In the digital age, having a great website is crucial to a company's success. Not only does a website need to be aesthetically pleasing, but it also needs to function well while providing solutions to consumer needs as quickly as possible. Inbound marketing and producing original content have been two of the most popular means of attracting greater volumes of Web traffic on the Internet in the past few years, yet having a great product and informative content alone aren't enough for success online today.
Indeed, the final ingredient of success for a company's digital presence is their Web design. Does their website reflect the cutting edge trends of the field and tap into visitors' design expectations, surpass them, and inspire trust? These results are a tall order, but the best designs accomplish all three. So what can you anticipate for the future of Web design in 2017?
Here are three facts you need to know:
1. UX has a new face.
User experience (UX) design has long been the backbone of Web design. If you consider the field to be similar to construction, then UX design is the foundation upon which everything is built. It dictates structure, navigation and overall feel of a website, so what is this new face of UX? As it turns out, it is one you are already intimately familiar with: human language. Voice control first rose to popularity with the launch of Apple's Siri in 2011, and now Amazon and Google have launched their own voice-control products, next to other startups, including Viv and Hound (shown below). These voice-search products will impact the way Web developers need to structure their content.
Alongside voice control, chatbot technology made waves with WeChat, the Chinese chatbot that boasts over 500 million users, who use the app for everything from conversation to shopping. In 2017, more websites will incorporate the ability to parse human language, whether it's in an audible or textual form, redefining how these websites will approach navigation and content organization.
2. User testing is more intimate.
Any Web designer worth their salt will tell you that user testing is a crucial part of their process. Understanding what works within a design and what frustrates users can only be accomplished through testing a design with actual users. In 2017 though, user testing will get a lot more specific than the regular analytics software and heat maps of the past.
This new age of cutting-edge user testing depends on improvements to video and specifically deals with eye-tracking and emotion-tracking while consumers engage with a new website.
These advances offer greater nuance to how businesses can analyze users, such as where visitors get mad or delighted, and that information can be used to improve their design even more accurately. These two processes alongside growing improvements to big data analysis mean that user testing will be able to provide more actionable results than ever before in 2017.
3. Rapid prototyping remains on top.
Speaking of user testing, to successfully integrate these tests into the development process, Web designers must use rapid prototyping in order to create the initial design and any new edits that follow the results of the user testing. With tools like Sketch, Affinity, Adobe XD, and the new additions to Photoshop, Web designers can create high-fidelity Web designs without writing any code. It doesn't hurt that services like UXpin, Webflow and InVision (shown below) were built to aid this process, either.
While 2017 may see the advent of new design tools, the importance of rapid prototyping is here to stay in the world of Web design, and the highest paid designers in the business are ones who can produce working prototypes quickly, so that the website can get in front of users all the sooner.
About the Author
Josh Althauser is a tech entrepreneur and open source advocate specializing in providing mentorship for startups for their marketing technology. You may connect with him on Twitter.