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UX design trends for 2016

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“Experience” might qualify as the most influential buzzword of 2015—especially when modified by “user” and “customer.”

That’s a good thing. The most forward-thinking companies were focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience all along, of course, but now the rest of the business world has caught on to the importance of that practice.

Similarly, providing an excellent user experience was always the point of great design, but now more companies recognize the critical role UX plays in delivering products and services, driving company growth, and advancing innovation.

So what’s next for UX? As one year draws to a close and another begins, it’s a good time to reflect on questions like that. So here are 3 design trends to watch in 2016.

1. Designing beyond apps and screens

Apps and the development of other new ways to deliver interactions via screens have been hot design trends for the past several years. But driven in part by consumer demand from increasingly tech-savvy users, designers are already thinking past apps and screens. In 2016 and beyond, post-app and post-screen design will become more prominent.

“In 2016 and beyond, post-app and post-screen design will become more prominent.”
Apple Watch. Photo by William Hook. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Apple Watch. Photo by William Hook. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Technologies like wearables and advances in artificial intelligence signify new ways to interact, and as technology becomes more consumerized—both in real life and as the subject of entertainment (e.g., The Minority Report and Her)—the cycle between a groundbreaking concept and a marketable product will grow shorter.

2. Storytelling by design

Bringing new ideas from insight to action entails overcoming many obstacles. In the past, R&D shops developed new concepts, conducted extensive testing, and sold cutting-edge ideas to developers.

After the 1990s, this channel from insight to action faded in favor of pitching ideas to funders to obtain capital or to executives to secure approval for development projects. That trend will continue, but a shift toward storytelling as the primary way to capture investor and executive attention will grow.

“User-driven stories will increasingly be recognized as the optimal way to deliver a pitch.”
Example of a persona.

Example of a persona.

User-driven storytelling lets users experience groundbreaking concepts as if they were already a reality. Short (approximately 2 minutes), easily digestible, user-driven stories will increasingly be recognized as the optimal way to deliver an effective pitch.

3. Design as a core skill

In a fundamental sense, everyone is a born designer. Early humans had to design a way to survive in a changing, challenging environment, and the history of humankind ever since has been a story of more complex design leading to innovation.

“In the coming years, more enterprises will put a premium on design skills.”

In the Design 2.0 world, businesses will increasingly recognize the centrality of design to the enterprise and treat it as a core skill. Design competency makes people better thinkers, facilitators, and storytellers. In the coming years, more enterprises will put a premium on design skills, and HR organizations will start to offer design training to employees across all business categories, much as presentation skills classes are typically accessible to all.

If there’s one common element in these 3 trends, it’s an acknowledgement of the centrality of design to both great UX and delivery of an excellent customer experience.

In 2016 and beyond, users will increasingly complete interactions without apps and screens, innovation will be advanced by more effective storytelling, and more people will recognize the need for basic design skills, no matter what their role is in the enterprise.

In many ways, that future is already here. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a UX designer.

CTA for those not in hs to DO UI kit
CTA for those not in hs to DO UI kit
Author

Risto Lähdesmäki, CEO and Co-Founder at Idean
Risto is an entrepreneur-spirited-jack-of-all-trades-creative-director with over 10 years background in user experience design. He has been involved in hundreds of design projects and is shaping the future of branding through UX. Risto is an entrepreneur and designer at heart and has worked with startups as well as corporates throughout his professional career and in his role as CEO at global design firm Idean.

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