Customer journey mapping, AI, VR and design; how do our experts see UX changing in 2017?
Here’s what they had to say…
(Don’t forget, you can learn more about UX by downloading User Experience and Interaction Design for Mobile and Web.)
Customer journey mapping
Phil Williams, senior UX designer, PRWD:
With the rise of AI over the next 12 months, it will be interesting to see how brands can be consistent throughout a journey.
For example, I can order an Uber from Alexa (Amazon’s AI) on my Amazon Echo, get a notification on my Apple watch when it arrives and split the fare with my friend on messenger. How will Uber ensure their brand values are met with so many different interfaces?
What was once a slick looking app now turns into a disjointed journey lost in a web of ‘human’ interactions. This will be a problem for lots of business, but in reality it’s nothing new, just a little more complex.
Entire Customer journey mapping is something every business must think about if they want to stay ahead of the curve.
Will Grant & Steffan Aquarone, authors of User Experience and Interaction Design for Mobile and Web:
AI is advancing rapidly and so-called ‘deep learning’ systems are beginning to become ever more useful. Google and Apple want their phones to predict how to help you before you realise it and 2017 will see an increased rate of change in this area.
Your iPhone already reminds you to leave on time to make a meeting – factoring in travel and traffic – as the systems pull more and more data in we can expect to see these ‘predictive’ interactions become more commonplace – and more useful.
Josh Payton, VP UX, Huge:
In 2017 and beyond I foresee a massive amount of investment and progress in AI, but I expect the only winners in the space are going to be the serious software companies with the technical sophistication to do it well.
At some point we will probably get a white-label AI framework that brands can leverage to create conversational experiences.
Until then I wouldn’t recommend that Acme Soap Co start building a Facebook bot to help you fight dandruff.
Machine learning for conversion optimisation
Machine learning is really taking centre stage in 2017 and it will be taking a lot of leg work out of small design tweaks, traffic allocation and data analysis.
In the past, it would be down to one designer to iterate on colour, copy, images, size, positioning, one strategist to manage traffic allocation and visitors and a data analyst to figure out what part of journey users are struggling with.
In the coming months, we should see more intelligent algorithms that will test the best combinations of a page design.
Currently, we will run a test, iterate if it fails, run another test, iterate on the copy, run another test, iterate on the layout and so on and so forth.
The problem with this process - though it does often have a positive impact on key metrics – is that it can be time consuming (depending on website traffic).
Machine learning will test these iterations in one go; think of it like MVT testing on steroids. You feed the ‘machine’ your research-informed variants and data and it will then produce dozens (if not hundreds) of iterations of the same page.
Then, using dynamic traffic allocation, we can see these tests conclude quicker.
This process will ultimately save weeks of testing time (the build etc.) and free up UX Designers’ time so they can think about even bigger and better ideas; something the machines will never be able to do as well as us!
“I lost my job to a machine.”
As we look to 2017, my expectation, and my big worry, is that we’ll begin to see the first shocks of widespread unemployment driven by autonomous technology.
Self driving trucks will be on the road in Ohio in a matter of months. Uber has self driving cars on the road in Pittsburg. Amazon has a store with no employees.
As this trend takes hold everything changes. The price of all goods is driven mostly by transport; ships, planes, trains and automobiles. As transportation and service jobs are replaced, the cost of goods and transport begins to drop significantly.
The entire value chain is going to need to be rethought. I think the big question we’re going to start grappling with in 2017 is, “What happens to all of us when industry gets ‘smart?’”
We will not all adopt VR
Will Grant & Steffan Aquarone:
Instead it’ll just get better, and faster. But it’s still waaay too rubbish for most people to want to prefer the world of a VR headset to that of reality.
Impressive as the latest experiences are, a serious technological leap is needed before designing experiences for VR becomes a mainstream part of most organisations’ product strategies.
Before we give over a big chunk of our spinal or optical nervous bandwidth to Google, we’ll develop better, more human interfaces with the machine. Or no interfaces at all (predictive AI).
The merging of disciplines (research, design, psychology)
Paul Rouke, founder & CEO, PRWD:
Typically seen as very different roles within a digital team, people who are passionate about user research, design and psychology will see that they are in high demand. This is because their skills are inherently interlinked.
Those who specialise in [just one of] user research, design or psychology, but have no interest in the other areas (or don’t collaborate with other people who have these complementary skills and experiences) will be seen as a waste of potentially valuable resource.
The world is not flat
Will Grant & Steffan Aquarone:
We hope that the ‘make everything flat’ trend has come to an end and we can start building some proper visual affordances into user interfaces so that non-UX people can actually use them again.
The evolution from being product-led to customer-led
Will Grant & Steffan Aquarone:
User experience will develop into more of a mindset than solely a product-related craft.
Lots of organisations have sat pretty for a long time – they’ve dominated sectors, enjoyed monopolies and created big management structures that have taken decision makers ever further away from their customers.
UX people have to battle against this sort of corporate inertia every day as they try to make things people want, not the stuff companies want them to use. But they’re starting to show the value of the approach and we expect to see more evidence of these principles being applied to the design of organisations, not just products.
Imagine what your company would look like if it was designed around how your customers found it easiest to interact with!
As more businesses invest in A/B testing built upon research and the understanding of user behaviour, they will begin to evolve from being what they have always been (product-led), to becoming a more customer-led business.
In early 2016 in my article Five digital realities every CEO and MD must face, reality four was “You will need to become customer-centric at some stage”.
2017 is no different, this requirement isn’t going to go away.
Brands rethinking their next “big redesign”
In 2017, more brands will take a different approach when it comes to redesigning their online experience.
Instead of user research, conversion-centered design and behavioural psychology being either ‘nice to have’ (or not being budgeted for at all), they will begin to form the foundation for user experience redesigns.
Website redesigns will be less about creating ‘best in class’, beautiful looking user experiences and more about addressing what your users are looking for and how you can differentiate your brand from your competitors. There isn’t such a thing as ‘brand loyalty’ anymore.
Prior to moving into a redesign, brands will begin to utilise informed A/B testing to trial major user experience changes, significantly reducing the chance of a negative result.