Hey, this is Kate Kaplan with Nielsen Norman Group, we’ve just wrapped our first ever and virtual U.S. conference where hundreds of attendees from 46 countries joined us remotely for seven full days, a professional U.S. training and networking to cap off this special event. Jacob Nilsson joined us for a live Q&A session where attendees asked him to share his perspective on U.S. team dynamics, U.S. and current events and the future of our industry. Let’s take a look.
So, Jacob, if you’re ready, the first question that I’d like to ask you is kind of about the individual and the US professional and career development.
And this question is actually from Maneesha in the US, if you had to pick three, what would you say are the main skills a UX researcher should learn early on in their career?
Well, for research, you know, we always say there are three things you do when you do what I should do when doing research, which is have a percentage of users have them do one percent of tasks, real world task, and you shut up and let the user do the talking. So those three sound very simple, but they’re actually three kind of complex skills, really, exactly how to get hold of the right users tasks writing. The entire thing about being real, real world is actually there’s a lot of detail there and then finally shut up. Sounds easy, but actually facilitation, if you’re going to make it to the more general, those are three kind of conflict skills and those are the foundation of any research method. So for researchers, I would say those are the three. But then to kind of cheat, there’s actually one more because you can do like the most perfect research. Right. And it does no good if it just sits on the shelf. It sits on a file directory somewhere. So the additional skills are orthogonal. Skill is communication skills, which I would hope people have learned before. But honestly, most people don’t know how to do it right. So anything from writing to speaking, whether it’s speaking in public or whatever, all those things are not veto specific skills, but they’re super important for success in a real project.
On the other side, we have an attendee, actually, a couple of attendees raised this question of what do you think is the biggest mistake you see designers make earlier in their career?
I think that almost two opposite mistakes people tend to make, and it’s either being too, too self-confident or too insecure. So abysses. Right. But definitely return back to that question about my research. If you’re too confident in just like your own opinion or your own judgment or your own, like, design, elegance or whatever, and you ignore the use fight that I think is is a really classic mistake. And then, on the other hand, does the opposite mistake, which is being so insecure or we need like data for everything. No, I mean, you’re not going to have like a statistically significant, you know, like to the fifth decimal point data for everything. You’ve got to just make some decisions as well. So you’ve got to, on the one hand, trust your skill and professional judgment and the other hand, to trust it too much, not be just saying, oh, I am the expert so I know everything. No, you don’t know everything, but you do know something.
So that kind of middle ground is is what you should be there with those being both focused on kind of getting into UX and for more inexperienced professionals looking at the more experienced professionals that are trying to get into you a little bit later stage in their career. What advice do you have for kind of selling yourself and showing your value without sacrificing the compensation?
That, I think is a very, very difficult question. The only real way to sort of preserve your status or salary, I guess, is really to stay in your current job and pivot there, because if you’re going to go out and apply for a new job as a new UX specialist, I mean, people are going to judge you as such and that you’re not going to be treated very senior, even if you’re 50 years old. I mean, it’s not the age that counts. It’s the experience or the knowledge, as you say. But on the other hand, in your current job, you know a lot about how to do that product, how to deal with that company, all the structures and how things are done and everything. And so in your current job, I think this, of course, assumes you can get some permission, but you can also actually to do it just as a skunkworks. So you can just kind of do it almost without permission. They say simple usability studies can be done without permission. Right. And so if you stay at your current job and twist it gradually to become more and more and more and more UX oriented, and that’s often the way that you become that company’s designated UX expert just because you built it yourself. I mean, this is you start from nothing and you’re just little by little, by little by little. You build it up. And now two years later, you’re the guru, right. And you retained all the status you had before then.
So kind of thinking about at an organizational level for organizations that have some on their staff, that maybe their culture hasn’t quite shifted to the user centered yet. How do you shift an organization’s culture to be more user focused when they’re still stuck in those old fashioned ways?
