2021 was a productive year for us here at KANDR Digital. We’re seeing exciting trends happening in UX Design across the organisations we’ve worked with and we expect to see this trend continue into 2022. More and more companies are beginning to understand the need for a solid and reliable UX and design process to innovate and scale their products and services.
1. Companies are hiring for Design at Director Level
Until relatively recently UX Design has been misunderstood by business leaders with its importance downplayed as a service that’s more akin to painting and decorating than to developing winning strategies.
Successful products don’t happen by accident. They are the result of well-planned user research, design and user validation processes that are built-in to the development process. This requires product vision and strategy that comes when you hire design leaders who can set up these processes and build high performing design teams that scale with your product, and partner with business leaders to achieve company goals.
2. There is a better understanding for the need to embed research and design into existing practices
Not all companies can afford to hire specialist design and research teams, however, more startups and smaller companies are seeking to include UX processes from the start. This does one of two things: 1. it ensures that products that get built have been validated by users thereby helping to secure funding for the actual build, and 2. it allows companies to get ahead of competitors from the outset.
There are many reasons to include UX in your product creation process, but the most important to consider is how it benefits your bottom line. 70% of projects fail due to lack of user acceptance but including UX processes reduces the risk of building the wrong thing.
- UX reduces development time by helping to improve decision making and prioritising development tasks
- UX helps to identify and narrow down your target user to find your ideal client
- Prototyping results in more accurate estimates for built time and cost, reduced requests for clarification by the development team and reduced rework and bug fixes post-launch
- UX help lower costs associated with customer acquisition and support.
Source: Experience Dynamics.com.
3. Accessibility is becoming more than a box-ticking exercise
In the same way that restaurants and public services must be mindful of providing wheelchair access in the physical world, digital products also need to consider accessibility by people with a variety of disabilities such as auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual. There are other considerations such as slow internet connections, very small or very large screen sizes and different devices, operating systems and browsers.
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
– Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web.
There are clear advantages to designing for accessibility – it will expand your market reach and increase brand loyalty – but another thing to consider is that many countries have laws requiring digital accessibility. In the US the number of legal actions continues to rise and in Norway, the government fines commercial companies who fail to provide equivalent access for people with disabilities. As more countries include regulations for accessibility, product organisations are prioritising it.
It doesn’t take a huge effort to factor accessibility in from the start of a project, but the cost of retrofitting a few years or even months down the line could be vast as it may require going right back to your fundamental building blocks like colours, typography, iconography and auditing your code to ensure that you can achieve basic AA standards.
For more information about the business case for accessibility visit: https://www.w3.org/WAI/business-case/
4. Content writing is finally getting a look in
While most product companies employ technical writers for their documentation, the micro communication in the product in the form of labels, contextual guidance and error messages often fall to the product team. But as there is no clear ‘owner’ and not always budget for user testing, it can often result in bickering amongst team members. Content writing is in the same place today that UX was 5 or 6 years ago. It’s the unseen and unnoticed and undervalued aspect of product creation. Thankfully, this looks like it is about to change and all our lives will be improved because of it.
5. The need for better ways to collaborate across teams
When each department is stuck in its own headspace, the result is reflected in a sub-standard customer journey. You can have really strong Product, Marketing and Sales departments, but if they don’t communicate with each other it can lead to high levels of churn as customers are enticed in by great marketing and sales messages that tick all the boxes for them, but then find themselves with a product that doesn’t match that story and end up disappointed. Conversely, the product could be perfect for them but the marketing and sales messages don’t convey this accurately to customers and they never discover your product that might be a perfect fit for them.
All of these issues are a sign of poor communication and siloed working practices. Improved communication doesn’t mean that everyone should be available on Slack or Teams 24/7 with meetings piling up in everyones calendar so there’s little time left to do any focused work. But information should be available and easily accessible by everyone while meetings and workshops should be designed to get the best outcome and not to waste peoples time.
Companies are learning about the need for a centralised documentation
A design system. A centralised place where guidelines for research, design, product management, product owners, developers, writers, QA and anyone involved in creating products.