design - digital marketing - web design

Our Top UX Design Trends for 2023 and Beyond

Over the last few years brands have seen a growing emphasis on user experience, or UX,  design. As technology continues to advance, audiences continue to expect the companies they interact with to provide smart, seamless, and satisfying digital experiences. And that’s what good UX does.

It puts a user’s needs at the centre of the design and development process – whether it’s for an app, website, piece of software, or otherwise. It’s empathy in action. And while there’s been no shortage of headway made to make brand interactions as smooth, efficient, and pleasing as possible, here are our top picks to watch out for this year and beyond.

The pursuit of personalization

Did Spotify introduce you to your new favourite band? Did LinkedIn find you your latest job? That’s the power of personalization, and it’s no secret that the machines are getting to know us better than we know ourselves.

Beyond creating a more delightful, more convenient user experience, personalization sends a clear message to your target audience that you:

  • value and prioritize them; and 
  • care enough to understand them.

Personalized experiences are expected to be table stakes within the next few years. In other words, if you’re not designing your digital solutions to align with your users’ needs, preferences,  behaviors, and location – to name a few – your customer engagement and retention will likely suffer.

What’s more, as companies continue to harness first-party data, the goal won’t just be engagement or satisfaction. The role of personalization will increasingly be aimed at creating deeper, more meaningful, more emotional user experiences. 

Cross-device personalization

It’s also important to remember that people are constantly switching between their desktops, tablets, smartphones, TVs, and even watches to consume content. Looking forward, UX designers and digital teams will need to pay special attention to how personalization unfolds across multiple devices – in addition to base considerations for a multi-device strategy.

UX and AI – an acronymic match?

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has birthed a number of disruptive tools, and contrary to what you might think, they’re not just for the inexperienced; any professional can (and might be expected to) adopt these emerging technologies in some capacity to help create content, wireframes, design elements, and more.

If nothing else, we can expect to see a stride toward productivity gains, with AI automating some of the more tedious aspects of UX design like research. In theory, this will free up designers to focus more of their energy on soft skills and big thinking.

AI isn’t going anywhere; it’s about how we embrace it while getting better at the things it can’t do. What’s really interesting is how it will affect SEO. While it’s too early to know for sure, the issue’s definitely under examination.

Chatbots are getting smarter

It’s also worth nothing that the chatbot revolution is here. This year is already seeing more bots integrated into apps, platforms, and websites than ever before, as brands strive to fine-tune their customer service with a humanlike approach.

Many of these bots will be powered by AI or machine learning and equipped to solve challenges quickly and effectively and with a strong command of language. The technology behind these large language models is impressive, with use cases extending well beyond customer support.

Minimalism with micro-interactions

Remember when the like button on Facebook blew your mind? That’s a prime example of an early microinteraction. Since, UX designers have continued to push the envelope by adding a little dynamism to otherwise static web environments. Some examples include:

  • gamified animations;
  • progress indicator bars;
  • horizontal scroll buttons;
  • page transitions; and
  • hover reveals.

The list goes on, but the key is to be selective and purposeful. Users appreciate the detail, but they don’t like being bombarded. That’s why the marriage of microinteractions with minimalistic design is such a winning combination.

That’s not to say there’s no room for surprise and delight; in fact, with microinteractions becoming the standard moving forward, it’ll be increasingly important for UX designers to get creative to stand out.

Don’t believe everything you read

Hot tip: don’t forget that what’s true of most users isn’t true of all. Some sources claim that Gen Z, for example, is trending more toward maximalism over minimalism, trading white space for overstimulating design that screams a sense of identity and individualism. It’s a reminder to be mindful of your audience.

Let’s put your users first

Moving forward, user experience design will continue to play a critical role in how organizations build meaningful relationships with their audiences. It’s vital to stay on top of and adopt the latest trends and best practices, or you’ll run the risk of abandonment.

Personalization, artificial intelligence, and microinteractions are but a few baselines brands should integrate into their approach to UX design. At Alphabet®, we consider the whole gamut to keep our clients’ audiences at the forefront of every experience we create.

Ready to talk UX? We’re ready to help. Contact us today.


awards & events

Who has a Google Partnership? This Agency!

After nearly a year of blood, sweat and tears—well, maybe not the blood part—Alphabet® has achieved Google Partner status! While we’re taking a millisecond to bask in the warm glow of our achievement, you might wonder: what’s the fuss, and what is the Google Partners Program?

The Google Partners program recognizes advertisers and agencies that have accomplished goals in three categories:

  1. Google Ads certification
  2. Ad spend threshold
  3. Demonstrated client and company growth

This means our skilled staff is certified with Google Ads, we’ve run plenty of campaigns through Google’s services, and have proven growth for clients and ourselves.

