Being on top of the latest UI and UX trends is vital in order to capture your audience’s attention. Today’s users are becoming increasingly careful whom they give their attention to, knowing it is a resource that companies need to compete for. This is especially valid for Millennials and Gen Z but other generations are not excluded. As a result, your UX and UI need to be impeccable and, ideally, be in line with the latest trends and tendencies in the industry.
When it comes to UI and UX trends, the preceding year seems to have solidified several ongoing trends and amplified their importance. None of these trends are, technically, new to anyone who follows the UI/UX industry. Though they may not be new, this does not mean they haven’t developed and taken on new forms.
Reviewing the various visual trends over the last year, we’ve created a list of those that have stood out the most to us. The trends listed below have impressed us with their ability to capture our attention and imagination, build visually rich and appealing stories, and showcase products in creative ways. This year’s design trends that we think merit the most attention include:
- 3D design elements
- Animated illustrations
- Dark mode
- Augmented reality
- Unusual and futuristic color combinations
- Oversized and bold typography
Want to know more about our picks for design trends that deliver better customer experience? Keep reading!
Stories have existed long before recorded history and they have always fascinated mankind. Although their forms have changed from cave paintings, fairy tales, fables to novels, movies, audiobooks and even influencer stories, the desire to tell and listen to stories has remained unchanged.
The ability to tell stories effectively and memorably was and will always be a very valuable skill especially in our busy digital lives full with information overload. When reinforced with the right visual elements, stories can be so powerful that they can cut through the clutter, get the message across, and influence people. The purpose of storytelling for UX, therefore is to help bring users closer to you and help them shift their perspective by making them part of the story that is being told.
А great example of this is the brand Patagonia that tells us the story about sustainability in clothes production and why it matters in an intriguing and provoking way.
The purpose of storytelling for UX is to help bring users closer to you and help them shift their perspective by making them part of the story that is being told.
2. 3D design elements
Yes, 3D isn’t exactly new, but a whole new generation of 3D design elements is about to take place. With technological improvements that allow even lower-end devices to handle complex models, increased internet speed, and new software capabilities such as Adobe XD, 3D designing is about to pick up significantly.
We expect that in the coming year 3D design elements will be used to help users navigate websites, keep their attention, and direct them toward important points of interaction. This will result in hyper-realistic 3D visuals that may take up as much as a whole page. And with the rise of AR and VR technologies, an interplay between such visuals and these technologies doesn’t seem to be too far down the line.
3. Animated illustrations
If 3D elements do not fit your brand, animated illustrations are the perfect alternative that is visually appealing and engaging. Illustrations add a natural feel and an inviting environment for users. When animated, they are efficiently utilized to explain a company’s products or services in an intuitive and straightforward way with only a minimum of text.
For example, this bike animation is not only motion animation, but it is also interactive. If you move your cursor left or right, the cyclist pedals faster or slower. This is a great illustration of a highly effective and engaging element.
By creating custom and personalized characters as part of their brand, businesses can become more memorable. Characters are central elements of the story that a business is telling and something that users will begin to recognize and identify with.
4. Dark mode
After the debut of dark mode in recent years, it has been claimed that it may help increase users’ focus and productivity or that it may help save their devices’ battery power. While offering an additional rationale for its use, these claims seem to be unfounded. Yet, even without them, dark mode has its own merits and its rise is a testament to that.
For one, dark mode is better for users’ eyes, especially when used in low-light environments. It also increases the contrast ratio which means that key elements of the design, such as icons or typography, can be made to stand out more. As such, it can help support the visual hierarchy in a simple yet very efficient way. Finally, dark mode offers a refreshing change and can effectively be pulled off by any whose brand colors allow such a transition.
For all of these reasons, dark mode remains a stylish and functional design decision, and will likely be at play in combination with other design elements over the next year.
5. Augmented reality
With the stable release of Google’s ARCore in January and Apple’s ARKit 4 released as part of iOS 14 in September of last year, augmented reality (AR) is picking up. AR development will likely increase gradually this year, as design and development standards are largely still developed.
Yet, designers can expect an increased interest in this technology, in particular in the context of the continuing lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this situation, a growing number of businesses that rely on offering physical or in-person experiences will turn to AR as a way to create the possibility for interactions that are being missed due to the current conditions.
We have picked a few interesting examples of Augmented reality to watch here:
6. Unusual and futuristic color combinations
The ‘90s are back with a bang and this year we expect to see an increase in the use of futuristic color combinations - fluorescent colors, neon-glowing shades, and more. We may even see a type of nod in the direction of an old-school web design style that uses large color blocks without gradients. The latter is an efficient yet simple way of creating a good visual hierarchy, in particular when it makes use of unusual color combinations.
These design choices present themselves as a counterpoint to clean and minimalistic designs that reigned in UX over the last 5 years. Now, a more flamboyant type of expression is coming up as a way to win over users’ attention.
7. Unusual and futuristic color combinations
In the same vein as above, catchy typography, much resembling the varied typographic landscape of the ‘90s, is also making a comeback. Oversized and bold typography is increasingly appearing on websites, sometimes paired with a minimalistic design.
Bold typography is now frequently being used as a substitute for images as the main design element and in particular as a webpage heading. Through its boldness, it anchors users’ attention and helps create emphasis and orient them. It is frequently used as a signifier of the quality of the products or services that are being offered.
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