A colleague just told me about his new position – as a UX researcher for a global computing company, working on a product with no visual UI. The “product” is a proprietary programming language with no GUI and the users are the programmers themselves.
Thus, the research project is purely conceptual with no visual stimuli. It’s an exercise in abstract systems design where one of the major goals is to make the programming language easier to learn. He said how strange it was to not work with UX designers and, instead, work directly with software developers.
This got me thinking. My long-term view is that as AI & NLP technologies improve, our reliance on visual interfaces will diminish. Eventually, most interactions with our devices will be through voice and neural control. This fascinates me as I’d like to explore how user research can inform the design of AI/ML systems.
Data scientists, AI/ML engineers, and developers may eventually supplant visual designers. The paintbrush will become code and paint will become data. I can feel the visual designers rolling their eyes – nothing against y’all. Your creativity will still be needed, just applied to bigger and better things. Instead of app screens maybe you’ll design immersive environments in VR/AR, like the “memory-maker” girl in Blade Runner.