We’re just getting started! Now that we’re a Google Partner we’ll have access to a slew of learning resources that will help us to further build our knowledge base. We’re also working on a number of specializations which will allow us to continue improving our client services.

Knowing our learning efforts can improve services for our clients is reason enough to celebrate. If you need assistance with your next campaign, please do not hesitate to reach out to your new trusted Google Partner.


web design

Launching Your Next Digital Project Successfully: A Checklist

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to be a part of numerous launches online, each with varying levels of success. To be honest, I’ve lived through some fairly rocky launches, only to learn from these missteps and improve the process that we continue to use regularly at Alphabet®.

Nobody wants to stumble out of the gate while everyone is watching. People and projects will always change, but if you have a solid launch process in place, you are setting up all parties involved for success. Follow this checklist to ensure that your next project’s launch is a success.

Website Launch Checklist

Task Assigned to Status
Code and content freeze    
Website testing completed (Desktop, Tablet, Mobile)    
Ensure accessibility standards have been met    
Roll out website on the live hosting environment    
Google Tag Manager installed and Google Analytics firing    
Set up filters in GA to exclude traffic from the IP(s) of your office    
Ensure event and goal tracking are functioning    
Implement 301 Redirects on live environment    
Update Google Webmaster Tools (submit new sitemap.xml)    
Vanity URLs configured    
Monitor all broken links (404 Monitoring)    
Verify Page Speed numbers    
Ensure social share images are configured    
Check Favicon    
Ensure your website is secure and includes an SSL certificate    
Test that all web forms are working    
Configure monitoring software    
Ensure backup scripts are working    
Notify key stakeholders of launch    
2-3 days later, launch campaign    

Download the Website Launch Checklist as a PDF.

This checklist has evolved over time, and we will continue to do so as we grow as a digital agency. We also have few unofficial commandments to follow when it comes to launching a new website.

Never Launch a Project on a Thursday or Friday

After all the testing, revisions and client sign-offs are complete, at some point you will have to launch your project. Once launched, something will need to be changed or updated — it always happens. Launching on a Monday or Tuesday shows that you are being proactive and allowing everyone ample time to further fine-tune or to tweak as needed. It also lets everyone leave on Friday stress-free to enjoy their much needed weekend.

Never Launch a New Website and Campaign on the Same Day

I have a little story I’d like to share about how this rule came to be. Cast your mind back. Remember when you could game search engine rankings? (Sorry Google, but we all did it.) Or when, Ask Jeeves or eBaum’s World had a strong online following? I can remember like it was yesterday, it was right around this time however that we launched a branded flash game for one of our clients. Yes, I’m sorry Internet, but Flash was a thing, and people loved playing flash games back then.

So we had built a new Flash website, and we all hurried in early Monday morning to get it launched. We had anticipated a massive influx of traffic onto our servers, but nothing like what was about to happen. Once the website was live we shared it with our friends, and their friends shared it with their friends,  and the cycle continued.

We were now on the verge of “going viral” before that became a popular buzzword.

At this time, however, it was not as easy to fire up additional servers with a few clicks of the mouse to deal with heavy traffic. Then, at 10:00 AM our homepage takeover dropped, followed by an eblast to our client’s list that was 100,000 strong. Our servers were already overloaded and we had just invited tens of thousands of people to visit the site. Our excitement from the launch was quickly turning into dread — how much could our site take before things started to go sideways?

And of course, the inevitable happened. The first page errored out for a user and then another. A few minutes later we had tapped out all of our server’s resources. We were lucky we avoided any prolonged outages but we did go offline for multiple hours on a launch day. Needless to say, it wasn’t an ideal website launch.

Luckily with Amazon Web Services around these days, we don’t have to worry about massive swings in traffic as much. However, it’s always been a rule of mine to launch with plenty of time to gradually ramp things up because you never know what could happen. You really are only one retweet away from becoming an overnight success.

Launching your website should be easy, and hopefully, this helps.


digital marketing

New Google Ads Metrics For Ad Position

Google Ads are rolling out new metrics to help clarify positioning

Google will now be integrating four new ad metrics into Google Ads to help clarify the positioning of ads displayed in Google Search. The new ad metrics will be as follow; Impression (Absolute Top) % and Impression (Top) % and Search (Abs Top) IS and Search (Top) IS.

The main reasoning behind the change is that the old ad positioning metric did not show where your ad was actually positioned within the search results. Securing position one did not necessarily mean that you had secured the top of the page, rather just the first ad that appeared.

Why does this matter?

