UX Trends to look for in 2017

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

Last January, I wrote up my thoughts on UX Trends to look for in the coming year. Looking back, these predictions were pretty accurate, but I was overly optimistic on some points. So unlike last year I’m going to split my trend predictions into two groups: Things I am confident will happen (Pt 1), and trends in UX design I hope will happen (Pt 2).  Now, the predictions:

Content (strategy) continues to be important

Smart companies have started to focus more and more on tone of voice and messaging, and this will continue. As more and more technology companies introduce competing offerings , focused and smart messaging helps differentiate and capture user’s attention. And with the growing use of voice-activated systems “conversational” content design will also become increasingly important (see below)

Increased politicization and segmentation of social media experiences

2016 was an election year in the US, and it isn’t hyperbolic to state that it was one of the most emotionally charged Presidential Elections n history. Friendships ended, riots occurred, and social media services such as Twitter, Reddit and Facebook became a battlefield. These services became less civil, more political, and more fragmented. Users complained about bias, competing social media services were created, users boycotted companies that expressed opposing political views… it was, simply, a hot mess. Expect a lot more of this in 2017 – and expect a lot of design thinking around how to keep theses spaces civil and safe.




Affordable mixed reality (finally) comes to consumers

I was a little too optimistic last year about how much traction mixed reality will have in the consumer space, and hoped we would see devices such as the HoloLens under many Christmas trees this holiday. Nope, not yet – the technology is there (and amazing) but it hasn’t been release to consumers yet.

With the release of Microsoft’s Creator’s Update early in 2017, hardware manufacturers will be releasing low-cost virtual and augmented reality headsets to work with this release, and even lower-powered computers will be able to support some level of mixed/virtual reality. It will be more virtual reality than augmented/mixed reality, but the path to low priced high powered devices has begun – it just may take a while.



(Disclaimer: I work in UX Design for Microsoft, but do not work in the product development team and so no insider information is cited/used to inform the above opinion).

Intelligent Assistants and Chatbots will be increasingly adopted

Alexa, Google Home, and Cortana are changing the way people engage with technology. As I predicted, speech is becoming less awkward and more natural for users.. and as machine learning and web-based computing power increases, the power of these devices will become even more impressive to consumers. Expect a critical mass to occur with consumers this year as more devices get into homes, and people get used to asking computers for help.

The challenge is, of course, these devices exist inside of corporate-based silos (Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have all created their own systems, and they often don’t play well together)… and this means that there are limits to the full potential these devices can deliver.

Demand for UX practitioners will continue to be high

LinkedIn recently listed UI Design as one of the top 5 skills in the US, and while the skill doesn’t necessarily align with the depth and breadth of the actual demand in the marketplace (research, the fact that it is in the top indicates that demand isn’t slowing anytime soon,


Process and service design will gain more attention

Because of Intelligent Agents such as Alexa and Siri, and the increasing use of Internet of Things devices, the need for UI design is becoming less important. The need to design the (often “screenless”) experience is now crucial. Smart design teams will start focusing on process and experiences, and less on screens. As a result of this, service design will become an ever-increasing focus for designers.



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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