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Design is dead.

Dashboards are the future

Your brain is not built for multitasking. Switching between tasks costs time and mental energy. It makes you slower. Think about the last time you were in the zone, focused on your work, only to be derailed by a notification. How long did it take to get back on track?

Unfortunately, context switching is baked into our digital environments. We work across multiple apps. Each time we switch between them, we spend a few seconds orienting ourselves within the app. Those seconds add up. What if you could pull relevant bits from each app into a single view to stay focused and accomplish the task at hand?

When I work on a UI design, I grab screenshots of the data I need: user stories, messages, emails, spreadsheets and my sketches. And I paste them all in Figma. These elements float around my canvas as I brainstorm. Everything I need to do my work is in one place. I can rearrange and navigate my content in a single, uninterrupted view. Unlike physical spaces, digital spaces are limitless. So why do we work in flat, overlapping rectangles?

Apps are like filing cabinets. Opening and closing them to find information is wasteful. We can do better than mimic our physical spaces. The focus needs to shift away from apps and towards tasks. We don’t wake up and think “I’ll use Excel today.” We use pieces of an app. And we need to be able to tear those pieces out of our apps and bring it all together and get our work done. The future of work isn’t single-use apps. It’s dashboards.

Software design is changing. We’re approaching the limits of “traditional” UI design. Design systems and established patterns allow us to rapidly assemble optimal interfaces. With AI, non-designers can construct their own custom interfaces through prompts. They’ll only pull the data they need, and ignore your beautifully crafted UI components. UI design won’t die completely, but moving pixels around in a mockup will become an old-fashioned craft.

Apps like Perplexity and the Arc Browser’s “Browse for me” feature give us a glimpse into this future. Search results are personalized and presented beautifully. Users no longer have to wade through bulky navigation, pop-ups asking for your email (ugh), cookie banners, auto playing video ads, live chat bubbles, and SEO filler. You cut straight to the core content.

Dashboards are the future, but not as a rigid grid of widgets. I envision some combination of live data feeds, infinite canvas, picture-in-picture and 3D visualization.

Digital space is infinite, let’s design it well.

I tweaked this on Fri Apr 19 2024 03:25:39 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)