Trends for 2014 – Everyone is a designer, everything can be designed


After reviewing submissions for IA Summit 2014 it occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity to think about trends for the coming year. I went back over the feedback I’d given and grabbed some of the sentences that seemed to make more general points about a trend or an insight that is worth thinking about. I’ve already written about search and being ambitious. Today is about everyone and everything.

Everyone is a designer

On the homepage of this site I confidently claim, “everyone designs experiences”. But as technologies converge the old tension between specialists and the T-shaped people evolves again.

I’m not sure how designers can be at their best if they can’t code a bit. I don’t think developers are being fair to themselves and the users of their sites if they don’t think about learning the basics of good design to enhance what they’re building. Everyone can use design thinking to refine what they do.

I think there’s lots of potential in exploring how developers can contribute more effectively to designed experiences. Often when an idea gets to a developer it’s focused on the ‘build’ stage of a project, so we miss the chance to unlock the skills and talents of developers. They’re too often tasked with executing a plan, rather than contributing to one.

Maybe the key trend here is to develop a robust process that ensures that everyone is getting the most opportunity to contribute to our projects. We should be encouraging everyone to exercise empathy towards the audience (or user) as they contribute to a designed experience.

Ecosystems everywhere

A service blueprint allows you to describe and design for user needs.

Every platform creates a set of design patterns and generates an environment to house experiences. For example, native apps are native for a reason, they exhibit behaviours congruent with the environment they find themselves in. But there are also wider ‘contexts’ in which our digital products exists – these are the ‘contexts of use’ in which our users consume our products.

Good design is all about understanding needs and designing to meet them. In 2014 I’ll be trying to detect shared patterns between user needs and intentions and the interactions we’re providing to meet them. I’ll be thinking about ecosystems – how we can use context to enhance or enable experiences. I’ll be thinking about technological contexts and real world contexts. And I’ll be thinking about how service design can help designers tell a story of need that is addressed by a design, and how this thinking, along with sketching and iteration tools like trajectories can help the design process.  

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