UX trends in 2022: Neil Metson

Neil Metson is an experienced UX leader, with over 15 years of experience working with small, medium and large businesses. Neil is currently leading UX operations at Play learning app, Lingokids as UX Director. 

As 2022 commenced, Neil spoke to Blu Digital to speak about the UX trends that he’s excited to see this year; explaining why there’s now a great opportunity for designers to create innovative VR experiences in 2022 and beyond. Find out how Lingokids are altering their in-house methodology for feedback purposes, and where his passion for UX originated from. 

Which UX trends are you excited to see in 2022? 

Meta's VR product, Oculus Quest 2, has brought Virtual Reality into the homes of millions this past year. Over 1m people logged into Rec Room (Meta's VR hangout space with games and social spaces) during the 2021 Christmas period. Designing in 3D is a totally different discipline compared to what your average Product Designer gets to work on day-to-day. There's a huge opportunity now for designers to create incredible, unique and innovative VR experiences. For example, in the early days of web, a user’s interaction with a website would be a mouse click, a rollover and some keyboard interaction. Mobile brought along tap, touch and gestures. VR technology brings three dimensions, spatial design, grabbing, throwing, swinging, punching, moving, dodging... you name it. Quite literally a whole new world of opportunity for interaction design.

Last year also saw Web3 coming to the fold, with crypto and NFT art sales reaching eyewatering sums. Web3 has a long way to go before hitting the mainstream, and overall, I believe it has a UX problem which is a large enough stumbling block for many. Try and purchase some NFT art today on a marketplace like Opensea and you’ll encounter a stack of obstacles... You'll need a wallet, some currency conversion process with THOUSANDS of currencies to choose from, complicated user addresses, complex transaction fees, complicated jargon...and so on. Crypto platforms are tremendously complicated for the average person and most commit the huge UX sin of not having well-designed onboarding processes. I'd love to see a user-centered, design-first crypto platform in 2022 that is intentionally designed for the average consumer.

What are you most passionate about in UX?

I chose to be a UX professional because I’m passionate about observing, speaking and interacting with users - real conversations with real people. At Lingokids, receiving feedback from young children is a joy and privilege and a real perk of the job. 

In the past couple of years, with lockdowns and remote working coming to the front and centre it's made UX that little bit harder. One thing I'm excited about is the opportunity to roll out some remote-first research practices, making use of some of the amazing tools on offer in today's UX landscape. At Lingokids, we're crafting our own in-house methodology to capture feedback and insights remotely from parents and children (aged 2-8) around our product and content. What’s the old saying about never working with children or animals?

What role do engaging animated stories and animated screen interactions play in the user experience?

Lingokids is quite unique in that our audience is very young; anything from 2-year-olds to 8 and above. We use animation and similar techniques to gently guide our children to ensure they have the best experience of our product and content. For example, a simple shuffle animation on an activity tile on our home screen is usually enough of a prompt to catch the child's eye and for them to interact with it. This means we can promote certain pieces of content in a natural, organic way.

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