UX Trends 2017

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UX Trends for 2017 from Me and 4 Leading UX CEOs and Experts

UX Trends 2017 UsefulUsabilityIt’s time once again to prognosticate on UX Trends for 2017! This year’s trends to watch for come from me and four leading UX Industry Experts and CEOs. This year’s experts include; Daniel Szuc, Co-founder and Principal of Apogee, Russ Wilson, Director Cloud UX at Google, Toby Biddle, CEO of Loop11 and Ritvij Gautam CEO of TryMyUI.

Learn what yours truly, and other (smarter) UX CEOs and Experts think is in store for UX and Usability in 2017 and beyond.

At the end of each year I like to put on my wizards hat, gaze into my UX crystal ball, and try my best to predict trends for the coming year. But because I’m just a single voice in this great big wide world, I like to ask for the opinions of smarter UX folks than myself, CEOs and experts who have been heavily involved in all-things UX.

So without further ado, here are the UX trends for 2017 from me and UX CEOs and experts!

UX Trends for 2017 from Craig

1. “Omnichannel UX” will enter more UX discussions in 2017 – What’s Omnichannel? It’s looking at the user experience across channels (not devices). An example is a person who shops for a car. She may start with a mobile search, do more intensive searching on a desktop, call a dealership to find about a specific car availability, visit the dealership, and purchase the car.

The channels involved in the example are:

  • Online (mobile & desktop)
  • Phone (phone via the mobile device interestingly)
  • In-person (dealership)

Note that these are channels, NOT devices. Devices are used to access the channels. Brands are all about a consistent experience across all channels. So it seems natural that UX teams are (or soon will be) having more conversations about making a consistent, smooth and happy (not just satisfying) experience across all channels.

This “Omnichannel UX” definition is rather ironic in that it is almost identical to the true definition of UX that in my opinion the vast majority of UXers don’t seem to grasp. Typically ‘UX’ is often defined as the online experience only, which is the focus of most UX teams these days.

Go figure!

Anyway, actually moving into working on the ‘Omnichannel UX’ will be something of a tall order. That’s because most companies are not organized to look across channels this way. Most companies I work with during my consulting engagements have different divisions or units responsible for the separate channels in each product line. So “Omnichannel UX” is something many firms will have to wrap their heads around before being able to fully execute. But the key thing is I’ve seen increasing chatter about Omnichannel UX and I think that the Omnichannel UX chatter may accelerate over the next year.

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2. VR and AR will continue to make inroads to adoption – Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will slowly but surely increase in adoption and usage in 2017. I think it’s still an ‘early adopter’ phase for these technologies, with worldwide and widespread adoption still years away. But the roughly $2 BILLION in investments being thrown at AR and VR by big name firms jockeying for position in this market should not and can not be ignored. These technologies will be a MAJOR GAME CHANGER FOR UX, so it pays to be aware of them and how they work.

3. Europe, Eastern Europe, Israel and India will continue to increase training and usage of UX talent – I’ve mentioned this in the past, and believe that the trend is real and is growing. Coders and UXers are now becoming a global phenomenon. My UsefulUsability Facebook page has a large percentage of fans emanating from Europe and Asia. Heck, my WordPress theme comes from a bunch of smart guys and gals based primarily in Transylvania (yes, THE Transylvania). Also, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the 2016 World Usability Congress in Graz, Austria recently. I can confirm that attendance was big, and included very smart UX practitioners from all over Europe and the world. I learned that UX adoption and interest is now very high across most of the world, so it’s almost a gimme to say Europe and Eastern Europe will continue to grow in UX in 2017.

4. Finally, dove-tailed with my earlier prognostication, UX teams will continue to get the definition of UX wrong. Ask any UX Designer, Researcher or Developer what the definition of UX is and two things will happen. First, no two definitions will be exactly the same. Second, the majority will define UX within the narrow confines of the online channel only. Wrongo! UX is the entire user experience from the very first time a person interacts with a Brand to the very last time a person interacts with that Brand, and includes all channels. I didn’t make this up. Don Norman, the guy widely regarded as the father of UX gives that definition of UX. As long as UX teams and the executives who sponsor them continue to box UX into that narrow online channel, the true power of the ability to optimize the user experience will continue to be limited. Let’s try to fix that, and the way to do that is to remind, educate and inspire all UXers to change their thinking and realize that UX is the entire user experience.

UX Trends for 2017 From 4 Leading UX Experts

So here’s what several UX CEO’s and experts have to say about UX trends to watch for in 2017.

Toby-Biddle-UsefulUsabilityToby Biddle: Toby is the CEO of Loop11, a set of UX research tools designed to address the multiple data needs of researchers and designers.

“Businesses adopting the mobile-first/mobile-only design – Mobile-first describes a process of designing a website for mobile devices first and then moving to other larger screened devices. This isn’t anything new, however, mobile devices are fast becoming the primary device for browsing the internet. So much so, that many businesses are starting to design for mobile only and ditching any offerings for desktop websites.

AI will be adopted sooner than VR and AR – While I can foresee virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) making big in-roads in 2017, the more practical AI’s, virtual assistants and digital concierges are right at our doorstep - most notably Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Now, and the rest. We will definitely see many startups and agencies focusing more work in this area.

