State of in 2019

Every year there is a shiny new , topic, or buzzword that permeates everything that is written and published in UX. That has been the case in our recent yearly UX reports (Artificial Intelligence in 2018, Chatbots in 2017, the Internet of Things in 2016) and in the years prior (responsive design, augmented reality, and so forth).

Photo by Samuel Zeller

Not this year.

There hasn’t been a ground-breaking technology that has made designers stop in their tracks. There hasn’t been a game changer of any kind.

Partially because tech hasn’t advanced enough to create disruption.

Partially because we’ve had more important issues to attend to.

Partially because we’re still educating ourselves about how to leverage existing technology in a way that feels relevant to people’s everyday lives.

If you look back at the topics we were all obsessed with over the past 3 years, not one of those technologies has been fully mastered. The internet of things has only seen a few reasonable use cases go mainstream. Chatbots continue to fail except when used for completing very specific tasks. AI has just now started to be noticeably incorporated into products we use every day — but still, only a handful of companies are applying it to mainstream products and if you don’t for those companies, chances are strong that you are more of a spectator than an agent of change.

This can be a good thing: maybe it’s a sign that we have stopped obsessing over the new. After the rush to discover the newest, greatest tech, it’s time for us designers to help make tech work to its fullest capacity. Understanding how, when and, most importantly, why we should implement a new way of doing something. This can also give us more time to understand our role in a society influenced by fake news, tech addiction, and growing economic gaps.

In 2019, we should be thinking about:

  • How to fix technology that is not working: from user research that can help us understand genuine needs to usability improvements that will streamline the adoption process — if adoption is necessary at all, that is;
  • Relevant use cases on how to incorporate existing technology in people’s lives in a meaningful, calm, and sustainable way;
  • Ideas on how to bring new technologies to more people, at low cost, without sacrificing their rights, privacy, or local economy;
  • How to ensure technology doesn’t hinder the great experiences in the products we are designing every day. We are here to solve people’s problems, whether we use technology or not.

It’s time to make things better.

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