Where is Experience Design headed in 2018?

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Trends, by definition, come and go, but our mission as experience designers remains the same: to make people’s lives better. Here are my predictions for the remainder of the year ahead.

Data revolution

When GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) takes effect in May this year, many companies will face the prospect of being non-compliant and will need to redesign their services. As customers will hold all the power over the use of their personal data, companies will have a duty to inform them of how they gather, store and use any of that data.

From a customer perspective, this will lead to a call for greater transparency and a revolution in digital engagement. The challenge for experience designers will be to create new ways of helping people understand the new policies and how they can take back control of their data.

The days of dark patterns in data harvesting will be no more.

Voice is here to stay

The success of Siri, Alexa, Cortana and OK Google suggests that voice interaction is here to stay. In 2018, we will continue to move away from focusing purely on design for the traditional graphical user interface (GUI) towards the domain of voice user interfaces (VUI).

The potential for VUI is huge: Gartner suggests that, by 2020, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be carried out without a screen.

The challenge, from an experience design perspective, is to really understand how people currently interact with all the various devices using VUI, and see how they can impact users’ day-to-day lives in a positive way. Branding too will need a rethink. Non-pixel-based experiences will challenge us to reimagine a brand’s personality and portrayal.

Make it accessible

In 2018, designers must finally embrace the fact that accessibility is fundamental to providing the best experience for everyone. The subject has been discussed for years (the first guidelines were published way back in 1995), but still is not top of the agenda: for example, fewer than a third of UK council websites are accessible to disabled people.

Despite the advances in assistive technologies, available bandwidth and computing speed, it’s still difficult for people with disabilities and motion or sight deficiencies to use software. Given that one in five people in the UK have a disability, it’s a huge issue.

But the tide is turning. Let’s ensure we make 2018 the year we put accessibility front and centre.

Every second counts

It’s official: Google has announced that, from July, slow mobile pages will hurt your search ranking. Most websites are nowhere near the halfway point of Google's benchmarks which means there is plenty of time to get ahead of the competition.

Performance is user experience. The average online shopper expects pages to load in two seconds or less, down from four seconds in 2006; after three seconds, up to 40% will abandon a site. Our goal, as experience designers, is to evoke emotions that produce desired outcomes. All too often, particularly on mobile, this is not happening.

Password reset

So many digital services that we interact with on a daily basis require a login/password combination to access. And passwords are getting more complicated, resulting in many of us continually having to make use of password recovery.

Verification codes have helped ease the security pain, but the two-step verification process often requires access to more than one device, tricky if you are out and about.

Welcome to Biometric Authentication. This year we should see less traditional passwords and more use of facial, voice recognition and fingerprints. You are your password.

The year of empathy

To help our clients create real value for their customers, we need to understand those customers even better than ever. Understanding underpins experience design. Let 2018 be the year of empathy.

Gareth Sully is head of experience design at MMT Digital

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