Patricia Reiners

Patricia Reiners

Shaping the future of UX

Top 5 most important UX topics for 2020

So many things have changed in the last year for us as UX/Product designers. We are living in an extremely exciting and interesting time where we need to be aware of the changes as well as demands on the job market to keep up to date and grow at a rapid pace.

I started a podcast last year about the Future UX/Product design and spoke with many leading UX Designers about exactly this topic. So, I want to share some interim results.

I don’t think anyone can predict what will happen in 10 years in product design. The field changes too quickly. But let’s have a closer look at the insights I got through the podcast interviews and find the top skills for 2020.

1. Beyond the screen

There are so many other topics than design systems and user flows. Like augmented and virtual reality, voice user interfaces and chatbots, today’s UX designers must be able to think beyond the screen. Apple has laid the foundation for this shift. ARkit and the lessons learned from AirPods and Apple Watch with regards to miniaturizing technology will play into new form factors in the future — most likely glasses. When the shift happens, mobile apps and websites will play a much smaller role, and everyone in the design industry will feel like noobs again, trying to figure out the best tools and workflows to design for this new form factor.

This includes skills like 3D design and prototyping as well as research.

Another great point here is that UX designers need to work more and more with business departments. Product designers have a huge opportunity to become better business people. This automatically leads to the high demand for great soft skills like communication as well as business understanding.

UX designers will need to start applying what they already know to less familiar types of interfaces and experiences. At the same time, they will need to master new principles and guidelines — such as the art of creating immersive experiences for VR, or how to design for voice.

We’ll see more and more opportunities opening up for UX designers beyond the typical realms of digital and service design. For those who are keen to keep pace with the tech industry, upskilling will be a huge focus in 2020 and beyond.

2. Specialist job titles

More and more companies starting to understand what they need when they used to hire just a UX Designer. While some designers are more than keen for employers to stop pushing UX designers as a job titlethe reality is that multi-skilled designers continue to be in demand. A search on job board Indeed for user experience researcher roles in the U.S. turns up around 4,000 positions, compared to over 17,000 for user experience designer.

3. Hello Freelancing

With this rise in specialist job titles comes another shift. Companies are starting to hire for projects — not positions. They found that 37% of creative teamspredict relying more heavily on freelancers over the next three years, with 17% focusing their freelance hiring efforts on user experience research and design.

4. E-learning

Although there are view UX courses and schools out there, most UX designers learn new skills online. Generally, many UX Designer are self-taught and maybe transitioned from another job area.

Another interesting trend we can observe is that learning is increasing across design disciplines. There will be a lower barrier to learning design disciplines that are slightly outside of digital product design. Platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy or Skillshare are providing great courses for new skills like animation, responsive design or industrial design and prototyping techniques. This enables people to learn specialist skills in shorter formats than university courses. The most interesting thing is the mix between different skill sets which will probably unlock innovation.

5. Ethical design

One of the most debated topics at the moment in the tech world is probably everything around ethics. With the tools around and possibilities around AR, Vr, Voice design, etc. comes great responsibility for us as designers.

Especially since the rise of social networks and many other addictive apps, we realize just some of how unethical design can harm the user. Smartphone addiction is on the discussion at the moment with changing the fabric of our society in the long term.

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