The bold future of UX: How new tech will shape the industry
Part 6 ∙ 6 UX trends for 2019
There are reasons to be both optimistic and somewhat cautious about what’s coming in 2019 for the UX industry. Walking through the expansive halls of CES, as I have done every year for the last 10 years, usually leaves me with a solid understanding of where certain industries are headed, both in technology evolution and investment, and the role user experience (UX) research and design will play in that process.
Here are my thoughts on which UX considerations will take center stage in the coming year:
1. The complexity and need for speed-to-market in healthcare will drive user experiences to new and interesting levels.
In 2019, we will see a greater focus on the user experience in healthcare. Healthcare has been slow to move in the past in large part because it’s highly regulated and obsessed with safety (as it should be!). But as consumer-oriented digital applications begin to raise the awareness of what user interfaces can be to health-care professionals, users will demand better experiences. We see this in electronic medical records, where many user interfaces are effectively mired in 1990s-style UI designs. Further, as more nimble startups see the business opportunity in healthcare, there will be more consumer-facing applications to support a wide variety of areas (e.g., sleep, nutrition, pregnancy, etc.). There is growing need among these companies to do human factors testing of digital products prior to FDA submission, and a painful lack of awareness of that process.
2. As payments go digital, there is a knock-on effect across the entire commercial fabric making understanding user experience essential.
In the past, many financial services that customers required demanded an intermediary financial institution, e.g., currency exchange. It’s now possible to set up an account where dollars can be moved between euros, pounds, and yen without ever having to incur any intermediary. Through a simple app, accounts can be kept in one currency and withdrawn. The user experience is greatly simplified. There is also a fast push to cashless societies, such as in Sweden. (Even homeless people in Sweden can take credit cards!). Companies will have to understand their customers’ needs and lead the way with user experiences that provide systemic, safe, private, and convenient ways of interacting. Again, like in healthcare, smaller, aggressive and well-funded startups will challenge established players; the point of competition, where customers will be gained or lost, will be at the customer’s experience.
3. Mobility provides both macro and micro challenges to the user experience.
Mobility is morphing. We are all incredibly aware of how Uber, Lyft, Didi and other ridesharing services are transforming how we think about transportation and mobility. How we get around today and how goods are moved (i.e., in trucking) is changing fast. In fact, the whole notion of ownership of vehicles is changing – in the next 15 years the idea of an individual owning one or more vehicles is becoming obsolete. Fractional ownership of multiple vehicles by cooperatives of people will be the norm. There will likely be increased mobility by drone services (CES has several examples of this.) How users and customers will engage will be of increasing importance for the success of the business models.
4. AI needs UX.
This was the year of AI at CES. It seemed every other booth had the letters “AI” on their signage. However, most of the AI applications cannot succeed without proper data that is human tagged. In fact, over the last couple of years, I’ve been involved in several projects to just collect data to train AI algorithms. This is not traditional UX by any means. But UX professionals and psychologists have research and logistical skills to be able to collect data that will allow us to train AI algorithms.
5. UX will grow increasingly more important in the developing world.
2019 will see the need to increase understanding of the skills, knowledge, capabilities, needs and desires of the users in the developing world. All one must do is to look at the public record to see that Google, Facebook, Amazon and others are heavily invested in moving into places like Africa, Indonesia, India, and Brazil. These next billion users are the ones that the companies are targeting. There will be enormous investment put into the user experience research needed to serve these markets because of the wide language, and cultural diversity. The technological capabilities in these locations are vast and unknown to international manufacturers trying to design user tech. To be successful in this market these companies must develop products and services that would be a value to the users and of value to them as suppliers. UX research is global! (Shameless plug for my book) And global UX research partnerships like the UXalliance can help companies be successful in these markets with on-the-ground resources steeped in local knowledge.
6. Transformations in user security and privacy will demand attention.
The increasing spate of data breaches and identify theft create an opportunity for improved user experience. (If you want to understand, and be horrified as to what you sign up for when you hit ‘Accept’, I strongly recommend watching Terms and Conditions May Apply on Netflix.) Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems famously said in 1999(!) “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” The digital world has become much scarier since then; the bloom has come off the rose. With all the upside in technology, there is a huge risk. Companies that help us manage all the risks are going to be in higher demand – and UX will be at the forefront of this. There should be better ways to protect and control who sees what about each of us. Anyone who has had their identify stolen or been a subject of credit card theft knows how tedious it is to manage this.
Large dominant players, who once had a comfortable existence for decades, will find themselves under intense pressure from smaller start-ups who have learned how to care for the customer. These small players are also not burdened by legacy systems that will continue to drag them down. Successful companies in the market, whether start up or established, must learn about: who the customers are, what the customers’ needs are, and how to design for those needs.
What are your thoughts on 2019 UX trends? Comment below and let’s get a dialogue started!
This blog post is part six of a series, The bold future of UX: How new tech will shape the industry, that discusses future technologies and some of the issues and challenges that will face the user and the UX community. Read Part 1 that discussed Singularity and the associated challenges with UX design , Part 2 that provided an overview of focus areas for AI to be successful , Part 3 that dug further into the concept of context in AI, Part 4 that proposed UX design principles for robot design, and Part 5 that highlighted Africa’s role in building next gen fintech.