That’s tough because culture is not something that that changes very fast. And this is, by the way, also one of the classic design mistakes we make as well. If we design something that only works, if everybody changes the way they do, everything is kind of doomed. And it’s a little bit the same about doing UX work. If you assume that all of the people in the company should immediately recognize that always the right way and they have to change all their set ways that they have done for thirty years, and that’s just not going to happen. So you’ve got to change them on a more gradual note. And this is why we have this concept called UX maturity levels. And one of the big experiences we’ve had for many years of doing this work is you can’t jump from very low level maturity to very high level maturity in one year. I mean, you can expedited if this extreme is. Back up from very senior management, particularly in newly formed companies, where the founder is somebody who is a huge personality. I mean, Google is a great example of that because they started by by two and two graduate students in our field. But that’s not an established company. That’s a new company, an established company. It’s gonna to take some time. It may take as much as 10 years, maybe more. And you’re just going to need someone to suffer that and proceed gradually, because if you assume you’re going to make the big leap to try to make a jump like this and do smash and you fall. So that’s going to be a doomed project.
You’ve got to do it gradually when you’re working, when you’re unsuccessful, you’re working with a lot of different groups or project managers. You’re working with developers and such. And this question was raised a couple of times, kind of thinking about when you’re working with all of these different teams, you’re advocating for the user, but they have needs to. Those teams have needs as well. So how do you balance and negotiate different features and write components and how do you decide when is a good time to compromise?
I mean, everything is a compromise. That’s, of course, a lesson is very hard for me because I’m very strong minded and I really want the user interface to be perfect and every little detail to be exactly right. And you’ve got to accept that that’s not going to be the case. And so we do have a lot of prioritization methods where we can prioritize, you know, what are the things that are going to matter, have the most business value and the most user value. And so that’s already a compromise there. And I think you’re more likely in the long run to get it through with things that have high business value. Because, you know, the next year you can say, wow, you know, we increase revenue by 10 percent, that we made millions of pounds or whatever. That’s going to be good for next time to argue why they should listen to you. But, of course, things that I have high use of value of the things we’re supposed to also advocate for, and they will have business value in the long run from more loyal customers. So if you have that prioritization of things that follow on business value or user value, maybe you don’t fight those battles. If somebody so you really have to have a multidimensional, which makes it hard multidimensional prioritization matrix. So we usually talk about UX value versus kind of cost in terms of implementation. So the engineers tell us, you know, this is going to cost us like enormous work. And we say, well, it’s going to improve usability a little bit. We don’t do that well. We can have like another dimension, which is more kind of, I guess, organizational resistance or how obnoxious people are about not wanting to do certain things. And then maybe, again, that’s another tradeoff parameter. That is there’s a lot of resistance to something. Then you only really fight for it if it’s super important. Right. If it’s only medium important, usually people say beachum important we would still like to do. But if there’s strong resistance, maybe you wait for next year, right? Maybe you accumulate more videos. Some feasibility studies have to show it sort of select the times at various meetings. And gradually people understand that should make that change.
But you you’re not going to get it through right away at our conference to talk about this concept of empathy. And I think it’s very well known now that empathy is kind of at the heart of our field, but sometimes especially working with leadership, empathy can be seen as a bit of an abstract concept. This is asked by one of our attendees. How can data gained from empathy have real value to the team in the larger organization?
Well, in some sense, maybe that’s not hard data, but it’s more soft data, more with more with feeling. And I don’t think that makes it invalid or something one shouldn’t push for. But again, going back to what I was saying before it, that the the heart of business values and measurable revenue numbers is so are the ones that are easier to get through, the ones that are more the use of value are. We know that people really struggle with that that way. That’s what the empathy comes into play. And that’s more something I think you’ve got to build up more gradually. And as the team becomes more user center and maybe the organization grows as a whole grows and that maturity UX maturity level, more of them will have exposure to you, to users or to customers. I mean, I always like to say nobody should be allowed to work on a project if they haven’t at least once seen a customer. But that’s already a medium level of maturity to have everybody once seen a customer, but many times similar to the customer, that certainly higher levels of maturity. And it’s only really that that can build true empathy. I mean, you can write endless reports to give presentations, and if you have great presentation skills, you can hopefully convince them more. But that’s not real empathy, right? That’s that’s that’s only maybe like hopefully you can get some understanding there, but you can get empathy just from you. So the team members have to see see customers themselves, and that, again, takes a little bit of time. So, again, I just think all of these many of these questions we’ve had now will come back to kind of a prioritization or understanding of what can you do it with stages of maturity and at the low level of maturity all earlier in the company, starting to do real user experience work. The fewer types of things you can do is just have we have to recognize. But OK, let me just flip the coin there, because on the other hand, early in the game, you have all these so-called low hanging fruit. I mean, there’s so many low hanging fruit. I mean, I loved honestly when we started this normal group that this is now and in nineteen ninety eight, that was such a beautiful time to be a consultant and starting a consulting company in this field because the user interfaces were so terrible. I mean, honestly, this is true stories. I mean. We could go into a company and like spend less than one day there, right, and we could tell them how to double their business. It was like shooting fish in a barrel because the dot com interfaces was so bad. And many of these e-commerce companies, you could hardly buy anything. So just like take this spinning thing off the homepage and right next day you double your sales. Right. I mean, so honestly, it’s actually very happy when things are really bad. It can also be happy because it means that there are certain things we can make, other changes that will have a huge impact later on. You need much more deep understanding, the heart of things that we need to to to work on.
