User Experience (UX) can be considered as the entirety of a user’s experience with a product or service, as well as the total of the choices that led there. UX Design is fundamentally about guiding oneself and one's team through those choices. That being said, it’s clearly not only digital products, like websites or apps for tech companies, that can benefit from UX design.
We asked our community of UX/UI design students, alumni, mentors, and social media followers the question, Which non-tech related industries would you bring UX design into? We received a wide variety of responses, and can’t wait to see what industries you go on to transform through your UX design thinking and skills!
Here’s the complete list of responses, and further down you’ll find longer versions, with a closer look at 10 of the industries mentioned.
8 Issues & Industries to Bring UX Design Into
Read our community members’ responses on 8 different industries/issues that they think would greatly benefit from UX design practices.
🌎 The Climate Crisis
Carly Schonberg, Senior UI Designer at Bevy & UX Academy alum (Chwast cohort, 2020)
I think the climate crisis is currently the single biggest problem facing all people globally. Not only do we need a lot of bold design thinking to develop some big aggressive solutions, but I also believe designers across all disciplines need to bring a regenerative and sustainable mindset to their design processes in order to move society forward, regardless of the industry in which they work. Design is the foundation of everything in modern society, and we need that foundation to be regenerative if we want to survive.
Recently I’ve begun to volunteer to do design work for several climate projects, as well as attending conferences on climate design and regenerative thinking. A theme I’ve noticed in green tech and eco spaces is a lack of accessibility, and a failure to reach an audience at the speed and scale that is being necessitated by our rapidly deteriorating planet.
I’ve worked with multiple projects that have struggled to communicate their missions even to the team directly involved, never mind to investors and the public! A lot of what’s out there struggles with being overly scientific and difficult to understand, or too hippie/earthy and not relatable to the average person.
In combat with that, we also have countless players in the tech and manufacturing spheres that pay no mind to the overall well-being of society in their unending quest for higher profit margins. The scale and seriousness of the climate crisis mandates getting every person on earth on board with a total mindset shift, and, needless to say, “every person on earth” is an almost incomprehensibly challenging audience with every diverse need possible.
It’s my hope that we can bring greater empathy and understanding of different people’s needs and journeys to climate solutions, to encourage more rapid, scalable, and sustainable change. The crisis touches so many aspects of our lives that there is no small handful of concrete ways to accomplish this. Instead, what I would change is getting every designer to think of themselves as a climate designer, and shift from a shortsighted human-centered approach to one that encompasses the entire ecosystem.
Dayton Pickering, UX Designer at Chainkit, UX Academy alum (Meta cohort, 2019)
Going to the doctor is often not a fun experience, but I do think that a lot can be done to make the experience better for patients.The UX design process can help improve a patient's experience when scheduling appointments and physically going into the doctor's office—among other touchpoints in their user journey. There are also many ways that inclusive design can be used to improve solutions for minority patients and those with disabilities.
I would focus on ways that online experiences can be improved, because I believe healthcare is moving in a more digital direction. I'm also fascinated by AI and would love to see AI used in these applications to help improve virtual diagnoses, etc.
🇺🇸 Political Campaigns
Justin Thomas, Partner at Pigeon Scout, UX Academy alum (Johnston cohort, 2019) & Group Crit Facilitator
I had an opportunity to work on a political campaign for my partner who was running for democratic Committee Person of her Ward in Chicago. With it came the first-hand view into the severely antiquated and not entirely user friendly world of political and governmental software.
It became very clear that depending on how deep your pockets are, the playing field can be incredibly uneven if you can’t hire the staff to learn and use the complicated software and systems involved—and that’s when there’s a system at all! Best practices in even basic UX design would make running for office more equitable and efficient.
If I could change anything, it would be to entirely redesign both public facing governmental websites and apps, as well as other campaign technology under the lens and lessons of user-centric and research-driven design. The empathy and humanity that comes with UX design is absent in the political sphere, and it not only makes technology inaccessible but entirely lacking in transparency, and frequently cost prohibitive as well. Human-centric UX design would make political tech “democratic” in a way that it currently is not.
🤓 University Research
Lindsay Macbeth, UX Academy student (Fairey cohort, 2021)
The UX design of a university's research program is extremely important because the website is a strong indicator of the engagement you’ll experience. You need a website that is appealing to visitors, makes you stand out from your competitors, and brings credibility to your brand and research goals. If university research programs had stronger UX design capabilities, I truly believe engagement in those research programs would increase.
I would like to see less pedantic language on university research websites, more imagery, more reports of accolades/accomplishments, and testimonials/reviews from previous research participants (as is appropriate and doable).
💪 Fitness & Sports
Paul Espinoza, UX Academy student (Eisenberg cohort, 2020)
I'd bring UX design into fitness and sport because there is a lot of intimidation making the transition into an active lifestyle. With more thought, I think more people could be "initiated" into fitness or sports on their own, without the need for a pushy sales rep.
I'd remove the upsales involved and venture into tailoring the experience towards user needs rather than that of a club/organization/gym. Also, while information and profile features are important, I think that fitness tech could find a better way to increase accountability without being annoying or ineffective.
⚖️ Social Justice & Mental Health
René Otto, UX Academy student (Eisenberg cohort, 2020)
I chose mental health and social justice—or rather, they chose me—because these are two of the most grueling areas of our civilization at the moment, and are devastating lives. The change I would make is to simply have a conversation about UX and the methodology of having compassion at the helm.
Read Rene’s complete response in her Medium post.
💰 Retirement Savings (401k)
Thaican Nguyen, Workplace Service Associate at Salesforce, UX Academy student (Glaser cohort, 2021)
An aspect of retirement savings and investment that I think could greatly benefit from UX design is rolling over one account to another, which is currently a manual and inconvenient process.
For example, if you wanted to roll over or cash out your 401k, you would most likely need to:
- call your investment fund
- wait on hold to be transferred to your plan administrator (you're lucky if you only need to be transferred once or twice, not to mention repeating the same information)
- request the distribution
- print/fill out paperwork
- fax or mail it (feels like the stone-age)
- then finally wait and twiddle your thumbs for a few days (maybe weeks), hoping that it reached the right destination.
While improvements are being made to this process, such as providers accepting verbal instruction for rollovers, I think there is still plenty of opportunity for improvements when considering UX design—such as with digital verification, live chat/AI support, online rollover process, integrated fund data, and instant confirmation.
Fatima Naeem, UX Academy alum (Yrsa cohort, 2020)
While fashion design is based on a similar design thinking process as UX design—creating a product that serves the customer in an optimal fashion; I believe creating a design that facilitates the user further into benefitting from the final product would enhance the entire experience. It’s not only beneficial for the user but also for the fashion business involved!
As a designer I would love to incorporate AI in the process of designing or sourcing fabric, or recruiting artisans. From the perspective of the customer who looks for convenience, and ways to save time, I would make use of AR and VR in the shopping process.
It’s great to hear these inspiring words from our UX Academy students and alumni, and their big plans for making the world a better place through their UI/UX design skills! If you’re ready to get started on your UI/UX design learning journey, check out UX Academy.