Is visual interface design dead?

What to design if everything becomes automated? Today visual user interfaces still dominate the way we use apps, but they’re facing competition from emerging interfaces like voice control, AI powered apps, chatbots, etc…

This doesn’t mean visual interfaces will disappear.

Visual inputs have defined how interfaces look.

From a strong focus on input…

Until now, the visual interface focuses on manipulating the tool you’re using. Tapping buttons, selecting from menus, dragging sliders, scrolling pages is how we mostly use our apps.

New interfaces make these visual input methods less relevant.

Why tap a button if you can just say the answer? Why select a filter if the AI already knows what is relevant to me? Why pick an item from a list if I can just type what I’m looking for?

… to a new focus on output

Interfaces that are less visual can’t deliver every type of information in the best way possible.

Imagine having your grocery list dictated to you by a voice interface. Or buying clothes via a chatbots with no images of what you’re buying.

Google introduced Visual Responses at I/O 2017. It is the perfect example how the visual interface shifted from input to output. You ask your Google Home a question and the response is shown on your TV screen.

Visual response focuses on the output of the Google Home Action. (Mom, if you’re reading this. The one in the middle is not a vase, it’s a device you can ask questions and it responds.)

If we look into the near past designing for content first already pushed the interface to the back. This is true, but the input interface was still present whether it was hidden behind a hamburger menu or not.

If we look into the near future AR/VR interfaces will also be focused on designing the output first. The input will be reduced as much as possible using intelligent, automated input by a smart lens understanding what it sees. The output will dominate the visual interface.

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