Just like many other factors, user experience has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic this past year. The challenge? The “normal” way many users interacted with products or services changed from 2019 to 2020 because of the pandemic, and some of those ways have shifted for good. Many individuals moved from in-person work to remote work, and many workplaces have decided to remain completely remote or presented a hybrid model to their employees. Some users found that they like the new ways better than the old ways, so why would they want to go back?
Here are just a few examples of user shifts that have changed:
- Commuting to work -> working remote
- Socializing in large groups out at restaurants or at parties -> if gathering at all, gathering in smaller groups or in homes instead
- Shopping in stores -> shopping online
- Going to the movie theater -> watching new movies from home
- Visiting a doctor’s office -> using telehealth services
Although life is slowly getting back into a “new normal” many users will remain in shifts above, and product and system designers will have to think about these changes before entering the development and design stages. User research should be conducted with these new user models in mind, both fully remote, hybrid and those who never shifted or have shifted back to the pre-COVID lifestyles.
Factors to include in the research stages: qualitative research like surveys will help designers figure out what their new users look like and what their wants and needs are. Combining this research with analytics and quantitative data from before and after the pandemic will also help in the analysis. Research is key right now to figure out what the next steps are in re-evaluating the design of a product or system moving forward.
This is also means new opportunities for UX designers! This shift in user experience opens up a whole new world with how we design and develop moving forward. The use of AI in device and app development will become even more important. Designers need to consider the use of universal design to make is usable for all ages and expertise. COVID taught a lot of industries that baby-boomers and other older generations utilized online shopping more than what was expected. Considering this factor and also making designs accessible and all-inclusive is very important. Designers also have the opportunity to develop new products or systems that are built for this new normal, and for the new user model.
Many brands are looking at their products or systems for ways to provide a more seamless and overall better user experience. During the pandemic many organizations also realized how out-of-date their systems or websites were as they became more important than ever.
The post-pandemic world can be scary, but it’s also a world ready to embrace UX!