For years, UX designers have had to design interfaces that work for the largest number of people possible. This has meant incorporating intensive user research into their process to understand how and why people use a particular product or tool, as well as trying to solve “edge cases” where users may act in non-standard ways.
And while we don’t anticipate research or edge cases to become any less important in the UX process, there may be growing opportunities to design interfaces that are more adaptable to the people who use them.
Certainly, adaptation has been around a long time. Even on rudimentary web browsers, users can change the size of the font and the scale of their screen. Increasingly, though, products and services themselves are using the details they collect about users to change the way they look, function, and feel to better meet those users’ needs.
Here are just a few examples of why personalization is becoming a growing trend in UX design:
Users increasingly expect to see content offered to them that reflects their interests.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect movie on Netflix or your next playlist on Spotify, personalization helps you find what you’re looking for faster, easier, and more seamlessly. When done well, personalization helps users discover new content that aligns with their interests without having to invest significant time into the search process. For UX designers, the ability to easily review, sort, and access recommendations makes the content consumption process more enjoyable and in line with user expectations.
Systems that recognize user behavior and preferences can reduce friction.
For anyone who uses voice assistants like Siri on a regular basis, the ability for the system to recognize who’s speaking and provide a “conversation-like” interface creates a smooth and easy-to-use experience. The same holds true for a service like Amazon, which provides related and recommended products without the user having to take any action. UX designers can help support this effort by designing interfaces—whether visual, physical, or voice—that smoothly incorporate personalization into the user experience.
Personalization can help users spend more time with a product or service.
While many people may joke about the vaunted “rabbit hole” of endless content consumption on streaming sites, the power of personalization can make users more likely to continue using the product or service. AI-powered recommendations don’t just apply to movies and songs, either. Services like Intuit’s tax preparation software and Bank of America’s digital assistant all incorporate AI that can personalize the user’s experience and even predict their most common needs. Designing for personalization means incorporating a variety of disciplines, from sharp visual elements to strong UX copywriting, to create a cohesive experience that keeps users engaged as they interact with a product or service.
Personalization is a powerful tool in UX designers’ toolkits and can allow services and products to better meet user needs. While personalization must be handled with care, smart designers and developers can take advantage of this growing trend to serve their users more intelligently and efficiently.