Targeted User Interfaces

Over the past few months the concept of Progressive Reduction has started to emerge all over the web. In short what it means is that an interface will start to reduce itself based on how someone uses a specific application; unused features or design elements that isn’t used, will start to disappear in favour of a better user experience

A lot has already been said about this concept, so my intention with this post is hopefully not to rephrase these articles, but rather to add a thought that was sparked by one of my work colleagues…

A while back we were talking about how individual profiles is build up over time as we navigate ourselves around in the digital cosmos and how ads are served based on these journeys. What started out as a very casual conversation grew into a very interesting topic: How will these digital profiles of ourselves one day be used to serve different versions of the same website? In other words, user interfaces that are served based on an individual’s digital profile…

Let’s use a middle aged, medium to high income, black man from South Africa who has already purchased both a Samsung Galaxy, iPad and an Macbook Air on Kalahari.com, as an example persona. He’s an experienced Internet user and love to browse sites like The Next Web and Mashable.

In the context of this idea, the next time he visits Apple.com, he might be greeted with a different version of their home page featuring the latest iPhone 7 held by a black hand and complimented by imagery that supports his profile? Maybe even give him an interface stripped of design elements that would normally only be there for less experienced users…

It’s almost like google ads, accept that it’s a targeted user interface.

Sure, I have reduced this case to make it sound much more simple than what it probably is. There are more complexities and consequences to it than what I can think of right now. But I wanted to keep it simple for illustration purposes.

However, the same idea that might be able to cause people to have a better web experience, might now also be used to drive more sales. Which I guess is fine but in a way makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Not sure why. Maybe because there are so many anomalies that we haven’t explored yet. Stuff like security, privacy and ethical issues.

Perhaps we will never even see this idea take shape. But if this does, I hope that we have applied enough time and wisdom to figure out how it will pan out over a period of 10 or 20 years.

Let’s see how it goes…