UX Predictions for 2020 that need to be on your radar

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With a new decade comes new opportunities and challenges for UX design. From voice AI, augmented reality and 5G to the new ways in which organisations and designers work together, there are many changes on the horizon. Here are some of our predictions for what UX design could look like in 2020.

Design you can hear and see

Voice functionality and virtual reality are increasingly being baked into new digital products and services. As such, UX design is also set to lift off the webpage (quite literally) to improve these new functions. Software such as Amazon’s Alexa have made voice AI a household tool while applications such as Snapchat and Pokemon Go have made augmented visuals a reality.

The rapid advancements of these technologies to meet user desires and demands will call upon UX designers to adapt the application of their methodologies to products and services that exist well beyond the screen.

Age of misinformation

The age of information has, unfortunately, also given rise to the age of misinformation. Fake news, targeted disinformation campaigns and deep fake videos – these are all trends that have led users to question the reality experienced within our digital landscape. Designers now face the incredibly complex challenge of designing for transparency.

This is a task that not only involves building fact-checking technology into products but also empowering users to consume information more savvily. Media outlets have already begun to re-imagine the writing and presentation of articles. Different perspectives are now outlined throughout copy (thus, helping readers understand all facets of an issue).

They are also guiding users through a more critical reading process. Tech giants such as Google and Adobe are investing heavily in technology to better identify video and image manipulation. Facebook is also now showing alerts warning users of videos yet to be fact-checked by third-party agencies.

Optimised for speed

With the advent of 5g, which is beginning to roll out across the globe, data transfer latency and speed is set to improve substantially. With devices such as the iPhone set for release with 5G capabilities in 2020, slowness for page loading and function will soon be deemed unacceptable. That means that where a page or website loads too slowly, its UX design may come into question. Furthermore, longstanding UX practices such as loaders (which were necessary if a page took more than a few seconds to load) may also become irrelevant. From a much bigger perspective, this means that speed will become a greater factor in the design process.

Designers assemble

The 2010s spawned the idea of the rockstar designer or UX ‘team-of-one’. A jack-of-all heuristic trades, this type of designer was expected to shoulder the entire design process at a company. A little further down the line, we’re starting to see companies embracing more collaborative design efforts by assembling teams of design professionals.

UX designers are now evolving into UX enablers – individuals who encourage their teams to work together towards a common goal by involving different types of experiences and viewpoints. With this new approach, overly-biased design is more easily dispelled. No one designer owns and affects the entire UX process. And this leads to greater adoption of UX culture throughout the company. In other words, the ownership of UX knowledge and information becomes shareable and democratized; not just a set of mystical powers bestowed upon certain professionals.

A product owner here, a product owner there

Along with the surge in demand for UX designers has come an increasing need for product owners. Now, organisations with a highly active digital presence, have armed their organisational structure with product owners everywhere. In fact, it’s not uncommon for large organisations to have everyone from mobile app product owners, to backend and SEO product owners.

Employees in these positions oversee all aspects of a digital product – from user data and requirements, development, testing, marketing and increasing commercial value. In 2020 and beyond, product owners should start popping up everywhere across organisations. In many cases, they may also be at the helm of non-digital aspects and components.

The architecture of systems

More and more, real-life and online activities are merging. While mainly commercial centred, digital spaces are now beginning to welcome more civic and social interactions. The pace at which information, systems, and infrastructure have been uploaded online has been rapid. And with that has come a lot of disorganisation and confusion.

More information architecture is required to support this rapid upload as well as better visualise and map out our digital ecosystems. It’s now more important than ever for designers to understand the structural components of digital design. That includes how this feeds into supporting the models and operations of a business. In more recent years, information architecture has taken a back seat to make way for more front-end concerns and the rapid creation and launch of products. However, it remains a fundamental and essential pillar of digital design. In order to catch up on resolving more structural issues that have arisen from rapid builds, information architecture will, once again, need to be highly valued within the design process.

Visit from the UX auditor

As customer experience becomes more and more crucial, we’ll begin to see the development of industry-wide usability standards. Independent UX audits of companies are likely to increase to help product owners, designers and managers evaluate the efficiency and performance of their products and content. Digital auditors will evaluate whether the usability of the product or service falls in line with industry standards and is up to date with trends and advancing technology. UX audits will be able to turn up issues with an organisation’s apps, software, websites and customer journeys that have been overlooked internally.

So much more than a library

There have been two buzzwords on the lips of designers these past couple of years: ‘design’ and ‘systems’. Together, they’ve been the subject of many a design tweet and article, even conferences, and for good reason. Design systems are a powerful way to scale up product design. Simply put, building interfaces with common UX patterns and reusable UI components creates familiarity for users. Simultaneously, it streamlines the UI design process. However, there’s much more to be gleaned from utilising design systems.

While design systems currently manifest as libraries – repositories of UI patterns and components such as buttons, cards, and dropdowns – there’s a potential for them to evolve. The next decade should see design systems incorporating broader organisational aspects such as governance, accessibility, workflows, and tooling. In this way, they’ll become so much more than a library and more of a live, interactive tool connecting the entire company.

Bringing it all together

Regardless as to what the future holds for UX design, what seems to be certain is how crucial UX methodologies remain to the advancement of user-facing technology and the product development cycle. Over the next few years, it will become even more crucial for companies to embrace UX practices within their day-to-day business activities, fundamentally changing the way organisations interact with and serve their users.

Which of these predictions will you act upon in the new year?

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