At the start of 2017 I made several predictions about UX design and research. Let’s see how I did.

Happy December! Hopefully you had a great 2017 and (soon) a very happy 2018!

It’s been an exciting and productive year for us and I hope it has been for you as well. A quick recap for UserZoom – in early 2017 we redesigned the entire UserZoom product and have consistently improved it throughout the year, and will continue to do the same in 2018. We also launched our automated IntelliZoom participant sourcing engine that allows our customers reach 120+ million participants.

Below is a recap of how my 2017 predictions (from Jan of this year) turned out.

Organizational UX maturity grew across the board

A lot of organizations that we work with have hired senior UX leaders. We have seen several Researchers and Designers demonstrate value within their organizations and have climbed career ladders into leadership positions. We are clearly seeing a dramatic increase in overall research studies on our platform as well as increase in researcher studies per organization. So clearly all metrics are trending to the top right.

Having said that, we still believe there is a long runway to improve organizational UX maturity and that can only happen as more and more teams demonstrate value in two primary ways:

(1) Rapid research to support Agile development

(2) Measuring KPIs and conducting Competitive Benchmarks to demonstrate strategic value

Agile, Agile & even more Agile

I had predicted that we would see some increase in qualitative, fast, iterative usability studies in 2017. But I was wrong. We saw a 3X growth of smaller, frequent, agile studies in 2017.

I am going to predict that this trend of smaller iterative studies will continue in 2018. Tools like UserZoom are making it easier and easier to quickly build a study, launch it and start sharing insights in hours.

Benchmarking: Compared to what?

I had predicted a growing need for Competitive UX Benchmarks. That turned out to be true.

We conducted hundreds of UX Benchmarking studies. We have a collection of top UX KPIs and a framework to connect UX KPIs to business KPIs published by UX Magazine.

For those that are interested in linking UX metrics with business KPIs I recommend watching this webinar: Make UX part of KPI conversations.

Integration with analytics: Data to insights to actions and then results

While we saw handful of teams couple UX research with Analytics, it did not happen as much I had predicted. More needs to be done here by the UX Research community to triangulate insights from Usability Studies with available Analytics.

Enterprise applications with consumer grade user experiences

Yes, it is true that Enterprise Applications, even employee facing applications, have been trying to catch up with B2C consumer facing applications and websites. But it’s slow progress.

Enterprise applications have a long development cycle (in general) and find it hard to integrate rapid design and iterate cycles. It’s also true that it takes a little longer to find the right participants that fit the right persona (think Database Admins, Network Admins, HR Managers).

So, lots more progress would be needed in 2018 and 2019 to launch consumer grade UX.

Various research methods

We have certainly seen in 2017 heavy usage of multi-method research.

The most common was combining qualitative videos with large sample size quantitative studies to liberate insights. Almost all UserZoom customers used various user research methods on our platform to answer “why” and “by how much” answers routinely.

Beyond borders, global needs

A decade ago, conducting usability research across the globe meant you needed a million-dollar budget. Not anymore.

In 2017, we routinely saw customers launch studies in more than one country. Most studies launched in North America and Europe. We also saw an increase in research studies across Asia (India, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Australia).

Design patterns research

I had predicted that in addition to specific projects and product line UX research we would see larger research initiatives to validate design patterns.

While we saw several larger studies that tried to determine best patterns for several parts of the site and conduct benchmarks across several designs, the 3X increase in smaller, iterative research studied dominated most large cross product.

Another reason might be that most UX organization are short staffed and are barely able to deliver to here and now need and end up not finding enough time for larger projects.

Redesign projects are here to stay

No surprises here. We saw hundreds if not thousands of research studies to support large redesigns of websites, mobile apps and business applications. I predict the same trend in 2018.

Mobile

No surprises here either. We saw a growing need of conducting research on mobile devises. We saw it all: Live websites that are responsive, prototypes that are optimized for mobile phones, SDK integrations to capture voice of the customer from live apps.

One trend I missed: Longitudinal Diary Studies

We worked with few customers who augmented their research with longitudinal diary studies using UserZoom platform. Longitudinal studies by its nature take longer but result in surprising insights that are hard to get from one off sessions.

I would encourage everyone to explore the option of adding longitudinal studies in their tool kit.

Hopefully you had a great 2017. Looking forward to a great 2018!!!