And that’s when we need more of a true team support and all that kind of related to not again, in this realm of measuring what we do and how can we measure whether an organization is following those best practices. And this is from Anna in Germany.
Right? Well, there are two ways of doing it, I would say. And the first way is very simple, simplistic checklist approach, which is that we have, as you know, a very large number of methodologies. And we even have some articles on our websites and courses at conferences where we talk about when to do one and all that. And so that’s the first step is just basically a checklist of are you doing these things that you’re supposed to do early in the design process, in the middle of the design process to lead in the design process. How many of the things that we recommend to you to do? And that’s relatively easy to do. And again, and early in the maturity levels, you shouldn’t assume that you’re going to do everything because you don’t have the budget, you don’t have a staff, you don’t have organizational awareness to do these things. So don’t aim for that. But you should at least do it, do a few of the most basic things. And later on, you should do more things. So you could just checklist, check, check, check. Yeah, I do this. I do this. No, I don’t do that. And you count how many things you do. Now, that’s a simplistic approach and it’s not really enough, but it’s a good start. And the reason is not really enough is that. It’s not enough to do something, you have to also do it right and actually maybe it’s affecting you, then you have to act on it as well. And so those those two additional points become things should then secondarily have to measure. And this is harder because you probably think you do things right. Let’s say, for example, usability testing, which is our most basic method. And so you can say yes or no. Do you do usability testing? First of all, some people don’t understand the difference between that and focus groups. So, again, we already talk to users. That’s not a valid checkmate check item. So you’ve got to, first of all, say be actually doing it right. So if we say usability testing as an example, is it one on one? Do you shut up, let the user do the talking. And I don’t demonstrate even the real world test all these things. So that’s the first thing then that’s tied to quality. How well do you really do it? How insightful are you in analyzing what’s going on? That’s how for yourself to judge, because, of course, you think you’re insightful. So so that’s something maybe you get a colleague or somebody else to sort of assess whether it’s going well or not. And then the last point is, is it actually being implemented? Right. So when you come up and say we really should make the following changes as design and those changes made and I have to say that this is never the case and everything is done. I mean, we’ve sometimes done projects where we have we have a client and we give them a report. This is just like one of the things we recommend you do. And then sometimes we’ll come back next year and they’ll hire us to do like a rave review, we call it. So we like we will keep it going. And so we’ll just check out these hundred things we recommend to to actually do them. And if they did it, usually only people only do half of the recommendations. And that’s actually OK. Well, that’s fine. You can do everything right. And so 100 percent is fine, even the two goals necessarily. But if the only to 10 percent of the recommendations, then there’s something wrong. And so those are additional things that you can or you should look at after the very first step, which is just checklist. Are you doing some of the recommended things or not? If yes, how well are you doing them? If you think you’re doing them well or correctly and will, then are people doing what you tell them? And so there are various places that can break down. But first of all, it breaks down if you don’t do it because you don’t do it for sure, you’re not going to have any results. If you do it poorly executed poorly, you’ll probably have some results. If you do it well, you have many more results. And then there’s that transition between results in the UX team and results of the product.
And of course, you have to be the product to give you that business value that we like to talk about it when talking about how you x maturity can make a difference in some of these situations, looking at some of those more maybe high mature organizations that have a lot of designers, do you have any advice for a U.S. team or. Yes, there are a lot of designers, but they have competing visions and that’s kind of taking precedence over some of the actual insights to be implemented.
