It’s a blast from the past to conjure up memories about the wave of breakthroughs that characterized a technological awakening in the ‘90s and early-2000s.

Picture those days of Nintendo 64 or Game Boy, Walkmans, VHS cassettes and even that Snake game on a Nokia brick phone.

The energy in the joystick was palpable. The combination of dynamic graphics with newfound data visualization in the screenplay was breathtaking. Being up close and personal with a screen was pure bliss. Eyes became glued with anticipation when those systems were powered up, whether it was SSX Tricky by Electronic Arts or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater by Activision. Sleek. Shiny. Astonishing.

It was once astonishing that such compact hardware could unleash an entire interactive world within it. Lightning-in-a-box. At the time, those systems epitomized sensory satisfaction. It wasn’t difficult to accept that – then – technology was surging into unprecedented territory. Although the allure would eventually fade, it was the beginning of a modern renaissance that would catapult the cultural fabric of society into a new era of “connectivity.”

The allure has spiraled mightily, as each day this idea of “connectivity” becomes more pronounced. Fast forward to the modernized cultural fabric of today’s world, where more than half of U.S. children (and climbing) have a smartphone. Screen time is bordering on egregious, a topic more closely dissected and elaborated on in a recent New York Times article by Matt Richtel.

Instant gratification and immediate accessibility, in a way, have replaced genuine curiosity. Emotional attachment to technological successes is rampant, and leaps forward are now expected regularly. The discrepancies in these two worlds are staggering, and the statistics are difficult to ignore. In every screen swipe, button tap and feed scrolling situation, ingenious interaction could be at a consumer’s fingertips. Brands can’t afford to let the opportunity slip.

Modern Gen X and Gen Y consumers are complex yet irreplaceably, uncompromisingly accustomed to being wired in. Although audiences adhere to a wide range of intricate user personas and behavioral differences, the idea of connected-ness is now a common denominator in the average consumer. Even when you’re asleep, you’re not totally tuned out. There’s a method to the madness.

A sound user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design strategy will command an enormous amount of consumer attention and add a jolt of firepower to complete “brand experience” that truly has to be memorable, and in a hurry. UI/UX strategies intend to supplement the concept of branding with usability and function to integrate products within the framework of a digital system. Brands that have succeeded in adapting to today’s era of “connectivity” are doing so with crisp UI/UX strategies that leverage key components of data visualization while playfully inviting users into a metaphorical circle of trust along the way. Let’s take a closer look.

Connecting the Dots of Culture & Companionship

From a digital perspective, the health and wellness space continues to surge promisingly in the face of adversity, despite the lingering implications of COVID-19 (now in-play with dreaded flu season). Consumers are scratching any itch to stay healthy, and so demand for interactive wellness services has remained gradual.

It presents a meaningful opportunity for brands fixed in the category to engage with interface features not only inspiring action, but also making the process of staying healthy less cumbersome. Many have shone through with storytelling philosophies that encourage mindfulness and offer support on a lifelong journey to prosperity. Walgreens is a veteran in the category that’s made lemonade out of lemons during the lockdown and hit its stride on a dynamic, reliable UI/UX strategy with its mobile application.

The app summarizes patient information on a structured, gridded homepage including (but not limited to) personalized services like coupons, curbside/drive-thru pickup scheduling and the Balance® Rewards program. A tab in the footer leads users to other relevant categories like Prescriptions, Find Care and Shop with smooth iconography that doesn’t interrupt flow. All in all, a pleasant user experience that guides users on an important journey and avoids the divide of cognitive friction.

The Walgreens mobile app summarizes patient information on a structured, gridded homepage. A tab in the footer leads users to other relevant categories with smooth iconography.

Another force in the health category is San Diego-based Dexcom Inc., which continues to make noise and defy the odds with a vibrant UI/UX strategy on its Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems for Type 1 diabetics. Dexcom is the authority and market leader in diabetes technology, and the brand’s CGMs serve as a diabetes management tool for diabetics to track blood sugar levels and visualize “swings” in glucose trends through comprehensive flow charts depicting data. These data intervals can be juggled by users in a readable format on desktop or mobile interfaces, and the system will notify a user when blood sugars run too high or too low. For diabetics, knowledge is power. The UI/UX mastery of Dexcom’s CGMs has added a formidable dimension to diabetes management practices.

Brands like Walgreens and Dexcom are proof that, despite setbacks from the lockdown, the health and wellness space is burgeoning digitally and will continue to reinvent itself in the days ahead. Watch the health category climb because of a plethora of tech-driven brands that support consumers on a journey to well-being.

