A brief guide to UX niches and specialities

arrow with red lights on a wall, pointing around the corner

Oh you’re into that too? Interesting… If you come with me, I know a place where we can go where other ‘open-minded’ people like us dwell. The safe word is “Jakob Nielsen.”

In this week’s #UXchat, we take a look at the most uncommon specialities and industries from a UX point of view. The weird, the wonderful, the websites you slam your laptop lid down on whenever anybody approaches.

We asked our community of experts the following questions during the chat…

  • What’s a UX specialty or niche that you feel deserves more attention?
  • What sites or apps do an uncommonly good job of serving a great user experience to a very specialized group?
  • What UX niche do you think has the largest growth potential in the next five years?

The conversation was hosted by Doug Collins a Denver based UX engineer and all-round brilliant human being, and you’ll find his helpful comments spread throughout the following conversations.

Let’s begin…

What is a UX specialty or niche that you feel deserves more attention?

Let’s dive into which industries our experts believe are overlooked when it comes to user experience, either from a design or testing point of view.

The biggest debate here is in regards to…

Charities, NGOs and non-profits

However our resident SEO expert Andrew Martin makes a valid point. When you donate to a charity, the assumption is that the money goes directly to aid the people who the charity is for – not UX testing or research.

Some people are more savvy than others when it comes to the realities of donating to charity, and what that money is spent on – and make their decision to donate based on an acceptance of that fact.

Of course education needs to come into play, after all the people within this conversation are technically industry people who already know the logistics.

Just like in most areas, transparency is likely the key..

But why are charity websites considered to be ‘failing’ at user experience?

Sextech

We thought this would come up sooner, and we won’t lie… we expected a lot more discussion. Perhaps we need to go on a vastly different different message board.

Ah yes, the sex industry… the super early adopters that push the boundaries of every technical innovation since we learnt to draw stick figures on a cave wall. I hear their VR videos are really impressive. You know, from a technical point of view.

Gambling

UX in gambling is a tricky proposition. From a business point of view, you want to provide nothing but the clearest, simplest signals to keep people on the page and gambling. However from an ethical point of view, you also need to ensure users have easy access to gambling addiction information and are fully aware of all necessary guidelines.

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...get a little taste right here. 👅 🍭

Information architecture

As we discussed in our guide to card sorting, information architecture is integral in helping people on your site understand where they are, what’s around, and what to expect. It focuses on the organisation, structure and labels of your site’s navigation. However…

User research

I think Elizabeth Chesters makes an excellent point, but really, how many products make it to a live state without any user research, let alone user testing?

Accessibility

Hopefully at some point, accessibility won’t be a niche or an afterthought, it will be compulsory for all websites. Making the online world accessible and inclusive to everyone, no matter what their needs, should be the highest priority.

Voice UI

Although the likes of Siri and Alexa are showing huge improvements with every iteration, there’s still something frustratingly imperfect and imprecise about voice assistants.

What sites or apps do a good job of serving a great user experience to a very specialised group?

Here are a few examples our UXperts believe are providing excellent UX within their niches…

CaringBridge

This is essentially a blogging and social platform for people undergoing a health journey, helping them to spread their messages and update on progress, while connecting with other people who may be in a similar situation.

23andme

23andme is a company that studies your 23 chromosomes and offers a report based on any potential health or genetic markers you need to be aware of.

However our host has some ethical questions…

To read more on the subject, I found this Guardian article very illuminating.

Spotify

Perhaps not that niche, but Spotify won a lot of support during the conversation.

It even seems like Spotify is a necessity even when subscribing to an entirely different music streaming service.

What UX niche do you think has the largest growth potential in the next five years?

And to finish the proceedings, let’s take a look at what our UX community believes to be the UX niches most liable to go mainstream… Accessibility, gamification and machine learning.

Thanks so much for everyone who took part in #UXchat this week. Please follow us and tune into Twitter every Thursday at 4pm for more insightful UX based discussion.

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Main image by Nick Hidalgo.

Christopher Ratcliff
Christopher is the Content Marketing Manager of WhatUsersDo. He’s also the editor of wayward pop culture site Methods Unsound. He used to be the deputy editor of Econsultancy and editor Search Engine Watch.

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