That’s a much harder problem, I think. So that goes back to the, I think, concept of the user experience architecture. And so you have to have an overreaching vision. And you cannot have if you have individual people’s visions, then you’re going to end up with something like Linux. I mean, Linux is notoriously almost impossible to use and yet done by a bunch of brilliant programmers who each had their own vision for what their little thing should be. And you put a thousand brilliant people stuff together and it’s like look like as a bowl of spaghetti or something like that. Or one of my colleagues once said some angry fruit salad and all these things, each individual piece of fruit might be nice. And so to control that, that’s what you had to have that architecture. And that is harder to do because you really have to have some either a person or small team who really owns that. I was in charge of that. And that has to live outside of things like really sort of small rapid design cycles. If you’re going to like to do sprints, you have a. A week or a month or whatever it is to do a one one, one thing, well, you have to have the outside of that of that kind of running, running, running. You also got to, like, sit down thing and do the bigger design and infamy. I mean, information architecture, you might say, is how I was an early idea, that kind of approach to. But I think we have a bigger experience architecture and some really senior really great designer needs to be in charge of that. And you could sort of say it’s a little bit like back on Apple had Steve Jobs. You know, that was almost like his unwritten title was experienced architect. You know, it ended up being done on a title of you architect’s office. But but it really was Steve Jobs, I guess, who truly sort of said we had this one vision for our product and it shouldn’t actually really be be be something like Steve Jobs, which should be like more of a true UX person. But I think something like having good user interface architecture and it’s not an easy thing to do. We don’t know a lot about how to do it. I mean, it’s not really a strategy to say, well, it will. So we have a brilliant person that everybody will respect and who makes the right decisions. You can be like, can you have that? But it’s not a great strategy. So I don’t think it’s necessarily have step by step advice for how to achieve great architecture. But that’s what you need to have architecture as an overriding point beneath like individual design decisions.
Another area where we received a lot of questions that people want your insight on is kind of current events and things that are going on. So one of the questions that we received is how design can contribute to the current global state, specifically covid-19. And how can we as humans focused on UX better help users, customers in our communities. And this is from Jonathan in.
Well, that’s a that’s a great question. I mean, of course, in many ways, this is not specifically design or software user interface issue, it’s some other medical issue. But that said, I think it’s a variety of different things that we can do. So at this point, it is a medical issue. There’s a lot of researchers now, medical researchers working on making vaccines, are making cures and whatever. And those guys all use software to do data analysis and all that. And most of that has terrible user interfaces. And so doing better in doing this kind of complex data analysis, we actually working on doing a course on that that’s going to be launched in the meanwhile. So we don’t have that ready yet. And it’s a very complicated thing to do. But but for sure, doing better UX design on supporting active scientists in general, but maybe specifically the scientists working on this problem is right. There would be that would be a good thing. Then there are some of the more general thing about talking about the general public. And we of course, we know that right now we have all these collaboration software collaborations that we’re doing right now. And these systems can can for sure be better. I think that already are to pretty good for targeting users like like us. But we’re super users. So we’ve discovered a few small usability problems that can zoom like when you we had a lot of people when they were trying to click the flag for their country, they click the flag for something like obscure drill in the Arctic Island that was had the same flag because it was a Norwegian colony, but it was Norway. But this doesn’t really matter. And it’s a small thing, but there are small problems in software like Zoom or Aslak, but they actually are pretty well designed for people like us. But we are not the broad public. Right. And so really driving through that now, we are talking about effects at least 10, if not more, of broadening the scope of people using this type of software in particular. And that becomes a huge usability issue. And in particular, we are talking about a lot of elderly users having to use it now who maybe didn’t use these things before. We all know when talking about the specific virus that people 70 and older particularly or older. The big risk group. And so they have to be like 100 percent isolated and they can’t meet with their grandchildren or anybody else. So that’s super isolating and very hard for those people. And yet to sign these days really is not at all suitable for old people. And we’ve got to work on this for years, and we have done we’ve done reports on how to design for senior citizens. We’ve done reports on how to design for teenagers. And honestly, with you and honestly, the teenage report is so much better than the seniors report. Most companies don’t care about old folks, even though we have no data available on how to design for them. And I think now we really need to design better for senior citizens because we have a lot of people and they can’t rely on the old solution, which is, yeah, my my grandson, who’s a nice young man, came by and set up a computer for me. The can you rely on that anymore? So this interface had to be really, really simplified dramatically for the senior citizens to really use them. Well, so I think that’s where in terms of like more large scale impact, maybe dramatic simplification of these type of interfaces, and particularly in terms of designing for seniors, which is so blatantly ignored that we can do much better.