Championing Advantageous Data Visualization

Super Bowl LV looms, and the steady legalization of sports betting across the U.S. bodes well for several competing sportsbook operators clawing for market share in a cluttered category – both this upcoming Sunday and beyond. It’s a tremendous reminder that the ascension of interactive gaming keeps soaring to new heights by the year.

Especially the $18.6 billion fantasy football market, which has risen meteorically to the tune of almost 60 million participants amassed throughout North America alone. Let that sink in. The smart purveyors of fantasy football like ESPN realize the captive audience it has who, for the most part, will be locked in from season-to-season on the same platform (guilty as charged).

The interface experience for ESPN and other similar fantasy football platforms capitalizes on helping with the brand visibility angle, where these networks can either promote upcoming broadcasted events or attract advertisers with rotating banner ads on a player’s roster page. This UI/UX strategy pivots on the Law of Similarity, where the human eye tends to perceive the rectangular shape of those banner ads as similar to the line-by-line player selections on a roster. Eyeballs are drawn into the advertising, exactly as the UI/UX strategy intends to accomplish.

The interface experience on ESPN’s fantasy football mobile app can either promote the network’s upcoming broadcasted events or attract advertisers with rotating banner ads on a player’s roster page.

The fantasy performance this past season ended up being miserable other than the Stefon Diggs Show. Nevertheless, fantasy football platforms have adopted a grid system interface format meant to structure content into a symmetrical user experience that translates favorably on multiple types of devices with different screen sizes. Beyond a user’s roster configuration, the grid system is also applied to the news stream and waiver wire bidding functionality.

Within the framework of ESPN’s user experience on its fantasy football app, data visualization takes center stage. Player statistics are a main factor in evaluating personnel decisions, so ESPN accentuates a partnership with IBM Watson® Analytics to dissect player trends, project player performance, and use artificial intelligence to “turn unstructured data into valuable insights” for a fantasy team.

As the market for fantasy sports (and fantasy football in particular) continues to flourish, it’ll be interesting to see how platforms invest in their respective user experiences and maintain fresh strategies linking raw information with a calculated approach to visualization.

Statistics in a Snapshot

A cultural appetite for minute-by-minute financial data will never go out of style. That’s why it’s no surprise that “enhancing consumer experiences” and “analytics leadership” have been highlighted as key drivers of the financial services ecosystem’s digital transformation. In other words, this digital resurgence involves crunching numbers and painting a crystal-clear picture of financial statistics so that consumers can opt for educated money decisions based on data transparency.

With its mobile application, Charles Schwab feeds into the analytics frenzy and also demonstrates the appeal of data visualization that can be not only palatable but also energetic. Similar to how the Dexcom CGM system compiles chunks of data and articulates that data with clarity, Charles Schwab facilitates a seamless UI/UX experience with its mobile app where users can effortlessly absorb flow charts on brand investment trends and market summaries. Like Walgreens, Schwab also integrates delicate icon placement in the bottom footer with categories that promote crystal-clear functionality and direction within the app’s user experience.

Charles Schwab facilitates a seamless UI/UX experience with its mobile app where users can effortlessly absorb flow charts on brand investment trends and market summaries.

While dips and peaks of the stock market can figuratively be a roller-coaster, the agile design of Schwab’s mobile app interface attempts to settle the score with a grounded user experience that’s laser-focused on channeling timely data with a layer of purpose and conviction. The result is a digestible information funnel that doesn’t overwhelm.

Conclusion

Yes, the world continues to spin and saturate with an unprecedented aura of “connectivity.” Devices set the tone for rhythm in everyday life, while the volume and permanence of screen time remains stifling for all kinds of audiences but especially youth. A superfluous stream of online noise and competing messaging signals that consumer conversion and retention are incredibly elusive propositions.

But consumers are undoubtedly wired in for the long haul. And brands are pressed to wrangle the implications of this digitalization. Make no mistake that a polished UI/UX strategy is proving to weigh heavily as an enormous competitive advantage for brands vying to accentuate products or services with finesse and draw consumers into an exceptional brand experience.

A harmonized brand ecosystem can often be attributed to a slick UI/UX strategy defined by crisp presentation of content and intuitive data visualization that really clicks with consumers. It’ll be an instrumental factor in brand execution when orchestrating a prolific, engaging user experience to complement this explosion in “connectivity” from beginning to end.