User Experience Design Trends to Watch in 2016


“Experience” might qualify as the most influential buzzword of 2015—especially when modified by “user” and “customer.”

That’s a good thing. The most forward-thinking companies were focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience all along, of course, but now the rest of the business world has caught on to the importance of that practice.

Similarly, providing an excellent user experience was always the point of great design, but now more companies recognize the critical role UX plays in delivering products and services, driving company growth, and advancing innovation.

So what’s next for UX? As one year draws to a close and another begins, it’s a good time to reflect on questions like that. So here are 3 design trends to watch in 2016.


1. Designing beyond apps and screens

Apps and the development of other new ways to deliver interactions via screens have become a staple over the past few years, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. But driven in part by consumer demand from increasingly tech-savvy users, designers are already starting to think past apps and screens. In 2016 and beyond, post-app and post-screen design will become more prominent.

Technologies like wearables and advances in artificial intelligence signify new ways to interact, and as technology becomes more consumerized—both in real life and as the subject of entertainment (e.g., The Minority Report and Her)—the cycle between a groundbreaking concept and a marketable product will grow shorter.


2. Simplifying the already simple

Bringing new ideas from insight to action entails overcoming many obstacles. Often a user’s adoption of your product depends significantly on their ability to instantly recognize value. In a world where the most popular websites and apps have an incredible amount of complexity, yet shockingly simple user interaction, continuing to simplify is no longer a differentiation, it’s a necessity.


3. Design as a core skill

In a fundamental sense, everyone is a born designer. Early humans had to design a way to survive in a changing, challenging environment, and the history of humankind ever since has been a story of more complex design leading to innovation.

In the Design 2.0 world, businesses will increasingly recognize the centrality of design to the enterprise and treat it as a core skill. Design competency makes people better thinkers, facilitators, and storytellers. In the coming years, more enterprises will put a premium on design skills, and HR organizations will start to offer design training to employees across all business categories, much as presentation skills classes are typically accessible to all.


If there’s one common element in these 3 trends, it’s an acknowledgement of the centrality of design to both great UX and delivery of an excellent customer experience.

In 2016 and beyond, users will increasingly complete interactions without apps and screens, innovation will be advanced by more effective storytelling, and more people will recognize the need for basic design skills, no matter what their role is in the enterprise.

In many ways, that future is already here. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a UX designer.

The Top 5 Not So Common Things to Look for in a Web Host


Choosing the right web host for your online business can take a lot research.  Not knowing where to start can cause you to spend hours online looking for the right solution.  Options are plenty and most likely there is a web host that is perfect for what you need.

If you are just starting your first blog than the cheapest option with the best support may suit you.  If you are planning to build an online store or a membership website you may want to choose the web host with the best reputation for up-time.

Here are a few common things people look for in their web host:

  • The server up-time record – How reliable are they?  How much downtime have websites on their server incurred over the past 30, 90, 365 days etc.?
  • Quality of Support – Is there a real person available 24/7?  Are they enthusiastic on the phone and eager to help?  Do they have videos, articles and downloads to help with common issues?
  • Price – How does this company’s plan compare to others offering the same space and bandwidth?  Is their renewal rate become really high after the introductory term is over?
  • Reputation – What are people saying on message boards on sites like  What about the people that you know that have web sites?  What are their experiences with other web hosting providers?
  • Features – Do they offer anything extra like email accounts, ftp access, free backups etc.?

Those are good starting points to look at for comparison but most web hosts around are strong in those five areas, especially the most popular ones.

But I want to dig a little deeper.  In this report you are going to discover my not so common things to look for when choosing a web host that you may not have previously considered:


1. E-Commerce Capability

If you are looking to build an online store, two things need to be true about your web hosting environment.

1) An IP address with a secure connection so that your customers’ credit card information is safe (your web host should provide SSL certificates to resolve this) and

2) The ability to easily install a comprehensive shopping cart solution like OpenCart or Magento.

It is now standard for web hosting providers to provide one-click installation of dozens of apps for you to install to your server to create an e-commerce website with.


2. Scalability

How much traffic do you plan on getting every month three years from now?  Will you be storing a lot of files on your server in the future but you haven’t gotten to that point yet?  Will you want to one day be able to start a web site backup business or build an online app?

Your web host should offer the flexibility to upgrade to different levels of service to fit your data needs.  The last thing you’d want is to have to migrate your website or websites to another web host because your current one doesn’t offer more than a shared hosting environment.


