When it comes to e-commerce, the experience that your website users encounter can feel like a vague, distant consideration.
Without an in-person interaction involved, it’s difficult to stay aware of what consumers are encountering when they interact with your brand’s various customer-facing channels.
And yet, it’s that very disconnected nature of the online marketplace that makes user experience (UX) such a crucial part of any online operation.
With so many businesses building up their online presence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that each one evaluates the user experience that they are offering. Companies can no longer adopt simplified options of past UX e-commerce strategies. They must look for cutting-edge approaches to traditional methods.
Here are two critical UX trends that businesses, great and small, can learn from going forward.
Videos Continue to Answer User Needs
The evolution of e-commerce in recent years has followed a very visual direction. After starting with text, images became a critical part of both website design and online marketing endeavors. From there, videos rose to prominence, and they continue to set the trend in 2021 and beyond.
Video content has proven to be a dynamic way for brands to connect with their customers. From detailed how-tos to quick, 30-second promotions, videos have been and remain an integral part of a good user experience.
They are information-filled, are great for audible learners, and are easily accessible on mobile devices. In addition, video metadata can be instrumental in boosting search engine optimization (SEO.) This can make it easier for the right consumers to find your content without trouble — a key initial step in a good UX experience.
Speaking of good UX, when it comes to an elite user experience, it’s important that companies embrace a thoughtful video creation strategy. You don’t want to pump out meaningless clips that answer irrelevant questions or dive into unwanted explanations. That’s akin to the old-school black hat SEO method of keyword stuffing. Instead, you want to research your customers’ pain points and ensure that you design each video to resonate with their collective needs.
On top of that, the quality of your videos should also be a top concern. For instance, using software like Dolby.io can help you create videos that will smooth out the user experience. The tool’s advanced audio processing capabilities create pristine HD video with next-level audio. This can generate a more lifelike experience.
The motion-picture element of online marketing has been around for a decade and more. Rather than being replaced, though, it continues to dig in as an integral part of a good UX experience. This highlights a critical factor in many current UX trends: they aren’t replacing old trends so much as they’re refining them. Videos were used five years ago. However, a current, innovative video is going to put an older copy to shame, not because it’s different but because it’s better. From its overall quality to its ability to meet customer needs, videos continue to have a major impact on a good UX experience.
Harmonized Experiences Are Rewriting Omnichannel Marketing
For years a huge part of the user experience refrain has revolved around building an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel has always been an ill-defined concept. But in general, the marketing strategy focuses on covering every channel where your customers could potentially interact with your brand. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a store, on your website, through a social profile, or anywhere else. The goal with the omnichannel approach is to be everywhere at all times, ready to usher a consumer through the customer journey on their terms.
The only problem with the omnichannel approach is that it tends to be non-specific and resource-heavy — read: it’s a bit scattered and takes a lot of investment. It requires a lot of effort, time, and money to monitor interactions in-person, on the phone, through videos and webinars, via social media content, from search engines and ads, and on your website.
This is why, all the way back in 2019, Steve Dennis, a senior contributor at Forbes, was already hailing the dawn of a new era, the era of harmonized retail. The main focus of this new marketing moniker is to steer away from an obsession with marrying together the independent channels themselves. Instead, businesses should fix their attention on consumers.
In other words, businesses shouldn’t invest in maintaining open communication channels at all times, regardless of their traffic. They should focus on steering their resources toward meeting consumers wherever and whenever they pop up on a business’s radar. As Dennis puts it, “the customer is the channel.”
Of course, this opens up the question of how to blend all of your marketing channels into a truly seamless UX experience. On the surface, it can seem like nothing short of a crystal ball can do the trick. Enter data.
User data has been a critical factor of 21st-century marketing. And yet, over time, it’s become clear how little data is truly utilized in most retail interactions. Key metrics and data sets often hog the spotlight, like certain demographic data or user tendencies. But vast quantities of information often remain untapped and unutilized.
This has led to a rise in the development of intricate data management platforms. These tools harness the unused “dark data” and use it to create deep customer insights. This can help a business better understand how their customers behave, their natural proclivities, and so on.
This processed data becomes a utilitarian part of your UX strategy. You can leverage it to smooth out weak points in the customer journey. You can also ensure that the various elements of a traditional omnichannel approach aren’t just connected. They should also work in harmonious concert together. By extension, this allows you to show up, as Dennis explains it, “for the right customers, where it really matters, in remarkable ways.”
Modern UX: Evolution in Motion
Two decades into the 21st-century, the user remains central to all e-commerce activity. From marketing strategies to website design, content creation to data management, what the customer wants always wins out.
This has continued to feed an ever-refining cycle of improved user experience. In 2021, both video content and harmonized retail represent current manifestations of this refining process in action.
However, they are just the tip of an enormous iceberg that includes a variety of pre-existing UX concerns like website navigation, social media marketing, unique selling points, and countless other items. Like video and harmonized retail, these aren’t exactly new concepts.
Instead, the name of the game going forward is perfection. Audio processing tools are making videos more lifelike. Data analysis is smoothing out bumps in the established customer journey. No matter where you look, cutting-edge technology is finding ways to up the ante in every area of the user experience.
And at the end of the day, it is this tendency toward refinement that is the biggest UX trend of them all.