UX Trends (I hope to see) in 2017

Here’s the article I wrote for Content Science Review last month, reposted here.

In part one, I wrote about the UX Trends (I think) we will see in 2017. In this follow-up, I list trends that I hope we will see in the new year, because I think that there’s some important ground to cover in these areas.

So here’s what I hope will happen:

An increased focus on motivators, persuasion and cognitive psychology

While there is still space to experiment in new interaction models and UI designs, the core of what user experience a valuable discipline is understanding what people need/want/desire. While we tend to think people are rational about their decisions, in actuality we make decisions based on our emotions and then (often) rationalize the decision after the fact. Probing what motivates users allows us to create more effective solutions and offerings.

A key focus that smart designers should look at is persuasion – what do people respond to, and how can these “triggers” be used to influence decisions. This is more art than science, and one of the prominent figures in the field is Robert Cialdini. His most recent book, Pre-Suasion, is a great primer into the domain and any UX practioner who reads it should find it quite valuable.

An increased focus on Accessibility and Inclusive Design

In the past accessibility as often been viewed as an a afterthought, something to do after the prodiuct or service is mostly “baked.” In truth, what we design should be able to “work” for all users, whatever their capabilities. In fact, we have found that integrating Accessibility and Inclusive Design into the process produces more robust and unique experiences

More enablers, less process

We love UX, but at the same time UX teams often focus too much on the design process rather than the goal of any such process: Make things better for users. At least, that is what I hope teams focus on (too many focus on “how can we design something to make the most money?”)

A good example of an enabler is the electronic plane ticket – being able to open an app and show security and gate agents your ticket means a streamlined experience that makes your trip easier and better.

My hope is that designers stop trying to do “moon shot” projects, and instead focus on understanding the little things – what people do day in and day out… and then start creating small simple enablers that makes life better, one little moment at a time.

A clear consistent definition of what “UX” is

While the user experience design domain has matured and gotten traction in organizations large and small, there is still confusion about what the discipline is all about. With internal and external “customers” I frequently have to explain what UX is all about.

Compounding the problem is the multiple labels used in the domain: Lean UX. Design Thinking. Customer Experience Design. Service Design. Accessibility Design. Agile UX. Business Model Canvas. Requirements Visualization.

This doesn’t help.

So, my hope is this: a simple descriptive term be adopted and used. Since User is superfluous, maybe just should call what we do Experience Design. Reinforce and continue to align to the ISO definition of what it is all about:

ISO 9241-210:  “A person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service.”

Keeping the “elevator speech” of what UX is simple will incvrease understanding and (hopefully) demand.

A greater understanding of (our own) bias

We are all biased, even if we don’t think we are. As objective as we try to be, bias will creep into our decision making. We will look for new sources that reinforce our world view, we will look for evidence that “proves” our designs work, and we will filter user research through our own life experiences and perceptions.

The problem is, if we don’t make a conscious effort to move beyond our own biases, we will not do our best work. We need to come to every new design problem with an open mind and an objective opinion. We need to test, refine, and improve the ideas with the help of users. We need to be open to being wrong, and learning.

Easier said than done, but my final hope is that UX professionals – and, in a way, all “experts” in all domains, will be able to look at situations and problems objectively, and be willing to say the most important thing: “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”


My final hope is that we create some great things in 2017, and solve as many user problems as we can. Let’s empower users to do more and work better. Let’s make things better, together.

Happy New Year!

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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