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UX testing is more prevalent than ever before and is only set to grow

Following on from our previous blog post on 2015 UX trends, we continue our round-up of the last 12 months with a look at the user experience industry as a whole and the proliferation of UX testing across organizations of all sizes across the world.

Companies are testing more often and on a bigger scale. They are increasingly seeing the value of UX as a means of saving money and resources and an important facet of improving performance and sales.

More and better quality UX testing

User experience design is an increasingly critical component of competitive strength. With the elevation of the UX discipline, what was once limited to Web design now leads innovation in product development, customer strategy and even business transformation.

Increasingly, UX is being seen (quite rightly) as a source of business advantage. It is now on boardroom agendas and is a conversation topic in the executive suite.

In 2015 we saw a growth in the types of testing and strategies used, as larger investments in UX design are becoming more common in every sector and every sized company.

UX testing: the role

It’s a great time to be a UX professional. People are being given more responsibility within digital teams and higher profiles within corporate structures as user experience is seen as a necessity rather than a “nice to have.”

This means companies of all shapes and sizes will soon have at least one professional in charge of overseeing the user experience of its products and services.

Yet, there’s some debate around the role and job description of UX professionals. Increasingly, there’s some blurring of the lines with regards to jobs roles now that we have realised everyone in the team has an impact in the overall user experience of a product. We are starting to add “UX” job titles: UX engineer, UI/UX Designer, UX Architect, UX Front-end Engineer.

If everyone shares both the power and the responsibility for great user experiences, what is the role UX designers should play within their teams in 2016?

The challenge is to make sure that everyone on the team, from product managers to customer support, understands their role in improving the user’s experience and how crucial that is for the business. UX professionals need to step in and play a more central role in coordinating all the collective effort, while collaborating with their peers.

Inspiring the whole digital team

The issue of the importance of UX testing to organizations was highlighted in a talk by BBC’s Jane Murison at our at UserZoom London seminar event.

Murison spoke about the BBC’s approach to increasing the quality of its UX practice by raising the profile and importance of design research within the organization.

“Better quality research allows for more innovation in your user research methodologies, and more data driven decision making,” Murison said. “With only six researchers in a team of 120 UX professionals, we wanted to make sure these people think of themselves not just as someone who creates prototypes or animations, but also as someone who would also be able to undertake their own design research.”

Advances in Technology

As technology continues to advance, so will the role and importance of user experience. Technology provides the platform for the further proliferation of user experience and we’ve seen this over the last 12 months with the growth in mobile UX testing.

In October this year, Gartner identified “ambient user experience” as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2016. The analysts say that ambient user experience will increasingly flow across a shifting set of devices and interaction channels, blending physical, virtual and electronic environments as the user moves from one place to another.

The big challenge for UX professionals over the next couple of years is to adapt to these new technologies and platforms and create new testing strategies that deliver value.

Conclusion

The proliferation of UX testing is a trend which will continue to grow in 2016. As we’ve outlined above, UX professionals are playing an increasingly important role within all types of organisations. Those roles are blurring as the boundaries and scope of user experience gets bigger but what we can be sure of is that UX is set for a important year in the next 12 months.