AI: friend or foe? With technology constantly evolving and becoming more and more advanced, the future of the role of UX designers has been questioned. In this article, we’ll highlight how Artificial Intelligence (AI) has impacted the profession and answer the all important question: will AI replace UX designers?

Firstly, for anyone who isn’t familiar with AI, it’s essentially a simulation of human intelligence in machines which we use to aid us with tasks; from self-driving cars to website design, AI has revolutionised many industries and marketing is no exception.

With AI advancing so quickly, it’s fair to say that there is concern over the job security of UX designers, particularly when many tasks can be automated, but perhaps AI should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. With 60% of creative respondents in a 2018 study by Pfeiffer believing advances in AI would greatly impact the way they work, let’s look at what AI is currently able (and not able) to do.

How can UX designers leverage AI right now?

Assist with research

Research can be done using design trend research, interviews, surveys, card sorting and more but AI is able to help with collecting data, analysing and decoding it which will shed valuable insight into users’ behaviours. It's these behavioural insights that inform the design of the system.

Assist with design systems

Design systems include patterns, elements and modules that help build the design language of products or the brand itself, helping to maintain consistency. AI is then able to analyse information to assess how users are interacting with these elements in order to determine which element works best for each function. As AI is continually learning, it is able to optimise modules in order to achieve maximum results.

Moreover, AI can also help to personalise user experience (i.e. by taking into account data regarding location, the devices users are accessing the website from, the time of day they’re on the site and more!) This will provide a useful insight into what the audience is looking for and what they want from the site, helping to increase conversion rates.

But ultimately, design is not a simple process and humans are required to set context for designs and understand the audience's needs and desires.

Make sense of data and identify patterns

Once AI has recognised a pattern, it can create multiple variations instantly. Automating tasks cannot be undervalued as it helps free up precious time for UX designers to focus their attention on strategic decision making.

Create hypotheses

Once AI has been provided with sufficient data sets, it is able to create hypotheses automatically.

What AI can’t do right now (or struggles with)

Create original content

AI relies on large sets of data and defined parameters to produce content. The sheer amount of information AI requires is what makes it difficult for smaller companies to work with. And even with ChatGPT taking the internet by storm in early 2023, there's still concerns over it's ability to create unique content time and time again.

Filter biases

AI doesn’t have a consciousness and therefore lacks the ability to identify any biases (such as social or ethical). Only being able to learn from what is fed into its system, AI simply accepts data sets without challenging any biases.

Understand subtle differences in meanings and emotions

AI has difficulty in detecting and decoding emotional subtleties (using context, intent, body language, voice and social cues) which is something we as humans excel at.

Liaise with stakeholders

Any company will understand that communication is key to a successful business. Businesses need UX designers to inform them of requirement changes so that they can understand why work needs to be conducted. Spending time with clients to really get to grips with their goals and what they want their website to achieve is paramount; whilst AI can help get a job done, it needs to be told what to do first which limits creativity.

Understand audiences and their needs

It’s not just about pleasing the client, in fact, you’ll struggle to please a client if you aren’t pleasing their audiences. Whilst UX involves a data-driven approach, it takes an expert UX designer to dig deep into understanding what makes certain audiences tick before implementing changes that better cater to their needs.

Think outside of the box

AI can’t bring new ideas to the table quite like professional UX designers. Sometimes stakeholders and developers will need to be challenged in order to keep their best interests at heart and to see the bigger picture.

How the role of UX designers could change

Whilst there will still be a need for UX designers, they will inevitably have to adapt to work with AI more often. AI is a fast learner, can automate tasks and make sense of data but it lacks the ability to think creatively, understand smaller emotional details and communicate with stakeholders...that’s where UX designers come in. It’s safe to speculate that in the future we may start to see UX designers taking advantage of the capabilities of AI but taking on more of a curator rather than a creator role in order to deliver websites that help clients to reach their business goals.

How UX designers will work in harmony with AI

UX designers have already been getting to grips with working alongside AI and use AI tools such as:

  • Figma - a tool featuring plugins which includes add-ons with machine learning to automate repetitive tasks.
  • Adobe Sensei - this features deep learning to identify valuable assets for projects and helps to understand how users behave on your site.
  • Uizard - this can be used to convert hand-drawn wireframes into digital designs.

In terms of the future, UX designers are likely to continue using handy AI tools like these to complete projects within tight deadlines and to reduce time spent on tasks which can easily be automated safely in the hands of AI - the UX designer’s noble steed.

By working alongside AI, UX designers will be able to dedicate more time to developing a stronger strategic approach which will give users a better experience and clients better ROI.

So, do UX designers have a future?

After considering what AI is capable of and areas it needs a helping hand, it’s safe to say that whilst the role of a UX designer will change, AI will not replace UX designers, instead providing more opportunities for UX designers to excel at their work and continue delivering websites that successfully convert.

Want to know more about how AI is also changing the future of digital marketing?

Read article

Looking for a UX agency?

If you’re looking to improve the user experience of your website, you’ve come to the right place! We are Adido, a UX Bournemouth-based agency with a team of skilled website designers and developers who can make your website stand out from the crowd. Why not contact us today to find out more about how we can help you to deliver great user experiences?

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Anna Heathcote

Content Manager

Based way up on the Northumbrian coast, Anna uses her creative copywriting expertise and SEO experience to ensure clients have fresh, relevant and optimised content on their ...