The Death of UX

Over the past few years, folks have become increasingly confused, posting questions on LinkedIn and Quora about the death of UX.  Our team hopes to put this issue to rest.

We should acknowledge that question “Is UX Dying” indicates one of either two things: 1) the high volume of articles referencing “automation and the role of AI in design” which has given rise to whether UX work has a place in our future or 2) we need a better definition of what UX is.

In either case, to answer this question, we have to start by defining UX. The definition Limina conforms to is: “All technical, business, and design innovation (analysis, definition, articulation, development) which occurs at the intersection of technology, information, and human beings.”

Technology, as a fundamental premise, moves continuously into the future, at times far outpacing our collective capacity to harness it. As we become more connected, and as more data on our connected lives are collected – the more work we need to do to understand it meaningfully. As our understanding of new technologies, data pools, and their impact on our lives evolve, new design patterns for how we interact with them need to be defined.

The recent proliferation of code/UI pattern libraries and structured packages for web themes (ex. Themeforest, Squarespace, and web-storefronts like Amazon, Megento, etc. ) represent the natural progression of industry maturity. This maturation is an indication that UX work related to publishing content or selling things on the web have become well understood/established norms. It stands to reason, that once standards have been built, there is little need to further define/design solutions for those more generic activities – as they have become a part of our digital fabric.

Does this mean that UX is dead? Absolutely not, in fact, the only thing this means is that UX design professionals can stop spending their time working on solutions that have been mainly solved and begin tackling new problems. Looking over a wasteland of over 30 years of technologies, legacy systems, and the demand to digitize, automate, and design services at the pace of our new-found “need” for immediacy and see even some of the largest companies and organizations struggling to avoid disruption from their more agile startup competitors.

Some off-the-cuff opportunities in no particular order:

  • Startup entrepreneurs with highly innovative solutions and ideas that need rapid prototyping, user research, and UI design refinement.
  • Government agencies still looking for ways to digitize their services.
  • Entire healthcare industry struggling to build a cohesive infrastructure for innovative healthcare management interfaces.
  • Big-data / IoT / business intelligence pools without meaningful interfaces to mine and take action.

There is an entire field of opportunity waiting for UXers to usher in guidelines for human factors, task analysis, taxonomies, usability/accessibility heuristics, interaction modeling, information design, UI component definition, interface design, and usability testing… lather, rinse, repeat. This work IS the lifeblood of innovation. To declare it is dead is to say that our capacity to innovate is dead.

Any UXer in fear of industry collapse – repeat this: “Innovate and Change or die.”