Dec 19, 2014

Predicting the Future in UX

Paul Kincaid has written about  how fiction, and its writers, tries to predict the future: “we began to feel that the present was changing too rapidly for us to keep up with … things are so different that there is no connection with the experiences and perceptions of our present.” So, even science fiction writers now find it difficult to consider what the future may look like. That made me think about how UX-ers (researchers, designers, developers) are also trying to predict the future, sort of.

When the task is to design something for “three years from now,” we look at how users currently approach a specific challenge, and design to do the same thing better, faster, stronger.That method doesn’t work as well for designing for ten years from now. Designing for ten years from now requires envisioning the infrastructure and complex ecosystem of other technologies that will (likely) be available in the future. Assuming that a nascent technology will be common place, UX researchers and designers need to envision the challenges and opportunities that they may face in that future environment. What would people do if anything could become a display? What would people do if they no longer had to worry about driving themselves from place to place? What would people do if they could instantly connect with anybody in the world? And what would be the best questions to ask, as UX-ers and as future users?