As the number of technology-based start-ups increases, so does the number of digital products. While all digital products aim to solve a problem or enhance an activity, you can only achieve these aims when the intended users can relate with the product to solve their problems. Hence, the rise in the need for UX designers.
UX design is a simple way to express customers' or product users' experiences as they interact with a digital product. A satisfactory experience compels users to explore such products. This experience will help achieve the product creator's goal of using such products to solve problems. The UX designer is the cornerstone of achieving this goal.
Over time, technology has progressed. From the days of simple computers like calculators to land phones and mobile phones, now to android phones, artificial intelligence, and sophisticated machine learning.
UX design has changed the face of how we interact with products. Thus, it is safe to say that the future of UX design will also thrive on creating a seamless interaction between users and products.
The development of new technologies has had a significant impact on UX strategy. A product designer must see the future of UX design in the light of emerging technologies.
In this article, I will be discussing the current state of UX design, the future of UX design, what the future holds for UX designers, and the basic skills to embrace by UX designers that will enable competitive advantage in the design industry.
The Journey so far in the UX design industry
Involvement of technology in UX Design
The world has undergone enormous transformations in recent years. We have all been through a worldwide pandemic, seen the quick emergence, and how we incorporated social media into our daily lives, and are now witnessing some incredible technological advancements.
The combination of growing technology capabilities and the current situation of the globe has kept product designers on their toes when creating answers for today's problems.
Since Don Norman created the word "user experience" in 1993, UX has come a long way.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, UX designers grew from 1,000 to one million between 1980 and 2017. They forecast that by 2050, the profession will have grown from 1 million to 100 million UX professionals, which implies a 100% increase.
Let's examine the three reasons for this exponential growth as explained by Nielsen Norman.
The Computer Revolution
The 1980s PC revolution increased the demand in the computer industry to enhance product usability.
The Internet Revolution
Companies were under far more pressure to increase the quality of their product interaction design during the web revolution of the 1990s and 2000s. The purchase always came first, followed by user experience with traditional PC applications.
With websites, the order of these two phases has changed, resulting in user experience coming first, followed by a purchase. This change elevated the importance of UX design. It also led to a surge in demand for UX professionals.
Excellent media coverage
Thanks to extensive journalistic coverage, the usability of products has been the "hot new thing" for the past 70 years. The demand has not decreased and is increasing year after year.
Currently, most companies embrace the usability of products and incorporate human-computer interaction systems in their digital product design. Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning are now beginning to find expressions in UX design.
What is the future of UX design?
The future of UX design is going to follow the same foundation of prioritizing the user experience on which it was built, only that it would be aided with better technologies to better users’ interaction while solving their problems.
It is no longer enough to produce a functional product that solves a user's problem. While that is great, users' expectations of products have increased and will yet increase in years.
Research has revealed that users want a useful and easy product to interact with, entertaining, and visually appealing. To achieve this, you have to conduct strong user research and stay updated with trends in UX design. This is what will count in the future of UX design.
UX design is expanding and showing good development trends, particularly in more specialized areas like user research. User research enables a designer to understand users' needs, emotions, pain points, and expectations. It also allows a designer to tailor his design to meet every user's silent flexibility in a product. Thus, user research will serve as the mainstay of development for creating desirable experiences in the future of UX design.
User experience will be the primary value driver in the future economy. The user experience of products will be a significant distinction between premium and commodity digital products. Still, it would also be the first and only way to overcome the current productivity slump in developed countries.
When skilled workers provide the most value, cognitive-design methods and technologies complementing the human mind are best to boost productivity. As a result, technologies that ignore human experience in an information-based economy are a recipe for long-term underperformance.
We already know that UX has a high return on investment. It will continue to do so as we work to tackle the advanced economies' productivity challenges, extending the goal of the UX profession beyond the current preoccupation. This action will increase users' connection to their devices.
Also, the future of UX design will be built on improved technologies that offer a seamless experience to users. Technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, machine learning, blockchain technology, and metaverse will be the major drivers of the future of the UX design industry.
Will there be an increase in the need For UX Designers?
The answer to this ranging question is a resounding YES. The need to have a human-centered design that gives satisfying digital experiences in the everyday lives of digital product users is ever-increasing. This will also result in an exponential increase in the need for UX professionals with both soft skills and hard skills critical to creating user experience design.
A user designer's genuine value to the design process comes from human-centered skills like communication, collaboration, empathy, and critical thinking, not only technical knowledge.
Are you aware UX designers are In-demand?
UX design is the new gig.
Since the emergence of short-term certification courses in UX Design, the number of designers who want to learn more about UX as a career has seen a significant increase. UX design was also named one of the top 50 professions in America by Glassdoor.
Also, in-person, intensive, and expensive design education gave way to remote, self-paced learning. Everything from online boot camps to YouTube playlists, email-based courses, self-paced lessons, and more is available in new formats. An excellent example of an online Bootcamp with structured learning is the GoCreate USA Bootcamp.
As a result of this trend, companies that struggle to hire full-time designers now turn to Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, and other related freelance platforms to satisfy their short-term demands, providing newly-certified designers with an excellent opportunity to gain experience.
As UX becomes more popular, it's becoming more accessible than ever to get someone to "design your app." As a result, there is an increasing demand for entry-level and senior UX designers.
What does the future hold for UX designers?
It's no longer enough to have a firm grasp of concepts related to user experience. It's wise to take an all-encompassing approach to the user's experience that combines the best research methodologies with design practices if you want to be a well-rounded and competitive UX designer.
UX professionals work in a world driven by technology, and it's easy to get sucked in by the latest trend's tools. However, developing human-centered design abilities while finding a balance with UX technology is necessary to embrace and endure the future of UX genuinely.