So kind of related to that in the current state that we’re in, a lot of organizations and individuals have been forced into kind of a work from home experience and experiment. Do you what are your thoughts on UCS being one hundred percent remote? Do you think that we can do it? And what are the biggest challenges for doing remotely?
I mean, I don’t think we can do it. One hundred percent. I think it’s just not possible I mean, there are many things you want to do for really great user experience that requires you to be out with the users to home visits. I mean, we did a practical life online where we went to people’s houses, sat on that couch. Those are things that right now would be considered. But don’t do that. Right. But those are necessary for some of the deeper understanding, for really creating the next generation of deeper insight, new features type of things. But if you look at it in the more short term and short term can certainly be a year that we can certainly it will do a lot of our work remotely. I mean, we could to remote usability studies.
But remember, user testing is only one of a range of research methods. We can do a lot of design and collaboration. We can do remotely. I mean, even at this conference, we’ve done a lot of the type of exercises where the journey mapping all different sites. We usually do like big posters on the wall with to them on a remote instead. And it’s worked quite well. So I think that. And the short term, we can do a lot of our things remotely. And there’s also benefits to that. You know, like one of the. Standard advice, you know, so this device for improving programmer productivity. Two things to do that the best things are program approaches. One was send all your programmers to touch typing course they can type better. And the second is give them an individual office and close the door, lock those guys up in isolation and then they can crank out the code because interruptions are terrible for programmers. Now, designers are a little bit different than programmers, but there’s still a lot of work that we can do where actually sitting alone, you double the opportunity. But then there are other things where, honestly, all these tools we’re having now are still not the same as being together and definitely for research is not the same. So if we want to think about. Ten year perspective, a longer term perspective, what we want to have, like these bigger advances happen that I don’t think we can do 100 hundred percent, but we can in the short run a year from the current year, we know whenever I think we can do many, many, many great things, we shouldn’t stop. I actually think this is maybe also sort of a point for us to remember is that, yeah, it’s kind of sad right now. And the world is in lockdown. I think two point six billion people on lockdown right now, which is probably the biggest shared experience in the world in world history, except maybe watching World Cup finals or something like that. But that’s sad. But on the other hand, we need to be positive to say, well, but we can also still work. We can do our share. Right. And make things a bit better for humanity as well. Even if you’re sitting in your own house, you can still do a lot of work. I also want to say one more thing, which is going back to this point that some of the use of research really is better in person if you already done it. This is cost too late if you haven’t done it. But if you’ve already done it, you’ve built up this kind of bank of understanding of users and you kind of draw from that bank and use that to interpret these kind of somewhat weaker things that we can do right now. And you’re going to be quite well off. So maybe there’s something to remember when all this goes away is like, well, that becomes the time to go and do more, that we should then build up your bank of user understanding and then you can have drawn if a when that’s like a second wave and we all go back and knock down again next year.
So the next area that I want to touch on is the future of X. This is an area that we’ve gotten a lot of questions on. And though this particular question, the foldable smartphone is actually in existence now, we got an entity that wanted to know what are your thoughts on the likes of the political spectrum?
