The Future of User Experience
Futuristic Highlights from UX Poland 2016
Last week, Warsaw was all about User Experience. Starting Monday until Thursday, at the Copernicus Science Center, almost 400 people took part in the 7th edition of UX Poland — which is one of the largest UX events in Europe.
During first two days, attendees took part in the series of Workshops held by the experts in the User Experience field from all around the world. I arrived at the Copernicus Science Center on Wednesday, when the second part of the conference has started — the Talks, this year, all about Responsibility in Design.
To begin with, I just wanted to mention that this article is going to cover only the parts of the conference that are focused around the future of User Experience, that I strongly believe are going to be a worldwide practice really soon.
The Uber of…
Let’s start with the opening keynote — Outsourced: The New Future of Your Life? — prepared by Kendra Shimmell, managing director of Cooper. During the very interesting and inspiring speech, she pointed out how some mobile apps successfully changed her everyday life.
Starting with Uber, she noticed that all the greatest minds in Silicon Valley are simply looking for things that their mother is no longer doing for them and are immediately trying to create an app for that kind of service, to turn it into a business.
Laundry? No problem, now we have Washio, a really simple app, that allow people to order a laundry service. You just have to put your dirty clothes out, someone will pick them up, make them cleaned, ironed, folded and sorted just the way you like — Finally, all my socks have their friends! — said Kendra — And it’s just a couple dollars more expensive than doing Laundry by myself. Not to mention all the ironing, folding and sorting.
Food? Ordering a take out is pretty easy and will probably never loose its popularity, but what’s more cool? Preparing food by yourself. The boring and most time-consuming parts of this are to find the right recipe and then go shopping for needed ingredients even though, now you can do it all online — are you already ordering a take out :)? Don’t. Blue Apron is an app that can do all the boring stuff for you. You can find there a recipe recommendation for every day or you can look through the whole catalogue for the perfect one. When you’re done, you just order a “recipe” which means you’ll get all the ingredients in a fancy box, to prepare your food later at home. Cooking skills? Appreciated but not needed. If you’re a cooking newbie, you can find all the instructions and videos right in the app. Cool, huh?
It’s not a secret, that almost every app, providing a service that will let people do less and enjoy their free time more, is going to find its users. Even the most absurd ones (at least for me) are making its way to people’s hearts. For example Wag, an app that lets you find someone to walk your dog, can be at first a little strange — if you don’t want to walk your dog, why are you having one? Well, on the other hand, there can be a situation, when a meeting gets late or your boss needs you to do something and you simply can’t do it — in this cases, an app like that might get handy. While you’re not ordering a “dog walker” sitting on your cozy couch, everything is quite ok, but if you do, you might have a problem :).
A great idea is not the only key to success
All those services are making our life easier which is cool. At first, a great, original idea makes its way. But when it’s growing and and becoming more mature product, people are starting to expect more specific, often personalized experience. That’s the moment when the User Experience is taking over the wheel.
Let’s take Uber and Lyft as an example. Both apps offer pretty much the same service — a ride. While Uber is only checking if the car driver is licensed and his car is in good enough shape, Lyft is one step ahead. Besides verifying all the technical issues, they also try to prepare drivers to do their job at the best level by teaching them how to interact with passengers and making them feel good. Nice, right?
Such approach is also visible in more traditional services as restaurants. You may sometimes ask yourself, why the most valuable, rated with 3 Michelin stars restaurants are so unique. Well obviously, they serve great food, but is that all? It turns out it is not.
Wyatt Starosta a UX Research Manager at OpenTable during his speech presented a little show of how those special places work. Imagine you’re going to visit a 3 Michelin star restaurant. You’re making a reservation a couple weeks earlier. The manager of the restaurant knows your name — what does he or she do with it? Well, as simple as it is, it might not be that obvious — they Google you, trying to find any piece of information that will help them prepare for your visit and make it more special. If your social profiles are public and you’re quite an active user, it is even easier to do such research. Let’s say you have a blog where you post wine reviews. Don’t be suprised when they offer you the one that you rated the highest first.
That’s not all. It is really easy to document your visits at a restaurant. What did you order, what are your allergies, what kind of water do you like, which meal did you enjoy the most? Such questions get asked almost every time at high level restaurants and your answers, if noted carefully, can help creating your restaurant profile and make every next visit more personalized.
Is it good? Is it bad? Well, at some point it might get creepy, and that’s what most part of the UX Poland conference was about — responsibility, that we, designers should be aware of while designing every new feature. We have to take into consideration people’s feelings and resistance for such online transparency. We have to be ready, that some people might simply think it is too much and we have to take a one step back to make two forward. However in a long run, research shows that this is our 2020 everyday reality which keep in mind is only 4 years from now.
Thanks for reading :). If you have anything to add to this story, feel free to comment.
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