There’s a good reason why the term “big data” gets thrown around more and more during discussions regarding user experience design, application development, and data analysis. Big data has the potential to completely revolutionise the way we design and create just about everything, from physical goods to digital products.
If you aren’t familiar with the term; it essentially refers to any data set that is large enough to enable meaningful data analysis and extraction of key metrics. Imagine a simple website that displays three random pictures each day. You can record demographic information about users and the type of picture they clicked on. Within time, you will be able to correlate this information and use it to select only those pictures the target user is likely to enjoy.
This basic principle could theoretically be endlessly expanded upon and used to generate products and solutions that would drive growth, attract customers, and do all of this in a predictable fashion. Let’s consider three important ways how big data could shape the future of UX design.
The nature of user experience design is purely subjective. What one customer finds sublime others may dislike. In the past, overcoming this obstacle was mostly a matter of trial and error. A solution was decided, implemented, and if it worked it was retained. Innovations were often costly and took a long time to implement.
Big data could change this. A large data set of customer actions and preferences could help companies and UX designers understand their customers and thus, design solutions and products that are guaranteed to work.
Social media platforms and the Internet contains information of sufficient analysis of customer behaviour, and provides the perfect opportunity of discovering new niches.
The prediction of trends is a great example of a task that is perfectly suited for computational analysis using big data. Trends don’t happen overnight. They slowly develop from individual influences and spread in a complicated but predictable fashion. Many big corporations have access to enough information to allow them to accurately predict future development’s and start working on a new product a long time before customers become aware that they actually want it. When they do, it will already be available on the market and the company will claim the spot of an industry leader.
But big data and trend analysis could be used on a much smaller scale. Individual designers or app developers could monitor users’ preferences and adjust their actions accordingly to always deliver a product that is sure to please.
Our visual nature makes us pay attention to things that seem to carry useful information and present it in an easy to read format. Big data make data visualisation and creation of stunning info-graphics much easier than ever before.
Businesses could use this as a foundation of their marketing strategy, and take advantage of the fact that people share info-graphics on social media sites 3x more than any other type of content.
What’s more, studies have shown that readers pay attention to images that carry information much more than to a plain text. Big data provide with a vault of interesting factoids that could make the base content more interesting and palatable.
There’s still one final question that needs to be answered: will big data be just a tool used for user experience design, or will it turn into a strict ruler that designers obey? It’s impossible to say. However, given the enormous influence it already has, we wouldn’t be surprised. Perhaps it won’t take too long before machine learning algorithms will understand our needs and wants much better than we do.
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