Illustration by Philip Nordström
You’re interested in a career in UX design but unsure of what the field’s genuine prospects are. It’s not just you! Let’s take a look at the current situation.
The previous several years have seen some very significant developments in the world. Collectively, we have seen a pandemic, witnessed the quick emergence and incorporation of social media into our daily lives, and are currently experiencing some radically futuristic technological advancements.
The combination of these improved technology capabilities and the status of the world today has kept designers on their toes while creating answers to the problems we face today.
So, what does UX’s future hold? Let’s find out.
Where are we right now?
Let’s examine the present state of UX design before taking a glimpse at its future.
Since Don Norman first used the word “user experience” in the early 1990s, UX has advanced significantly. Between the 1980s and 2017, the Nielsen Norman Group estimates that there were 1 million UX professionals. By 2050, the project is that there will be 100 million UX specialists worldwide.
What causes this exponential growth, exactly? According to Nielsen Norman, there are three basic causes:
The internet revolution
excellent media coverage
Before personal computing, it was uncommon for the people who bought computers and mainframes to also be the ones who used them. Therefore, as more people started using personal computers, the usability of digital goods had a bigger effect on sales.
The web revolution of the late 1990s and early 2000s followed. Prior to this, a consumer would often buy a product before setting it up and using it. Following the website boom, customers had to engage with a company’s website before making a purchase.
Therefore, it was essential for companies to increase their online presence-related spending.
The importance of properly creating the user’s experience also swiftly made its way into mainstream media as UX entered its “Golden Era” from 2010 to 2017. During this time, more people got familiar with the discipline.
After seeing all this favorable PR, company executives, startup founders, and hiring managers became keen to add UX specialists to their organizations.
The NN Group predicts that despite the UX profession’s tremendous development and the almost 1 million UX designers working globally, this growth will eventually reduce from a growth factor of 1000 to 100. What is to blame for this decline in prediction? We’ll go through a couple of them in the following section.
Is UX becoming less necessary?
Illustration by OrangeCrush
Simply put: No. There is still a need for UX. Simply defined, the nature and texture of the job adapt and grow to fit consumers’ needs as new technology enters the market, just like pretty much every tech industry does.
The user’s experience has become a given since the Golden Age of UX. Few CEOs need to be persuaded of the value of providing delightful user experiences, and developing high-quality designs has become more approachable for designers just starting out in their careers.
Senior UX designers are still in high demand, but rookie designers can now match many higher-ups in terms of expertise and ability thanks to access to such sophisticated and comprehensive design platforms. The UX career ladder is being viewed as becoming static by many. However, this is absolutely untrue.
UX designers are still in high demand. Expectations for UX designers naturally change as technology advances since the field adapts and changes with them.
It’s no longer sufficient to be an expert on ideas that are just relevant to the UX field. It’s shrewd to take an all-encompassing approach to the user’s experience if you want to be a well-rounded and competitive UX designer.
This typically entails having an awareness of the technology they’ll be utilizing, how the products are produced and delivered, as well as the business strategies and objectives that get the items into the hands of customers.
Some worry that because of this, the term “UX designer” has become too ambiguous and that having such a diverse skill set would ultimately cause the career to disappear, forcing more designers to specialize or use a different title.
But it’s crucial to stress that these “evolved” designers are learning new skills to complement their existing knowledge of UX design, and how they put those abilities into practice is greatly impacted by their UX design mentality.
Last but not least, the rapid advancement of the UX designer profession is largely a result of the enormous technological strides made in the last ten years. Some UX designers might be concerned that ultimately AI will replace them and that their jobs would become unnecessary.
However, even if you might be able to ask Siri to create an app for you in the near future, there are still some holes that need to be filled by technology. The field of UX design fills these gaps and flourishes in this rapidly evolving technology world.
In other words, the UX field has a bright future.
How will UX change? 2022 and beyond trends
The demand for high-caliber UX work is still very much alive today. Although it might appear that the industry is dwindling, UX is merely keeping up with the trends. In the years to come, “UX” as we currently understand it will undoubtedly seem somewhat different.
Here are some significant changes and developments in UX design that we can anticipate in the near future.
Utilizing motion design and gesture interfaces to increase usability
Having a useful product that fixes the user’s issue is no longer sufficient. Users now and in the future have higher expectations. They should be able to easily interact with, enjoy, and be visually pleasing with the goods they utilize. Users may be engaged and have frictionless experiences by using motion design.
