The current state of UX in the year of 2018
Death is an inevitable thing for every human being. We all die someday as everything fades away into the dust with time. The UX design was a hot topic 4 years ago when I was working as a frontend engineer for a reputed company at that time. I was really interested to know this wonderful subject. As the time pass by I wanted to become a UX designer because I fell in love with the subject called User Experience. After nearly 4 successful years as a UX designer, I had one single question. “Are we doing the correct thing?”. After becoming a big fan of the blog called medium I have a habit of reading every article which is written about User Experience. It made me very happy because I felt like I am not alone in this world. Many writers talk about User Experience design but most of the things I have seen has been already found by someone else. User Experience has stopped evolving to its full potential. We swim in a swimming pool with water pored many years back. Now you might be wondering “What the hell are you talking about?”. Before User Experience designers there were interaction designers who look and created better interactions and “responsive websites”. We always adopt new things as designers while some titles fade away.
I like you to look into the following ideas where I think UX is fading away.
1. UX is about business too
We are looking into an age where UX designers have to adapt to new titles with ease not just looking into improving the overall experience of the application but be more involved in the business. Having more knowledge in the business side of the application would help the business to make good decisions while going to the future. If you only think about the focus groups and their problem you may create a wonderful product for the “users”. If you look into the business perspective of the application that would improve the overall business goals too. Most of the time we focus more on the user’s perspective and less on the business itself.
2. The conversational design is in the rise
Humans don’t like the same thing every. Sometimes we use the same objects since we don’t have a choice. The traditional forms are becoming obsolete and will be replaced by AI’s which has better capability to create better interactions rather than typing your details or what you want you will be able to say what you want for the form to be filled. Notice that Google and Facebook have AI’s that can track the user behaviors and give suggestions to the user depending on their behavior online.
3. Lack of empathy and acceptance of diversity taken into consideration by designers
The UX design is not about creating beautiful designs. Designers should look into understanding their users with the use of empathy. The understanding of how people feel is always something designers misunderstood. The designers take empathy from their end and how they would do looking at the user’s problem from their perspective. This common mistake has to lead many applications to fail and create bad UX. Very rarely I see that designers do user research to understand that the application does not work with some user segments. The lack of understanding of diversity in different ethnic groups, races, and genders much more commonly ignored. This has created a bad experience on understanding different user types who will be affected by using this application.
4. Where is it when I need it?
Human behaviors are changed by the time of the digital age. People use to wait for things to happen in the late 80’s and 90’s. The growth of information technology and real-time service providers such as social media has made an impact on how humans behave. People want things immediately and fast. It has become same with the applications that the designers working at the moment. An implementation of a feature can keep an organization over its competitor. Missing a key feature lost in your backlog can damage the organization’s business and hurts its economy. I have seen this too much where UX designers are not taken to make business decisions but to make designs only. This has made more startups to sink than float in the current market.
5. Not taking UX seriously by the management
The power of UX is quite frightening to Engineering based organizations. Many organizations find UX as a helping tool only and the value of the UX is not taken into consideration. Many organizations keep Development environment and designers have less say in the projects. Most of the time they are treated as graphic designers or frontend designers only. Some organization does not want to have a UX process for their projects. This has made the UX just to become a buzzword in certain organizations and some Engineering communities.
6. Going down the same path because it works?
Some of us are stuck in certain domains too long we don’t know what happens outside. Some UX designers stuck themselves in Enterprise based applications and some to Consumer based applications. We create the UX processes based on the domains and keep to it because it works for us. We never look into the new technologies such as Virtual reality, Artifical intelligence, the blockchain, augmented reality and chatbots. Most of the time this happen due to lack of investment in research on these areas not allowing the UX designers to look for possible solutions. The research on these technologies would give a chance for the designers to improvements in the UX process.
7. Not sharing the knowledge among the community
The knowledge is the key to develop a better community for UX designers. For the past few years, I have seen many organizations trying to make a good community by sharing what they have learned throughout the years of experience. In some cases, I have noticed that “UX designers” lacks the basic knowledge. This is the main reason for the death of UX. If the knowledge is not shared properly people will start defining things in the wrong way. The wrong way can damage the real way of doing things because that might confuse the people who are coming to the industry from finding right from wrong.
What can we do?
We cannot stop the world from changing. We can look for possibilities for improving ourselves into being adopted into new technologies. In my article, I am not telling that User Experience is itself dying. We are killing it slowly by not improving it to the next level. Our world is moving fast. We have to adapt to new technologies that can create a better world. We can see that from now on UX designers are moving into different types of paths that can grow in the near future. Some of the designers are moving on and expanding their scope into product designers gaining knowledge in business and strategy. Some designers are looking more into virtual reality, chatbots, and some are moving to UX writing and motion design. I think if we can look into the problems mention we can improve ourselves from where we are now. So what can we do to swim in new waters?
Understanding that UX designers should be involved in business aspects more
User experience design is not just about creating flamboyant designs or design something to impress someone. The designers should be more involved in the business side of the application rather than worrying about the applications “beauty”. There are three basic things you need to know about being absorbed into the business environment when coming to application design.
1. Have an understanding of the product strategy: The word product strategy itself is a quite complex word to explain. You may need to know how your product is affecting the business. Is your product connected to other products in the organizations you are working for? How the path of the application is moving and how you are planning to use resources to understand get the upper hand over the competitors. These key details would help a UX designer to get into the world of product design. In product design the scope is quite bigger than being a UX designer where they have to look into business aspects of the product and define and propose solutions for the future problems and needs.
2. Understand the Current and future market: Designers should be more aware of the current growth of the market where people look for new needs and business opportunities. The technologies change as well as the needs of humans with it. Life is becoming more easy day by day. If the UX designers get involved in this movement where VR and other new technologies can come in I think it will be a better movement for the humans as a race. A technology can be a miracle creator. Human experience, we can create a better application that can serve well to the human being. If the UX designers can shape how the future market can behave the developers can easily bring in new technologies that can support and create meaningful solutions.
3. Understand the growth: The word growth here defines that how an organization can use User Experience designers to improve the engagement of the product with its users. Every application has a number of Existing users and potential users in the market. If a designer understands the words engagements and re-engagement then he or she can drive the business into the correct path creating a better growth in the user level as well as the numbers in the business level.
We will never be able to stop things from happening. Life and every other material and nonmaterial things have to go through its course. The wise things are that we have to adapt to the new technologies. It has been our nature to do so. It has become really easy to find a person with a title called “UX designer” in the job market. Most of them lack the knowledge in conversational UI, AR and VR technologies and how to understand their business domain. They have to address and prioritize the domain features of a product and give their input to the growth of the business. The management of the organizations has to take UX into their head and understand the value of a UX designer as a job role and as valuable resource. Sharing the knowledge and making the people aware more about the UX industry would help newcomers to be comfortable with the word UX.
We all have a job role to do. We have to do it right!