In the world of software design, building the right customer experience means everything. But it’s not always easy to keep pace with changing customer preferences and a growing slate of competing developers that can bring products to market faster than ever before. Designers must begin to think more strategically about their trade and apply the latest design thinking techniques if they hope to win the hearts and minds of their customers. Things are moving fast in software design, and here are a few trends designers should keep top of mind in the coming year.

Designers Finally Get Out of Their Comfort Zone

It’s true that designers tend to live ‘down in the weeds,’ working painstakingly with their toolkits to build inspiring designs that push the right buttons with customers. But designers in 2019 will begin to think more strategically about how they approach their design process. By getting out of their tactical comfort zone and applying modern design thinking principles, they can learn to build a business focus on their design activities. Project teams that engage in design thinking have been shown to cut the time required for initial design by 75 percent, reduce development and testing time by 1/3 and bring products to market twice as fast. Once you open your design perspective to greater business objectives, you’ll become a more valued contributor to the team. 

Design Thinking Becomes Mandatory Thinking

Design thinking – the process of problem-solving that seeks to uncover and address customer needs on a deep level – will continue to be a key focus of design teams. Right now, ¾ of organizations self-report that they are engaged in design thinking, as they create a structured process for gathering usability data from customers, defining user requirements, developing user personas, and building in ideation, experimentation, and prototyping to perfect their designs and better engage their customers. And importantly, design thinking can create the type of culture that designers strive to be a part of, with 71 percent of design thinking organizations reporting it has improved their working culture on a team level. 

Science Will Improve the Art of Design

The concept of design thinking is a well-honed combination of art and science. Statistics show that 38 percent of consumers will stop engaging with a website or product if the content and layout is unattractive, which makes user experience (UX) design and research a vital component of the design process. Once designers have successfully mapped the user journey after careful user research and analysis (the “science” side of the equation), they are better prepared to optimize their design talents to meet those customer needs with compelling aesthetics, images, and usability principles (the “art” side of the equation) that forge a more impactful visual connection. 

Designers Will Strive to Deliver the Ultimate Customer Experience

What’s the most exciting opportunity for designers in the coming year? Improving the customer experience was last year’s top choice in the Digital Marketing Trends survey, and in 2019 the excitement will continue. There’s nothing more important than knowing exactly what your customers want to see in your designs and delivering on that ultimate customer experience. A full 86 percent of buyers are willing to pay for better customer experience, and 46 percent of design leaders cite an emotional bond with customers as a defining characteristic of advanced design practice. User research and design thinking are at the heart of understanding the drivers behind customer preferences and provide a path to delivering on that emotional bond. 

Designers by nature are a creative bunch to be sure, but many may not realize that the guiding principles behind creativity contribute substantially to the success of the development organization. One recent study showed that 82 percent of companies believe there is a strong connection between creativity and business results, and another reports that companies that foster creativity as a strategic imperative enjoy 1.5 times greater market share. Advanced design thinking (the clear driver of almost every trend in this list) gives designers a model with which to grow their creative talents in a way that doesn’t just look good in the interface but also keeps them in the good graces of business managers and the executive team. 

Upskilling Will Lead the Way to Success in 2019

Designers, like all professions, must keep up with the latest trends and techniques to be successful and remain fulfilled. Skills training in Design Thinking to raise the strategic value of the design group, User Experience (UX) Design and Research to add structure to the user journey mapping process, UX Interaction Design to craft interactive prototype-driven designs, and Visual Design to hone the artistic skills of impactful designs will all play a critical role with design teams in 2019.

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