09 July 2013

Will UX exhaust itself?

When I first started in the field (originally doing usability along with some design), it was easy to make an impact. Just think of all those nasty 1990s websites with fundamental flaws that could remedied with a wave of a good developers hand? It was like that.

But now, the whole world is getting on-board with user experience and the upshot is that everyone is a little more savvy than they used to be. This in turn makes small-change-big-impact gigs far less frequent. UX is focusing increasingly upon minutia because that's where the benefits will be found.

But eventually, the law of diminishing returns will kick in and we will come to the point where UX talent will be employed for the quick wins and little else. Or perhaps even not at all.

Another possibility is that UX practitioners will increasingly focus on niche areas. "Hey!", they'll say. "You need someone to optimise a revenue stream from selling vintage astronomy books? Well, I've done vintage chemistry books which is much the... Oh, okay. So you think I haven't got the skills..."

I wonder if this might lead not so much to a contraction in the market, but rather a slow down? I can envisage companies saying, "Well, these are all UX problems but they're pretty much solved so let's hold off on that freelancer."