3. Domain Parking

There is a lot of money still to be made in buying and selling domains.  They are cheap to buy if not already owned and all you need is a web host that you can “park” them at.  It is quite common for web hosts to allow the parking of 10. 50 and even unlimited domains.

On the other hand there are some out there that will only allow one domain so be mindful and check and see how many domains you are allowed to park.  Domains kept parked are money in the bank!


4. Environmental Friendliness

According to a study, the average server uses 1000 kWh of energy, producing over 632kg of CO2 per year!  That sounds crazy!  If you are like me, the thought of being a part of that much damage being done to the environment would make my stomach turn.

Fortunately, there are a lot of web hosting companies (like Alavon Hosting) that offer Greener environmentally friendly solutions., a company out of southern California is one of the few truly green data centers in the US.  Their facilities are solar, air and wind powered!


5. Transparency

As I mentioned in the article about ‘Web Hosting and Domain Basics’ , ‘unlimited’ disk space is never really unlimited.  If you narrowed your search down to two companies but Company A doesn’t offer unlimited hosting and Company B does.  With all of the image and music sharing sites that allow you to store your assets for free (Soundcloud, YouTube and Picasa for example), you may never even come close to any limits to your disk space.

I personally would give Company A the edge because of its transparency.  I’ve had websites go down because I went over the unlimited bandwidth limit!  It wasn’t until I read the terms of service that I found out that my usage was limited to ‘reasonable’ activity.

Once you’ve narrowed your list of web hosts down to a couple, you may want to read over their ToS just to see what fine print may have been missing from their advertisements!!!

Machine Learning & Why it’s Important


Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data.

So, machine learning is the science of getting computers to act “without being explicitly programmed”. But there is still a lot of programming behind getting computers to program themselves. Computers and their applications are being designed for change and adaptability. Programmers want their applications to respond to more than just intentional input.

Applications should be able to respond to external stimuli, big data, crowdsourced social activity, and a legion of other sources. What are some applications of machine learning? Machine learning is showing up in more areas than we might realize.


Machine Learning Around Us

Right now, on a roadway somewhere, a self-driving car is making right-hand turns (using its signal), braking (gently), and pausing for pedestrians (considerately).

The self-driving car is a prime example of machine learning put into motion, literally.

The self-driving car is heavily programmed, but not by itself. A small army of very intelligent people have spent a long time creating virtual reality maps, developing vehicular adaptations, and forming a new industry in order to help the car drive safely and reliably.

Yet, at the same time, the car does program itself.

The job of the [car’s] software is to figure out how the world is different from that expectation.

As the car figures it out, it adapts.


Machine Learning on Websites We Use

But machine learning isn’t usually as sexy as most of its applications. Right now, in a Facebook newsfeed near you, machine learning is controlling what you do, see, and interact with.

During Facebook’s tumultuous 2011, they switched from an algorithm called EdgeRank to a more complicated one. The machine learning of Facebook’s advanced newsfeed algorithm tries to individualize your Facebook experience based on what it thinks you want. You teach it with every linger, look, click, query, and interaction that you perform.

Here’s how Time explains it:

To ensure that those 300 posts are more interesting than all the rest, Facebook says it uses thousands of factors to determine what shows up in any individual user’s feed. The biggest influences are pretty obvious. How close you are to a person is an increasingly important metric, as judged by how often you like their posts, write on their Timeline, click through their photos or talk with them on Messenger, Facebook’s chat service. The post-type is also a big factor, as Facebook hopes to show more links to people who click lots of links, more videos to people who watch lots of videos and so forth. The algorithm also assumes that content that has attracted a lot of engagement has wide appeal and will place it in more people’s feeds.

When you clicked on Joe’s picture, or searched for “Joe B—” in your search bar, the machine-learning algorithm picked up on it. Tomorrow morning, when you open up Facebook on your phone, guess who’s updated profile picture will top your newsfeed?


It’s not quite that starkly cause-and-effect, but the principle remains true. Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm operates on machine learning.


Machine Learning in SEO

Machine learning is expanding everywhere. Although Google’s machine learning is focused on search improvement, they also advance machine learning in a whole breadth of applications. To say that machine learning is changing SEO is a bit anachronistic. Why?

Because machine learning is already a major part of SEO.

In fact, it has been for a long time.

Right now, however, it’s growing in importance.