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Have we lost the “U” in Today’s UX Design Trends?

Where is the "U" in Today's UX Design Trends?

Have you ever visited a newly created website that leaves you feeling anxious rather than informed? Maybe disorienting animations greet you, or a design element practically hijacks your mouse and scrolling abilities. How about content swooping in unexpectedly, or headings so huge even your grandma would exclaim, "WHYYYY?"


The importance of designing for users seems to be increasingly sidelined in favor of showcasing the latest design and technology trends. Simple principles, like clearly indicating a user's location or allowing easy navigation, appear irrelevant. All that matters is the "WOW" factor. As a steadfast, user-focused designer, I quickly leave these websites feeling concerned and annoyed, not impressed – and I suspect I'm not alone.

When designing a new website, naturally we want it to stand apart. And the obvious way to do this is by employing the latest technology-driven design trends. But as designers, we should ask ourselves if it’s worth changing proven UX models for a new trick up our sleeves – one that ignores existing user behaviors and creates unnecessary challenges.

Users need to focus on the content. The last thing we should do is distract them with thoughtless animations, aggressive graphics, and needlessly illegible text. We should think carefully about possible distractions and accessibility roadblocks. Remember, our job is to bring value to the user’s experience and solve their problems, not create new challenges. Simply put, our job is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for users to find what they need.

In an online experience, we should provide users with a feeling of control and safety. Users gain that feeling from knowing where they are and how to navigate away (and back to) that position. Changing classic actions like unprompted scrolling or implementing decorative mouse pointer modifications could potentially frustrate and annoy users.

This is not to say that new design trends aren't worth exploring. There's always the possibility of finding beneficial trends when they're implemented thoughtfully, backed by user-centered research. But please do your homework. Remember, design solutions (key word there, solutions!) should always address user needs and stay on-brand with your product. 

Bottom line 

A trend isn’t a bad idea just because it’s a trend. But that trend should serve a purpose and contribute to the usability of the product, or you could lose your audience in favor of a competitor's product that does understand this and demonstrates more value and ease for the user.


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