Well, it’s a great point about that. But you that used to be the future. I mean, I used to work on projects when when we have it and now we have it. So these things are happening. And first of all, I think that’s great because the foldable smartphone, because the main phone thing about phones and mobile is that they have to be small because the entire idea is you’re going to have to carry it all the time. You can’t do that if it’s the size of a desktop monitor or a newspaper or something like that kind of newspaper. So it has to be small. On the other hand, we know from basically almost every other study ever done is a bigger screens are better. And with the bigger screen, you can see more you’re more context, more understanding. You don’t have so many hidden features. Hidden features are terrible. Now, we did a study on the so-called hamburger menu and anything on a desktop desktop website never, ever do a hamburger menu because hidden features are not seen. If you do have the space show people stuff, showing people stuff enhances usability dramatically. Not having to scroll everything I can see, I can glance on. I can understand much better. You don’t rely on short term memory so much and all these things. So bigger screens are better. And it’s going back to the point about mobile. You’ve got to carry it well anyway. So so even just that kind of clamshell opened up like an oyster. You already got like twice to screen for the same amount of carry your pocket space. And I could easily imagine. Another future product and you can generalize is to be either you can fold it unfolded two times or becomes more like a scroll and you roll it up. Maybe we go back to like the old Roman numeral Roman Empire two thousand years ago, that these reading scrolls unroll like that. So you could have a rather big screen, even though it falls down to like little space and put it in your pocket. I could easily imagine that. And that is one of the ways of overcoming that paradox, that big screens are vastly better and yet it has to be carried. So there are other maybe approaches to that as well. Things like it’s not even a screen, it’s like in your glasses and it beams into your brain, to your eyeballs or something, which right now has not been so successful and seems a little bit awkward and annoying. And all of that, that could be another future is the projection onto the wall from your from your ring or something like that, which of course, is not great for privacy, I guess. But you can imagine a variety of other ways of overcoming that paradox of tension between carry to be small. Look at it big, but at least for the next few years, not like this kind of foldable thing is probably the answer or not the answer, but a way of alleviating or improving on this paradox. I’m very keen on that.
Very happy about to see that develop some kind of in line with something like a smartphone and looking at other innovative technologies, obviously voice interfaces, Iot and VR. Do you think that will have to come up with any new usability inspection methods or what are classical methods to work for evaluating this interface?
Yes and no. I mean, the reason I say no is that things like the 10 usability arithmetics are intended to be general and just talk about how people interact with features really and not so much about the specific technology. And therefore they have actually been applied to things from mainframes, personal computers, mobile phones, smartwatches, games, no 3D game type of environments. So these really basic principles actually apply across things. And the approach of doing inspection of where you judge interactions relative to known principles also tend to be the same. Now there is an aspect of usability inspection that is in addition to using generally known principles, you also use specific guidelines for the type of user interface you’re designing. So if you’re designing, oh, let’s say investor relations site for for a publicly traded company, well, we have specific information about knowledge about how investors, both individual investors and institutional, you know, mutual fund style investors, how they go and look for data and how they look at the charts and whatever. That’s certainly not a general insight, but that’s a specific insight for investor relations. And so if you’re defining an investor relations side, you should furthermore use those guidelines. And so those we can get because we’ve tested already like 20 different investor relations sites and generalize from those. So we have that. But what we don’t have is for like the next generation of technology, we haven’t tested those yet. So when those things come out right, the first thing we do is we get hold of like the first 20 things we can find and we test those that we generalize across those. What are some of the things that tend to help or hinder users? And we can make that into guidelines. And so they’re always going to be at the stations because there’s always new ways in which design contribute. People new to new technology also has a lot of the old things come back to bite us once again. And then there are some new things, too. And so that’s when I go back to methodology wise, looking back to call competitive usability testing, but test a study of a broad variety of designs that are using that technology. And then you’re going to find a lot of specific guidelines for do or don’t for that technology in addition to the general things that have been through already for 30 years. And they will be true for the next 30 years of the 30 years after that and so forth, because they relate to, you know, good old fashioned brain there, which is the same.
So I am looking to the future of the UX. What skills do you think that UX professionals need to gain and grow?
