Regardless of the industry a business operates in, the online user journey will most likely look significantly different today than it did at the start of March 2020. The user has relied perhaps more notably than ever on the digital experience. Equally the digital experience has adapted alongside the pandemic in response to remote working and increased time online in our own homes. This has prompted more sectors to be user-led and accessible; 2022 will hopefully be a year for expanding this further. So, what are the trends for 2022 to look out for and to adapt into your New Year digital goals?
Remote working is undoubtedly here to stay in 2022. It is reported by the Office for National Statistics that during the heights of lockdown, 60% of the UK workforce have worked from home. Most businesses have had to adapt to this more flexible working model and find innovative ways of reaching their customers. Where the customer may have previously browsed a website on either mobile or desktop, time spent working from home has seen people value their separate devices. Almost all social media users access platforms via mobile devices, a significant 98.8%. What this means for digital strategy is that organisations will need to strive for a more seamless user experience across devices.
2021 saw mobile usage increase to account for almost half of all online searches. Unsurprisingly then, a predicted UX trend for 2022 is an increase in mobile-first design. This approach sees the website designing process start with the smallest devices first and then add more functionalities for the larger screen sizes to ensure a great user experience across the board.
Accessibility across more sectors and websites
Public sector organisations have been leading the way on digital accessibility, largely due to the 2018 Accessibility Regulations. However, 2022 will see private sectors making accessibility a priority for their digital services. At a minimum, organisations are striving to be compliant against the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) international standard of digital accessibility. 2022 will likely take this further, going beyond discovering whether content is technically accessible by testing with representative users to uncover whether a site is truly accessible.
Inclusive design and accessibility go hand in hand. Web accessibility ensures a digital service is usable for as many users as possible, particularly those with disabilities and accessibility needs.
Accessibility alone has a tendency to leave out segments of the population who do not have a specific disability but may encounter problems interacting with interfaces based on diverse situations in their environment. Inclusive design deliberately addresses this diversity. This comes back to a site being truly accessible rather than simply technically accessible. In 2022, UX specialists will continue this mission, with inclusive design principles at the forefront of the design process.
Last year the Nielsen Norman Group published a revised version of their groundbreaking UX maturity model. This version sets out 6 levels of UX maturity – a measure of “an organisation’s desire and ability to successfully deliver user-centered design”. The framework presents 6 stages for an organisation to self-assess. At the lowest end of the spectrum is the ‘absent’ organisation where the concern for the user experience is not properly understood and is largely ignored. The pinnacle of this scale is organisation’s that are ‘user-driven,’ habitually putting the user first. Whilst most organisation’s will sit somewhere in the middle to lower end of this framework, 2022 will see more industries recognising the value of UX.
As UX specialists, it is great to see more businesses implementing measures to place their users at the centre of the digital experience. Whether this is starting small and assessing where you fit in on the UX maturity scale or planning on a larger basis for some user testing to see where your website is succeeding and lacking – every consideration of the user is a step in the right direction.