The technology advancements have always influenced the concept of UX design significantly. The advent of web technology had revolutionized the user interface design. The UX design became a household name with the steep growth in the number of businesses that adopted the web as an integral part of their business strategy. The smartphone and tablet devices brought the new capabilities in the computing domain. It also altered the way people think of UX design. The focus shifted from attractive design and high conversion rate to responsive design that provides seamless user experience across multiple screens and devices. However, the fundamental principle of UX design has always been the same – better user experience whenever they interact with a screen – be it desktop, tablet or mobile screen.
The advent of Internet of Things is going to bring a paradigm shift in the way companies think of UX design. It will also change how people and machines interact with other devices. The communication is no longer restricted to the humans and machines. With the IoT technology, the devices will be connected to each other, and the communication terminals will include user-to-user, users-to-machine, and machine-to-machine. In some cases, the IoT will enable communication between machines and humans without involving the screen. Also, the shape and size of connected objects will no longer be fixed.
Like other fields of technologies, the UX designers must adopt and adapt to the newer concepts of design to be relevant in the age of the IoT. Companies who have long ignored the UX design or took it as a peripheral activity will be forced to make an intensive investment in designs that facilitates better user experience between various objects and humans. The user experience design will become a mainstream business function for almost all types of businesses.
Here are five key developments that will transform the way businesses think of UX design:
1. Change in Business Models
We have already seen the changes in the business model due to the internet. The Internet of Things will further impact the way companies are doing business today. The products and services businesses will converge. According to a McKinsey study, the vendors will rent industrial goods such as heavy machinery and equipment. They will charge the clients based on the usages of the products. Traditionally, such products are sold on a relatively higher margin. The new business model will be similar to the SaaS business model, where software is sold as a service and customers pay for the service as per their usage. Similarly, a lot of industries will witness a fundamental change due to the large scale implementation of the IoT.
When the products are sold as a service, then the companies will have no option but provide excellent service at affordable rates to stay relevant in the industry. Thus, the products and services based companies will end up selling experiences. The user experience and design will play a central role in building competitive advantage. Therefore, the UX design will no longer be the outside activity for a majority of businesses. It will be a revenue generator for the companies. The proactive executives will invest heavily in the UX design to build and sustain a competitive advantage.
2. User Interface is Vanishing
Machine-to-machine communication relies on a system of networks through which data is transmitted. Under ordinary circumstances, the devices don’t require the screen to communicate. Even the humans can interact with machines without using traditional user interfaces. The smart wristbands and other IoT-enabled devices can detect the signal and transmit the data without the need for an interface. Thus, the user interface is vanishing fast, although it will never be eliminated entirely.
For companies, it is increasingly harder to sell experiences without a user interface. Thus, the UX designers need to innovate so that they can help businesses provide experiences through multiple touch points and not just through user interfaces.
3. Lack of continuous connectivity
The user interface for websites and mobile apps are designed based on the assumption that the server will always be connected to the internet. In the case of the slow internet connection, the users expect a delay in loading of some of the elements of a site or an app. Also, when you send or delete an email, the activities are reflected across all devices on a real-time basis. However, this is not the case with IoT-enabled devices. A lot of IoT-enabled devices operate on battery. The devices are connected to the network at a specified time interval and not continuously. Thus, the devices connected through IoT operate asynchronously. It means that the data is not updated on a real-time basis. It creates a delay in the delivery of message between two objects. For instance, when you have connected a boiler pot with a mobile app and change the temperature on the app from 35 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius, the same may not reflect the temperate of boiler pot immediately. Also, if the internet connection is weak, the temperature of boiler pot may not even update.
Such disturbances in the real world will deteriorate the users’ experiences. The UX designers need to create designs, keeping this challenge in mind. Although it’s a technical issue, the designers need to come up with experience elements that minimize the inconveniences. In this sense, the role of UX designers will be more of experience managers.
4. Making Sense of the Data
IoT-enabled devices will emit an unprecedented amount of data. While the data scientists will be responsible for making sense of the data, the UX designers will be responsible for presenting the insights in a manner which is understood by the users. Giving a large amount of data and ideas that are expected to be generated from the use of IoT technology, the UX designers must have the knowledge of cross-functional roles to get the maximum benefits out of this technology.
5. Security Measures
Security is one of the primary concerns regarding the large-scale implementations of the IoT technology. While the UX designers will not be responsible for fixing the security loopholes, they will play a crucial role in enhancing the framework to address these concerns swiftly.
It is evident from that the role of UX designers is expected to change significantly once the IoT technology is implemented on a large-scale. The UX design will be the mainstay of any business. Thus, the companies will invest heavily in the user experience to stay relevant in the game. Thus, the UX designers must prepare themselves for a greater role and learn new skills proactively so that they can meet new challenge successfully.