Experiences will become even more personalized – As UX finally takes advantage of predictive analysis to allow the ability to design user experiences that are intelligent and present themselves to the user as a smart virtual assistant, predicting the user’s intentions and needs based on behaviour and sensor data from devices, experiences become even more personalized.

This is only the first step, though.  Just as sites are already reformatted to adapt their layout to a wide range of device sizes, so too will they be able to adapt their content and structure to a wide range of ages.  Websites will no longer be one size fits all.”

ritvij_guatam_178x200_usefulusabilityRitvij Gautam: Rit is founder and CEO of TryMyUI, a remote unmoderated usability tool that includes a unique feature, automated video analysis via an artificial intelligence algorithm that “scores” sessions for easier and faster analysis.

“I think the UX trend for 2017 or at least the user research trend for 2017 is going to involve an aggressive re-tooling of the kinds of data user researchers will pull from, and a re-formatting of performance metrics for UX teams.

Until now, things like “churn rate,” “click through rates” and “Acquisition maps” have been a Marketing metric to track on Google Analytics, even though these metrics are direct consequences of user behavior on your UI.

In 2016 we saw tools like Pendo.io and MixPanel gain a foothold in UX teams because they collected a similar kind of Google Analytics data BUT re-visualized it to provide insights to product teams about user difficulties. We launched TryMyUI Stream for the same reason, to allow companies to understand the building blocks of these metrics, i.e. moments of user frustration. Moreover, the mantra of Conversion Rate UX has definitely become more popular in UX circles.

In 2017, as insights from these “marketing” metrics become accessible to UX teams, and the impact of design decisions on these metrics increases in measurability; companies will start re-defining what a successful UI Design is in terms of the behavioral data. In, 2017 I believe this change is going to make company stakeholders more confident in bolstering the UX budget due to the objectivity of success conditions as well as UX Teams more focused because they have a sure fire way of substantiating their design decisions.”

Daniel-Szuc-Photo-171x200-from-UsefulUsabilityDaniel Szuc: Dan is the co-founder of Apogee, a top-notch design and UX firm in Asia. He’s a co-author of the very popular book “Global UX” and was founder of the UXPA China Hong Kong branch. He’s a frequent speaker, lecturer and expert on usability, UX, CX and how they interrelate with businesses.

“On the one hand we are influenced by the technology that drives interactions but at the same time suggest this can move us away from the fundamentals of our practice, specifically understanding people’s motivations.

Make Meaningful Work
On the projects we work on we can all easily get caught up in meeting our deliverables, the speed in which to do that and the internal meetings with stakeholders and their perspectives and egos, that we often forget about the “U” in User Experience (UX).

Where the “U” is about the people we design for and about having them omni-present in our daily project discussions.

The projects need to and should have continuous and constant routines to understand the people we design for and to understand the connection points through our understanding and sense-making as communicated in our artifacts, that helps see how to best complete tasks, to look for moments of delight, but also provide feedback loops that allow the projects to continuously learn and constantly improve.

A way to connect the dots.

To help have the people we design for present in our project discussions, we must ensure we have routines, tools, artifacts and practices to nurture meaningful project communications.

We are all responsible on projects to help gain clarity on the who we are designing for and why as this helps brings focus on how to Make Meaningful Work together.”

Russ-Wilson-Google-170x204Russ Wilson: Russ is the Director of UX for the Google Cloud Platform and has a long history of leading excellent UX design teams. Russ speaks at a variety of national and international UX conferences. Prior to Google, Russ lead UX design and innovation teams at Microsoft, IBM and CA Technologies. You can plug into Russ’ UX thoughts on his Twitter Feed.

“I’m biased, but I’m immersed in all things AI and how that relates to UX. How we can improve the experience by anticipating needs and interpreting user actions and goals. I think this is huge.”

Conclusion: UX Trends for 2017

In conclusion, the above UX trends for 2017 seem to focus on several common themes.

First: Changes in technology and utilization of UX (thinking about AI, AR, VR and more personalized Apps) means we should not and cannot lose track of who we are ultimately creating these experiences for: people. We need to remember that it’s the people who are using these new technologies that need to always be foremost in our minds. Don’t get lost in the gee-wiz features or functions of new tech.

Second: “UX” and user experience design continues to build interest across the globe. This is a very good thing. It means more people around the world have an interest and desire to design in a way that makes things easier to use, more satisfying, and ultimately helps improve the human condition. Good UX can come from anywhere, as long as designers train themselves, have empathy with the people they are designing for, and incorporate best practices for efficient and effective user experiences.

Third: Data, including behavioral data, marketing data and related types of UX data are becoming a more prominent tool (and requirement) for good design. UX design now requires that designers have the ability to find, analyze and incorporate data as part of their routine. Designing in a vacuum without this data means guessing. Designing based on a good understanding of the behavioral data that influences or is influenced by design is a better approach to ensuring the best possible user experience.

Resources:

UX Predictions 2016 – Read what me and 6 UX experts thought 2016 would have in store. How close did their (and my) predictions come out? You can be our judge!

Image courtesy Kevin Vertucio via Flickr Creative Commons License.