At the beginning of the year we saw a lot of trends predicted for 2016. Now we can see that some are proving to be stickier than others. Here is a list of some of the major discussions happening in UX right now.

1. Adopting UX: The Challenge of Change

More and more, large companies are bringing UX teams in house and seeing it as a fundamental element of their business success.

UX experts are being hired, or entire consultancy firms are being acquired as a whole to shore up larger companies capabilities. This is not surprising, given the important role UX is playing in the marketplace and what Forrester is calling “the age of the customer.”

Companies that were not founded with UX in their DNA are adopting it as if it were. Click To Tweet

The impact this is having, and will continue to have, is the realisation that doing UX right means some fundamental changes to your process, tools, and mindset will have to take place. Just hiring a bunch of super talented people doesn’t get you great experiences out the door. What we are going to see is – as companies realise this – an emphasis not just on UX, but on change management, and on how companies “absorb” and adapt to different versions and approaches of UX. Not only will more adaptable companies benefit, but approaches to UX that are more adaptable to core company cultures and values will flourish while others will fade away.

2. Designing Anticipatory Experiences & Why Designers Need To Be Business Literate

Content is a critical factor in creating a great experience.

An amazing experience isn’t just about showing the right information–it’s about showing the right information at the right time. Today, users expect some type of personalisation: they’re looking for an experience that is predictive and anticipatory without being creepy. The key to this is to make use of all the channels we have available to increase access to helpful information.

This includes:

  • better mobile notifications
  • more actionable emails
  • hyper-tailored content and recommendations and
  • doing things automatically for users (but always giving the user control to change).

Another trend is the overlap of UX and business. It’s not enough for user experience designers to know tools and processes. To really be successful, designers must also understand business. Designers must have the agility and adaptability to quickly read an organisation, understand its business, and operate within its constraints. As larger and more friction-filled organisations seek to focus on UX, we as designers must become experts at the dynamics of organisations – the soft skills – and operate at the overlap of business and user experience.

It’s not enough for user experience designers to know tools and processes Click To Tweet

Finally, in 2016, designers will redefine delight. We’ve heard the request over and over, “it needs to be delightful.” But what exactly is delight? Is delight a user need? When we’re interviewing users and doing research, do they say “I’d like it to be delightful?” Rarely, if ever.

Instead of trying to design delight into our product experiences, we should create experiences that produce delight as a byproduct of the experience. One way to do this is making things more “user-friendly,” something people have come to expect. They just want things to work with ease.

3. Personalised Experience

In 2016, we will see a turning point from the field of UX as we know it to the field of PX – delivering Personalised Experience.

More and more businesses are discovering the value of customisation, the opportunity to deliver a customised experience, and the additional revenue potential that can be generated from it. In fact, it’s become so strong that today, many popular brands rest their entire business strategy on their ability to customise their products.

Customization has become increasingly significant to brand-name companies because it’s now part of a broader trend that shifts from viewing customers as recipients of value to co-creators of value. Rather than being passive, the customer is now becoming a crucial part of the experience. The same shift that was witnessed in business strategy will be witnessed in the field of user experience. It will shift from designing an experience for the user to providing the user the opportunity to become an integral part of the experience.

The key to success here is adjusting the experience to meet the user’s personal needs and state of mind at any given moment. ClickTale research has found that the ability to influence the experience automatically generates emotional involvement.

One immediate implication can be found in the field of A/B testing. Up until now, A/B testing was regarded as an intuitive tool for testing the effectiveness of a certain change to the page (different colour, design, framing, etc.) However, we’re exposed to many different types of user behaviour, as well as different types of online decision-making processes.

Different groups of visitors interact with websites in different ways and derive pleasure from different experiences. Instead of testing different versions on all website visitors, we should be testing how different groups react to the same version and provide them with the opportunity to customise their own experience.

4. Touch First Design

For the last few years, designers have focused on mobile first design to address the growing importance of smartphones and tablets in the digital landscape.

The next evolution of our multi-device thinking should be around “touch first” design, as more laptop and desktop computers come equipped with touch screens. Using screen width and device type to style and size tap targets fails to take into account the interactive nature of many laptop and desktop computers. We need to get smarter about device and device capability detection. As designers, we have to start thinking that all (or almost all) devices will have touch capabilities.

It’s time for us to really embrace our fat fingers as a primary input on any device, as Josh Clark points out in his book Designing for Touch.

5. Empowering Design

In 2016, design will empower people, giving them a sense of control over their bodies and environments.

More importantly, this is the year that design will fuel all aspects of our social and private lives, and play a role in how we deal with the everyday as a society and as individuals. Digital services will continue to help organisations build stronger relationships with their audiences by providing more informed and personalised experiences that meet their needs and exceed expectations.

We are also seeing the rise of design thinking in influencing how the government communicates with its public.

Gov.org.uk, for example, are using design thinking to address the general public with a more human-centred approach, allowing more people to access information in a meaningful way. Private digital initiatives are also emerging in the most unpredictable and poetic ways, such as the Berlin-based Refugees Welcome service, also known as “Airbnb for refugees,” which has invited people from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria, into private homes.

This is a shining example of how effective digital can be in enabling citizens to reach out to one another and connect across geographical borders and cultural/political boundaries. Design has the potential to truly make an impact on society by encouraging a people-centric approach and giving room for a bottom-up communication stream that gives a voice to the public.

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