5 Predictions…and How They Turned Out
Prediction 1: AR/VR will lack universal acceptance
“Still hardly anyone will be using virtual reality products, except for novelty reasons. We'll start to see some useful applications of augmented reality, adding, for example, extra navigation functionality to apps like Google Maps, and to aid translation between cultures and languages.”
How it turned out:
While we’re seeing increasing adoption of AR used as sales tools in, for instance, shopping apps, like Amazon, allowing you to visualize what a product might look like in your home, AR/ VR specific devices still mostly remain a novelty to the mass public.
Of course, just because AR/ VR hasn’t hit the mainstream yet , doesn’t mean that it’s time won’t come soon. More on this below.
→ Interested in learning more about designing for AR/VR spaces? Check out Designing for Spatial Reality: Preparing Your Spatial Design Portfolio
Prediction 2: Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) Remain Limited
“Voice user interfaces will become more important in our interactions with televisions, music players, and in-car phones and dashboards, but will remain largely ignored on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Chatbots will start to have some useful applications, for example in online customer service. But user frustrations with these systems will mean that companies offering a “real human” will be able to trade on that added value.”
How it turned out:
This is a 2-for-1 prediction…both of which have not played out the way we predicted.
With the continued popularity of digital assistant tools like Siri and Alexa, as well as smart home systems and new digital interfaces in vehicles, one might argue that VUIs are more widespread than ever before.
While most chatbots alone still lack the ability to replace the helpfulness of humans, the new integrations with AI have made them far more efficient and able to provide meaningful support in a segment of use cases. More frustrating, perhaps, are companies that provide no way to escalate a request for real human intervention.
Prediction 3: The slow retirement of insecure passwords
“Most services will no longer require you to remember passwords, but will instead use verification codes and other secure authentication methods. As effortless authentication becomes a user expectation, companies will need to overhaul the UI design of the authentication process.”
How it turned out:
We’re seeing a more widespread push towards password security, with many companies actively requiring confirmation codes or authentication tools to keep your online accounts secure.
That said, according to Nordpass , millions of people are still trusting their security to passwords like “123456”, “admin”, and “password.”
Prediction 4: More transparency over user data and privacy
“Websites and apps will still dominate, and will still be used mainly through smartphones and PCs—though user privacy scandals will force companies to be more transparent about their use of data, and give users greater control over it. New legislation is likely to mandate more stringent privacy protections (such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, expected in 2018.).”
How it turned out:
GDPR did, indeed, roll out in 2018—and the European Union continues to be a leader in rolling out policies and regulations designed to protect the end user, rather than the company that stands to profit from abusing user privacy.
Moreover, the much talked about Apple privacy updates back in 2021 , which allowed phone users to opt out of having their device ID tracked, marked a sea-change for the online advertising industry.
Prediction 5: UX expands to new markets
“Demand for UX design will expand to innovators tackling the small irritations of daily life—like remembering medication, having to struggle to find your keys to the front door, or choosing one of the 100 programs on your washing machine. Whatever you find frustrating in your everyday life, that’s probably where UX designers will be needed next!”
How it turned out:
Although this prediction was a little more vague, we think that it passed. UX has become a standard role in tech and non-tech industries , and despite the tech layoffs of the last year, UX designers remain far more prevalent in organizations vs. pre-pandemic days.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the bigger trends on the horizon that will affect the world of UX:
Increased adoption of AI
… no surprise here. Although the original predictions article included some mention of AI, that didn’t make it into the official list of predictions…which was a huge miss.
As AI captures the imagination of innovators—and proves its usefulness—we expect to see a sustained or increase in the adoption of AI tools and assistive technologies.
Just how exactly will AI be adopted for UX? The only honest answer is that no one fully knows for sure, but here are a few areas of UX design that show big opportunities for automation:
Personalization: AI can analyze user data and behavior to create personalized experiences. This means websites, apps, and services will be able adapt in real-time to meet the unique preferences and needs of individual users.
User Research and Testing: AI tools can efficiently process vast amounts of data from usability tests, surveys, and user interactions. This will help UX designers quickly identify patterns and pain points, leading to more effective and user-centered designs.
Accessibility Enhancements: AI can help make designs more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, AI can automatically generate alt text for images or provide real-time language translation, which will ensure that more users can access and use digital products effectively.
Emphasis on Gestural Design
Gestural design in UX revolves around the implementation of interfaces that leverage natural human gestures. This could be swiping, waving, or using other hand motions, to interact with digital interfaces. It focuses on designing intuitive experiences that mimic real-world interactions, enabling users to work with technology in a more intuitive, and tactile, way.
By recognizing and incorporating familiar gestures, UX designers aim to further bridge the gap between users and technology. This will ultimately foster more engaging and user-friendly digital experiences. As we move further into more complex digital spaces (think the Metaverse) there will be increased opportunities for UX designers to consider how natural human interactions can be more seamless within a tech-based environment.
Whether it’s to streamline shopping on a smartphone, make more realistic gaming innovations, or create a convincing AR/VR experience, gestural design will become more important to designers working to create immersive digital worlds.
Related to, but distinct from, gestural design is AR,, another rapidly expanding sector where UX will need to be considered. Different from virtual reality, AR is the addition of digital elements still within a live space. At its most basic level, many companies, such as IKEA or Warby Parker, already let users see what a product will actually look like in their home (or in the case of Warby Parker, on their face).
As AR becomes more commonplace, UX Designers will play a critical role in creating compelling, user-centric AR experiences. UX designers will be pivotable in understanding how AR is being used in a particular setting, bringing in elements of research, empathy, and storytelling. And since AR is very new to some users, UX designers will be needed to structure content in intuitive ways, helping to ensure that AR features aren’t confusing.
While AR in ecommerce might be a familiar face to some, the applications are far and wide, with education, accessibility options, and entertainment all being other sectors that AR will touch. This gives UXers exciting opportunities to consider more expansive landscapes to design and create in.
A Slow and Steady Recovery in the UX Job Market
Coming off unprecedented, pandemic-fueled boom times, a number of economic factors collided to make 2023 a challenging year for the fields of UX and product design. With interest rates being raised at historically fast rates to combat inflation, big tech saw mass layoffs to cut costs and venture-backed startups found raising capital much more difficult than during preceding years. Combine with that the increased supply of UX design talent and suddenly the white hot job market was a lot cooler.
But as we go into 2024, not all is doom and gloom. Already the Fed has signaled they expect several interest rate cuts in 2024, which in turn could spur a recovery across both established and nascent tech companies. Additionally, overall macro trends, including the ongoing digital transformation across many industries and the continued prevalence of remote work, should help continue overall growth in the UX space. So, while we don’t expect the boom times of 2021 to return any time soon, we are optimistic that when we look back in a few years, 2023 will represent a nadir for the UX job market.