Let's consider the essential skills for UX designers as we embrace the future of UX design.
UX Professional Design Skills
UX design has been defined as an encompassing multimodal approach to determining the shape, behavior, and content of user interfaces for digital products. Interaction design, visual interface design, industrial design, information design, user-centered design, user assistance design, and information design are all integrated into user experience design, ensuring conformity across all design parameters.
Technology innovation necessitates designers staying current with the latest approaches and methodologies. They can improve how people engage with technology by better understanding human behavior. The relevance of every designer is hinged on mastery of the following skills:
Basic Hard Skills Required in UX Design
1. Design Thinking
Design thinking is a fundamental skill in the field of user experience design. It outlines a simple process in which UX professionals identify a problem, map out potential solutions, prototype those solutions, evaluate and optimize those preliminary products, and subsequently deploy a deliverable solution.
Design thinking is important in UX design because it allows designers to adjust to changing settings and behaviors of users. Designers must develop and deploy innovative UX designs in advance of the reality of evolving technologies for new complex problems, as the world becomes increasingly complicated and consumers experience new challenges.
2. Mapping Decisions
Decision mapping, like design thinking, gives a broad theoretical perspective of how to explore and solve challenges. Decision mapping, on the other hand, is directly linked to solving research challenges, clarifying why research is being undertaken, and aligning findings with strategic decision-making.
Basic questions designers usually ask in decision mapping include:
Why Should this product be developed?
Is it possible to delete this functionality without causing any problems in another area?
What is the best approach to creating the navigation of a product website? Assumed 'small task' to be accomplished by a user on a web page is one of the qualities that enhance a product's usability.
UX designers can use prototyping to work through technological difficulties.
A prototype is a model or sample of a finished product used to experiment and gather feedback. Visualizing how a product will look is an essential aspect of the product development process.
Depending on the stage of development, you can create wireframes, low-fidelity or high-fidelity prototypes, mockups, or user flows.
A wireframe is a visual depiction of a web page design used to rank page elements based on the demands of the users.
Before a project goes into production, professionals use the process to evaluate product performance, see how consumers might use it, and identify any user issues. This allows designers to play around with shape and function without constantly rebuilding complete things.
UX designers start by sketching out their ideas on paper or with minimal software, which may then be refined with the help of other engineers and coworkers. The drawing is used to create a low-fidelity wireframe, which shows how items should be placed without focusing on functionality.
4. Design software and visual design
Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, and Illustrator are some of the graphic design programs used by UX and UI designers to build the visual parts of a product. Aside from tool skills, you should brush up on visual design best practices such as color theory, icons, typography, layout, and general design theory.
5. Information Organization (Information Architecture)
UX designers must be able to prioritize and arrange large amounts of data. A UX designer needs to be in charge of information and its arrangement during the product development process. The ability to organize data based on importance and how a user can relate to the data is the key to designing a user-centered digital product.
6. Front-end coding basics
Though understanding front-end programming isn't a requirement for every UX designer, it has become an extra skill that can give you an edge. Designers must be able to interact with developers based on shared knowledge of what developers can do and what challenges they can encounter during the development process.
7. UX Design for Augmented Reality
Unlike any other technology, Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) allow you to create a unique and immersive experience for the user. It can potentially change the way we interact with our surroundings drastically.
The use of Virtual Reality requires a headset and enriches fictitious reality. On the other hand, Augmented Reality uses a real-world setting; it can be accessed with a smartphone. AR enhances both the virtual and actual worlds.
When you use these technologies in the design process, users are more engaged and have a more immersive experience. UX experts must ensure that they continue to grow in this field to remain relevant and design innovative solutions that satisfy human needs.
Basic Soft Skills Required in UX Design
The first phase in the design thinking technique is to "empathize." Your job is to design products for individuals who will be affected by your decisions and the service you provide. Given this, you'll need to understand your target audience thoroughly.
Empathy, which is often confused with compassion, is more than just understanding people's problems; it's the ability to see yourself in the position of your user so that you can share in their emotions.
Empathy is a creative, dynamic response that asks you to put your viewpoint and beliefs aside to take on another's. Designers must put themselves in the shoes of their ideal user and evaluate that user's environment, key motivations, anxieties, and ambitions, rather than relying on previous research or second-hand data to generalize about end-users.
An important UX designer skill is the ability to cooperate with other teams. You'll be collaborating with different groups regularly as a UX designer.
You may collaborate with leadership to set business goals, user interface (UI) designers to add visual elements to a mockup or high-fidelity prototype, or developers to put your designs into code, depending on the project and stage of development.
Working as part of a team also entails learning how to give and take feedback and incorporating new ideas for improving the product.
Designers can more easily describe an issue and combine their efforts to produce a practical solution when they collaborate.
Communication is a critical component in developing and releasing collaborative, fully-fledged products in UX. UX communication usually involves communication within the UX community, firm, and clients.
When performing user research, strong communication skills assist you in acquiring more valuable data from customers and inspire passion among stakeholders when presenting your designs. Adequate visual and written communication (UX writing) are essential components of good UX.
Every professional UX designer who is and will be relevant in the future of UX design must master the art of persuasion in their work.
The ability to persuade is a diplomatic skill. However, it takes a human to understand another human, so UX researchers work to understand their consumers' social and personal psychology.
As new technologies, new user demands, and increasing areas of specialty dominate the UX industry, the requirements and skill sets of UX designers are adjusting to our high-tech lives what professionals in the UX industry conceive of as UX may look slightly different in the coming years.
However, UX design is a solid and essential profession that provides a foundation for product development, physical interaction design, user interface design, and even coding.