The worlds of content, data and user experience collide in our summary of the top UX predictions for 2019.

1) The convergence of UX and CRO

Two distinct disciplines that have often overlapped but never really integrated, in 2019 the rigour of ongoing testing for business outcomes (conversion rate optimisation) will start to merge with the discipline of UX design. This means UX will become more data-driven and ongoing testing will be used to see if new designs have tangible business results. The net effect is UX designers will become more accountable for the designs they create, and clients will expect business outcomes from a new UX/UI project.

2) Voice becomes an important experience

While Australia is only just starting to wake up to Smart Speaker technology, the rest of the world has rapidly embraced the likes of Apple HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Alexa.  It is predicted that by 2022, 55% of US households will own a smart speaker, purchasing over US $40B of goods and services through voice devices.

Australia’s household voice speaker adoption currently sits at around 5% and is likely to increase markedly in 2019. Though its unlikely organisations will allocate large budgets to voice in 2019, it is expected that voice will crop up more regularly in digital strategy discussions. Take customer journey mapping as an example. Progressive experience designers will be considering pain points that can be improved by voice technology - such as integrating frequently discussed conversations into an app that would normally be handled by a busy call centre.

3) Content-centered experience design

More often than not, design (think wireframes) is the first item presented by UX designers. However, there are strong arguments that well-curated and engaging content is more important than design and functionality when determining a website or app’s success. So why are early concepts littered with lorem ipsum? The answer is two-fold. Firstly, most UX designers aren’t copywriters, so it is much easier for them to add lorem ipsum to a layout than agonise over a catchy headline. Secondly, design is a dependency that, in many cases, must be completed to allow development teams to commence their tasks. Content, on the other hand, can generally be populated at a later date and therefore lacks the urgency of design.

In truth, both design and content are as equally important to the success of your digital product, and organisations are starting to recognise this. In 2019, expect to see content producers and UX designers collaborating much earlier: from research and journey mapping phases through to design and user testing phases. This collaboration will lead to more content-centred experiences whereby visual hierarchy and structure is determined by content strategy.

4) Foldable display smartphones are coming

For those who haven’t been watching, technology giants like Samsung, Lenovo and Sony are gearing up for the launch of foldable smartphones. Some analysts are predicting sales of between 1-3 million units in 2019 soaring to around 60 million units by 2023. While predicting accurate sales of foldable smartphones is anyone’s guess, what’s certain is that the major players are pushing the technology hard. As a result, the format is expected to gain at least a small percentage of the market in the short term.

UX designers will need to adapt quickly to understand user behaviour on these devices and will need to come to grips with designing for two screens – which is likely to be different from traditional responsive design.

5) Data-driven UX becomes the standard

User research was founded on qualitative principles to help UX designers understand customer behaviours and their interactions with digital products. Methods such as focus groups, 1-on-1 interviews, usability testing and customer feedback forms continue to be the bedrock of user research. While these are excellent techniques to unearth customer insights, results are often open to interpretation.

For this reason, expect to see an increase in data-driven research to help drive UX strategy in 2019. This means larger sample sizes to assist in quantifying results, such as surveys with 100+ users. Outputs from this data, such as Net Promoter Scores, will, therefore, play a bigger role in decision making at boardroom tables. Although data helps remove subjectivity, it doesn’t unlock the key drivers and motivations behind a user’s behaviour – which is why qualitative research will remain critical to the UX process and a combination of both will provide the best outcome.