What the Future Holds for UX Design
How user experience has changed and what it means for the future of designers
It feels like not so long ago that the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) fields of design were just getting starting. They were infants in the age of marketing and product development. However, slowly with the development of new technologies and the growth in the market, the aggressive need to grasp the attention and liking of the user grew exponentially.
They became their own industry, and a very important one indeed.
Companies have realized that UX design is not just an added aesthetic bonus, but that it is, in many cases, the edge that will make them win against the competition; the edge needed to survive in today’s changing markets.
Despite having reached such a level of importance in plenty of industries, there are still some that are outside of their current scope. More importantly, the increasing changes to technology will severely change the way UX design is done. This means that although its importance only seems to be increasing, the way that it’s done will keep on changing.
UX design is definitely not going anywhere anytime soon, but it’s certainly undergoing some changes. So, what are some of the changes to be expected in this industry? Where will UX design be in the next, 5, 10 years, and beyond?
Skills Beyond Design
One of the first changes that UX design will experience is that designers will have to develop and work on many different skills besides design. They will have to acquire skills like time management, independent finances, marketing — not just to apply to design but to market themselves — cooperation, social media skills, and more.
Especially now, designers will have to think of added skills that used to be outside of their job title but are becoming more and more mandatory such as usability engineering, copywriting, user research, data analysis, content strategy, entrepreneurship, products strategy, innovation management, motion design, design system, interaction, just to name a few.
This is mostly because more and more people will be working as independent and freelance workers rather than as part of a huge company in which they had the advantage of only focusing and developing one skill.
Nonetheless, this is something that will start to happen to almost all jobs, especially after a year like 2020 where people realized just how important it is to be multi-skilled, and of course thanks to technologies that are requiring us to have many different skills in order to outperform a computer or digital tool doing our job.
“How do I explain what I do at a party? The short version is that I say I humanize technology.”
— Fred Beecher, Director of UX, The Nerdery
UX Design + Product Design
In the golden age of UX design, it was enough for designers to only think about the users, to focus entirely on what to do and how to make it better for them.
However, UX design needs to be a much more wholesome task, combining aspects of even product design.
Put simply, UX design’s priority is the user, whilst product design is much more focused on the business behind, on the company. These two focal points have become much more intertwined than before. Nowadays to really create a better experience for the user is not enough to make it accessible, slick, and functional, it has to carry a lot more than just that. It has to reflect on a deeper level the core values of the company, and the whole idea behind the product. As such, UX designers need to be much more involved in understanding the business and its functioning and reason, not just the user buying it.
UX design is not just a service or a nice added bonus, but a field, a whole profession that can add a lot of value to product development processes and even strategic business decisions — it can have a huge impact on the success of the business when done correctly.
“Design used to be the seasoning you’d sprinkle on for taste; now it’s the flour you need at the start of the recipe.”
— John Maeda, Designer and Technologist
Technology For Design and Research
With the current times in which technological advances are constantly being made, technology is a key aspect of human interactions. Not only this, but it is changing the way many companies and users engage with their products.
A key example is thinking of when the iPhone was released. No businesses, nor users, nor designers knew really about what the user experience would be in such a device. It was also not clear what kind of products could be developed for it, but with time organizations, designers and users learned to understand what could be done in it. They have become so accustomed to this technology that it is now second nature for most people.
The same is happening with new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented and Virtual Reality (VR), and many other developments that are changing the way we interact with the world.
These new tools and devices will change not just how the user experience will be designed and lived, but also how designers will research the market. By using AI, for example, we will be able to analyse much more data at a faster rate, and not only this but be able to provide bespoke solutions that are much more specific to each individual user.
As UX design is becoming more and more important as a competitive advantage, studying the market is key. However, due to the fast-paced times that we are living in, the testing of hypotheses and information about user behaviours need to be gathered and analyse at speeds that are only available thanks to technology.
Additionally, all the user-centric metrics will help not only to achieve better user design but also contribute directly to the product and business goals. That’s another reason why UX design is, and will continue, to be an important aspect of any business.
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”
— Robert L. Peters, Graphic Designer
UX Design for Everyday Life
In the coming years, automation will be king. Cars will become smarter, and even our homes will become smarter. This will add an entirely new challenge to UX design. Where it will become part of our everyday life.
To do this in a way that actually makes people’s lives better and not more complicated designers will need to really understand human behaviour and human instinct. Something only possible, as we explained before, to the use of technology.
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”
— Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer, Jaguar Land Rover
Code, Low-Code, and No-Code
Another important change that the industry will have and has already started is the change in the coding capability and need of designers. Thanks to the cloud, and the Internet, more and more platforms are popping up for design to be made even by people with absolutely no coding or programming background.
This gives almost everyone the possibility of creating a website, mobile platform, or even app. However, these solutions are mostly generic and aren’t easy to scale up, which is why designers will need to improve all their other skills to outperform these platforms. Additionally, since the stakes and competition only seem to be increasing designers will have to aim for perfection, or land near to it, every single time.
Good design used to be enough, but not anymore. Now great design is the minimum expectation.
We aren’t able to look into the future but we can predict and see current trends to realize where the industry is heading. Growing beyond what our job title means and working hand-by-robotic-hand with technology has become paramount.
UX design will never disappear, it will just keep on changing and adjusting in the coming years.