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User Experience Trends In 2015: Part 1


Welcome to 2015.  It's a great time to be in the field of user experience and an even better time to adopt user centered design. While we can't predict what he future for holds, but we have identied 9 user experience trends that are on our radar for 2015 - and should be on yours too.  

Today we'll share the first 4 of those with you. Let's get started.

1. Responsive Sites

One site to rule them all.  That's how I think about responsive sites. 

According to PEW Research, 91% of American adults own a mobile phone. Anecodally, we have a client who told us in a 6-month period in 2013 the number of client users they had accessing their application from mobile devices increased by 30%.  That trend continued into 2014. 

Designing a website or application to be responsive - that is to giving users an optimal viewing experience regardless of their device type - has become critical in virtually any new project or redesign. Every site should be easy to read, easy to navigate with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling regardless of the users' device type. While there are exceptions, each product team should cover device types in their initial user research.

2. Enterprise UX 

The 1000lb elephant in the room has long been those internal websites and applications that drive organizations.  Often the UX on these enterprise products is completely neglected, as if the term "all other duties as assigned" includes doing acrobatics to complete a task on your company's new, mandatory time management system. (Oh, those time management systems are notoriously BAD. Let's do something about them!)

Until now, UX has largely been celebrated for its achievements on the customer/consumer facing side. Enterprise UX, I would argue, has the potential for an even bigger impact. Enterprise UX can transform companies so they become more efficient, more agile, better and more enjoyable places to work.  We've been training enterprise teams now for more than 5 years; the problems facing enterprise applications (in particular) are often extremely complex (read fun!), huge opportunities, and very, very interesting. 


3. In-house Teams

The whole UX community was scandalized in 2014 when the pioneering UX consultancy, Adapative Path, was purchased by Capital One. A lot of folks didn't see the aquisition coming and struggled to understand what it meant. Wired called the aquisition "the death rattle of Web 2.0". 

In reality, the writing's been in the wall for at least 3 years.

The perceived reputation of both firms aside, Adaptive Path's decision to merge with a suitor made good business sense for both teams.  Since 2011, companies have chosen to bring work -  and valuable  institutional knowledge -  back in-house instead of continue outsourcing to UX consultancies.  When you've got a market contracting (at, ironically, the same time expanding), then you've got to make tough business decisions about the future. For Capital One's part, the process of building a great UX team takes both time and money - and lots of both.  Since they made a strategic business desicision to use UX as a business strategy (see #9 below), they didn't have 5 years (and lord knows how much $) to build a team. While Adapative Path is at pains to note "the only thing that’s really changing operationally is that we are now only consulting for one client," 

Adaptive Path was the canary in the coal mine. Their decision to go in-house put a public face on a trend seen in many Fortune 1000 companies over the past 3 years. We expect this trend of moving work to in-house UX teams to continue, and even gain momentum, in 2015. 


4. Cross-discipline responsibility for user experience

Gone are the days when UX was the responsibility of one person - typically a designer - on the team. We're now entering an era when mature, sophisticated product teams understand that to deliver a great experience every member of the team needs to be in tune with the actual users.

This is a long overdue development. Expecting a designer to be responsible for the entire user experience, often without any collaboration with the product designer or the development team, makes one person accoutable for the user experience when, in reality, the experience is a result of the team's collective efforts. Of course, this means many things for those in UX designer type roles, including:

  • UX designers must learn to work collabortively on a product UI, in particular with developers.
  • Some UX designers may find themselves constrained by a design only role. In those cases, they may want to consider career changes into project management, product management, or research.
  • UX Managers may struggle to manage aspects of the UX that have typically been their responsibility (and maybe still.)  

And of course, finding product managers, project managers, business analysts and developers who have training in UX can be difficult. As the whole team becomes responsible for UX, additional in-house UX training is critical.


Do these trends resonate with you? Have you found yourself about the future of UX and how it may impact your team, your work, and your career? I want YOUR thoughts on these trends - get in touch.


Stay tuned to the Experience Lab Blog for the next five user experience trends in 2015.


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