The Geek Whisperer’s 2015 Tech Predictions

I’ve been at this for a long time, this is the first time I’m taking a stab at industry predictions. Let’s see how I do in 12 months.

Security Breaches Everywhere

Information security is going to continue to grow as both a problem, and a political issue.

There will be more point-of-sale breaches at major retailers and large-scale corporate leaks like Sony (they will largely be inside jobs).

This will continue because companies won’t:

  • update their systems
  • implement proper password standards and management
  • hire and empower skilled information security specialists

Security Politicization

All of the breaches are going to grow into larger political issues as legislators try to regulate security.

The proposed laws will be terrible.

Most of our leaders will try their hardest to avoid discussing the fact that the Department of Justice has been actively working to hobble corporate and individual information security for years.

Apple Watch

At launch, there will be a mix of sneering and praise for the Apple Watch, but it will be a runaway success. Their stock price will drop initially.

Why will it be a success?

  • Because Apple
  • Minimally functional wrist-based wearables have already caught-on
  • We use our phones too much, and don’t want to take them out all of the time
  • It’s even more difficult to get your phone in and out of tight pants (watch people when you’re out; this is actually something people struggle with)

User Interfaces Go Vertical

The Apple Watch is going to bring new web and app design trends with it.

I’m in the middle of designing my first Apple Watch app, and I have discovered that because of the “crown,” everything shifts to a vertical interface. I suspect that many iPhone apps will shift to a more vertical experience to create similarities between their iPhone and Apple Watch apps. This will find its way into web design as well.

Apple Watch Theft

(This is the last Apple-related prediction)

Apple Watch theft is going to be a really big thing; especially in the warm months when crime rises and people aren’t covering their wrists with sleeves.

Even if Apple comes up with a very clever theft deterrence system, stolen Apple Watch bands will fetch good money.

"That Milanese Loop will look so great on me... Give it to me or I'll cut you!"
“That Milanese Loop will look so great on me… Give it to me or I’ll cut you!”

Net Neutrality = Giant Mess

The FCC will try to split the proverbial baby on net neutrality, and it’s going to be a mess.

I predict lawsuits from both sides of the issue. No one will be happy, and the ISPs will continue to suck… But lawyers and lobbyists will make money, and that’s all that really matters isn’t it?

Innovations Mobile Gaming

Mobile video games are going to get better, and more interesting.

The comparatively low cost of iOS and Android development vs console gaming, as well as the ubiquity of iOS and Android devices will spur a renascence in mobile video games. We’re going to see more of the quirky, interesting, and unusual indie games that have been priced out of the console market, or lost in the ether.

HTTPS Everywhere(ish)

2015 will be year that one of the browsers will label unencrypted websites as insecure. Many website owners will finally make the leap to HTTPS for everything.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be far better than the current situation.

Backend / Frontend Decoupling

There aren’t many content management systems that are great on both the back and front end.

While not a new concept, more websites will be built with a decoupled front and backend. Look for lots of Drupal backend, and AngularJS frontend sites. The web will be better for it.

API All the Things!

APIs are going to continue to become a necessary business tool for both internal and external purposes.

The non-profit and government worlds will need them to open up and share data.

Companies will want them to power their growing array of external websites and applications.

Really smart organizations will find that internal APIs for cross-department data sharing are more important than an intranet.

[Image via Apple]

Interviewed by Springboard PR

Back in September, NJ Connect invited me to give my talk, “Amazing Design Through Empathy.” I had a ton of fun speaking with the folks in attendance.

The conversation continued, and Benjamin Doda of Springboard PR (the organizers of NJ Connect) interviewed me on web design, empathy, and business. He asked me some really provocative, difficult, and fun questions.

Springboard Geek Whisperer Interview

A number of the questions he asked me about are going to feed the next iteration of my talk.

Here’s an excerpt

When you give an inch, some people take a mile. What are the consequences of designing with too much empathy?

Sympathy is feeling for a person. Empathy is feeling with a person.

It’s the difference between looking at the world’s tallest and fastest roller-coaster and saying “Wow… that looks really intense” (sympathy), versus getting into the roller-coaster and experiencing the ride for yourself (empathy).

Sympathy is useless, and drives a wedge between you and the person you’re dealing with.

To take this one step further, there’s a difference between having empathy, and being emotional.

If you’re feeling with a person, you have awareness, if you’re being emotional, you’re being strictly governed by emotions. In business, being emotional is going to ultimately make you spiral out of control.

Here’s what empathy is in a business context. I have a client who is agitated, passive-aggressive, and inconsistent. He’s incredibly difficult to deal with. Throughout the course of working with him I pieced together that he has a boss who micromanages him, changes his mind at the drop of a buzzword, and bullies my client around. When I look at my client, I understand what he’s feeling. I can identify those same emotions in myself, and I can even remember a time when I had a boss who did the exact same thing to me. What I am not doing is internalizing those emotions, and allowing myself to feel my client’s total panic. I’m identifying with his emotions, and using the knowledge that I have of how he must be feeling to help the situation.

Regardless of whether you feel with a client, or are numb to their emotions, a client can still push you around, and take more than they have paid for.

I have a small tolerance for extra work with my clients. When I start doing extra work, if it’s small, I let them know, “This is above and beyond, next time we’re going to have to talk about a change order and a budget.” If that extra work is a bit bigger, I may issue a no cost change order, and make everyone sign it knowing that the next change is going to cost money.

Some requested changes are just going to cost money. Sometimes you just need to tell the client early and often that future iterations and features are going to require a budget.

– See more at: http://springboardpr.com/2014/11/07/the-geek-whisperer-uncover-what-motivates-your-customers/#sthash.GePxYBYW.dpuf

Speaking at NJ Connect in Redbank

Once more with feeling… I will be delivering my  talk “Amazing Design Through Empathy” at NJ Connect in Redbank, NJ on Tuesday, September 23rd at 6PM.

This is the fourth time that I am delivering this presentation, and the first time that I am doing it locally. So far the reactions from it have been wonderful.

October 2012 at NJ Connect
October 2012 at NJ Connect

I spoke at NJ Connect about two years ago, and it was a very warm and fun group. I’m excited to do it again.

Here be the description

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

Please sign up! I hope to see some friendly faces.

Speaking at DC’s Drupal Capital Camp & Gov’t Days

More good news [that I should have posted weeks ago]. I will be delivering my new talk “Amazing Design Through Empathy” at Washington, DC’s Drupal Capital Camp & Gov’t Days this Wednesday, July 30.

Drupal Capital Camp & Gov't Days 2014

This talk is in my employer Phase2 Technology’s backyard, and I have many brilliant coworkers who will be delivering all manner of nifty presentations. If you’re in the neighborhood you should come on down and check them out.

Here be the description:

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

(Spira – Drupal Capital Camp & Gov’t Days)

Get your ticket, and let me know if you’ll be out there. We can imbibe a beverage.

If you’re in Boston on August 2nd, I will be delivering the same talk at Design4Drupal Boston.