With Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based tools such as Dall-e 2 and Midjourney now able to generate unique artwork and design; does it mean we will soon see the end of the need for UX Designers? Probably not, at least in the short term. What however is clear is that these tools will become an ever increasingly important tool in any designer’s creative pipeline. Just as tools like Figma and Sketch changed how we go about creating and testing designs, 2023 will be the year when AI tools will become a mandatory tool for UX designers to know how to use.
The back story
Toward the end of 2022, the power of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence tools appear to have taken a significant leap forward. I have recently explored the power of the OpenAI ChatGPT tool. My recent post demonstrates the amazing power of this tool where I conducted an interview with the AI about the future of AI in the field of data engineering. The results were impressive, to say the least. You can read the post here.
The feedback and discussion about this post all centred around a common theme with comments like:
- The AI is not creative, it is just regurgitating that it has found on the internet,
- It is just a better search engine,
- It can’t replace human creativity and originality
To explore these themes further, we decided to apply the tools to the more creative field of User Experience Design. After some research, we decided to test out the Midjourney tool to see if we could get it to help with a design challenge.
To quote the Midjourney website, “Midjourney is an independent research lab exploring new mediums of thought and expanding the imaginative powers of the human species”. The Midjourney Bot can be used to generate images based on user text prompts.
Our design challenge
We have a design challenge that we like to use during our recruitment process. The brief is as follows:
Design a mobile application to record the number of steps a user walks each day. The app will allow users to compete in a step challenge, the winner being the user who makes the most steps in a month. Users will be able to compete in teams and will be able to compare their steps with others and other teams. Users will enter the steps each day that they record on their phone or a pedometer.
We gave the brief to the Midjourney bot with a couple of extra prompts like “beautiful”, “UX/UI”, and “graphical”. We also gave it a UI mock-up as inspiration; just like we would do as a UX designer.
Midjourney is a powerful tool for UX designers that can help speed up the design process and improve the quality of their work. With its easy-to-use prototyping and testing features, it’s a valuable addition to any UX designer’s toolkit.
The Midjourney bot quickly responded with four variations of a mobile application addressing our brief.
The results are impressive. Four variations that, on the surface, all show a nice-looking design. The designs a not showing real text but the intent and layout of the design are clear.
The bot allows us to choose to create more variations on any of the four examples or allows us to choose on variations to expand upon and create more variations. I quite liked the design of variation 3 so chose to upscale that one as follows.
While this variation is nice, it doesn’t quite hit the brief by showing a graph of the results.
Using this as inspiration, I again asked the Midjoruney bot to imagine a new version with a focus on graphing the data. The results were better which several versions that showed graphs of the steps.
I worked on a few more iterations asking the Bot to upscale and vary the designs a little further. The Bot produced the following design I quite liked. I had assumed the slop under the character would be a representation of their steps which is a clever way to visually show the data.
As one more iteration, I asked the Bot to create a new set of variations based on the above design. This time, however, I asked it to crank up the stylization and quality. I really liked variation three which again represents a good graphical representation of the data.
The following is the final version of variation three above which I asked the Bot to upscale the design.
While clearly not a final product, the ability to be able to iterate a set of concepts based on text prompts quickly is really quite incredible. Without opening Figma once, we have been able to take a short brief, create a set of concepts and iterate on the concept that we like the best.
For a UX designer, this is a fabulous new tool to add to their UX toolbox. This whole process took around 30 minutes and in the real world could be done face-to-face with the customer to quickly iterate a design to a concept that can then be refined with more traditional UX tools like Figma.
The results of our Midjourney experiment have been impressive. While still in its (relative!!) infancy, at the rate of change and improvement in these tools will make for an exciting future.
One of the key benefits of using AI-driven tools like Midjourney is the ability to quickly and easily create prototypes. This is especially useful during the early stages of the design process when designers are still exploring and testing different ideas. By being able to create and test prototypes quickly, designers can iterate and refine their designs more efficiently, leading to better results.
In addition to prototyping, Midjourney allows designers, developers and customers to collaborate. This is important because designers often need to work closely with developers, product managers, and other stakeholders to iterate designs. With Midjourney, it’s easy for designers to share their work and get feedback, which can help improve the final product.
One of the standout features of Midjourney is its ability to create high-fidelity prototypes. This is important because it allows designers to more accurately test and validate their designs, giving them a better sense of how the final product will look and function.
Looking to the future, it’s clear that UX design is becoming increasingly important as organizations continue to prioritize the user experience. This means that the demand for skilled UX designers is likely to continue to grow rather than be threatened by tools like Midjourney. Tools like Midjourney will play a crucial role in this growth, as they allow designers to create and test design ideas.
As UX design evolves, it will be necessary for designers to stay up-to-date with the latest design tools and practices. This may involve learning new software and techniques and being open to trying new things. User Experience designers should consider focusing on refining the following skills:
- User research: As the field of UX design continues to evolve, it will be important for designers to have a deep understanding of their users and their needs. This will involve conducting user research, such as user interviews, focus groups, and usability testing, to gather insights and inform design decisions.
- Interaction design: Interaction design is a critical part of UX design, and will continue to be so in the future. UX designers should focus on improving their skills in this area, including how to create intuitive and efficient user flows, and how to design for different devices and platforms.
- Prototyping: The ability to quickly create and test prototypes will be an increasingly important skill for UX designers. Tools like Midjourney and others allow designers to easily create and iterate on prototypes, and it will be important for UX designers to be proficient in using these tools in order to stay competitive in the field.
- Adaptability: As technology and design practices continue to evolve, it will be important for UX designers to be able to adapt and learn new skills quickly. This may involve staying up-to-date with new design trends and tools, and being open to learning and trying new things.
- Collaboration: UX design is a collaborative field, and designers will need to work closely with a variety of stakeholders, including developers, product managers, and subject matter experts. It will be important for UX designers to have strong communication and collaboration skills in order to effectively work with these teams.
In conclusion, Midjourney and AI tools like it are evolving at a very rapid pace. These tools will continue to get better, smarter and more effective in the future we will become an essential part of any design pipeline. Right now, Midjourney is a valuable tool for UX designers that can help them create better designs more efficiently. Combined with prototyping and design tools like Figma, it’s an essential part of the UX designer’s toolkit. As the field of UX design continues to evolve, it will be necessary for designers to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and practices, and to focus on developing strong skills in user research and interaction design. With the right skills and experience, the future looks bright for UX designers.
The is the prompt given to the Midjourney bot to get the first set of designs for our app:
/imagine A beautiful mobile application to record the number of steps a user walks each day. Show a graph of their steps over a month and will allow them to compare their steps to other people. Include tabs for home, history, compare, settings and notifications. UX, UI, UX/UI
The Hero image on this page was created by Midjourney too with the prompt:
/imagine a cartoon robot user experience designer, artist, 4k
Get in touch
If you would like to learn more about using AI tools like Midjourney in your design pipeline, reach-out and get in contact.