Filling empty spaces with appropriate animations and engaging transitions is a wonderful approach to engage users, appeal to their emotions, and create a seamless experience for them.
Mobile devices are also being used by users more frequently. On a smartphone or tablet, they anticipate being able to accomplish everything they could on a website. Screen space is reduced on smaller devices.
Using movements (such as swiping, pinching, tapping, or tilting the screen) in this situation is crucial. More content may be stored in an app without crowding the screen or overpowering the user by using simple gestural interfaces.
UX designers will specialize more
The future of user experience is a specialized one. It will be much more crucial for designers to have a specialty or specialized discipline as the knowledge and abilities of UX designers at all levels rise.
In many of the current job advertisements for UX positions, this is already apparent. Companies are increasingly looking for UX/UI specialists who can work both on the user interface and the user experience, interaction designers, UX researchers, content and product designers, and even voice-guided UI specialists.
With a well-established foundation in UX, becoming an expert is quite simple to transition from being a generalist. The moment is now to widen your knowledge and broaden your skill set.
Thinking ahead and preparing yourself for your future in UX can be done by picking up some coding skills, brushing up on design strategy and team leadership, or learning more about analytics. The finest UX boot camps provide specialization courses to assist you to advance in this field, which is great news for aspiring UX designers.
Designing for 3D interfaces, zero UI, and VR/AR
Illustration by Edvinas Narbutas
Future-oriented innovations like virtual reality, zero UI products, and 3D interfaces will undoubtedly become more available and popular as time goes on.
Augmented reality is already being used by businesses like IKEA, Target, and Home Depot to enhance online purchasing. Remember when Pokemon Go’s augmented reality technology swept the world?
Many businesses are preparing to adopt these simulated environment technologies, whether it be partial-, full-, or mixed-reality, and users are more eager than ever to interact with them.
As a result, it’s imperative that designers begin to comprehend how to design for these technologies. Consider the contrast between zero UI devices and 3D interfaces. Users’ voice commands, gestures, glances, and perhaps one day even thoughts and sentiments highly rely upon by-products that make use of these technologies.
In the future, UX designers should at least be aware of the significance of powerful animations, natural motions, and designing in several dimensions.
Voice controls for interfaces with little to no contact
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant push toward no-contact interfaces. With everyone’s health and safety as their top priorities, more designers than ever are developing devices that use voice commands instead of touch.
The use of speech user interfaces is already common (Siri, Alexa, Google home). But in the upcoming years, it is anticipated that voice command will become more significant in common and public locations like ATMs, subway ticket machines, payphones, elevators, etc.
Develop a solid understanding of how to visually design in a way that works with voice commands, or at the very least, learn a little bit about voice user interface design.
As the world becomes more dependent on voice-activated gadgets, UX designers will need to become experts at creating relevant and effective visual instructions, confirmations, and animations.
Collaborating with AI
The ability to evaluate recent and historical data and foresee the wants and behaviors of the user has always been a hallmark of a great designer. Will demand for UX designers decline if artificial intelligence can perform the same task in roughly half the time? Simply put, no.
Although AI is capable of quickly and efficiently producing prototypes and analyzing vast volumes of data, it still lacks the capability to address the delicate issues that only those who have truly experienced human life can comprehend.
UX designers will still be required to identify the issues that need to be solved, formulate the best questions to ask, and apply empathy to user obstacles, such as those related to disease, handicap, finances, and family.
The use of AI will undoubtedly speed up and simplify the work of UX designers because they will be able to delegate most of the data analysis to AI systems and focus more on their designs.
But there are numerous problems that crop up that AI systems can’t handle, that they actually cause, or that can only be resolved by humans.
One last thing
You might be debating at this point whether UX is a promising field to enter or if you’ve already worked as a UX designer for a while, whether it’s time to switch careers. Although the profession is undoubtedly changing, it is not about to vanish any time soon.
Our high-tech lifestyles are changing the requirements and skill sets of UX designers, so what seasoned professionals conceive of as UX may look a little different in the years to come as new technologies, new user demands, and more areas of expertise impact the UX business.
However, UX design is a sound and important field that offers a remarkably thorough foundation for product development, actual interaction design, UI, and even coding.