User Experience Design Trends to Watch in 2016


“Experience” might qualify as the most influential buzzword of 2015—especially when modified by “user” and “customer.”

That’s a good thing. The most forward-thinking companies were focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience all along, of course, but now the rest of the business world has caught on to the importance of that practice.

Similarly, providing an excellent user experience was always the point of great design, but now more companies recognize the critical role UX plays in delivering products and services, driving company growth, and advancing innovation.

So what’s next for UX? As one year draws to a close and another begins, it’s a good time to reflect on questions like that. So here are 3 design trends to watch in 2016.


1. Designing beyond apps and screens

Apps and the development of other new ways to deliver interactions via screens have become a staple over the past few years, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. But driven in part by consumer demand from increasingly tech-savvy users, designers are already starting to think past apps and screens. In 2016 and beyond, post-app and post-screen design will become more prominent.

Technologies like wearables and advances in artificial intelligence signify new ways to interact, and as technology becomes more consumerized—both in real life and as the subject of entertainment (e.g., The Minority Report and Her)—the cycle between a groundbreaking concept and a marketable product will grow shorter.


2. Simplifying the already simple

Bringing new ideas from insight to action entails overcoming many obstacles. Often a user’s adoption of your product depends significantly on their ability to instantly recognize value. In a world where the most popular websites and apps have an incredible amount of complexity, yet shockingly simple user interaction, continuing to simplify is no longer a differentiation, it’s a necessity.


3. Design as a core skill

In a fundamental sense, everyone is a born designer. Early humans had to design a way to survive in a changing, challenging environment, and the history of humankind ever since has been a story of more complex design leading to innovation.

In the Design 2.0 world, businesses will increasingly recognize the centrality of design to the enterprise and treat it as a core skill. Design competency makes people better thinkers, facilitators, and storytellers. In the coming years, more enterprises will put a premium on design skills, and HR organizations will start to offer design training to employees across all business categories, much as presentation skills classes are typically accessible to all.


If there’s one common element in these 3 trends, it’s an acknowledgement of the centrality of design to both great UX and delivery of an excellent customer experience.

In 2016 and beyond, users will increasingly complete interactions without apps and screens, innovation will be advanced by more effective storytelling, and more people will recognize the need for basic design skills, no matter what their role is in the enterprise.

In many ways, that future is already here. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a UX designer.

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