Skip to main content

UX Design Trends 2018: Part 2 - The Impact of AI on Design

Posted in Design on April 26th 2018
author photo

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed some of the most noticeable UX design trends that will become more and more prominent during the year 2018, and there is more to it. Other technologies are disrupting UX design as we know it, and unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months (or you failed to read the title of this article), you may expect what we are going to talk about: yes, you guessed it right: Artificial Intelligence. This technology is changing the way users do everyday tasks like shopping, searching as well as sharing, completely altering the way people approach interfaces. Consequently, the way these interfaces are designed has also changed significantly to make the user experience smoother.

Without further ado, let’s deep dive into these changes.


What is AI - Artificial Intelligence?

Everyone’s talking about AI. But what is it really? AI is an algorithm built to let machines understand humans. Often, AI is used to provide more specific content tailored to the need of every user, and it has been redefining how users experience the internet and more. The smart programs running behind many of the most popular applications are highly trained to understand what the user is looking for - and they are getting better and better at it. Every interaction between the user and the application is tracked and fed to the algorithm, which evaluates what the user might be interested in and presents the most suitable content back to the user.

A simple example of this is a search engine that intelligently presents the results based on what the user previously searched for. For shopping websites and apps, it becomes much more important to show content based on the user preferences. For instance, an online shopping site is more likely to show travel gears to a customer who used to purchase (or bookmarked, browsed, searched for) travel gears in the past. When you are able to collect information from millions of users, things start getting interesting as you can paint a much bigger picture of how people behave - and you adapt your UX to these results.

So how is AI changing UX design?

The way to interact with machines

First of all, the way we interact with machines right now is not the same it used to be. For example, the cameras are getting smarter by understanding user emotions and the surrounding lighting conditions. The designs are being improved dynamically by providing suggestions to the users for utilizing the required features easily. For instance, in a dark lighting condition, a low light mode symbol pops up to allow the users to activate the low-light mode.

Low-light mode on camera from the ASUS ZenFone 5

Therefore, the designers are considering various aspects that might come into the picture due to these technological shifts - AI is helping us communicate with machines, and designers need to fill in the gap too, pointing users in the right direction.

AI in applications and websites

Also, with artificial intelligence being embedded into every application and website, the same content space can be used to display a variety of content. So now, when a user is searching for a music video, he or she may be presented with an embedded video on the page rather than just hyperlinks. Similarly, when the user tries to search travel, the search engine automatically presents some useful websites on the right-hand side. This is a design perspective that is very important to consider in UX design trends for 2018.

Examples of Baidu Search, for the keyword “travel” and “旅游“ (travel in Chinese). The first search prompts websites for translation and dictionary-like results, while the latter suggests travel websites and famous travel spots. The UX changes significantly.

Therefore, the designers need to take multiple situations into account in order to optimize their design for any application or website. The new content needs to be positioned in a way that can be helpful to the user without blocking the main search results. Also, these designs need to be responsive as well as support multiple content types. One excellent example of such a multi-feature design is Alibaba’s artificially intelligent web platform. The platform continuously evaluates the user’s searches and presents a variety of options and products without distorting the way the website appears. In other words, the website design has just got modular enough to replace every specific component with a different component.

In addition to modular designs, another challenge posed by AI is the design of attractive storefronts. Most of the online shoppers are bounced at the first page because they cannot find the desired items. Therefore, an attractive and smart storefront is necessary to present every item the shoppers might be interested in with the limited space of the interface. This could be a mix of movies, audios, gadgets or other regular shopping items as shown below. The position of these items highly affects the behavior of the users. Thus, for every intelligent application or website, the designer needs to maintain uniformity in design of each module while allowing dynamic placements.

Let’s have a look at the two screenshots below. Although they are both from Taobao, each homepage is tailored for different customers. The first homepage is personalized for a male customer who usually purchases shoes and digital products, while the second homepage probably belongs to a female customer who prefers buying clothes. In brief, depending on your purchase history or other interactions with a site, the homepage will be customized to improve the user experience.

A user has been targeted with Footwear and Phones

A user has been targeted with Female Fashion products

The same will apply to websites or H5 that can be opened within WeChat. After gaining an understanding of a specific client using Social CRM like Jing Social, for instance, you will be able to build a profile of a specific user and choose the kind of content to display for this particular type and try to copy the behavior of other bigger platforms. 

So far, you have got an idea of how AI has changed the UX significantly. How about AR/VR technology? What would be the evolution of UX design thanks to this technology? Details will be revealed in Part 3 - How AR/VR Technology Influences UX Design to be published next week. Stay tuned!


About the author

Yoan Rigart-Lenisa

CEO and Co-Founder of IT Consultis

Yoan is an entrepreneur with 10 years of experience in China and founder of various successful ventures in the digital, consulting, and F&B industry. Part of EO (Entrepreneurs' Organization), he started building companies from scratch to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, who he considers his inspiration and source of motivation. Yoan is a strong promoter of Corporate Social Responsibility, and he is always driven by his values and ethics.