At networking and business events, I often get asked about where I think user experience is going. A common theme that has emerged during these conversations is the sense that some of the latest trends in software—such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence—may do away with the need for UX design. While I understand the overarching fear of this perceived threat to UX designers’ livelihood, I find this very human fear ironic given what the worry is about. People often fear what they don’t quite understand and, certainly, the general hoopla about robots taking over human’s jobs breeds much fear and misunderstanding.
However, our guiding principle should always be: When we, as humans, use a product, we should not have to adapt to the technology. Instead, technology should adapt to us. A product that does this successfully is well designed. To create such well-crafted experiences, companies will need UX designers more than ever. Good design does not just happen. In actuality, the introduction of a new technology has no bearing on the validity and continued value of a mature design process. Read More
There have been a lot of articles recently that discuss the idea of whether User Experience has staying power as a profession. I’ve read about ten of these—most of them discussing how automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics will decimate the need for almost all professions as we know them today. Even the articles that were positive and upbeat about the future of User Experience made seemingly dire predictions about the need for all UX professionals to adapt to new technologies to survive. That actually sounds very reasonable to me. In fact, it’s what UX professionals have always done.
Before User experience, there was Human Factors. In some ways, that might be a better term to describe what UX professionals do. Now, it’s not a hip or edgy term, but it does encapsulate the fact that as long as there is a human factor in anything that people create, our profession has its place. We still live in a human world. Our job will still be to create products, services, and things that people interact with. Whether a user interface is on a screen or is a mechanical manifestation of our human selves, someone still has to ensure that people can work with it efficiently. I don’t really see that fundamental changing—certainly, not as much as the types of interactions people may have with products. UX professionals absolutely must adapt and learn—and that’s a really good thing. Read More
With all the amazing changes that have been happening in the business world over the past few years, thrusting User Experience into the limelight, one would think that UX professionals have arrived. That we’d be able to devote enough time, money, and resources to ensuring the user experience is just right—because, you know, it’s important. For decades, we’ve been fighting to ensurethat User Experience gets considered during product development. Now, more than ever before, I find myself fighting a different kind of fight, to ensure that teams allocate the proper time to User Experience for us to be effective.
When stakeholders say they want something to pop, wow, or sizzle—or use some other silly word to describe User Experience—they’re actually trivializing the work that is necessary to make User Experience happen in a meaningful way. When people refer to UX professionals as magicians, those who are not part of the design or User Experience world begin to think that what we do is easy. But creating an amazing User Experience is really hard work, so we need to start reminding folks—gently, of course; don’t be a blow-hard about it—that what we do is not magic. It requires time and—God, forbid—actual planning to do the job properly. Read More