• The Next Five Years of UX

    by  • September 8, 2016 • New and Notable, UX • 0 Comments


    FSA image c. 1943


    I ran across this article in Forbes. I know, right? Since when has a money magazine ever cared about design thinking, about promoting user experience, about rethinking the way we do things?

    Since somebody figured out the cruel fact that if you don’t care about this stuff, you’re dead. Sure, depending on your cash flow you might be able to take a few years to bleed out while your engineers and developers spar with your market research people about what the users REALLY want. You might even have some UX people working for you. At my last cube job, I was in more than a few meetings where I was presented with a nearly-finished (and badly designed) product and instructed to “do some UX magic on it.” You got your bases covered. Except you don’t. You’re actually dead. You’re dead, but you don’t know it.

    In the coming years, user experience will need to be a central component of every product and service. UX maturity will be the hallmark of a successful company. The UX department will have an equal status with Marketing, Legal, “Creative,” and even C-level.

    And your company had better be ready. Or else.

    How do I know this? Forbes. Here’s their short article (with my italicized comments below):

    Currently, good UX design focuses on obvious navigation, uncluttered content and knowledge of your audience. But as technology advances, so does UX and UI. Below, 10 technology experts from Forbes Technology Council offer their insights on how these current best practices will change in the next few years, and what companies can do to prepare for the shift.

    1. Natural Language Processing (i.e., Chat Bots) Will Redefine Navigation 

    Currently we think about interface design from the perspective of discovery and action, using color, copy, placement and information architecture as our tools. We live in a static world where information and function is neatly organized, but NLP and things like Chat Bots change that. NLP redefines the discovery part of UX, allowing more focus on content and function over navigation. – Dmitry KoltunovALICE 

    Remember Ask Jeeves? The idea was ahead of its time. But now, we have enough cloud muscle to actually begin to use the free association way most of us think of things as a way to create context for things like searches.

    2. Voice Experiences Will Become More Pervasive 

    Having an Amazon Echo and a voice-enabled TV has taken me from being skeptical of voice interfaces to forming a new mindset about their natural intuitiveness and simplicity. Voice is now maturing in a way where it will become an unparalleled part of the user experience, and we will need to consider how we ‘design’ voice experiences more and more in the coming years. Start making and playing today. – David RajanGlobalLogic – Method 

    Siri is notorious for getting it wrong, and Google Lady is worse (I switched mine to British English, and I swear to god she sounds like she;s drunk). But with more learning based on context, e.g., your voice sounding different in a subway tunnel than in your office, this will only improve. Combined with NLP, this can make dealing with a computer much more like you see in Star Trek.

    3. Dramatic Shift Coming Based On The IoT *

    Over the last several years, UX and UI developers have had to pivot from a web-first to a mobile-first mindset. As a result, companies that have been conducting business for many years have had to redesign and reconfigure to meet the changing consumer landscape. Similarly, a dramatic shift in consumer behavior is happening towards the IoT, which will require UX and UI developers to pivot once again. – Scott Stiner, UM Technologies, LLC 

    *That’s the Internet of Things, Einstein. Brush up on your acronyms. LEAN is a dead term. There’s a story that when electric motors came out, you only had one per household. It had a spindle on its side and you brought different things to it. A meat grinder, or perhaps a mixer. Now we’re surrounded by so many task-specific motors that we’re not even aware of them.

    4. Data Views And Manipulation Will Change 

    In the next five years, personal customization of controls through gestures will affect UX and UI best practices. Each person will have a preferred way of looking at and manipulating data, and devices and sites will allow for that level of customization. I imagine in the future that a website will look different to people based on their preferred UX/UI elements for manipulating the same data. – Chris Kirby, Voices.com 

    Data visualization is about to have a renaissance. No more will we be relegated to static presentations; instead, it will be vivid, specific and endlessly manipulable.

    5. UX Is About To Fracture 

    We are in the early days of Amazon’s Echo, Google’s GOOGL +0.00%Soli, Facebook’s FB +1.03% bots and Microsoft’s MSFT +0.09% HoloLens. Each medium provides a wildly different UX for which best practices must be developed. This fracture in UX will be an order of magnitude larger than the mobile revolution. Companies that don’t build competencies now will face even harsher disruption than those that neglected mobile. – Nicholas ThompsonGrit 

    This is the big one. Industrial design will be a larger influence on UX than in the past, since its utilitarian underpinnings are all about context. There are different flavors of UX–– HFI, NN/g, Cooper–– but they all have something in common: the idea that no matter what, we must never design for ourselves.

    6. Depth And Detail To Focus On UX

    Increasingly, the UI as we know it will be commoditized and the depth and detail will be focused on the UX. Look at the UI-less innovation going on around Amazon Echo. It had 120 skills in January and more than 15,000 as of May 2016 — that’s incredible growth. Interface between human and enterprise software is always behind the consumer, but expect it to follow in this consumer trend shortly. – David McCannCLEAResult Inc 

    Yes, UX is a real thing. It’s not market research. It’s not graphic design. It’s not “creative.” It’s got solid underpinnings, a sound and flexible methodology, and tangible results. If the best UI is no UI, then the best UX is everything is UX.

    7. Real-Time Evidence Based UI Improvements

    The trend in the tech ecosystem is that we have the ability to generate and interpret huge swathes of data. The roles of the UX/UI groups will be to ensure they are tracking the correct data points and desired outcomes. Machine learning will then determine the patterns which lead to the most successful outcome. – Brian Chiou, Orbose 

    As I say, this stuff is measurable. At Nielsen Norman, they have an apocryphal story about a guy who went to the help desk and asked what they got the most calls about. He took a look at the thing, redesigned it and redeployed it, then did the analytics of how many fewer calls they received. He ran the numbers and found that the company would almost a million dollars over the course of a year from this single improvement. The C-levels loved that. NN/g always cackle when they mention the best part: this guy did all of this without permission. Instead of getting fired, the guy got a raise and more headcount.



    The UX voice crying in the wilderness, but glad that it's getting better all the time.


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