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Age of the Algorithm: Why UX Designers Need to Pay Attention to AI


Artificial Intelligence should no longer be confined to the concerns of data scientists and developers. Indeed, It is increasingly apparent that machine learning stands to transform innovation, creativity and productivity for the digital age.

Rising Expectations in The Digital Realm

Perhaps predictably, the impact of AI is being felt with the most force in the digital realm. The relationship between UX and AI has become inextricably linked, with each one directly influencing the other.

While we are far from a point where AI is ready to replace the need for human UX design, it is true to say that brands have begun to rely on AI to keep pace with market demands and rising consumer expectations. Without automation, machine learning and analytics, the science of UX would be far less advanced than it is at present.

It is becoming more and more apparent in today’s digital landscape that everything is connected. Professionals in all industries are now expected to embrace wider technologies in order to position themselves for success, and AI is a key example of this. In the field of UX design and development, those who recognise Artificial Intelligence’s potential as a design and development tool will enhance the end user’s experience far beyond today’s limited capabilities.

Accessible Intelligence

AI powers far more brand interactions than the average consumer realises, with 84% of people already seeing the benefits. From predictive search terms to online shopping recommendations – it’s all AI, and it’s all useful. The technology is more accessible for brands than you might think, too. When you host with Amazon Web Services for example, you get the company’s artificial intelligence APIs as part of the package – this includes the speech-recognition technology behind Alexa, at no extra cost.

Netflix are a prime example of a brand that sees AI as integral to driving user experiences. Having perfected the science of personalised content and recommendations on demand, Netflix now uses smart algorithms to analyse each frame of a video and compress it without sacrificing image quality. This pioneering application of automation improves streaming quality over slower speeds, and has further solidified the brand’s position as a market leader in video-on-demand.

The End of Human-Driven UX?

While there have certainly been steps toward the development of an entirely AI-driven user experience, it is unlikely that the technology will ever completely replace human expertise. UX design is as much an art as it is a science, and limits in creativity will always hold AI back to some degree.

Working alongside AI however, designers will soon be given the opportunity to focus on creativity and strategy, leaving technical tasks to the machines. One example of this would be split testing. With machine learning, systems can identify user behavior and quickly optimise multiple versions of designs – a step beyond traditional A/B testing. Similarly, AI systems could use a designer’s previous designs to compile a series of split tested layout options. The future of UX design lies in human-creativity, paired with AI-legwork.

The maturity model of analytics ranges from descriptive to diagnostic to predictive, culminating with prescriptive. AI-driven insights could offer incredible value to the UX design process, providing a means of identifying real-world customer journeys in order to optimise UI/UX and better serve customers’ needs.


The Age of the Algorithm

Artificial Intelligence’s greatest benefit lies in its intelligence that is separate from our own – that is, its ability to think differently. At least for the time being, AI is far from sounding the death knell of the human race, and is instead seamlessly integrating with our existing technology and processes to augment our ability to create.

In today’s sensory-overloaded world, leading brands are distancing themselves from their competition by identifying user needs and delivering relevant, streamlined experiences. With more data being generated than ever before, the challenge for UX designers lies in how to best use it to their advantage. The solution, as pioneering UX professionals are proving, lies in partnership with artificial intelligence.

eWave are currently recruiting for an Artificial Intelligence Solutions Lead to work on various projects with our high-profile portfolio of iconic global brands. If you think this could be you, please get in touch.

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Nevan Lalich
Head of Creative

Jul 28, 2017