Well, I mean, first of all, there is it’s not actually the most important. But just because we just talked about new technologies, I mean, certainly we need to keep up with the new technologies. But I think the more important one is really the insights into into human behavior, where we have some of the more superficial insights, I think already from many, many years of studying. So we know how to give good feedback and right of all these things we always talk about. So those are things that are well worth keep studying those. But then I think we also need. To be kind of move levels beyond that in our understanding of human behavior and in really facilitating a helping people do more complex things, I mean, talking about who’s the guy who invented the mouse, he his project was really called augmenting the human intellect. And the mouse was just a small thing in that because, OK, a faster way of pointing to stuff as it’s coming. That’s just nice. But his bigger goal was never really met. We are still not really able to make people better decision makers ability, better understanding or better at teaching and learning. Right. I mean, online learning while we’ve tried it this week. And so I hope we’ve done well. You know, you can tell us and the feedback forms, but honestly, we ought to be able to like dramatically better again on these type of things. Not quite, I think. Well, not well known yet. Know a lot. A lot of things like that. I think we need to. So that would be my my challenge would be to try to move to the understanding of a deeper level of understanding and augmenting, you know, not just make it possible for people to do things. That was our first challenge because computers, we couldn’t even do things in the olden days. So but now we need to move on to, like, the augmenting the human intellect type of problems. And they are much, much, much hotter. And then I think in terms of like individual career development, I mean, definitely don’t forget about just like the basic basic skills, all the type of things we teach in specific courses, the communication skills, all those things. I mean, they said, oh, this is well known. Well, yeah, yeah. It’s well known system. We can have a course on it, but. Really honing those skills and really becoming like the true master that can take many, many decades probably. So it’s well worth keeping at that and nothing at all because I learned this. Therefore, I know how to do it now. We’ve got to, like, reflect back on your own professional performance and you can have a college critique you and then you could go back and critique the colleague. No constructive criticism of this positive spirit and all that. But everybody makes mistakes when they when they do things are the blatant mistakes just because they forgot about something or things that they just. Didn’t really think about, you know, asking the questions a little bit wrong when I when I interview users or whatever, and if somebody if you have somebody else there with you and they give you some that constructive feedback, you could, that’s one of the ways in which you can kind of improve your your skills. So you have to sign critiques is a well known method as well. But I think that that kind of continuously refining your skills, even of the well-known things that you you already know, but knowing and then doing it right every time, those are two separate things and then doing even better is the third thing.
So since that was kind of looking at the individual’s future of you, where do you see us going in 20 years, 50 years, maybe even a hundred years? What do you think the future looks like?
Yeah, well, first of all, I think that it’s going to be dramatically, much bigger than it is now. I actually wrote an article for our website, I think maybe two years ago now. I did like one hundred year prediction for us where we are about halfway through that period from it started, you know, before we decided before me. But I’ve always been in this field myself for what is like thirty seven years or something. So I’ve been there for a good time and it’s been a huge growth already in my career. But I think the growth is going to be even bigger going forward. Actually, going forward, the growth is going to be smaller in terms of exponential acceleration parameter. So but as we all know, it seems like it’s got left, left, left and then boom. And that’s what we are still to see that real take off is is yet to happen. So even though the field has become many, several thousand times bigger already, it’s going to be several thousand times bigger a game to come. And that’s going to happen over those those next 30, 40 years. In terms of just number of people doing X, number of companies will be moving up the maturity curve. I mean, most companies probably don’t don’t do anything yet, or if they do this at a very, very low level, that very few of the very high level. So that’s a very it is enormous growth potential over those next 30, 40 years. And so for anybody who’s getting into the field now, they have kind of a 30 year, 30 year career ahead of them. You know, that’s those are the people who will see the true explosion happening. I know. I mean, I saw the explosion happening in percentage terms, but people starting now will see the true explosion in absolute terms, which has more impact on the world. So that, I think, is a huge thing. I think so. So I really think the technology will become better for humans, which is our main goal over the next 30, 40 years, 100 years. That’s much harder to predict. And very probably none of us wanted to call now, like to be around in a hundred years, sadly. So we don’t know when we won’t even see it. But I do think that one of the bigger changes there is artificial intelligence and of course, as much talked about now and as some primitive things being done right now. But. That I think is really going to be dramatically different in one hundred years and we almost turning into science fiction, when you talk about like how this is going to be is going to have these robots, are we going to have I don’t even know what we’re going to have, but I do know that is all going to be going back to the point about interaction between humans and technology and making the design so that they satisfy the people can just figure out how to do it, but they also satisfy people’s needs and they augment our intellect, which is the game to pick up a challenge. But I do think that there will be big advances made on that. These things are not advances that you see or in five years and 10 years we have had huge change. Everything takes much longer time because of difficult problems to discover our research and also to implement. I mean, all respect for the engineers, they will have a very hard time implementing things we can invent when we go deep. And then that’s going to be the social changes, which cultural changes which take even longer to take generations if you look a hundred years ahead at this time for that. So I do think it’s going to be very, very different and I think much more based. But I think what it actually will be. But I think that’s going to be I mean, I do think our field will have a very core part in developing that future to those who are kind of a couple of the prepared questions that you all have submitted through this survey.