Previously Google used an average positioning metric and this has never really been a true indicator of where your ads are actually appearing within the search results page. With right rail ads being a thing of the past; there are now instances where the first set of ads actually appear at the bottom of the results page, below organic results. Hmmm suddenly, that top position may not be as attractive as before and it helps us explain any lower click-through rates that you may be seeing.

Here are the full definitions for the new metrics:

Impr. (Absolute Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.

Impr. (Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.

Search (Absolute Top) IS – the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

Search (Top) IS – the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

To summarize…

The two new Impression metrics are great indicators for page location of your ads. You can use these metrics to determine when and where your ad impressions are showing above the organic search results. This is starting to feel eerily similar to above and below the fold when it comes to web design.

If you are currently using average position to bid to a location on a page, Google now suggests using to use Search (Abs Top) IS and Search (Top) IS.



Some of Alphabet®’s Favourite Ads

We see dozens, if not hundreds of ads every day – and while some go by unnoticed, others stay with us for a long time as a source of inspiration. Working at a creative shop means keeping our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of advertising, and we thought we’d share some of our all-time favourite ads that have stuck with us.

Mark Round

“My all time favorite was this ad for EDS, a consulting firm. I’ll bet more than a few of you will relate to this if you deal with clients much.”

Tony Lyons

“I’m going old school on this one – it’s a one off, and a blast from my youth. Oooh the sexual tension! It was very risque for 1980’s Ireland. It goes to show what a huge role advertising plays in the cultural psyche. Ask anybody over 40 in Ireland to ‘put a but o butter on the spuds André’  and you’ll get a guffaw. But the ad was really a deeper reflection on a changing Irish society – less insular, more proud … and a maybe just a little bit naughty”.

And I had to also include one of my favourite taglines of all time.

Emily Watkin

“My favourite ad is called the Guilt Trip for V/Line by McMann Melbourne”

Regan Mathurin

“My favourite commercial isn’t one commercial but a series of them. To me, the Coca-Cola polar bears signify the start of the Christmas season. The polar bears have been around in print since 1922 and became tv commercials (and seasonal product branding) in 1993.”

Mike Short

“I’ve always been a fan of Buckley’s “It tastes awful. And it works.” campaign. What I like about this campaign is that they don’t use an actor or model, it’s the president of the company delivering the message. They don’t use flowery wording or imagery to talk about the product.

The tagline could have easily been “It tastes awful, but it works.” – but Buckley’s doesn’t apologize. They emphasize that the taste isn’t the important aspect of the product – the important part is that it works.”


social media

The Secret to Social

If you’ve come here to unlock the secret to effectively implementing and managing social campaigns, well… I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Because if there’s anything I’ve learned after 10+ years of community management and implementing social strategies for clients – it’s that there really isn’t a vault of secrets yearning to be opened. In a landscape that is constantly changing and evolving, the best tool in your social arsenal is good old fashioned common sense.

Content is King

Newsflash: Audiences don’t follow you on social media to be harassed with hard-sell messaging. Yes, of course you have product to sell – and yes, of course, the goal is to get your followers to buy it – but there’s a less intrusive, more engaging way to get your message across without hammering your audience over the head with ‘Buy Now’ buttons.

To truly engage your audience and keep them coming back for more, you need to deliver content that matters to them. Obviously, the type of content varies greatly depending on what your line of business is – but you should be thinking along the lines of video, infographics, whitepapers, photographs, and interactive elements that compliment your product and resonate with your audience.

Consistency + Focus

Never underestimate the value of consistency. The easiest way to stay top-of-mind with your audience is to bring them the information they want (or don’t know they want yet) on a regular basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean sharing every single day (and never post something for the sake of posting), but you should be looking at 2 – 3 times a week as a bare minimum.

Yes, it’s time consuming – anything worth doing effectively is. But every day you’re not speaking to your followers is a wasted opportunity to make that sales pitch.

My advice? Allocate some time each month to review your talking points, and implement an editorial calendar with dates and details. This, accompanied with the various scheduling features on social networks, will help alleviate the burden of deciding what you’ll talk about tomorrow and focus on the key messages that matter.

Pay to Play

If you’re apprehensive about spending money with Facebook, here’s a quick little fact: No matter the size of your audience, only 6% of them see your posts organically. So, for every 1,000 followers you have, only 60 of them are seeing your content – and that’s on your best day.

To truly get the most out of Facebook (and Instagram), you need to implement a social media budget. The budget doesn’t need to be excessive – and Facebook’s highly advanced targeting tools will ensure that you’re reaching the right people to maximize its effectiveness. $100 can be the difference between reaching 60 people and 10,000.

Listen. No, Really.

