UX and Design
Is your product future proof?
09 May 2023 • 3 min read
The internet and technology move fast.
Even though many of us try, it's impossible to predict what the digital landscape will look like in 5 years time. From wearable devices to virtual reality, the only thing we can rely on is change.
In both digital and design, it's important we look ahead so we don't get caught out by something new on the horizon. If your business has the resources to redesign and iterate your website or app often, great! If not, there are some things you can do to help set your digital products up for success in the future.
Keep it simple
There are always new trends in digital design, from 3D graphics to animated backgrounds. These trends are great at making your website or app stand out, but they're also the first thing to make it feel dated.
If you don't have the design resource to keep on top of trends, keep your designs simple. Resources such as Google's Material Design can help give you solid, simple foundations.
Keep it consistent
Consistency can save time when making updates and can help reduce the scope of re-designs. It also creates familiarity for your users, helping to prevent cognitive overload. This means users can complete tasks faster which makes your product simpler to use.
One of the most effective ways to ensure consistency is by creating a design system.
In its simplest form, a design system is a suite of components that come together to form a bigger design. These components and styles can range from bigger elements such as a navigation bar, down to buttons and colours.
Creating a design system future-proofs your designs by making them easier to update. This means changes like button colours can be made much faster. Once you make a change in the central design system, all your designs are magically updated.
Creating your designs in this way has benefits when it comes to development, too. Using component libraries can help speed up development and bring more reusability/consistency.
If you want to get started with design systems, Figma has a great range of templates and videos.
Keep it functional
It's impossible to predict what devices will be created over the next few years. The best you can do is try and make sure your designs are flexible and work across many screen sizes.
This is known as 'responsive design'. This means that your website can scale down and is still usable on smaller devices. Making your designs as responsive as possible can help cover you for new screen sizes in the future.
Another way to keep your website functional is by user testing. Testing your designs with users early can find issues that may become a future problem. Don't be afraid to ask people to try out your product - most people love to give their opinion! Nielsen Norman's UX Research Cheat Sheet is a great start if you're planning research.
Keep it accessible
1 in 5 people in the UK have a recognised impairment. In digital, we have a duty to make our products accessible so we don't disable people with impairments. These impairments can usually be categorised in to:
Visual (e.g. sight loss, colour blindness)
Motor (e.g. arthritis, cerebral palsy)
Hearing (e.g. deaf or hard of hearing)
Cognitive (e.g. autism, dyslexia)
Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook have clear accessibility initiatives. These don't just help you understand why accessibility is important, but also what you can do to help.
Currently in the UK, only public sector websites are required by law to be accessible. This will likely change in the future, so making your products accessible now may save the need for a re-work - and make them more usable for millions of people!
We can't predict the future, but we can be prepared for change.
Try and keep your designs simple, responsive, accessible and built with a design system. Not only will you be helping your business, but you’ll be helping your users too!