Big News! We won Ad Age Small Agency of the Year.

December 10, 2020

4 Trending Website UX Improvements Marketers Can Make in 2021

Nate Hook

4 Trending Website UX Improvements Marketers Can Make in 2021

Much has been said of how this year has altered our behaviors in a nearly global sense of things. For many people, the bubble we operate from on a daily basis has created stark inequities in how we engage with societal norms and those conventions we are so accustomed to, such as shopping or going out to eat.

So we shifted how we behave to adapt. Adapting meant our digital lives would take an evolutionary leap forward. We consumed nearly 50% more time on social media, 70% more time on our phones, and took in 80% more media in general, with those numbers increasing sharply as the pandemic groans on. This leap meant business models would evolve as well, and digital forward solutions to the pandemic’s problems would create opportunities across industries.

Industry Experts Weigh In

Most industry experts agree, 2021 will see these trends continue, with lasting effects well beyond the pandemic itself, with some degree of permanently changed default consumer behavior.

For businesses, especially those that have a sales channel mix that includes online retail, this has brought a mission critical focus on how well their digital properties deliver great user experiences. In fact, research firm Jacob Nielsen found that when user experience strategy and design improves the overall experience of customers, it can create up to 83% lift in key website performance indicators.

4 UX Improvements to Make for 2021

1. Improve the quality of your visuals and make them drive action:

Take a look at the photos your site is using. Are they working as hard as they could be? Website visuals should guide user’s attention, impart a meaningful aspect of your story, or add meaning to your site’s content. Along with this, ask yourself if your audience can identify with the visual you present. Your audience will be more responsive to visual depictions that represent some aspect they can identify with. Generally speaking, we buy from people (or brands) like us, it’s hard wired into the “old brain” portion of our brains—we instinctively seek that similarity. Regarding products, users statistically prefer to have multiple product shots, from different angles to evaluate what they might be buying—something even more critical when many shoppers have adapted a larger percent of their buying to e-commerce.

2. UX signals in Google search rankings:

Google continues to change the way its search engine indexes and provides search results, and some significant changes are coming our way in 2021 that Google has already been pushing out a good deal of content about. In 2021, Google will start factoring in user experience signals into its ranking and SEO considerations. We have already seen Google default to mostly mobile ranking to account for their indices, but now factors such as how a page loads in, how much a page changes as it loads, and other user experience factors surrounding the speed of your site will impact how competitively your website will perform.

3. Killing your heroes:

A long dominant trend in web design and user experience has included large page header graphics, carousels and videos at the top of pages. If you’re planning to make some upgrades to your website, or redesign your site altogether in 2021, consider killing these “hero” graphics, your user will thank you (and so will Google). From a user experience perspective, most users don’t find these large blocks of visuals all that interesting, in fact, they largely ignore them if they don’t heavily contribute to story, functionality, or navigation—in a nutshell, they aren’t that useful to the user. Furthermore, they tend to slow down page load times and cause delayed shifts in page content as items fully load in. As you read in the previous point, in 2021, Google will care about those kinds of UX signals. Instead of large hero graphics, think about what the user really needs, and how this can be more tightly married to content and visuals.

4. Augmented Reality:

For online retail, augmented reality has significantly picked up steam, and consumers are increasingly looking for ways to experience products in an AR setting to bring products closer to them. With lockdowns picking up, and less shoppers traveling to physical retail locations, they are looking to bring a part of that experience into their homes. Augmented reality functionality in online retail has also grown into a much more attainable technology, and with Apple fully supporting these experiences directly within their Safari browser, users don’t need special apps to see what a rug, shoes, or a new sofa might look like through their mobile screens.

Change is a constant, but some changes we see coming before it becomes an imperative. These improvements are our top 4 for online retailers, as well as other brands and industries—there are a number of other trends that will influence how we adapt to the way our behaviors have shifted, and will invariably continue to shift as both the pandemic and its effects alter the way we do things. Getting ahead of these trends to increase your competitive abilities isn’t a nice to have anymore, nor was it really something to kick the can on in the last two years. However, in thinking ahead for 2021, you stand a much greater ability to achieve true digital success by getting ahead of it now.

It’s often hard to know where to start, what you might need, or how to deliver the user experiences that will help push your business or brand’s digital offerings forward to deliver great user experiences that move the needle. Often the best approach is to conduct a user experience audit of your website or app to see where you need to make targeted improvements, or to see how to better solve problems for your customers through those channels.

If you’re looking to learn more, or just want to pick our brains about how you can improve your user experiences in 2021, drop us a line and we can help set you on a course to meet these evolving online challenges.