A colleague sent me a link to the proceedings for the latest UPA conference that was held in Austin, Texas last week. One of the items was a panel discussion entitled, "Looking in the Crystal Ball: Future of Usability". I particularly enjoyed the charts by Daniel Szuc from Apogee. One of his charts asks the question, "Who/What do we want to be?" followed by these bullets:
- User Tester v Designer (or both)
- Closer (issues) v Opener (innovations)
- Loner v Collaborator
- Critic v Creator
- Silo v holistic
Anyway, in the spirit of the exercise, here's a few of my thoughts on the future of usability, in easy-to-read bullet form:
- In the category of "Well, duh!", specialization within the field will increase. One specialization that I think will emerge into a common category is the "Designer Developer" - not a developer who learns some design skills, but a UXer who learns some development skills.
- Focus on user testing will decrease over time.
- The importance of patterns and particularly patterns-enabled development tools (basically 4GL GUI tooling) will increase. Creating good design is too hard today... there will be a lot of incentives in the near future to make good design easier to implement.
- There's going to be a lot of drama in the community in the near future as gurus begin to really differentiate... and think the other gurus are full of crap. And say it out loud. I think it'll be a good thing for our profession, but it'll be ugly while it happens.
- Returning to the "Well, duh!" category, the UX community is going to experience an explosion of vibrancy thanks to blogs and wonderful article-based sites like Boxes & Arrows, A List Apart, UXmatters, and others. I think there's plenty of room for growth in this area.
- Because of the previous bullet, the importance of ridiculously expensive professional organizations who publish ridiculously expensive professional journals will decrease... though not fast enough for my taste.