Predictions for 2013

We are progressing, moving forward with responsive design and user-centric planning. We have survived pop-up ads, splash pages, flash designs, animated gifs and yes...even Geocities.   We have moved past buzzwords like Web 2.0, synergy, and things that "pop"*. 

My predictions for hot topics in 2013 focus on improving patterns and UX to discover better, bigger worlds of engaging our users.

  1. Responsive sites get better. It's no longer good enough that a site scales to fit a multitude of devices. The possibilites available for touch and other mobile functionality and the challenges of  limited bandwidth and large assets (e.g. images) get put under the microscope as responsive design evolves into more than "how a website looks".
  2. Forms start to become simpler or disappear altogether. As email usage decreases, companies are forced to find alternative means to compel their customers to engage. Examples include Tweeting for customer support, offering an SMS option to mobile users instead of filling out a form, or the outsourcing of customer support to allow for 24/7 phone support.
  3. The home page becomes less important. Maybe this stems from my frustration with clients obsessing over the home page instead of conversion points, but I'm predicting that the home page starts to lose influence and traffic. With side doors ushering in visitors from social media and search engines, it becomes important to spend more time carefully crafting the first impression experienced on popular landing pages. Relevant articles and product pages require careful design and strategy in addition to careful event tracking through Analytics.
  4. Pop-ups go out of style. In their advent, it was hard to find any case studies that contradicted the idea that these (extremely annoying) auto-opening overlay boxes increased conversions, like newsletter sign-ups, account set-up, or social media pushing. But as users grow used to them, they also grow more annoyed how pop-ups obstruct content and push for intrusive actions.
  5. New devices with new design considerations enter the market. Maybe it's the rise of affordable SmartTVs, smart watches, car dashboards, or flexible displays, but I'm guessing 2013 will see new progress in hardware and technology that requires a re-evaluation of what we know about interface design. Just when you thought you learned everything you knew about UX...