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2017 is exactly halfway through folks, and so far the below predictions ring true.  Design and User Interface elements are becoming simpler, more ‘obvious’ to the end user, and the focus on shifting from aesthetics to usability.

UX design is extending from the digital into the physical realm, and the role of a UX designer is changing, fast.

1. Mobile-first design

Mobile-first design is no longer a choice but an imperative – in South Africa, 60% of the adult population own a smartphone, and just 18% own a laptop or desktop computer.  Going mobile-first for design forces you to focus on the key functionality of the site and to avoid cluttering each screen.

 Previously, the approach has been to design for an optimal web experience, and then remove features to suit smaller screens.  Now, the trend is to design for the smallest screen, and ‘progressively enhance’ the experience as you rethink and redesign (if necessary) for larger screens.

2. Time-saving design

Great User Experience is intuitive – it should reduce friction and save users’ time.  This trend is being brought to life in two key ways:

  • Simplification of user journeys – linear designs that allow the user to take just one specific action at each step are becoming the norm.  Not only can this improve the experience by reducing the load time of each page, it can improve conversion as the user is not distracted by different options.  A leading example of this is Uber – their simple design takes users through the booking system easily, step by step.
  • Artificial intelligence handling customer interactions – increasingly companies are looking to chatbots to not only save their users time, but to drive internal efficiencies in their business.  One business leading innovation in this space is Abe.ai, a participant in the Barclays Techstars Cape Town Accelerator this year.  They are looking at applications of chatbots not just on company websites, but also within extended interaction points such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Personalisation is a hot topic, and one of the latest challenges that’s yet to be nailed in the world of UX design.  Companies and users both love personalization, and it’s key for building lasting relationships both online and offline; but there’s a fine line between being relevant, and being creepy.

Also, the days of being followed around by ads for products you’ve already purchased just need to end.  In 2017, more businesses will relinquish control to their users, incorporating more customization options that allow users to make their own selections about the products and content they want to see.

3. Connecting the digital and offline experience

UX design can no longer just focus on the digital experience, as more and more businesses are extending their digital products into the physical world.

Take Snapchat Spectacles for example, giving users wearable spectacles they can use to record short videos through the built-in camera, and then share this instantly to friends through the app.

To ensure a seamless experience here, the designer needs to think beyond traditional functionality, and past traditional web interaction metrics to those that measure the experience more generally, such as customer satisfaction and effort scores.

4. Changing role of UX designers

The role of a UX designer is expanding, and is now far more than designing web experiences.  Designs need to be responsive, to cater for multiple different customer segments at one time, to deal with engineering complexities, and to deliver on strategies developed by multiple different areas of the business.

As a result, in 2017 a lot of UX designers are specializing, and businesses are seeking out experts in key areas such as Conversion Rate Optimisation, and Information Architecture.

The UX designer role will also become increasingly more important within businesses, as a design-led approach to product and business strategy development becomes more widely used.

You’ll see business leaders putting themselves in the shoes not only of their customers, but also of their employees, as they strive to create leading experiences.

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Minouw Coetzee Minouw Coetzee
is a Design Associate for the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town. She has worked extensively launching start-ups in the e-commerce as well as internal agency fields, and she has skills in both the digital as well as the print space. Minouw has worked in Advertising, Publishing and has recently started her own company entitled “Minouw Design Studio”. She is a hard-working individual with a passion for design and she has been involved in launching many digitally innovative projects within the South African media landscape.

  • Joe Clarke

    Amazing article Minouw !!