In the previous two parts of our interview series, we told you about the death of email, data privacy, and AI. Today, we're going to discuss UX design trends in 2022: how the user perceives elements of design and interacts with them. User experience is king when it comes to the world of digital. Are you intrigued? Let's get started!
Minimalist UX Design Trends: Bad Taste or the Lesser Evil
You've certainly seen such pics before: humans with minimal facial features (at best, an artificial smile) and similar odd limbs that look like sausages, so you can tell the difference between the characters by their clothes or their color only. That's an art style called Сorporate Memphis — one of the main graphic design trends for large tech companies as well as startups.
It's pretty obvious why Corporate Memphis is so popular:
- simple shapes;
- interchangeable colors;
- easy to design;
- it triggers "childish instincts": colorful and friendly characters attract people without them realizing it.
It's minimalism at its finest. Someone might say that Corporate Memphis means the decay of design as we know it and shows bad taste. I personally despise this art style for its fake positivity. However, your humble author's opinion may differ from yours: there are various points of view concerning minimalism, and that's okay. Besides, it's pretty strange to use an art style as a scapegoat for all design issues, isn't it?
The solution is simple: understand your message and use it to create relevant content that's neither minimalistic nor sophisticated, but neat and usable in your case.
After all, minimalism is one of a zillion methods of communicating a message. I think we should treat it just like this.
The problem with Corporate Memphis is not with the minimalistic characters but in their emptiness: they are sort of different but look just the same. It's the wrong approach. All the people are mixed into a gigantic colorful biomass. Users appreciate when you try to pull at their heartstrings.
Why You Rarely See Interactive Elements in Emails
Theoretically, interactive elements are a great tool for increasing customer engagement. It really makes sense: such elements would help you expand the range of users' interactions with an email and enrich UX design. Your email might become more than just an email. Unfortunately, modern technologies have their limits, no matter how cool they are.
The main problem is that companies support different technologies. For instance, in 2019, Google launched the AMP4email, a technology built in a similar way to AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and uses similar markup. However, the usage of this technology is not so widespread, and there are two reasons for this:
1. Only a few email clients support AMP. These are Gmail, Yahoo, and Mail.ru. Neither Apple nor Outlook supports this technology. Tech solutions rarely win at exclusivity. Actually, the situation is even more curious: interactive CSS is supported by Apple Mail but not Gmail. It's a stalemate!
In a nutshell, Google says to developers: you either use AMP or don't use any interactive elements at all. To create AMP documents, you need both human and time resources; besides, this job is not a bed of roses. But, perhaps, all is not lost. According to Alice Li, a Staff Engineer at Squarespace, this move from Google made many companies hesitate to use interactive elements in their emails because it turns out to be unreasonably time-consuming and complicated to support both AMP4email and interactive CSS.
I'm trying to be optimistic about the future of interactivity, but it requires Google to make up their mind already.
2. People don't find interactive elements interesting. Surprising, isn't it? It's not only about evil corporations who don't want to follow the principle "make interactivity, not war". People just don't like it when fancy UX design features get in their way to benefits.
This [interactive elements] looks like a lazy attempt to grab a person's attention. Besides, let's face it: people won't bother to play games. It's just easier to give them this discount right away.
Some marketers are skeptical about any interactive elements: the experts don't see any case studies or other data in the market, so they prefer to play it safe.
I haven't seen any strong strategies based on email interactivity yet. There are plenty of different UX design practices and concepts, but AMP remains nothing more but a shiny new toy at the moment.
But we shouldn't get upset about it. Although the AMP technology is not popular now, we can change the situation. After all, we've got the tool, so why not try it, if you want?
Actually, I've always loved interactive solutions. There is a strong possibility that you'll get good results, especially when the technology is still new to everyone.
Remember that the final word must be saved for your purpose. Interactivity is just one of many ways you can go to improve your UX design and communicate your ideas. It's useless to implement interactive elements just because you want to. You should always analyze it from your client's perspective: you may be amazed by the solution as a marketer, but not all users will find it just as amazing.
Your main goals are people and their interests. Try to prove to them that interactivity is cool if you want to. If they still aren't interested, that'll be at least something: you'll understand that you need to look for another approach. There's always something that will catch people's attention (even the absence of special features may be a feature).
How Relevant Is the "Less Text Means Better Text" Concept in UX Design?
