I’m a UI designer at heart. Sometimes I wonder if I will have a job in ten years time, then I panic and worry about the next three years.
The pace of technological change is so fast the only thing I can be sure of is that my company will be applying their brains to some very different challenges over the next few years. I have been mulling this over and have noted some areas of consideration below with some examples of organisations using these now:
Designing for voice interactions
More companies will be creating voice-compatible user interfaces. Brands will be challenged to represent themselves via tone of voice, localisation and accent. The way users interact with a voice interface is very different to how they interact with a graphical user interface. We will need to consider how users would expect to interact in a conversation.
Platforms such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa are prime examples of VUI’s. The primary advantage of these VUI’s allows for very fluid, life-like interaction with devices which opens up numerous possibilities. In addition, it grants users greater control over their environment without needing to physically interact with a device.
Air Gesture control
Air Gesture is a technology that lets you control electronic devices with gestures, there is no need to manipulate a touch panel or other input device. Following the pandemic, there has been a big focus on interfaces that require minimal contact.
Benefits of air gesture control include immediate interaction and control and increased physical and digital accessibility. Examples of air gesture control include the Google Pixel 4 smartphone, the Magic Desk standing desk and the KAI gaming controller.
Virtual and augmented reality
The pandemic also accelerated the development of VR and AR interfaces; the falling price of the technology also boosted the industry. In conjunction, the development of the metaverse, a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users, we will see a requirement for interaction design on a completely new level.
Companies such as Immersiv, an immersive fan experience and Zapar, a mobile AR campaign developer, provide enhanced versions of the real physical world. There are now new opportunities for users to enjoy their favourite sports, products and brands. Brands and events can now utilising AR and VR to generate deeper, long-lasting connections with their audiences.
We will face an increased level of AI inputting into our day-to-day interactions. The challenge for UX and UI designers will be to interpret information in a way that’s meaningful to the user.
AI has the ability to think, learn, and perform tasks autonomously – it learns from human behaviour within the context of its surroundings. Examples of everyday AI can be seen with Apple’s face detection and recognition security technology, and social media networks such as TikTok which use AI to personalise the user’s feeds.
Accessible becomes the norm
The concept of accessibility refers to whether a product or service can be used by everyone, regardless of how they encounter it. In many countries, making physical services accessible to those with impaired vision, hearing, or mobility is a legal requirement. In the UK, accessibility regulations came into force for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018. They say you must make your website or mobile app more accessible by making it ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’.
A best-in-class example can be found on the BBC’s web page. Keyboard navigations such as pressing the tab key twice to reveal a ‘Skip to content’ option, followed by pressing the tab key again for an ‘Accessibility Help’ option that links to a page of useful links.
As web designers, we can conclude that these are fascinating times. Our role appears to be shifting more toward interface designers and information architects. Websites and their functionality will change as devices and their interfaces evolve.
What does the future hold? What will be our new role? What new technologies will we incorporate? Although there is much deliberation, one thing is certain, we must adapt and accept change.
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