The end of a decade is a momentous occasion. More so when we consider the progress and influence that UX design has had on technology. As the decade is coming to a close, we’re revisiting the biggest tech and UX design milestones of the years gone by.
The concept of ‘Design for Delight’ was emerging
Pinterest was launched, with it surged image-based searches.
Instagram came into being on iOS, personalizing the social media experience.
With ‘Farmville’, Facebook was exploring ways to broaden the scope of social networks.
Google Goggles came into being, enhancing image-based searches.
iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 necessitated the need for high-quality mobile content.
A ‘User-first’ approach began making its way
Google’s Panda update rewarded sites that were reader-friendly, informative, relevant and authentic, while penalizing ad-heavy content farms.
Increasing use of mobile internet made responsive screens necessary.
Social media began pervading all aspects of the user’s online presence (from tagging, check-ins, to being chosen platforms for crowd mobilization as seen during the Arab Spring).
Siri brought in a new way to control devices – via voice commands.
Design begins to dazzle users
“Frictionless sharing” was introduced, which negated the functionality of clicking the share button. Instead, this feature automatically posted whatever the users read or watched to their profile once they approved of it.
Interfaces that recognized spacial gestures were coming into being, realizing our dreams of using the tools that the likes of Tony Stark or John Anderton used in movies.
A corporate win for user-driven design
Source: Cheryl Loughlin/IBM
IBM announced in 2013 that it would spend $100 million over the next five years to support staffing, programs, and facilities to “put design into the founding vision of a reimagined IBM,” said Phil Gilbert, the company’s General Manager of Design.
Design-driven solutions begin breaking enterprise barriers
The Design Management Institute’s Design Value Index (DVI), a market capitalization-weighted index comprised of design-driven companies, showed 10-year returns of a remarkable 219% over that of the S&P 500 index from 2004-2014. This meant that enterprise companies had to finally wake up to the realization of matching the tech standards set by the consumer-driven world of user experience.
Concepts of etiquettes and ethics made their way into tech products
Google Glass, a breakthrough device, had a limited debut in 2012. It could record videos and display data in real-time, making the job of information seeking truly hands-free. By 2015, it had fizzled out from the public domain following the backlash it received on account of violating the privacy rights of people in public spaces. A couple of years down the line, Google would release an enterprise edition of the device.
UX stops being a differentiator and becomes a necessity
Devices, devices, everywhere. From Apple’s smartwatches to Fitbit’s wearables, to Nest’s smart thermostats and even Oral B’s electric toothbrushes, anything and everything could be controlled remotely via an application at your fingertips. Tech devices came to become an integral part of our daily routine powered by AI and machine learning.
More, more, and more
Why did users prefer Google over Bing? Medium over Blogger? The features they offered were close to identical. However, it was all about that extra thought that went into the tiniest animations or the subtlest transitions. Users were expecting sophistication and only allowed a few seconds for apps to demonstrate it. The design community was being challenged by ever-evolving UX expectations and an economy of excesses.
User experience design leaves a lasting impression on healthcare and general wellness
Tech giants – these include social networks, as well as device manufacturers – took a definitive step towards designing for healthcare and wellness.
Instagram rolled out a new feature that alerted users who searched for opioid-related hashtags with links to recovery and treatment services. Apple’s 4th Series Watch had an emergency ECG function which used monitored the user’s heart rate in case of a fall. The feature was highly accurate and FDA approved.
User rights and privacy became the undoing of web technologies
By the end of the decade, web-based technologies had permeated every aspect of human life. Tech companies, over the years, had come into possession of volumes of user data that was being put to questionable use under the label of personalized experiences. Tech majors were forced to rethink their policies regarding data safeguarding.