Top 3 Impacts on UCD & UX in 2018

Disclaimer: I am a Product Manager and User Researcher, not an attorney. This article was written for UCD and UX awareness and therefore should not be taken as legal advice for your organization. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.

I typically see a lot of “Top UX Trends” lists on the web during this time of year and they are all talking about basically the same things:

  • New and more intuitive UI design patterns
  • AR / VR making a big impact (again)
  • AI / Bots replacing good ‘ole fashion human interactions

These are great and fun to read, but very few of them are focusing on what really matters for UCD and UX in the upcoming year. So I put together a short list of things we are working on that will drastically impact the way we design digital interactions in 2018 and beyond.


I put this at the top of the list because depending on what you are working on, this might have the biggest impact on you and your organization in 2018.

In 2016, the EU Parliament approved the General Data Protection Regulation and it’s been a discussion topic for a lot of organizations this past year. The basic idea is new rules on data privacy will be enforced starting May 25th, 2018 and if you process the personal data of someone residing the in the European Union, regardless of your companies location, you need to be ready!

There are a ton of sites out there that will help you understand what the GDPR is and how to comply, so I won’t go into detail, but here are a few links to help get you started:

2. Accessibility & Inclusion

ADA web compliance is something we should have all been focusing on since the beginning days of web design, but now it’s time to act. Let’s start with the mandates first…

If you are a federal or government institution and have a website, starting January 2018 you MUST abide by all 61 WCAG 2.0 guidelines for level AAA compliance. By following good web design standards, you’re probably already complying with the majority of the regulations…but here’s the link to the guidelines just in case. (

And for everyone else…Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act has made some major headlines in 2017 with a few lawsuits (like Winn-Dixie). And although there is still a lot of debate on what “Public Accommodations” really mean and if they actually apply to websites or just brick and mortar locations, fully complying with ALL ADA web standards is the right thing to do.

Check these links out for a little help:

3. Agile Evolution

This last one isn’t driven by dates or have any regulations behind it, but I believe an Agile evolution is way overdue in order for development and UCD / UX teams to create great products and services.

Even though the majority of organizations have adopted modern Agile methods and practices, they are still having trouble delivering what customers actually want or need. Here’s a small list of issues that I believe are causing the majority of problems:

Fuzzy or missing requirements

Does this type of user story look familiar?

“As an advanced user, I would like a dropdown in the menu so I can choose the correct form template”.

What does that even mean?! This type of user story (or even a JTBD statement) is typically made up and focused on features instead of actual needs.

Single voice for backlog prioritization

Even though it may be coming from a few different sources (like the dev team or specific stakeholders), the company is usually the single voice of prioritization…and it’s typically bent towards their needs not the user.

Velocity is prioritized over product value

Because of the hyper-focus on development velocity, it’s become really easy to “overbuild”. With all of the advances in tools and tech, you can basically create an entire app full of a ton of unnecessary features in just a few days.

So what can help?

Continuous Discovery.

To break it down simply, Continuous Discovery is one of the two main components of the dual track development process:

  • Continuous Discovery
    • A process that helps us understand and decide what is valuable
      • Focused on learning
  • Continuous Delivery
    • A process that allows us to develop and deliver value
      • Focused on speed

In a future post I’ll talk more about Continuous Discovery and how to make it work for you and your team.

Have more things that you believe will really matter in 2018? Let me know!

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Mat Winegarden

Product manager at Handrail. Sometimes I have ideas...other times I am brilliantly late to the party.

7 thoughts on “Top 3 Impacts on UCD & UX in 2018

  1. Good, clear observations of the issues we encounter with agile. There is still a pretty massive divide between those who deeply understand the concept of being user-centered vs those who march to results on spreadsheets. In particular the prioritization of speed over quality and accuracy, causes unnecessary development and often results in a fragmented user experience that has to be redone to be really usable.

    1. Hi Anastasia - Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I totally agree…everyone is trying to go fast, but we all end up going slower due to redesign.

  2. Hi! I’m working in this same 3 things among others. I think most of the people are not aware on what GDPR is, but I foresee we are going to talk a lot this year about it for good and bad.

    1. Hi Victor - Thanks for commenting! I agree and was a little caught off guard when I first heard about GDPR so that’s why I wanted to share some info about it.

      Take care!

  3. Hi Mat, do you have a reference for the stipulation of “If you are a federal or government institution and have a website, starting January 2018 you MUST abide by all 61 WCAG 2.0 guidelines for level AAA compliance”. Also, do you mean they must adhere to AAA or if they wish to adhere to AAA, then they must comply with all 61…?

    Wanting to share with my colleagues, thanks.

    1. Hi Louisa - Thanks for the questions!

      Please keep in mind I’m not an ADA expert AT ALL and it’s best to get professional guidance on adhering to rules and regulations.

      Berried deep in this overview of a ruling document is where you can find a lot of details:

      And as far as I understand, you only need to adhere to all 61 if you want AAA compliance. But according to some articles, it’s almost impossible to achieve and to me the adherence requirement is a little foggy.

      Here’s a breakdown of the differences:

      Here’s a list of the guidelines and levels associated:

      Hope this helps and I wish you luck!

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