In the May 2012 issue of Wired Magazine, there is a great article on A/B testing, titled The A/B Test: Inside the Technology That’s Changing the Rules of Business. For me, this article paints a very clear picture of what design will become in the future. Designers will become creative scientists, who use creativity to test the boundaries of human interaction.
If you aren’t familiar with A/B testing, it’s essentially a way to test different design approaches in real time. You create multiple iterations of a web page or interactive feature, and using the power of analytics, you test which of the solutions is more effective. It’s essentially a way to remove guess work from the equation. Instead of making a gut-level decision, you test three versions and select the version that performs well.
For some time, I’ve argued that a brave new world is on the horizon. Technology is creating massive disruption. I expect the expected elements of design (good composition, typography, color, etc.) to be democratized in the foreseeable future. To engage with this future, we will need to invest ourselves in the experiment and muster the best of what makes design great. Mostly, a willingness to reinvent ourselves in the wake of massive change.