Last Updated on August 30, 2021
Trends are constantly evolving, it’s the same for fashion, technology and of course, UI/UX design. We have compiled the UI/UX design trends to look out for 2021 & 2022 to help you stay on-trend and ahead of your competitors.
What Are The Latest Trends In UI/UX Design?
This trend has become a classic for 2020 and will continue being a trend for the year to come, with many interfaces offering a dark mode for users to switch to. Dark mode UX doesn’t only invoke a sense of elegance, prestige, and sleekness, it also helps to reduce eye strain and lowers the battery consumption.
Unsure if dark mode is suitable for your business? We suggest reading this article to help with your decision: Dark mode UX has come to Facebook. Is it really suitable for your business?
With so many distractions at every turn – pop-ups, targeted ads, notifications, so much so that even YouTube forces you to watch up to 2 ads every time you want to watch a video. Minimalism is a refreshing change for consumers.
Stripping down products to the bare essentials without the bells and whistles is an upcoming trend, by removing distractions, consumers are able to focus on what is most essential.
Clean up your UI/UX design by reducing unnecessary information, make use of UI/UX design elements such as carousels, a toggle to show & hide content sections, pop-ups, or a tool-tip feature.
You can think of it as Marie Kondo-ing your UX, to de-clutter and remove unnecessary things. Consumers will welcome the refreshing break from the noisy and cluttered digital world.
It is impossible to provide personalised service online without the help of AI. Data based AI is a trend where almost every product will make use of machine learning to improve the UX. AI enables businesses to automate personalisation, which in turn increases conversion and customer satisfaction.
Spotify is a great example to showcase AI implementation with integrated machine learning. Spotify generates a playlist called ‘Discover Weekly’, which is a compilation of songs crafted for individual users based on what the user has been listening to.
This helps to build a meaningful UX that users will come back to because it has been personalised to their preferences and interest. In addition, it’s a value-adding feature where users can easily discover new music.
Users need an experience that is customised to their needs. Having a personalised UI/UX design helps you stay ahead of your competitors.
The most popular style these days tends to be the hand-drawing style. Illustrations go beyond words and language, and are especially useful for storytelling and onboardings. Not only is it eye-catching but also informative to consumers.
Here is an example from Dropbox, they make use of illustrations to showcase how they can help users get away from disruptions and to get organized.
Animations & Motion Design
Stylish animations and motion design are expensive and hard to create, but they are very visually pleasing content. We see a rising trend of websites using videos as the main visual content on the page, and interactive video tutorials as an onboarding lesson.
Animations and motion design are captivating and draw users’ attention, and are useful for portraying how the product works or the story to communicate value.
3D Immersive visuals
In the era of UI/UX design, customers can expect an experience that is unique like gaming. Some form of 3D effects and 3D animations could provide an interactive and engaging experience to the users.
The popularity of creative scrolls is steadily increasing but this UI/UX design trend works best for products. Apple’s website for AirPods Pro is entirely creatively scrolling and it brilliantly showcases various details of the product and descriptions of the features.
UX Writing and Microcopy
We see standard phrases all the time, nothing wrong with it but it lacks personality. Make your website more interesting by using a more informal and conversational tone.
Medium does this well
They know that they have distracted users from reading an article and take the opportunity to apologize in the heading in an informal communicative style.
This is one of the best methods to improve UX. This trend has been long-lasting and will continue as a trend. Microinteractions are not only informative to users, reassuring them that there has been an interaction but it can keep the user updated on the progress.
A mobile-first design is an important design trend that is rising through the years, this is especially true in Southeast Asia where many users would reach for their mobile phone before any of their other devices.
In March 2021, Statista reported that mobile devices account for over 54% of web page views worldwide. In Asia, two-thirds of all web traffic stems from mobile phones.
Safe to say, a mobile-first design is imperative as we see a strong trend of an increasing number of users using their mobile phone as their main device.
Websites and applications must be designed with a mobile-first design, and be as seamless, responsive, feature-rich and functional as possible, so much so that users should be able to carry out tasks on their mobile phone as they would on their laptop/desktop.
Consumers make use of multiple devices like mobiles, tablets, computers, etc. which makes it necessary to have consistent functionality and experience.
