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Where Is The UX Industry Headed In 2019 & Beyond?

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It’s 2019, and UX design has come a long way. Most businesses have cottoned on to the value of good UX, and today’s consumers expect (and accept) nothing less. We’ve even made some progress in clearing up the eternal confusion between UX and UI!

As the field matures, it’s a great time to contemplate where the industry is headed. In this post, we won’t talk about storytelling, AI or the rise of voice. Instead, we’ll explore three major shifts in the way that UX designers are thinking and working in this constantly evolving industry.

So what’s changing the game in UX this year? Let’s take a look.

Calm Technology, Ethical Design & Digital Wellbeing

One truly significant shift we’ll see over the next few years is in how we design for the user. Traditionally, user-centered design has meant identifying and solving a real user problem — designing the most intuitive, enjoyable products imaginable. Ultimately, brands want to create experiences that the customer just can’t get enough of.

Now, this “can’t get enough” mentality is starting to become a huge problem. Surrounded by irresistible apps and digital services that promise to enhance our lives, we’ve lost the ability to switch off. Smartphone addiction is a very real cause for concern in today’s society, and one that brands and designers must actively address.

We are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of unethical design — from physical inactivity, sleep deprivation and lack of real-world engagement, all the way through to privacy issues, anxiety, and depression.

Up until now, the question has been: “How can we engage our users to the maximum?” In 2019 and beyond, the much more pressing matter for UX designers is: “How can we design user experiences that are healthy?”

How can we design healthy UX?

Google has set out to tackle this very issue with their Digital Wellbeinginitiative, creating “tools and features that help people better understand their tech usage, focus on what matters most, disconnect when needed, and create healthy habits for the whole family.” Users can now schedule breaks on YouTube, set high-priority notifications on Gmail to avoid notification overload, and send their smartphone into Do Not Disturb mode with a single voice command.

While such tools and features are a step in the right direction, they still place the responsibility in the user’s hands. To truly encourage healthy interactions with technology, we need design that is inherently responsible. Simple tweaks, such as Instagram’s “You’re all up to date” message that warns against excessive feed scrolling, can have a huge impact on the user experience. The user shouldn’t need to actively update their settings or activate certain features; in an ideal world, the design will automatically lend itself to healthy, limited consumption.

So, as brands and technology giants face increasing pressure to put the user’s wellbeing first, UX designers will need to redefine the meaning of user-centered design. Calm technology, ethical design, and digital wellbeing will be major industry buzzwords over the next few years as “good UX” becomes synonymous with “healthy UX”.

The Design Sprint Era & Rethinking User Research

Back in 2016, Jake Knapp started something of a revolution when he published Sprint — a bestseller that has now become an industry staple. A “five-day process for solving problems and testing new ideas”, the Design Sprint method has been steadily rising in popularity. These days, everyone’s talking about agile product development and lean UX.

With the focus on building a working, testable prototype as quickly as possible, this raises the question of where and how user research fits into the picture. Jonathan Courtney of Design Sprint agency AJ&Smart goes as far as to say that user research is overrated, claiming that Design Sprints have revealed an “expensive waste of time” in the modern design process.

Does this mean that UX research as we know it is dead?

Not quite. While the Design Sprint methodology is gaining traction, the industry isn’t quite ready to do away with UX research altogether. Rather, what we’ll see over the next few years is a new approach to UX research emerging — an approach that fits in much more neatly with short sprint cycles.

Cue another soon-to-be industry buzzword: Lean UX research. As the name suggests, lean UX research takes the underlying principles of lean product development and applies them to the traditional, more lengthy research process. Just like lean UX, lean user research focuses on quick decision-making.

So what might lean UX research look like in action?

As a concept very much in its infancy, there are no hard-and-fast rules or established guidelines for conducting lean UX research. However, we are gradually seeing more and more literature on this very topic. Early adopters of lean user research recommend pre-scheduling ongoing user testing sessions well in advance — and on an ongoing basis; sharing meaningful data with relevant stakeholders as soon as you’ve got it (doing away with lengthy reports), and allowing developers to sit in on usability tests.

Over the coming years, designers will face the challenge of trimming down their research processes while still procuring those all-important insights. UX research in the traditional sense will still hold a critical place in the design process; the trick will lie in knowing when to conduct extensive user research, and when to go lean for optimal results.

The Product Designer vs. UX Designer Debate

The industry has long been debating the validity of UX designer as a job title, and recent years have seen a shift towards more specialist job titles — such as UX researcher, UX writer, and information architect.

Now there’s another job title entering the fray: that of the product designer. In a trend which the experts at UX Collective call “the death and rebirth of UX”, the evolution of UX designers into product designers reflects an integral shift in responsibilities. Indeed, it’s no secret that, as the field matures, UX professionals are expected to understand, and be actively involved in, the overall product strategy and wider business goals. Does this mean, then, that every UX designer is also a product designer?

Are UX designers and product designers interchangeable?

This is where we start wading into murky waters. The reality is, the term “product designer” is as open to interpretation as the term “UX designer”, and tends to vary from company to company. In 2019 and beyond, designers and businesses alike will seek to define the product designer role and understand exactly how it differs from that of the UX designer.

A quick Google search will bring up several attempts at outlining the differences between product designers and UX designers. Read any of these articles and you’ll soon see that it’s not so clear-cut.

John Carter, a self-proclaimed product designer, sums it up nicely when he says: “There is not one MAJOR outstanding difference between the two! There are a few [small] things that make these two disciplines different. The skills are very similar, but it’s the questions that each person asks along the way that make the distinction.”