If you’re using social media simply to talk at your followers, do everyone a favour and quit right now.  Social media is not to be used as a megaphone pointed at your followers whenever you have something to say; it’s a powerful tool to be used to facilitate a dialogue and engage with them – it’s called social media for a reason.

Keep your ear to the ground about what your followers are saying about you and your brand – and use tools like Sprout Social and HooteSuite to monitor these conversations via keywords and hashtags. By actively listening, you can gain valuable insight into your brand’s public perception and what influences customers.

Extending Customer Service

Like it or not, your social platforms are viewed by customers as a direct line to air their grievances and ask questions – and they expect to be answered in an appropriate amount of time. Gone are the days of phone calls and emails – now, customers expect a reply to a tweet within minutes.

It’s absolutely paramount to check your accounts every single day so you don’t miss any opportunities. Ensure that your followers get their questions answered and their concerns addressed.



Inside the Studio

The creative team at Alphabet® took some time out from working their magic for clients for a little Q&A to give you a taste of what inspires and motivates them!

Meet Yang Li, Senior Art Designer; Christopher Chai, Graphic + Motion Designer; and Cindy Lagarde, Senior Production Artist.

What’s your favourite project you ever worked on and why?

Yang Li

“My favourite project was the House of Commons branding. The project is very complex and challenging, it had a lot of limitations and I had a lot to learn, at the same time, the client were open-minded and trusting of our opinions. I worked with a historian, illustrators and a photographer to create the core brand image. The research process was also very interesting which included consulting with the historian about the parliament architecture, going inside the bells and organs behind the peace tower, not to mentioned the privileged entries to the House of Commons Chamber to find inspirations. Most importantly, the new brand system will help the people who serves the core of our democracy on a day-to-day basis.”

Christopher Chai

“My favourite project that I’ve ever worked on was the “Unreal Museum” project, it is a virtual interactive museum built with Unreal Engine 4 and the LEAP motion gesture controller by a buddy and myself. We conceptualized the idea then carried out the production of the project within 2 weeks. We pushed ourselves to learn a multitude of new skills such as 3d modelling, texturing, and sound design. Those in combination with our design and user experience skills, we managed to built and showcase our interactive experience at Digifest 2016 hosted at the Corus Entertainment Centre in Toronto. It was a tough few weeks with little sleep, but in the end we were definitely proud of what we have managed to accomplish.”

Cindy Lagarde

“My favourite project to work on was the Fill-a-bus project through the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum.  It was a pro bono job to help less advantaged children in the National Capital Region learn about the importance of agriculture, science and nutrition. It was the first time I got to co-ordinate a project.”

Why did you choose design as a career path?

Yang Li

“In my last year of university, a team of us did a project called “healthy kids toolkit”. We created a online resource centre helping parents and teachers. I realized how design could really help solve problems for everyday people and make our society better. Starting that point, it was love at first sight, after 12 years in the industry, I still could not have imagined doing anything else. Everyday is different, every hour is a challenge, but it’s worth every minute of my time because I believe design help us communicate better which creates positive change.”

Christopher Chai

“I see design as a beautiful way of communicating an idea. Sometimes ideas aren’t meant for words and speech alone, and that’s when beautiful designs come into play. Effective and purposeful design can help emphasize communication and simplify an idea, so the opportunity to create eye-candy as a career path was too good not to follow.”

Cindy Lagarde

“When I was in high-school I didn’t have the grades to become a mad scientist – graphic design has a been very satisfying alternative.”

Why did you choose to work at Alphabet®?

Yang Li

“I choose to work here because I believe in the company and the people. I like that we are a smaller firm with a relaxed environment despite the large volume of work, people are always going the extra mile and really care about the projects. We all work together for a much bigger goal than ourselves, that synergy is the Alphabet® culture.”

Christopher Chai

“When I chose to move up to Ottawa, I had a few companies in mind to reach out to. Alphabet® Creative was my top choice when I was contacting places. I loved the company’s design aesthetics and when I started working here, it’s apparent where that comes from. Everyone here is fun, energetic, and full of creative ideas. There hasn’t been a day I haven’t looked forward to work. I’m excited to see what’s more to come!”

What’s your dream design project?

Yang Li

“Designing for an event with spectacular fireworks and light show broadcasted around the world…and I am not speaking of the Olympics or the Super Bowl.”

Christopher Chai

“My dream design project would to to incorporate interactive experiences and great design to form something truly immersive. Whether that be Virtual Reality or something more, I’ve always wanted to create an experience that people can be truly immersed in.”

Cindy Lagarde

“I think promoting the San Diego Comic-Con could be an awesome dream job.”