If you mention minimalism in a group of designers, you may see a couple of eyes starting to twitch. When it comes to copywriting, it's a bit more difficult. No one would be enthusiastic to see an email with text taking up the whole screen. At the same time, you can't say that "less text means better text" works every time, even though it's obviously a go-to marketing trend.
Let me provide an analogy: you go to a cafe for dinner. You want to have some chicken with mashed potato. Will you go to this cafe again if they put something you don't want? The same with the emails, the content should be tailored to you.
Sounds quite rational. Why would you want to go through the gems of the copywriter's thoughts that they courageously mined in the depths of their mind? Who needs the majestic piles of sentimental turns of speech in their email? This can be even considered as the authors stealing one of our most valuable resources — time.
Wasting someone's time is one of the deadly sins of this millennium.
This is where we should rephrase the principle: let's forget about "less text means better text" and say "less IRRELEVANT text means better text" instead. What would change if I omitted the mining metaphor and wrote "Why would you want to read a ton of text"? Actually, almost nothing, except it would be easier for you to read the article. See, there's time and place for such phrase-mongering. There is, however, a key factor…
It is the context that defines the length of your email. Apple's signature style with one-word sentences like "Apps. Discovered." doesn't work for everybody. It all depends on the target audience, your client's style and tone-of-voice, and the goals you have.
I don't really support this principle [less text means better text], but it always depends on your business model and the goals you're trying to achieve with your emails. Remember to make the information you send useful.
While writing the text for an email, you need to look at the content from the perspective of UX design. At first, the user's attention is drawn to the text on visual anchors: titles, subtitles, banners, icons. Then they go to the body of the text. This skeleton definitely influences the number of characters, but it doesn't mean that you should go to extremes by abridging your text drastically or composing another "Forsyte Saga" or "War and Peace".
Look at the text from the reader's perspective and keep your goals in mind. Don't be afraid to be verbose, as you can always get rid of unnecessary details, but try not to get carried away. The main role of an email copy is to communicate information and the way of doing it depends upon context.
How Difficult Is It To Build Dark Mode Emails?
For some software developers, optimizing emails for dark mode has become a part of their routine. Remember how many memes there were about the blinding light mode on Discord?
What about email? Here you can also take care of people's comfort: give them an option to read an email in the evening without going blind from the projector-like light coming from the screen. A couple of years ago, in 2019 or 2020, many a sender found this to be a problem. Nowadays, anyone who designs an email needs to understand how it will look when opened on different devices, different email providers, and in different modes.
It's obvious that not all brands are ready to spend money and time redesigning old triggers. However, new communications follow the current standards, even though they're more light mode oriented in terms of content.
Wait, if optimizing emails for dark mode is clearly a no-brainer, then why are we still discussing it? The answer is right here.
The thing is, such features need to be integrated almost effortlessly, by adding a line of code or even pressing a button. That's not a thing yet.
People won't bother with optimizing emails for dark mode too much until there's a simple way to set it up in a popular app like Figma. For now, it's more of an option that requires going an extra mile.
Make sure that your email logo has a backdrop, a shadow, something for it not to be lost in the dark background. As for email builders, some of them support any CSS you use, but most of them just don't have this functionality yet.
Unfortunately, even if you really want to make people's life easier, you're bound to face limitations that you can't break. Things like this happen, but don't let it stop you!
Will Mobile Devices Replace Desktop Solutions?
Ever since the pandemic started, this question has been brought up more often. People have been spending more time on their mobile devices — after all, it's not really practical to drag a desktop computer around the house. Logically enough, a question emerged: "Maybe it's time for the desktop to retire?"
Once again, it's not that simple. One thing we can be sure of is that the number of opens on mobile devices will continue to grow.
No one's gonna wake up in the morning and boot up their PC to just check the inbox, it's easier to do on your mobile device. It's an everyday habit. You wake up in the morning, cut off your alarm, and check your email.
Email marketing agencies will consider this habit while working on strategies. Smartphones have been a part of our life for a long time now. The market is aware of this and they're quite eager to use this fact. The world is changing and we are changing with it. Still, the growing number of mobile device users isn't enough for a global shift from desktop.
The interface of mobile devices needs to go further with AR (Augmented Reality). For example, Tesla managed to turn a smartphone into a car controller. You could say that the smartphone is the controller of our life.
Does this mean the days of the desktop are almost over?
Next week we will reflect on our interview series: the experts will share their thoughts on one of the most important metrics for a business. Can you tell which metric it is? You will find out soon. Maybe you saw some hints in the previous articles, so you might have guessed it already...