Both product designers and UX designers rely heavily on Design Thinking. Both are concerned with creating a user-friendly product, but the product designer takes a more brand-oriented view. While the UX designer might consider how the product feels in the hands of the user, the product designer will be looking at how the product fits into the wider business strategy.

When one stops being a UX designer and crosses over into product design is largely a matter of context. Some companies will look for UX designers with business know-how. Others — such as Google and Facebook — will hire product designers and UX designers entirely separately.

Through 2019 and beyond, the landscape of UX job titles will continue to be complex, controversial, and often contradictory. Those bearing the classic UX designer title will ultimately face a fork in the road: To specialize (UX researcher, information architect, interaction designer…) or to strategize (product designer, product manager…)?

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HUAWEI WON’T LAUNCH SMARTPHONE WITH HARMONY OS UNLESS…

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Although Huawei has officially launched the Harmony OS (Hongmeng). In fact, it’s been developed to Android OS on its smartphones. However, Huawei still emphasizes that the company is committed to staying in the eco-platform of Google. Recently, the Chinese communications and smartphone manufacturing giant said that there is no plan to launch a smartphone based on its self-developed system.

The above statement was made by Vincent Yang, senior vice president of Huawei, in a media event in New York on Wednesday. He pointed out that ‘we hope to maintain a set of standards and a set of ecology… Harmony OS is the company’s Plan B.”

Image result for harmonyos mate

This means that if the US continues to implement the ban and even refuses Huawei to acquire key components of the Android system including GMS and Play Store, then Harmony will play a preventive role.

According to Huawei, the amount of code in Harmony OS is much lower than that of Android. In addition to TV, Huawei is preparing to use it in smartwatches, in-car products and so on.

In addition, Yang hinted that Huawei’s next new flagship machine (which is widely believed to be the Mate 30 series) still runs the Android system. As for the switch to their OS, it will only happen at the last moment when the company is forced to disable Android.

WHEN WILL HUAWEI LAUNCH A SMARTPHONE RUNNING ON HARMONY OS?

According to Yang, Huawei currently has no plans to launch the smartphone running their own OS. But if the US maintains the ban, the situation may change.

P.S. Earlier, we have heard the first smartphone to come with this system will be the Mate 30 Lite. But now, after the statement of Huawei executive, there is no reason to think so. Although, in the case of Huawei, everything is possible.

Source: https://www.gizchina.com/2019/08/22/huawei-wont-launch-smartphone-with-harmony-os-unless/

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Facebook loses Oculus executive who led its mobile VR efforts

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Another Oculus executive who played a key role in Facebook’s VR efforts is leaving the company. Just a few days ago, Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell headed for the exit — now, Variety has revealed that Max Cohen, Oculus’ head of mobile, is also peacing out. While Facebook refused to give the publication an official statement, Cohen’s LinkedIn page confirms his departure. His current position says he’s an “explorer” who’s “learning new skills.”

Cohen joined Oculus as VP of mobile just a few weeks before Facebook’s acquisition and headed up several projects over the years. He led the Gear VR program and Oculus’ Samsung partnership, and he also led the development of the standalone Oculus Go VR headset. In addition, he started the Oculus Quest program, which spawned a standalone headsetthat’s able to play desktop-quality VR games.

What Cohen’s departure means for Oculus remains to be seen. As Varietynoted, Facebook is holding the Oculus Connect developer conference on September 25th and 26th. The social network is expected to reveal its virtual and augmented reality plans, so we’ll most likely hear about some of the projects Oculus is working on during the event.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/08/21/facebook-loses-oculus-head-of-mobile-vr/

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Samsung Beats Apple As AirPods Face Embarrassing Defeat

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If you are looking for the best wireless earbuds for your phone’s music, then Samsung is going to be very quick to point out that its Galaxy Buds have picked up the first ‘excellent’ rating for sound quality by a wireless device. Meanwhile Apple is going to be licking its wounds as the AirPods sit in a lowly 49th place in the same chart.

Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images)

Galaxy Buds charge wirelessly atop an S10 phone during the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019 (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images) GETTY

The rankings come from Consumer Reports’ study of the market, and it picks out a number of key features. Kim Eun-jin reports for Business Korea:

The Galaxy Buds were ranked first with 86 points, while AirPods, which are used by about 60 percent of wireless earphone users, came in 49th with 56 points.

Consumer Reports ranked the wireless earphones based on an evaluation of their sound quality and designs.

In terms of sound quality, only the Galaxy Buds received the “Excellent” grade. Consumer Reports said that the Galaxy Buds were one of the first portable Bluetooth earphones to achieve the highest sound quality grade.

The first is the aforementioned sound quality. Given the AirPods hang in the ear in the exact same way as a brick designed to look like Douglas Adams does not, and the Galaxy Buds fill the outer ear with optional ‘wings’ this should not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has experienced both.

Power was also highlighted. Not only do the Galaxy Buds offer more battery capacity with the six hours of advertised audio time reachable, the carry case (which tops up to allow for another seven hours) comes with wireless charging as standard.

Finally there’s the price. Once you pick and mix from Apple’s options to build a similar package of AirPods to the Buds, you realise that Samsung’s package significantly cheaper.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A man wears AirPods, Apple's wireless headphones in his ears (Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images)

North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A man wears AirPods, Apple’s wireless headphones in his ears (Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images) GETTY

The report also acknowledges that Apple is the market leader here with sixty percent of the wireless earbuds market. As with most Apple products, you don’t have full feature parity, and what you do you have is more expensive than the competition.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2019/08/19/samsung-galaxy-buds-vs-apple-airpods-wireless-headphones-best-winner-loser/#41384d6163e3

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