Big Data, AI, and UX


For the UX practitioner life is about to change. In my opinion we are about 5 years away from having data/AI driven UI. Are you ready?

The future of UX will be highly affected by Big Data and AI (Artificial Intelligence). The way we design for our users will change and that change will be significant. User-centered design practices will be instrumental in the birth of these new technologies. Where traditionally we have used Information Architecture (IA) to create content hierarchies and data flows, with the introduction of Big Data and AI, we will need to better understand how we will present the significant amounts of user-centric data in a way that best meets the individual users needs. That seems not to be anything new but the process for designing these flows will become more and more important. The complexities of displaying large amounts of democratized data targeted for individual users of an enterprise system could be staggering. Governance and flexible design systems will take a front row seat in our effort to present a wide range of individually targeted content.

Will we be relegated to creating flexible templates that lean more towards logical content holders? Will we be able to present that content with rich designs and captivating layouts? My belief is yes, but it will rely heavily on thoughtful, flexible design patterns with strong foundations in design standards. With 20 years experience in enterprise software UX I still remember the awe of my first reading of Jeffery Zeldman’s “Designing with Web Standards“. His book and the Happy Cog Website changed the way I viewed CSS, HTML and JavaScript and changed the way I designed software. I remember buying copies and gifting them to our solution architects in an effort to initiate fruitful collaboration and engaging technology conversations. Likewise, using the examples from “CSS Zen Garden”  I was able to illustrate the true power of Web standards.

Web Standards is the first step in the design and development of future AI/Big Data driven applications. The second is the democratization of data–freeing data from its structured beginnings and transforming it into flexible and consumable unstructured data. Thus the future state will be thoughtfully designing new ways to logically present user-centric data/content to individual users of the same enterprise applications, in flexible, well thought out design patterns.

Recently a colleague shared with me a link to a new product called Kumu. Basically, Kumu “reduces complex relationships into compelling visualizations, fast.” Combining visually stunning mind maps and visualizations that rely on facetted data to build complex and logical relationships. Thus, content that is quickly segmented/organized by the individual user. In my opinion, this process will be very similar to what we as UX architects and designers will need to do when creating the data/user-centric Web applications of the future. Applications that rely on the individual’s needs and present them in collective enterprise solutions.

The common thread between successful UX, AI and Big Data will be keeping it aligned to user-centered design principles. Providing thoughtful flexible frameworks and design patterns that allow for user-centric collaboration in enterprise solutions. How will we do this? My belief is that we will first need to deconstruct the presentation of content and align it to a targeted set of personas/users. We will then need to discover content that is general and content that is role-based and thoughtfully design frameworks that are consistent and moreover conversational in presentation. Discovering new ways to present content/data in a more narrative style, more addressed at informing or leading the user through specific processes. Using Big Data and AI to Know me, Anticipate me, Nurture me, Listen to me, and Guide me. Transforming our designs from interfaces to  “colleagues”.


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