6 emerging design practices

6 emerging design practices I see shaping our future with a few sci-fi twists


Jared Lukes

4/14/20194 min read

Design is not a static practice. It is always shifting and moving in order to accommodate new mediums, cultural expectations, and evermore efficiency with downstream processes.

1.) Service design

This is not the newest discipline, however, I am shocked at the slow adoption rate. I believe it’s in part due to service design being difficult to sell as an agency service. The cost vs output will never match. It’s intended to be fast and lightweight and educational in nature. The best model I have seen has been companies investing in training their internal staff in this model vs buying it.

You can almost think of it this way. Agencies by nature can achieve the general outputs of service design because they operate collectively, for survival, it’s right in the name. In a corporation, however, pieces of a solution could be scattered amongst the minds of 5 individuals who won’t ever directly work together. This causes work groups to buy solutions externally vs harvest them from their own workforce, and take on the resulting challenges.

With service design, I include; the most common forms of user collaboration and design-centered heuristics, journey mapping, pain points, and micro moments. These all reveal a general-purpose to the design process and have designers solving for actual human needs/desires vs that which is perceived or assumed.

When done right, this will bring all players in an organization to the design process so that not only are downstream functions considered during design, but also yoked with voices from upstream stakeholders AND end users before being prototyped or tested.

Reduce your agency spending by getting on board with this emerging design practice. Book a low-cost 1-day service design training session for your team here.

2.) Design ethics

Dark patterns are when designers create intentionally misleading or obfuscated interfaces to drive a behavior other than a user’s initial intention or expectation. This ranges from bait & switch to hidden costs. I won’t bore you with the whole list. A great starting point if this is new to you is darkpatterns.org

Moral creativity, sensitivity, and advocacy. Generally speaking, as universal design progresses we need to address language, and imagery that could inadvertently convey an unwanted bias. As user individuality and cultural inclusion become digital expectations as well, the benefits of incorporating this practice are both obvious and future-necessary.

Because AI will be designing interfaces for us (perhaps even on the fly) it’s important that design is part of the AI ethics conversation (IBM)

3.) Voice

That awkward kid from the 80s is back and has been working hard on some new chops. Don’t let the swing BACK to voice fool you, it’s not the voice interaction you once knew. Although EEG and now subvocalization research impress me, I think plain old voice still carries a shit load of data.

Even with its challenges in understanding context, the AI behind the voice is going to bring on a voice input renaissance. I argue this a lot with people, but you have to just look at the pure efficiency of data/speed with voice interaction vs hand/eye interface. It’s a no-brainer. Once the underlying technology becomes less prone to failure, universalized and open-sourced voice will take a huge amount of interactions away from interface design.

Acoustics may become a user experience field that converges on architectural design and voice/privacy issues.

4.) AI generated design

As of yet, most artificially generated “interfaces” are either overly generic or break quickly due to the fragility of their eventual construction. This will be changing FAST. As you can see in examples such as this, products are being designed by AI. And interface will not be dodging this bullet. Just check out this lovely new product. What isn’t taken over by voice, will be made, remade, and tested by AI. Our role as designers will eventually transition to creating inputs and premises (as you can see it is with service design)

I am impressed with tools like Power BI, and see great potential for frameworks like Flutter to move from code to very user-friendly WYSIWYG to more of a “Hey Google, build me an app”, “ok, what does your app do?” If you think I’m kidding, just wait.

Machine learning combined with a new premise input protocol (PIP) will make real-time interface design a reality, making the distribution of interactions and data gathering funnels faster to market than using humans to create, develop and deploy such entities.

5.) InfoSec

Information Security and Privacy is a potential emerging design practice that I think could be lagging. Or is mostly non-existent (to my knowledge). This is the space I want to hear from you all about the most.

Is it less of arming designers and more of inviting InfoSec to service design?

What can be done to aid designers up front, in the thought models and considerations needed for secure and private interactions as the voice boom hits, and AI starts making interface for us. What will be missed in terms of InfoSec? Maybe less? Maybe more?

What tools, guides, rubrics or mental models do you all know about to support designers?

6.) Emotional/Bio Feedback

There are already open-source libraries for facial recognition on the market for tinkerers like me. It’s not sci-fi. Designers of the near future will be able to route their design concepts to humans, who in turn are being evaluated, not by survey, but by facial emotion layers and biofeedback. Cheaper, safer, and more distributable than brain MRI. Results will be instantaneous, and more honest than previous methods of human (first impressions) testing. This will be possible as long as front-facing device cameras stay in vogue.

This one is cool until you think about an AI that’s designing something, using instant human feedback as an input feedback loop. Then the AI starts splitting off designing into recursive design trees. Wait what is this thing designing? Exactly, it gets spooky, because humans are spooky and AI is simply determined.

Would love any of YOUR thoughts on what constitutes emerging design practices and considerations, as the trickle-down of our work begins to affect more and more in human life, it’s a sticky business of staying aware of them and ensuring we know how to apply them when needed.