Commentary on the “Top 6 Predictions for Service Design in 2016”

Erik Flowers wrote a great article, “Top 6 Predictions for Service Design in 2016.” I believe it’s spot-on and wanted to add some of my commentary. Of course I couldn’t help myself so I decided to append a seventh prediction.


“Prediction 2. Touchpoint design will not be enough to differentiate”

Agreed. Users expect a good experience in a touchpoint. Users' experiences with interfaces and touchpoints are a commodity. Good design is the baseline and because good design is often invisible this reinforces the notion that touchpoint design will not be enough to differentiate. Especially as platforms have matured and design trends have (temporarily) homogenized.

“Prediction 3: Holistic experiences require holistic organizations.”

As designers in ever changing field whose role as yet to solidify we tend to be consultants whether we’re working in-house or at an agency. In order to be effective our UX departments and teams will need to better help organizations design a culture that can provide an innovative experience. Companies will need to learn how to collaborate and utilize user insight across the business traditional silos.

Cross-functional teams and cogeneration with stakeholders and users will gain in popularity as we realize good experiences can’t be driven from one stakeholder. Having strategy driven by and filtered from a single person leads to an experience that can’t hold the weight of reality. Often this person is in role of “stakeholder,” not because of their expertise in delivering services, but because they hold the budget for the work.

The responsibility of creating workshops and collaborative frameworks for alignment and elicitation will keep gaining in popularity. Perhaps even a new UX role will emerge to take on this responsibility. Perhaps the rebirth of the IxDS vs IxDG roles or just the continued growth of the ambiguous Strategist title. E.g. [Product/Experience/Customer/Digital/Noun] Strategist. Perhaps the industry will keep it simple by just absorbing the responsibility into existing titles.

My Prediction for 2016: Designing with Behavioral Insights

I see another prediction for 2016. A focus on a deeper understanding of behavior. Our common qualitative methods such as interviews and usability studies are not providing as many actionable insights as they used to because experiences and the related technology are more complex than ever. We need to go beyond just measuring efficiencies, confusion, and gathering attitudes. Contextual inquiry and ethnography will continue to gain in popularity as design teams hit barriers with light weight methods.

Hopefully secondary research from HCI, behavioral economics, and cognitive science will influence more of our work. Perhaps even leading to more collaboration with these experts.

Innovative services will need to provide more than just simple utility and access to information. Enabling a user to navigate complex choices will become a key issue. Our field will need to acknowledge that a person's capability for making rational and optimal decisions without expending an abundance of cognitive energy is not being addressed in most experiences. Design need to go beyond collecting all choices and just layering on tools like filtering, searching, and comparing.

We are moving beyond just utility into immersive and invisible experiences. Systems are meant to help people make decisions based on complex data. We need to utilize technology and design to help extend our capabilities not just to provide access to information. I hope to start seeing more application of choice architecture, behavioral insights, intelligent (utilizing analytics and behavioral insights) filtering methods, and/or artificial intelligence.

I’m looking forward to seeing our industry continue to evolve and innovate in 2016.

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