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UX and AI: Making Tech Work for People

Reihane Daraei

Junior Product Designer , Montreal


Imagine interacting with an AI tool that anticipates your needs, simplifies your tasks, and feels like a natural extension of your thought process. This is the benchmark for products that prioritize human-centric UX design.

As the AI market continues to expand, standout UX design is what separates the best from the rest. While formal principles for AI UX are still on the drawing board at companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Google, we’re not in the dark. Years of experience and research have shed light on essential practices that ensure AI products are not only ‘smart’ but also intuitive and engaging for users.

The true measure of success lies in how well the product aligns with the needs, habits, and expectations of its users.

This user-centric approach must be the ‘north star’ from the inception of the product, through its development, and in its continuous evolution. AI is a relatively new technology, and users are still adapting to these interactions, so the design process is even more critical. Consider this: A negative experience with your AI product is a potential ripple effect that can significantly impact your brand’s reputation. In fact, research indicates that the majority of people are more likely to share a negative experience with others than praise a positive one. And what’s more, 10% are likely to spread the word to more than 20 people. That’s a lot of negative buzz you don’t want.

To clarify, though, it’s not just about avoiding bad reviews, it’s about making a product with high levels of engagement and satisfaction – one that amplifies positive perceptions and adoption through the most powerful marketing channel available: Personal recommendation. But how do you get there?

Well, companies must infuse their designs with empathy and ethics from the ground up.

It starts with those foundational questions:

  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it needed?
  • Will it do good?
  • Can it cause harm?

When we ask if AI is helpful, we’re really asking if it solves a problem that exists, not one we’ve imagined. Need drives innovation, not the other way around. By ensuring AI addresses genuine needs, we root its development in the real world, making it inherently more valuable and impactful.

The call to do good and avoid harm is where ethics play a pivotal role. AI has the power to influence lives, societies, and futures. With that power comes the responsibility to wield it wisely, ensuring that our creations uplift rather than undermine.

This brings us to the crux of ethical AI design – tackling bias. Addressing this requires a conscious effort to diversify input data, bringing in a range of voices, backgrounds, and experiences into the AI’s ‘learning’ process.

The next step is to demystify AI for the everyday user – we need to crack open its ‘black box’ and shine a light inside.

To most people, AI is a fairly new technology, so it’s seen as this mysterious, rather complex beast – partly because of privacy worries, and partly because it’s just hard to understand. These factors can lead to people misjudging what AI can do, or worse, fearing what they think it might do.

So, what’s the fix? Clear, honest communication. We need to address people’s concerns head-on – be it about privacy, security, or how accountable AI is. Here’s how we can start:

  • Show where the data’s coming from: People should know the origins of the data AI uses, it helps everyone understand the result better.
  • Be clear about what AI can and can’t do: Setting realistic expectations is key to building confidence in AI systems.
  • Own up when things go wrong: AI isn’t perfect. When it messes up, the best move is to admit it, apologize, and explain how you’ll address it. Transparency builds trust.

Here’s something to think about: In 2023, 64% of business owners believed that AI could boost customer relationships and satisfaction. This is huge, but it only works if people trust the AI product they’re interacting with. Making AI more transparent and understandable is essential for building the kind of trust that turns users into advocates.

Simplicity and intuition make AI accessible to everyone.

Even though AI systems thrive on complexity under the hood, the user interface must remain clean, straightforward, and, above all, intuitive.

The goal here is alignment with human mental models. The design should speak the user’s language, both literally and metaphorically, making interactions feel as natural as a conversation.

Think of it like this: When users approach your AI solution, they shouldn’t have to adapt to it – the AI solution should feel like it’s adapting to them. It’s about creating a design so intuitive that users feel like they already know their way around it from the moment they start. How do you get there? Simple, make sure your AI:

  • Minimizes user effort: Focus on reducing the number of steps needed to achieve a task.
  • Integrates contextually: Make sure your solution understands and applies user context to enhance relevance.
  • Encourages exploration: Create an interface that is inviting, not intimidating. Prioritize personalization and include help sections.

But the journey doesn’t end with the launch of a product.

The key to continual improvement and innovation lies in establishing robust feedback loops. Not only do they let you hear directly from users, but they’re a gateway for AI to learn from user interactions, allowing it to refine and improve itself over time.

If we all commit to always listen, adapt, and improve, we can create AI products that truly make a difference.

The Author

Rachel Anderson, Digital Lead at Synechron UK
Reihane Daraei

Junior Product Designer

Reihane Daraei, based in Montreal, is a junior product designer with an engineering background. While contributing to projects within Synechron’s FinLabs and collaborating with the organization’s global AI team, she developed a curiosity about AI that has helped fuel her work. Reihane enjoys exploring new technologies and aspires to create simple, delightful interactions between humans and technology.

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