An immersive and engaging user interface forms a vital part of good user experience design. However, it depends on many factors, including what the user wants and where the industry is heading. Moreover, as technology and customer behaviours shift, new trends emerge.
As markets have moved online over the past two years in response to the global pandemic, UI trends have had to adjust. Previous trends such as storytelling, dark mode and ethical design have become the norm and are common knowledge amongst designers, agencies and consultants. However, as new technologies arrive over the coming year, we’re going to see UI become much more innovative. Here are seven UI trends that look set to make a big impression on users:
1. Unique Illustrations
With the rise in digital products, applications and services comes the need for brands to stand out more than ever before. Free-form, unaligned elements, components and asymmetry are here to do just that. The 2D or 3D custom illustrations can also come to life with complex motion design to create a really compelling and engaging user experience. Illustrations can create a personality for websites or apps and make them more memorable. While they might sound a little too fun to be functional, when unique illustrations are used alongside a minimalist design, they can look extremely professional.
2. Custom Micro-animations
While animation is traditionally associated with entertainment, it can also be used to communicate ideas to users and create a strong, lasting impression to help businesses stand out from the crowd. Micro-animations are small movements that can bring a design together. They can help users through a website or application by enticing them to take action or they can produce an emotional response when an action is taken. By doing this, they make the design more interesting to the user and make them feel more connected with the brand. Inputs can be the simple movement of a cursor, delivering lively and fun results.
3. Bolder Fonts
While fonts are often used to match particular industries, there is a trend that is starting to take hold regardless of this. Brands are beginning to use much bolder fonts and, as such, we’ve started seeing a rise in large bold type in every area of design. The trend has developed from the larger trend of minimalism. The theory is that if the font is oversized, the rest of the design can stay clean and simple. Big chunky fonts work because they take centre stage, making clear statements that are impossible to miss. They also effectively bound off negative space to deliver clear emphasis on important hearts and titles. Designers using this trend are focusing on fonts that aren’t instantly recognisable, creating a custom type treatment for each design or using old fonts in new and interesting ways.
4. Neomorphism Design
A cross between skeuomorphism and flat design, neomorphism places UI elements behind the background. Once elements are selected, they protrude and look like they’re coming out of the screen. The technique is to keep the background colour and UI elements the same and then blend contrasts and shadowing effects. The popular soft aesthetic has three common characteristics: monochromatic colour schemes, low contrast and subtle shadows. The trend is an ideal fit for digital products as they have dozens of screens and design components. Simplicity makes it easier for designers to build cohesive experiences and promotes visual consistency as products evolve. What’s more, realistic qualities can make UI components appear warmer, more tactile and encourage interactivity. Offering a subtle and simple technique, the trend looks set to stand the test of time.
5. Voice Activation
An explosion in voice assistants like Alexa and Siri has enabled users to interact more and more with the UI using speech or voice commands. So it stands to reason that, as the popularity of voice interfaces continues to grow along with their volume and complexity, they will greatly impact UI design. Word recognition and accuracy have been the biggest barrier to this trend taking off, but that is beginning to change. Better conversational tones and fewer misinterpretations are becoming commonplace. After all, when it is used well, voice activation can quickly meet user needs and create an easy-flowing experience. What’s more, it’s great for those with accessibility issues. Competition in this area is growing rapidly and we’re bound to see new advancements as the year unfolds.
Scrolling can be really tiresome, especially when pages are rammed full of information. Scrollytelling allows designers to create a narrative that makes content more engaging. The UI design trend uses illustrations, fonts and text snippets to create a visual story. Each time the user scrolls, a new part of the story unfolds, instead of just reams of copy. It could be an animation, a new object or a new block of text surfaces. With scrollytelling, users are more likely to stay and read information. The technique creates fantastic visuals while keeping the audience in mind at all times. What’s more, it can be adapted for mobile with tappy telling, where the story is activated when you tap instead of scroll.
7. Metaverse Interactions
As our virtual and digital worlds collide, UI is heading way beyond what is possible purely on a screen. Metaverse is a combination of technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and video that is beginning the user experience to a whole new level. Ultimately metaverse interactions need to feel like they are taking a palace in the real world. The metaverse offers a new space for socialising, escaping, and maintaining a virtual existence and, in the words of Zucerkberg, has the potential to change how people connect and get business done. To deliver on this trend, developers will need to think outside the box. This means will involve considering the context and function of these experiences carefully and starting to learn how to use new tools as they emerge.
Which UI Trends Should You Invest In?
Many exciting UI design trends are emerging at the moment. To create simple yet immersive websites and applications that delight users, it pays to stay on top. However, there is a balance to be had between being up with the times and delivering the right user experience. The UI trends you use need to come down to what the user wants. This means researching customer habits, desires and challenges to be able to deliver something that will delight them and make their lives easier, all at once.