Thoughts from Amuse UX Conference | Part I — The Future of Product Design

Elina Kapanen
4 min readOct 17, 2016

By Elina Kapanen

Couple of weeks ago I attended the UX conference called Amuse, in the beautiful city of Budapest, Hungary. I really want to thank Testlio for giving me the opportunity to fly there and attend the event and also thank you to Kaire for being awesome company.

To reflect back on the conference personally as well as “spread the word”, here’s a short summary of the topics that were discussed. I‘m sharing only thoughts from speakers and insights which I found to be the most interesting or practical. I’m also trying my best to make it short and sweet.

The summary will be divided into three posts. In this one I will cover a holistic topic that was discussed throughout the whole conference: the future of product design and designers.

What are we moving towards?

1. Using algorithms to create the value and flow (artificial intelligence)

Chat bots and personal assistants are already a hot thing. We are moving towards using more and more artificial intelligence in our products in order to make services as natural, unnoticeable and seamless as possible.

How to use AI in your product?

  • Find ways to reduce user input as much as possible
  • Start recognizing user patterns
  • Predict user behavior
  • Co-ordinate environments

A useful practice here is mental models.

Since through using AI we need less and less user input and provide more suggestive content and actions, we will start encountering different kind of risks. The future usability fails won’t be user interface fails. They will be etiquette fails — in other words “algorithm cruelty”. What this means is that people are prompted with information that is inappropriate or irrelevant for this point of time. You don’t want Siri to answer you with a joke when you ask her what should you do when your friend is in depression.

To avoid this we need to thoroughly identify the risks in the early process. It is useful to make a list of sensitive information that people tend to not like to share — e.g. religion, family, social status, etc. — and to consider that when designing these systems.

It’s also very important to think about the tone of voice — especially the use of humor — in the content provided. It’s especially tricky to use jocose copy together with user-created content, since the content could very possibly be on more of a serious or sad side. We don’t want to be bombarded with cheerful retrospective notifications if we had a sad year. (Hope no one has a sad year though!)

2. Systems

Apps won’t serve as “destinations” anymore but together they will form a system of seamless stops to create a certain value on the way. Paul Adams, the VP of product in Intercom, divided the systems as:

  • People-oriented systems
    Services that need no discovery, payments or hardware. They’re integrated into other services.
  • Multiple systems
    Services are broken into bits and pieces and some parts used in systems “where people already are” such as e-mails, sms, etc.

How to remain a kickass product designer:

Are product designers about to be made redundant by a new wave of user experience where algorithms create the value and flow?

No, not if they manage to adapt to this change.

So where to start?

  • Start learning more about system design
  • Think about how to break your service into smaller pieces
  • Think of other services where your service could provide value
  • Learn about artificial intelligence and think about how to use it within your product
  • Learn to “speak the language” — the next hot job in Silicon Valley is for poets
  • Learn to craft the content
  • Start thinking like an industrial designer

Conclusion

Since the world of technology is evolving fast and we as product designers are in the center of it, I find it extremely important for us to constantly learn and speculate about what the future could bring.

In addition to being very inspiring, the speakers at Amuse gave me more food for thought and the practical side of the things I’ve recently been reading about and hearing from here and there on this topic.

We really need to become more and more multidisciplinary and good system thinkers in order to adjust to these changes.

Thank you for reading,
Elina

Appreciating all the ❤s. The second post is coming very soon!

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Elina Kapanen

Creating through different mediums and being curious about the world and humans • Lead Product Designer @ Speakly