3 New Realities About Interacting with Digital Users in 2021

To help businesses make sense of the changes over the last year, we’ve compiled our top tips for the future of UX Design and how to interact with digital users in 2021.

Perhaps more than ever before, digital experiences defined our lives in 2020. Without much warning, our jobs, schools, entertainment, shopping, social lives and more suddenly took up residence in our living spaces — leading many of us to rethink how technology can help us stay safe (and sane).

In 2021, digital users will need flexibility and support to adapt to changing circumstances and protect what matters most to them. Some users will be ready reclaim their freedom as soon as lockdowns loosen; others will double down on measures to keep themselves safe. To help businesses navigate these changing attitudes, we’ve broken down the 3 new realities about interacting with digital users in the coming year.

1. Audiences are getting even more diverse

When social distancing interrupted the physical world, digital experiences became crucial for users from all walks of life. As a result, users who were once hesitant to embrace technology have found themselves using new digital tools to connect with the people and things they love most.

In the coming year, businesses must consider how they attract, engage, monetize and retain these new, diverse audiences. Take note of how these new users find and interact with your products — is it different than what you expected? The same?

To ensure that digital natives and recent adopters alike have the same great experience, you may need to incorporate product features like:

  • Additional support touchpoints, such as floating chatbots
  • Clearer on-page navigation, such as anchored toolbars
  • Shortcuts to accelerate the user journey, such as one-click ordering

Ultimately, digital experiences have always been about the users; the difference now is that these users span a wide variety of needs and comfort levels in our new digital-first world.

2. Digitization is more mission-critical than ever

If one thing is certain this year, it’s that digital experiences are here to stay. With many users unable or unwilling to venture into the physical world in 2021, businesses no longer have a choice to embrace digitization if they want to stay competitive.

To be certain, some things will always need to be done the old-fashioned way (you can’t recreate the full restaurant experience from home). However, it’s possible to augment offline experiences with digital support like:

  • Online reservations and ordering
  • Virtual content (live and on-demand)
  • Contactless mobile payments

Now is the chance to examine your products and services and develop integrated, digitally-driven ways to delight customers — or risk being left behind.

3. Consumer journeys are even harder to predict

With more diverse audiences comes more diverse digital journeys. Today’s users have more digital devices at their disposal than ever before — and they depend on frictionless digital experiences to help them stay safe and get the job done.

Businesses will need to be conscious of these fragmented user journeys in 2021, supporting users as they seamlessly switch which from device to device. For example, a user could build their grocery list with Alexa, review that list on their phone and place their grocery order using their computer. In contrast, some users might complete the entire purchase with their Alexa device, while others will venture into the physical store to complete their purchase.

We know it’s difficult to predict every possible user journey; the key is to give users the flexibility to craft an experience that works best for them by offering seamless, integrated products across multiple devices (phones, computers, voice assistants, smart TVs, etc.).

The new normal

Much of what we’ve learned from 2020 simply emphasized what we already knew about the future of digital experiences:

  • More users are engaging in digital experiences
  • More devices are joining the digital journey
  • More experiences can be enhanced with digital products

As you navigate the challenges and opportunities of the upcoming year, keep your eye on the prize: delivering consistent, compelling digital experiences that help users achieve their goals as easily (and safely) as possible. You can learn more about our thoughts on collaborative design in a remote world here. Want to discuss how you can build your next great digital product? Our sales team would love to hear from you.