As we all know by now, 2020 has been a very special and weird year in many ways. On the one hand, COVID-19 made us all change our daily routines, travel less, and feel a bit more disconnected from our social circles. On the other hand, this new situation forced us to speed up digital transformation in many fields to overcome some of the new challenges. All of a sudden we started seeing new solutions for remote work, education, social gathering, and online shopping.
While we keep on experimenting with solutions to this new reality some areas still need work to be done in 2021. Some of these solutions will likely stay with us even when finally reach a “new normal” in a post-pandemic era. Luckily, the field of UX could help develop solutions to most of these problems in collaboration with other professional experts. Let’s look at the list of 10 of the UX challenges that still need work in 2021.
- Online fashion – Helping to find the right size and fit
E-commerce sales grew a lot in 2020. In the US alone, the growth in e-commerce sales grew by roughly 34% year-over-year in 2020. One of the biggest problems of the online fashion sector is the 20%-40% return rate caused by wrong sizing. Many solutions are already being developed such as virtual fitting rooms, sizing guides, and customized clothing.
E-commerce could help some trending fashion niches grow even more in 2021 and beyond(e.g. activewear, plus-size, and inclusive fashion, and eyewear).
With this potential growth, new sizing and fitting challenges will need solutions to overcome the high return rate.
2. Online grocery shopping – Communicating inventory and product selection
The online grocery world has also benefitted from the pandemic in 2020 and showed strong growth. Many of us stayed home and cooked more during the year, and online grocery helped us skipping crowded shops and long lineups in grocery stores. While grocery retailers improved the online shopping experience a lot in 2020, some challenges still require better solutions. Among these UX challenges are: communicating inventory issues(who wants to find out last minute their favorite brand of cookies is out of stock?), recommendations engines, and the adaptation of loyalty programs to the new patterns of online grocery shopping.
3. Covid-19 – Communicating national vaccination strategies
As of now, many people around the world are still waiting to get vaccinated. Governments having to roll out massive vaccination operations could face management and communications issues. Among them are: How to let people know when and where they get the vaccine? How to encourage more people to get vaccinated? And how to report the number of vaccinated people in each community?
Digital channels with propper content design is a solution that governments could leverage with help from UX professionals, learning from the lessons of early adopters of the vaccines such as Israel and the UK.
4. E-governance – Engaging the community digitally
Local and national governments could use digital channels to engage communities in decision-making processes. Calling citizens to propose sustainable solutions that could be funded using a participatory budget is a good example from Montreal, Canada. UX professionals could help speed up the process by helping to build trust between citizens and governments through digital channels.
5. Open data – Making it visually accessible
The open data movement calling governments to make their data public has seen a big growth in the past decade. In Canada (where I reside) organizations such as OpenNorth and the Canadian Open Data Society are very active in promoting the use of open data. While Canada is doing very well on that from, many countries are still behind, and the UX challenge surrounding these data is making it visually truly accessible and understood by people with different levels of data literacy.
This challenge is unique and could involve governments, NGOs, and even private sector players who employ information design and UX specialists who can transform raw data into a consumable output.
6. Professional networking online – Making the process efficient
In 2020, virtual events and platforms were almost the only way to network professionally. Some people have already started seeing the benefits of networking remotely, but it seems that many of us are still trying to figure out how to do it. This is a very interesting UX challenge to solve since virtual conferences or at least hybrid ones that involve in-person and virtual attendance, are likely here to stay.
7. Freelancing platforms – Improving the workflow
Freelancing platforms s such as Fiverr and Upwork have seen growth in the past year. In 2020 we even saw the rise of specialized freelancing platforms such as SoundBetter for musicians and WeKnow for market researchers. Remote work is becoming the new norm and people feel comfortable freelancing online. While many people find one-off gigs on these platforms, top talent still finds them to be hard to rely on.
The workflow for both clients and freelancers is somewhat cumbersome. Freelancers need to sort through a sea of low-paying jobs without any certainty of closing a deal. Clients have to sort through endless messages coming from potential vendors. How do you create trust between these vendors and freelancers? How do you help vendors and freelancers find what they need faster? The field of UX could definitely come to the rescue in this case.
8. Online education – Making it interactive
With the proliferation of online education platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and Edx we have seen some great improvements in the field. However, 2020 has shown us that we might need to take into account more sectors, such as the public education system (primary, secondary) and even some traditional university studies, and try to make them all more interactive.
By this I mean, moving from just putting some videos online into breaking the process of learning online with design thinking and understanding how to improve it wholistically. After all, not everyone starts from the same place and level of tech literacy, and it needs to be acknowledged in order to improve online education as a whole.
9. Voice user interfaces (VUI) – Finding new use cases
The market for voice user interfaces is expected to grow more in the coming years. While many people use Amazon Alexa and Google Home to play music and ask for a reminder, there could be a lot more use cases for these devices. Developing them will require UX research around the way people communicate with these devices and how they would ideally want to use them in hands-free scenarios.
10. Car mechanics – Connecting them to the digital world
Many industries that were more “old-school” went through digital transformation in the past few years. One area that is still work-in-progress is car mechanics. Wouldn’t it feel nicer if we could use digital channels to book appointments, do proactive maintenance, and know the state of our vehicles? There are some companies in this field such as Vehicle Mind and Drivvo and with many more changes coming to the industry such as autonomous cars, the need for such services will grow, and so does the need for UX expertise to design the future of it all.
To sum up, COVID-19 and the crazy times we have all experienced during 2020 contributed to the acceleration of digital transformation in many fields that could benefit from good UX expertise. This expertise will make sure that all these services and products are actually accessible to many more people and not only tech-savvy people. So, what UX challenges will you solve in 2021?
Yaron is a multilingual professional in the field of UX research and digital strategy.
At work, he enjoys helping companies innovate and improve their overall user experience. Outside work you’ll find him making music, taking long walks, and doing some photography