How Google changes the future of UX forever with AI Snapshots.

End to End flow

From a UX perspective, the end-to-end experience of the AI snapshot is impressive on paper. To design for this, it is up to the UX designer to actually define how the “Magic AI happens”.

Remember, UX designers are in charge of the entire end-to-end flow. Just like designing for any experience, you should start thinking about all the possible implications and use cases this creates, lets’s start by looking at users.

Better for who? — End Users but who are the end users?

~Around 59% of users use Google as a first touch point for online shopping, starting with a search.

The AI -Snapshot can create a smart result where an interactive experience that goes beyond traditional search is offered. Users can explore items much quicker, dive deep into reviews, and even interact with 3D models all generated in real time. In other words, a “smart” search result that gets you to what you want to buy much quicker.

AI-Snapshot example from Google I/O 2023
AI-Snapshot example from Google I/O 2023

So shoppers are clearly the primary users in this flow, but they are not the only “users”!

There are secondary, and tertiary users as well. For example, merchants that sell the products the primary users are searching for. From my experience as the product design lead for the commerce world, we call these C1 & C2 users.

Google’s approach as pitched for their search with AI snapshots will most likely cause smaller links on Google to never be surfaced for users. (Since Users will now need to manually scroll past the entire AI-Snapshot to find traditional “dumb” search results of small mom-and-pop style shops.)

Combining this with paid promotions, if handled poorly, could be very hurtful to small businesses that simply can’t compete with the SEO and backlinks larger companies and sites have. In turn, becoming a reinforced cycle where “big gets bigger” from AI.

Only two things will happen to a product at this point:

  1. It loses all of its small business C2 customers eventually. (If they have no visibility, they will move to another platform.)
  2. Small business C2 customers are forced to pay for advertising or adapt in another way.

Both could be hurtful to the ecosystem in the long run if not handled properly. C2 experience directly impacts C1 UX experiences. A shopper can not shop without the merchants.

In other words, because of how powerful AI is, UX designers need to combine AI in their system in an empathetic and cautious way.

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