5 Huge Design Opportunities For 5 Unicorns in 2016

Or, a brief list of selfish wishes I want from my products & services

With the new year comes new unsolicited product redesigns — some more substantive than others. Despite their lack of contextual awareness, I tend to enjoy them because they generally invoke a discussion or at least let me see something new about the technology I use everyday.

Below are some of the products and ideas I’ve been musing about (also without that awareness) as a result of some of these redesigns, complete with some early illustrations.


Why yes, I will buy your mixtape.

Uber

Improve context: Offer more value before, after, and during the riding experience

You kill it at the Point A — B stuff. You’ve started to work on the rider experience, with Spotify integrations and the like, but that’s still many idle minutes I could’ve better spent producing and or consuming. Also, for an app that knows so much about cities and my travel habits, I’d appreciate better anticipation of when I’d like to travel and where I might like to go.

Slack

Improve prioritization: Eliminate the busy work of using productivity software

Working teams chat for two reasons: to have a discussion, and or to make action. You’ve nailed making discussions rich, but it’s to the point that taking action gets hard if one doesn’t keep up. Give me a better way to consume and parse through it all and be on my day.

Snapchat

Improve exploration: Showcase more of your world and let people engage with theirs

You may have a section called Discover, but you’re not so good for discovery. You have incredible content; show me the people and worlds I’m missing out on. I’ll pay for it! Likewise, you kind of suck at the ‘chat’ part of your name. Be the destination where I can talk to friends and say something about the world.

Airbnb

Improve curation: Act more like a travel service

You sell your value as a home away from home, and yet you outcompete existing providers on more than just homeyness — you’ve started to capitalize on this with your business travel, but I think there’s a bigger opportunity for you to appeal to more types of travelers — think families, couples, spring breakers, sorority girls abroad, etc. Not only that, but you’re getting to the point where you can buy amenities and distribute rewards at a bulk rate better than any hotel could.

Pinterest

Improve realization: Bridge fantasyland to the mundane

Few products get me as inspired and even emotional as you can. You hold people’s hopes and dreams; help them achieve them and engage with your content in a much deeper, more aspirational way. Recipes have been a good start, but surely there’s more to be done in the way of being a service, or partnering with someone who can.


Overarching 2016 design themes

This piece is partially me musing about things I want in my products, another part using any excuse I can to post these images. It’s also an exercise in identifying some of the overall trends I’m hoping to see in design this year. Here are just a few:

  • From good design to intelligent design: As with Uber’s knowledge of cities, we collect information at a scale that is too vast for our design not to be anticipatory and smarter than we are. Fortunately, this trend has already begun in many ways; I hope to see more design patterns for intelligence and tools for knowledge exchange (Design APIs, as a fun thought exercise) become commonplace.
  • From data-driven to context-driven decision-making: Circumstances dictate the way I use products, not isolated numbers and figures; design decisions should reflect that. Likewise, designers have more and more ways to act upon a context; they shouldn’t be so afraid of tackling edge cases and making other particularly outlier feats happen.
  • From providing experiences to owning the ecosystem of an experience: So much of what hinders our products and services amounts to forces seemingly beyond our control. I want to see more companies account for these external roadblocks as core design opportunities.
  • From Design companies to Design alliances across companies: this might be overly optimistic, but I’d like to see more companies unite to serve the people that use their products and services. Given the example of travel companies partnering with credit card companies for points and the like, surely there’s something to this for software.

👋 Thanks for reading, I’ll likely add some more ideas and possibly even try to make something of them (redesign, anyone?). Either way, I’d love to hear any thoughts of yours!

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