an opportunity to perfect those techniques. Ultimately, user research doesn’t have to take place in person. The trick is finding innovative ways for UX researchers to directly observe behaviours rather than relying on self-reporting. 

Improved Virtual Whiteboarding Tools

The increase in virtual tools, in part thanks to the pandemic, has allowed collaboration to reach a new level. Teams can work more quickly, collaborate more effectively and more people can be included. What has helped this trend to develop is the short learning curve of these intuitive tools. However, there is still some initial reluctance for people to sketch digitally. What will help push this forward further is more companies building creative workshops around these tools. As the process becomes more streamlined, it will be a positive move for the industry. After all, when iteration and collaboration are faster, the design process is more effective. 

Increased Focus on Wellbeing

User experience has become not just about how a product is used, but how the person using it is as a whole. While businesses may want their app to be in the user’s hand all day long, they have started to recognise that perhaps that isn’t the best thing for the user. UX design will incorporate this more as we head into 2022, prompting breaks, health checks and more to ensure the user is balanced and well. It is a significant mindset shift for designers who will need to not just look at users as people who move through platforms and experiences, but as individuals all with unique needs. 

Heightened Expectation for Accessibility

Accessibility has seen substantial growth over the last year, but more is needed. What is great is that, while larger firms have established accessibility standards, smaller firms are now asking about this area. It’s far more than an awareness amongst designers, companies themselves are demanding accessibility. We have seen long-term social progress and it is a really positive step. As we move into 2022, designers will approach areas such as motion, animation and interactive areas more responsibly. It’s vital that designs don’t break up how users expect things to behave and that motion doesn’t take up too much of the visual field. 

Greater Drive for Inclusivity

As well as accessibility, companies and individuals alike are demanding greater inclusivity. To achieve this, designs in 2022 will need to be built upon more representative research. Ultimately, users need to be a true reflection of the population. Increased awareness around gender identity and pushback against stereotypes will, in time, make gender-neutral design the standard. Over the coming year, more diversity will have a significant impact on designs and products. For companies who invest in inclusivity, it will open up opportunities. It is a bold statement that has the ability to translate into customer advocacy. 

Increased Incorporation of AI

AI and machine learning are most certainly on every list of technologies that will be trending in 2022. We haven’t reached the point where these technologies can automate traditional design, however, AI can place text and images in a layout and even compile its own design framework. What these means is that designers will need to focus more on product value rather than visual and touchpoint details. It’s all about considering the strategic value they’re delivering. As we move forward, the design team’s role will begin to focus on building trust for these autonomous systems. 

Mainstream Shift to Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t been incorporated in a huge amount of solutions. However, this year may see designers having a virtual reality check and including the technology in their designs. This will require more support for avatars, 3D visualisations and interactive experiences. As users gain more familiarity with virtual experiences, the lines between the digital and real world will begin to blur further. Those who innovate in this area and support the shift will have the potential for significant growth. 

Bigger Text and New Fonts

Big text has been a trend for a few years and it looks set to stay firmly in place. After all, oversized typography enables designers to add some flair while ensuring accessibility. It allows a focus on readability and usability while still creating something original. However, while it’s something that we’ve seen done by big companies, in 2022, it will be used in more enterprise-level products. Although, of course, it’s a delicate balancing act as the real estate that large text takes up is important. Meanwhile, fonts will be more open, honest and laid back than before, with legibility and accessibility being of prime importance. 

User Experience – The Need for Constant Improvement

2022 is set to be all about emerging technologies, inclusivity and accessibility. As we design, experiment and learn, we have the ability to build experiences that not only amaze users but put their health and wellbeing first. 

While there are no guarantees which one of these trends will have the biggest impact on user experience this year, one thing remains true: user experience needs to be improved. Whatever you are working on, users should be at the heart of every project. Only by ensuring they have the best experience will you see success.

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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