Will AI replace UX designers? UX Question #24

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Lily B. from Mexico asks: will AI replace UX designers?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Lily. This is UX Question number 24 and I am Ben Judy.

Will AI replace UX designers? No, AI will not replace UX designers. And if it does replace you, then you weren’t providing that much value to begin with. Harsh, perhaps, but that’s how I see it.

AI is a term we casually throw about. In the broadest sense, there are plenty of ‘AI tools’ that can enhance or automate portions of a UX workflow. But they won’t do all of the UX work. I’ll give you three examples of AI tools:

One, UIzard. This is an AI assistant for creating UI mockups.

Two, image background removal tools. There are a bunch of these.

Three, Attention Insight is a platform that does predictive analysis of UI design based on over 30,000 images from eye-tracking studies.

Links in the description.

These are tools that can do a very limited scope of work. AI software can generate UI design options. It can manipulate images or audio. It can identify potential usability issues.

What it can’t do is holistic UX. Back in episode 12 I talked about how UX is a multidisciplinary career field. We practice experience strategy, user research, information architecture, interaction design, visual design, usability analysis, and more.

AI can automate some portions of a UX workflow. But we don’t merely execute a workflow, though. UX work is knowing what to do next to help a cross-functional team, in a particular organizational context, to achieve better outcomes for humans.

If AI could do that better than people can do that, we would have ended world hunger by now. We would have solved much bigger problems than UX design for apps and websites.

So let’s bring the hype down a notch about AI.

I’m a big fan of Star Trek. And Data from The Next Generation is this AI person who can do almost everything better than people, except process the emotions he supposedly doesn’t have but totally does.

Anyway, that’s an interesting aspect of this whole fascination with AI. Human emotions are such a huge factor, maybe the central factor in UX work. And AI, by definition, is not human, so there will always be aspects of UX work that machines just can’t do as well as people.

We just need to adapt and take advantage of new technology that can automate or generate parts of our work, and focus more on the things that humans can uniquely do that AI can’t. With that mindset, you don’t need to worry about AI taking your job. You can leverage it intelligently to be more efficient.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What is Agile UX?

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