Design predictions for 2013

Authors: Uday Gajendar
Posted: Tue, January 08, 2013 - 12:03:36

Well, folks, it's that time of the year again, when we peruse the Interwebs and come across list, after list, after list (sigh!), of predictions for what's ahead in the new year: trends, technologies, and buzzwords. So, I thought I'd play this game, too. (I mean, folks are still returning from the holidays, so the office is a running a bit slow.) I spent a few minutes to reflect upon what's ahead based upon my current vantage point—not as a fortune-teller, but simply as a designer engaged with R&D projects and the broader UX community. Here is my take:

Design thinking (as a strategic business enabler, espoused by Stanford and others) will simply become an expected skill at the next job interview, in terms of showing how to apply it to your role. If you (or your peers) don't know about design thinking or unwilling to learn design thinking, or at least participate in some workshops, you might not be hired!

Service as a service. This is a cheeky way to say we need to reframe everything we design in the enterprise as truly "customer service and experience," which requires a design-oriented mindset of empathy and simplicity to be successful, across the board regardless of job title and level of design engagement. It's not just about a pixel-perfect UI, or validated metrics, but also a broader set of services integrated, coherent, and flexible for diverse markets and platforms.

Natural (or Organic) UX. With the ongoing proliferation of touch devices (now armed with voice, camera, and sensors), device interactions will become more fluid, with less buttons or "traditional" UI elements. Expect to see more “pure gesture” apps like Clear. Button-laden interfaces will increasingly seem passé. It’s more about animating the human gesture/body into the software dialogue, with focus on content and user interaction.

And finally, the Internet of things is becoming more pervasive in our landscape (check out Twine, or recent toys with programmable sensors and corresponding smartphone apps) as is 3-D printing, as prices come down and consumers start to unleash the reality of personal manufacturing, from gears to guns. The combination of these two forces is mind-blowing in terms of personal ability to produce and connect truly anything. Thus, designing will increasingly involve nuancing the “micro-conversations” with everyday things, ambient and invisible. And it will require handling the ethics of enabling DIY production (with pervasive connectivity) at personal and global scales. 

Challenges and excitement lie ahead for 2013 and beyond. Let's get to it! 

Posted in: on Tue, January 08, 2013 - 12:03:36

Uday Gajendar

Uday Gajendar is Director of User Experience at CloudPhysics, focused on bringing beauty and soul to Big Data for virtualized datacenters.
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