The State of UX Design in 2022: What Lies Ahead

Since the inception of UX design in 1993, the field has been constantly evolving, changing, and redefining its core concepts. By keeping abreast of the latest trends in technology, communication, and what’s happening worldwide, teams can create products and solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people who use their interfaces. 

Better Connections With Our Peers, Customers, and Users

Perhaps the most important change that our industry is observing is the emphasis on what users want to see. UX design doesn’t happen in a bubble; everything that we create has the opportunity to cause ripples of change in both the corporate world and everyday society. 

Because of this, it is essential for designers to have empathy, think ethically, and constantly be mindful of who their potential users are, directly and indirectly. 

Additionally, connection with our peers just as our customers allows us to stay current, relevant, and engaged in the constantly changing world of technology. 

At Grand Studio, we foster an environment where designers can always be learning something new – and we recognize that there is always room for improvement. By encouraging our designers to forge new connections and nurture existing ones, we empower them with a thirst for knowledge that will have them searching for new and improved ways to reimagine the world from a UX perspective.

Accessibility: Creating for Everyone, Not Just the Majority

There has been a much-needed societal shift in recent years toward expanding accessibility. In the past, the technology field used to design their products for the majority of the people that would use them and unfortunately ignored the rest. 

While there may have been certain inclusionary aspects to the design, such as speech-to-text options for the visually impaired, overall UX design was more concerned with being efficient and visually appealing. 

Although we were not immune to this shortcoming, Grand Studio has taken great strides to adjust the way we approach our process. While we have always made an effort to make our designs inclusive, we now include accessibility from the ground up. 

Through teamwork, collaboration and co-creation, we strive to ensure that no group is excluded in our designs and that we create our designs from the standpoint of diversity and inclusion.

We believe that one of the most significant changes that the industry will see this year is the inclusion of diverse, socially-aware representations in UX design. In addition, we see more companies beginning to focus on creating more accessible and inclusive designs from the framework up rather than waiting for feedback to incorporate it at a later stage. 

Data Accumulation and the Value of Data

Collecting and processing immense amounts of data is easier now than ever before. The problem is no longer in data acquisition but rather in determining what data is relevant and what is superfluous. 

As methods of collecting data continue to improve and, in many cases, become automated, it is up to the design teams to decide which metrics are essential for the development of new products, processes, and services. 

We foresee a greater emphasis placed on understanding the value of specific data and how that is determined. UX is crucial here to help bring in research methods and critical thinking on how various metrics or data points might impact the people involved in any data-enabled solutions or collections. Working jointly with business stakeholders to craft metrics that measure necessary elements and account for the human factors will allow for a better and more holistic view of incoming data. 

The Importance of Data Visualization

Although data visualization and accumulation are not new concepts in the technology field, we see an even greater emphasis on them in the future, especially given the trend towards more data. 

Having access to reliable, easy-to-understand data is arguably the most essential aspect of creating a new product or process for any company. 

User data shows how your staff or customers are utilizing certain products or systems, but it also informs you how they are using it and how often it is being used and gives insight into how those things could be improved. 

At the same time, the data that is being provided must be displayed in an engaging, accessible, and easily digestible way. If too much irrelevant information is included in the visualization, things will get lost in translation. 

For example, we worked with the world’s largest fast-food chain when they were trying to improve their efficiency on which foods to cook en masse vs. per order. They instituted a process that collected data on the items ordered most frequently, but the data collection alone wasn’t enough. They needed a visualization that enabled action, so their employees knew what to do with the data.

By showing the restaurant the data in a clear and digestible way, they were able to reduce costs and food waste while simultaneously improving the efficiency of their line staff and reducing downtime. 

No Code Technology Will Pave the Way to Greater Innovation

In recent years, No-Code technology has emerged as a solution to the lack of available developers in the technology field. While not prevalent yet, we see this as a way to enable greater access to creating applications, processes, and systems in the near future for designers. 

Currently, UX designers are only one-half of the equation for building UX interfaces. With no-code technology, designers can be less dependent on developers, which speeds up the process and drastically increases the potential skillsets available to designers without undergoing lengthy and often expensive training.

As this technology becomes more widely available, designers will be able to implement their ideas directly via graphic user interfaces that allow for drag-and-drop coding. Ideally, this will also reduce the possibility of coding errors that can derail the development process. 

Although there is still significant work on the No-Code front for it to be truly viable, we are excited to see what the future holds in this new frontier. 

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How to Meet Service Design Expectations in the “New Normal”

Over the past few years, services across industries have gone mostly touchless and digital, removing humans as much as possible. We now have easier remote banking, contactless food delivery, telehealth access, and online shopping for all of retail. 

With a new normal establishing itself between the ebbs and surges of COVID, we have the ability to incorporate humans and in-person services again. But what we’re starting to see is this doesn’t mean we can scrap the digital and just go back to the way things were pre-pandemic. Nor do people want to keep living in a digital-only world. So how do we reorient our services to meet the expectations of our “new normal” users? 

Start with the service design process

The good news is that, from a design process standpoint, we can be pretty picky about where we need to be in person again. Despite some adjustment periods for many teams, the remote collaboration and investigation most design teams have been doing for the last two years have worked pretty well. Things like digital co-creation workshops and remote customer interviews have been super beneficial for engaging with customers in a space that can be less invasive than being in their home and less nerve-wracking or difficult to access/schedule around than an office or meeting space. 

That said, research is crucial to understanding users’ behaviors and desires. And fresh qualitative research can help you understand your customers’ new routines and behaviors and determine which parts of your service should remain digital, which require a nuance or complexity best served by offering in-person, and which points of the process should have multichannel access.

When it comes to how you do that research, it’s important to note that digital-only research can leave out customers for whom digital is not readily available, along with some observational ethnographic studies which are just challenging to do remotely. These scenarios are great reasons to incorporate in-person research modes again and ensure the full picture is considered for a service design. 

Takeaway #1: Return to onsite/in-person research to get detailed information on behaviors and context that customers may not be aware of to tell you about in a remote conversation, but couple it with remote interviews where you will get information to “color in” the observation. This will allow for the maximum coverage of user types and information. 

Creating a “new normal” service for 2022

When it comes to the actual service provided, it’s probably no surprise that customers have become accustomed to having digital options that they can access from home. And truly, many people like having these digital options that can either replace in-person services for greater comfort, convenience, or accessibility (like online religious services or remote workout sessions) or shorten their in-person time (like pre-registering for a doctor’s appointment before arrival). But for those same doctor’s appointments, some people prefer the in-person experience to the telehealth calls they’ve made do with for the last few years. And, let’s be honest: while online workouts are great when you don’t have the time to get that mental health break and also get to work, sometimes you might just want more of a community setting for your wellness moment.

Every business and every service is going to be a little different, in terms of meeting the expectations of 2022 users, but you can bet that some amount of multichannel solution will be in your future. Starting workshops now with stakeholders from various departments who work on the different channels and touchpoints will help you understand sooner rather than later the technical or operational constraints and business viability of continuing, removing, or adding to the existing channels. 

Takeaway #2: Get the right people “in the room” together to talk through everyone’s plans and capabilities moving forward. Use customer research to define which channels are most valuable and align the strengths of digital and in-person to specific pain points in a customer journey. This can help you define the right, holistic experience for your customers and ultimately, your business.

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