So thank you all for doing that. We’ve gotten a ton of comments and questions throughout the chat. And again, thank you for all of that. Of course, we can’t get to them all, but a couple that I thought were really interesting to ask, Jacob, is you still the right term for what we do?
I mean, sometimes there’s no correct term for what we do. It keeps changing. I hate that. I mean, just in my career, there’s been at least 10, if not more different elements of the popular mean terms. And if I’m going to make a prediction, that’ll probably make a prediction that five or 10 years from now is going to be an actually let’s there’s going to be another term is going to be the most popular one. And this annoys me no end. I call this vocabulary inflation, and there’s no reason to come up with new words for the same thing. If you can do something, that’s the old thing. But five percent different. Don’t make a hundred percent different word for it. Just say it’s the same thing. But I think we should do it. We should do this part of it different. Don’t have to come up with a new name for it. Right. That is very, very annoying. At least a lot of confusion. But anyway, today, I think UX is a great term. I think a lot of people have to understand it. I mean, it used to be when I was trying to say what I did, I mean, I’m OK now. I’m going to try to explain to you guys. And these days, if I if I meet some some new person, I like to say, well, I do user experience. Well, I’m like in the pioneering just I do you think. Oh yeah. Yeah. That’s we need more of that. So that’s it’s a it’s nice right now because people know what it means and that’s just I would hope it’s a stick to stick with it. That’s my my message.
Another question that we’ve gotten a lot of is who is doing us well? Are there any companies that you particularly like in websites that you particularly like?
Websites that I like? Actually one and I do like this is a rare little little niche website is called dot com and you can buy walnuts and other nuts there. So it’s very specialized. And this is I think is one of the great ways of beating Amazon is to do something specialized and you can do that better. And they have all kinds of features like reorder and whatever. So that’s this is a nice too well done site for us for doing pragmatic things. Other than that, it’s it’s it does tend to be the sites that do kind of things simple and stick to that and do it, do it, do it. Well, you know, it’s much harder when sites try to do too many different things. I mean, features feature. Right, is a deceases played this since the beginning and that’s happened easily on websites as well.
I’m thinking that next dot com is going to have a lot of visitors now after you mentioning it.
But kind of in that similar vein to end, you said that a lot of those companies might be doing a lot of different things, trying to do a lot of different things. Well, for the U.S. professional, this is the question that will end. Do you think that it’s better to specialize in one area or be a general U.S. professional?
I think it’s better to specialize because then you will drive up your your skill level much more. I mean, I think it’s very hard to become what I think that to almost impossible to be super great at everything that just doesn’t doesn’t happen. I mean, even the most talented, you know, like, let’s say do not do damage is a good example that I’ve actually been an exhibition of his of his work. And you get to see what she was like, a scatterbrain. That guy, he was trying so many different things. And you all them, they were very brilliant. Yeah. Well done. But as a result, he ended up not really inventing the helicopter and only doing a few paintings and so forth, right. So I think it’s actually better to to specialize and stick to one thing and then actually become extremely, incredibly great at it. That’s the way to have the larger impact, I think, that the general is. I mean, there are certainly benefits for the animals if you’re doing if you had a small project, because communication is the bane of a lot of what we do. And if you have to associate having just two people right there to communicate and you lose something in the communication. So if you can do everything. Communication is optimal inside your own brain, right? So that is there’s an advantage that I just have to admit, but it just doesn’t scale the size of problem that that you can solve as one person. This is very small scale problem. So you’ve got to you’ve got to have more people as you have more people while you have the communication overhead, unfortunately. But then you could have the the the benefit of each person being optimal at specific things. This is, by the way, also one of the oldest, oldest lessons in economics. If you read what’s it called The Wealth of Nations, I think it was called. The entire idea was like, how do you make more and more pins and if you make more pins in a factory, if each worker specialized in doing one part of the pin instead of one person making a pin and the other person also making a pin, the entire thing, those guys back in England, like two or three years ago, made very few pins per person per day. And then once they started specializing wool, that productivities went way up and they could use and pin the price of the pin into nothing as a result, basically. So it’s not something I came up with. A specialization tends to create better results, but I do think it does.