Will The Rise of Conversational UIs Be The Downfall of Designers?

In a word, no.

But, let’s take a step back. For those of you that were busy living lives and doing your day job, you may have missed the recent excitement around new “conversational” user interfaces (UIs). These are basically interfaces that are often implemented across a simple textual interface (like SMS, Slack, email, chatbot, etc.). Or, they could also be a voice interface as evidenced in the Amazon Echo/Alexa.

Regardless, the idea is that you interface with a piece of technology in something that is more or less a “conversation” instead of typing things into web pages or screens.

So, back to the original question…

Will designers go through a downturn?

If these Conversational UIs really become the Next Big Thing, does that mean designers are going to be in less demand?

Personally, I don’t think so.

Great designers are not just valuable because they manifest solutions, but because they understand the problem more deeply than the rest of us.

Just because we move to a conversational UI doesn’t mean that designers become unnecessary. We still have to solve user issues and overcome the challenges in helping humans interact with technology. We still have to understand what’s going on in people’s heads, and observe them as they try to do whatever is they’re trying to do. And, designers (the good ones at least) have a knack for doing that more than most.

Having said that, as a command-line kind of developer myself, I’m excited about the prospects of being able to “get back to basics” and not have to become a front-end dev ninja to build these kinds of applications.

What do you think?