The product design trends that COVID-19 will leave us

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The future of design will adapt and change in a post-pandemic world. Here we share some product design trends you should know about.

At Hexacta, apart from working on the development process, we closely work with our clients in product ideation and design.

The product design trends that COVID-19 will leave us

There is no doubt that this pandemic has accelerated the entire world’s digital transformation. Historian, Yoval Nohan Harari, states, “What happens when everybody works from home and communicates only at a distance? What happens when entire schools and universities go online? In normal times, government, business and educational boards would never agree to conduct such experiments. But these aren’t normal times.”

Our everyday life has an unprecedented impact on what goes beyond a health crisis. It impacts geopolitics, ideologies, it questions or supports the role of the government, cuts social and emotional bonds, changes consumption patterns, and most importantly, strongly hits the whole world’s economy.

In just a couple of weeks, we have changed our habits in a way that was unthinkable. Most people believe that the world will be changed forever. I believe that this whole scenario also leads to a change in the way we design and think about products in the future.

Content related: Outsourcing trends that will lead the world from now on

With this in mind, I worked on a list of how new ideas will be developed in the years to come (in a post-pandemic world) and how they will be brought to market by businesses for current products, as well as products designed from scratch.

1. Global vs local: developing platforms for bringing business, services, and people together

Local proximity-based stores and services are having an important role during the pandemic. The need for items closer to home is more relevant, but unfortunately, some of those smaller local stores or services do not have the technology or knowledge to sell online or reach more people. The reality is that this is a two-way street: Closed or almost closed stores need to sell nonstop and even sell more, while people need wider choices, availability, and a variety of products. Here come the platforms as a way of achieving this and a way for small businesses to reach final consumers using “in the box” logistics.

We all use platforms today. They bring together two or more parties to create and exchange value through the business rather than trying to create all the value themselves. They are big platforms and widely used, so that model should be taken into account for new product design and innovation. The new challenge brought by the pandemic is just that.

The product design trends that COVID-19 will leave us

Platforms like DonorsChoose and Gofundme support philanthropy in these hard times. Workana and Upwork help freelance workers, and LinkedIn or Glassdoor help recruiting for new jobs. Coursera, Udemy, and many other education platforms have also become crucial at this moment for training purposes. Transportation or matchmaking services are also gaining relevance today. Financial services and payment platforms like PayPal (or Venmo), Apple Pay, or Gpay facilitate social distancing and are the payment method of choice nowadays. Finally, and obviously, retail platforms are the choice for getting businesses together, like eBay or Amazon Marketplace.

Some platforms are transforming to adapt to the new times, like restaurant booking platform Open Table that has introduced supermarket bookings. Instagram and Facebook added COVID-19 dedicated fundraising features on their platforms. Prominent tennis players played the Virtual Madrid Open on the PlayStation 4 gaming platform, and we have to remember that all sports have been banned in Spain, one of the countries that was hit hardest in this pandemic. Also, the Italian platform Uniti Possiamo connects local businesses with people living nearby.

2. New ways of socializing

Social networks and online socialization are not new. But it has skyrocketed, even for elderly people or the ones that are not used to the virtual world.

Several apps and sites are focusing on socialization and getting in touch with friends all over the world. Myriads of live streaming events have appeared on social platforms. Also, some websites are releasing online theatre shows for free (at least partially). And this is just the tip of the iceberg in the virtual socializing world.

This virtual socializing concept goes far beyond the online conference typical apps. You can now see some creative socializing ideas with many improvements and room for more ideas, including boosting your current application and services with this approach. An example of this concept is Netflix Party that lets you sync a movie with your friends so you can watch a movie together. You can download it as a Chrome extension.

Apart from typical online gaming, you can also do a “closer” social experience by taking your board game to the digital world. There are several options for that: One of them is Jackbox party games. But if you are thinking about health, there are also several fitness apps that include online participation and the visualization of their attendees.

3. Development of cyber-surveillance methods that makes people feel safer

Excessive monitoring is a trending topic right now. There is a fine line between security versus individual freedom and privacy, but there are people that seem willing to give up some of their individual freedoms in order to feel safer.

There is uncertainty about what aspects of these behaviors will prevail, but currently, cyber-surveillance improvements and applications are in demand.

The product design trends that COVID-19 will leave us

Some examples come from the government, like the Norwegian Smittestopp App that notifies you if you are in proximity to someone with COVID-19. This data is stored by the government and deleted after 30 days. This is not the first tracking app. Korea and some other countries have taken similar approaches.

There are clever app designs that fit this pandemic. With the use of IOT (Internet of Things), the Chinese App Ele.me tracks the body temperature of the human couriers delivering you food.

4. Touchless applications and intelligence

We are certain that after this experience, consumers will probably appreciate reducing unnecessary contact and risks. Voice command, self-service shopping methods, and new packaging technologies will definitely gain relevance in the near future. Touchless payment methods are trending and are having unexpected growth. Also, several regular activities like eating, flying, or traveling will change in order to keep on attracting customers, among other things.

For example, low-cost airline Cebu Pacific introduced contactless flights in the Philippines. Hotels like Hilton teamed up with Lysol and Mayo Clinic to launch the CleanStay industry-defining standard. These new standards will work based on an intensive use of mobile phone applications.  McDonald’s prototypes its COVID-19-free store that also relies heavily on technology.

Looking beyond the crisis

These are just the first approaches which show that several everyday activities are going to be very different. There is a lesson for all retailers that shows them that if they do not change their systems or apps accordingly, they will be relegated.

At Hexacta, we are already building apps for COVID-19. We are actively participating in the development of CuidAR, the official Argentine government application that does a self-assessment for COVID-19. Are you ready to create or modify your software for the post-pandemic world?

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