The Future of Design in Technology: What Lies Ahead?

At the heart of design is its potential to “re-imagine” the world. Design (with the right tools) allows individuals to translate ideas into realities thus transforming the world, piece by piece. Technology on the other hand constantly enhances and alters the tools that designers use to create user-rich experiences. In today’s technically agile world, new innovations emerge daily and design adapts in order to keep up.

While design for technology is a fairly new concept, almost every single tech company that exists today is concerned with it – and rightly so. It’s an exciting time to be a designer, particularly one whose focus lies in technology as the rules are forever changing much like the applications, tools and techniques utilised in design processes. Not to mention the fact that the importance of design is ever-growing.

In an article entitled The Future of Creativity: New Tools for a New Generation, authors Neil and Jen Baker Brown – who refer to themselves as “design futurists” –  envision a world where the value of creativity is tied to the outcomes its ideas generate, rather than the cost to produce the assets to support its ideas. “This possible future state will require significant shifts in the typical creative skills, requiring the creator to carry greater responsibility and accountability,” they write.

The next big breakthrough in digital and graphic design according to Founder and Executive Creative Director of Poke London, Nicholas Roope, is that it will become simpler yet significantly more sophisticated.

Julie Zhuo, the person responsible for managing the design team at the core of Facebook’s user experience, recently shared her own thoughts on what design in technology will look like in the next ten years Let’s take a look at some of her predictions and what they mean for the future:

End-to-end experiences > interfaces
In the future, designers will be expected to craft end-to-end experiences rather than mere interfaces.

Multidisciplinary design program
Typical design courses at tertiary institutions will imbue new designers with basic understandings of graphic design, software and hardware. Rob Girling, co-founder of Artefact, predicts that in the future designers will “no longer hold a monopoly on being the most creative people in the room.” He writes that in the future, designers will need to hold a monopoly of additional knowledge and expertise in order to remain competitive and contribute in multidisciplinary contexts.

Form follows function no longer
Unlike in yesteryears, tech products will focus on style and how they make end-users feel rather than utility alone.

̶D̶e̶s̶i̶g̶n̶  Product thinking and design empathy
Product thinking, which offers a more holistic view than design thinking will become more prevalent. Product thinking is lot more complex due to the fact that it focusses strongly on business objectives, competitive landscapes, hard costs and how to market to existing customers rather than just UI or end-user needs. Tomorrow’s designers will have to play close attention to developing experiences centred on the user’s “heart path” or “hand path” and embracing what’s being described as “design empathy.” The “heart path” is concerned with developing empathy for user’s needs while the “hand path” is about understanding their behaviour.

Design leadership will be at an all time high
In the words of Tim Brown, CEO and president of the international design consulting firm IDEO, “The most valuable company in the world places design at the centre of everything it does.” In the future, a majority of new startups will have a founder that identifies as a designer and it will become increasingly unusual for tech companies with more than 100 employees to not have a design executive at the highest level.

The designer:engineer ratio will change
Right now for every one designer, there’s approximately four engineers. However in the future, the ratio will likely be 1:8 or 1:10 as teams will need to be more dynamic and team members will need to have varied, specialised skills.

A brand new toolset
The design toolset currently being used will be replaced by more powerful and efficient tools for stronger design. In his tech forecast, Designer Writer John Brown predicts that the new kinds of design tools that will emerge will not be rooted in two-dimensional static media as they currently are. Instead, we’ll see more hybrid tools which cross-code with design.

More diversity
Half of the designers in Silicon Valley will be women and a third will come from international backgrounds.

Design fluency
Creatives will have a basic fluency of design due to greater education, tools and standards. Hard-to-use experiences will become a rarity.

Truly stellar products and services will be so seamless that they integrate with everyday life and are practically invisible.

What are your predictions for the future of design?