UX for Wearables
With the rapid technological advancement, wearable technology is rising in popularity. Popular wearables such as smartwatches, smart glasses, wireless headsets and earphones go hand in hand with mobile devices.
Statista reports that the number of connected wearable devices worldwide has increased from 325 million in 2016 to 722 million in 2019 and is expected to reach more than a billion by 2022.
Wearable technology provides durability, seamless connectivity, functionalities, and simplicity that supplement users’ needs, and the trend shows that wearable technology will continue to increase in popularity.
With this in mind, users expect wearable technology to be an extension of smartphones. And this isn’t just for general consumers but for various industries, especially the healthcare industry where there are various applications of wearable technology.
Voice User Interface (VUI)
Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, AliGenie, Tencent Dingdang, Microsoft Xiaoice and other AI-powered virtual voice assistants provide an elevated level of convenience to users and are rising in popularity.
Hands-free interaction that is provided by voice user interfaces (VUI) also helps with productivity because users can simply speak to their VUI to get a response instead of searching for it on their devices.
VUI is soon becoming standard as a feature of smart devices that we use daily and the trend suggests that the user of VUI worldwide will reach 8.4 billion by 2024.
Credit: StatistaIn China, Juniper Research reports that voice assistants will grow from just 4 million in 2019 to 100 million by 2024 and the reason attributed to this significant spike is due to the low cost of smart speakers. Chinese manufacturers are focusing on developing more advanced voice assistants, leveraging on brand functions such as skincare, beauty assistants, and wellness coaches.
By enabling services that fit into users’ daily routines, voice assistants become very much incorporated into the daily life of users. For example, Baidu’s Xiaodu range of smart speakers understands that the majority of their users (being families with children and elderly parents), can really benefit from functions and features that are more family-friendly.
This is why Xiaodu has a built-in smart display with a kids mode to restrict content and time. They even include a video calling function to allow children to call their parents at work, and they are partnering with online educational institutes to offer early childhood education on their smart devices.
Colourful, but blurred backgrounds
This UI trend remains popular and relevant today. However, gradients are more complex, with designers using up to 10 colors and overlays, compared to the 2 to 3 colors used before. Gradients are also moving to lighter shades.
These colorful gradients can be quite temperamental, giving designers a reason to enjoy using them. As such, we can expect this trend to stay on for quite a while.
The concept of having certain elements protrude from the screen, making it easy for the users to make a selection. The concept uses different colours, blending contrasts and the use of shadows.
A simplified UX with a minimal number of elements and fields that need to be filled out will remove the extra actions that users need to take.
For example, simplified registration and logging in using phone numbers rather than having to remember another username and password like the Grab app makes it easy for users to sign in using only their phone number.
Another good example of this would be IFTTT giving users the options to continue with Apple, Google or Facebook making the registration process.
Pastel colors work great with simple web UI/UX design and minimalism because they can be used to highlight the unobtrusive characteristics of the design. These colors fit extremely well with numerous concepts and are able to set the atmosphere for different types of websites.
Natreve’s website is a prime example of flawless use of pastel colors.
You’ve probably noticed that web typography is now bigger and bolder than before, especially for landing pages. This trend is here to stay because bold typography stands out and is one of the best ways to get users’ attention.
This straightforward approach, when integrated as part of the overall aesthetic, demands users to take note of it. Many popular websites have already started using this technique and it looks like this trend is here to stay in 2021 and 2022.
Simple icons can help as a visual communication tool for users and is a UX trend that’s here to stay. They take up less space than words while communicating the same words.
As such, many companies have taken the step to redesign their system icons to benefit from it. Icons used on a website should be from the ‘same family’, and should be similar in size, dimension and consistency to ensure the integrity and cohesiveness of the website.
Vedran Badun Adventures gives an excellent icon implementation on its website. However, it is always advisable to conduct ux testing on the icon to ensure users can actually understand it especially if it is not label with text.
Gone are the days of static design, users now want to see dynamic illustrations and animations, without the clunk and clutter of overwhelming pop-ups and distractions.
Catering to users’ preferences will give you a competitive edge, but let’s not overlook the smaller matters such as meaningful microinteractions.
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