Every year, at the beginning of the year, design and fashion magazines say which colors will be trendy. For sure, many people start to think: “Why is this color trendy and not another? Who decided this year that we should wear red and next year it will be blue?” Is this situation similar in terms of UX and UI new design trends? Not exactly.
User experience and user interface designs are based on research, years of experience, and knowledge. Current UI and UX design trends are the results of how technology and customer behaviors have changed, what tendencies can be generally seen in people’s lives, and what experts can predict through carefully watching all of these.
We’ve all seen the phrase “2020 changed everything” far too many times in all summaries of the year. But it’s hard not to use it because 2020 really has changed a lot. These changes and tendencies, many of which were already visible in previous years, made it possible to create a list of things every UX and UI designer should consider.
Minimalism and UX simplification
Minimalism is seen not only in design. In the last years, many books have been published about how to buy less and waste less. So people started to think – do they really need all this stuff. Because of that, their flats and closets have started to look different, and of course, these people have started to see the world in a different way. But minimalism in website or app design also has another basis.
Sensory overload is a problem of today’s world – too many devices, too much time in front of a computer or smartphone, too much information, and too much content. And in terms of this, 2020 was like a bucket full of coffee – we spent all of our days in front of our screens.
First and foremost, we were looking for information even as mutually exclusive news bombards us from every direction.
Right now, our brains just need to relax – to see something which is harmonic and clear. It’s not only about how a website or app looks, but also about how it works. Some companies decide to place the full checkout process into a single step, and for login, they don’t demand a password but, as a personal identifier, they use phone numbers or biometric data. In many places right now, we can register just by tapping a single button which connects us with our social platform.
Need more evidence? Users often find websites too complicated or busy, and the first impression is design-related for 94%! In the same study, customers noted lousy use of color, excessive popup advertisements, and too much text as the sources of a bad impression.
Moreover, 47% of users expect a maximum of 2 seconds loading time for a website. In terms of that, a website just can’t be heavy loaded with many photos, movies, features, and popups. So, as in nearly every field of life, on the internet, less is more.
Simple data visualization
As written above – 2020 was full of information from every direction. Unfortunately, this information was often mutually exclusive, and we all felt like we lived in a perpetual state of chaos. Because of this, showing data in a simple way will be more critical than ever, especially in terms of changes and restrictions.
This past year has also shown us, more than ever before, that as a people, we really have a big problem with fake news, conspiracy theories, and information bubbles. And through all of these, we have big trouble with trust. You should consider this when you create content for your customers. First priority is to show data nicely and clearly – big numbers, exact steps, and simple copy.
But you should also always give your customers sources for your information, and if you need more text, you should write it humanly and understandably. You may think that this is not about design, and well, it isn’t, but it is about UX. There exists a (relatively) new field of specialization – UX copywriting, and it will be needed in businesses every year, more and more.
Design based on preferences (dark mode)
Millennials, the generation of people born between 1981 and 1996, are often described as narcissistic and “me” centered. Of course, this characteristic is quite flat, and we can (especially as millennials) disagree with it. But it is certain that millennials are very individualistic, they know what they want, and they know that they can demand. All of these create the vision of a person who wants a customized experiences.
Millennials don’t want just to personalize their laptop or phone screen, but everything in it – apps and websites as well.
The most popular personalization option is dark mode, which right now can be found nearly everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube, etc. Why is this so popular? First of all, dark mode tires our eyes less, especially in the evening and, for these pages, it is crucial that customers want to spend all day with them – morning and evening.
The second thing is that many people think that dark mode just looks better. As UI/UX Designer Umesh Kumar said:
“Take pictures, graphics, for instance, they all look wonderful with a dark background when compared to the white and that thought is literally backed up by the millennials switching to the darker screens just for the sake of health benefits or as a mere trend.“
Dark mode is also something new, something different. A way to show, “I’m not like others, who use the boring, unhealthy, ugly white screen.” And this is crucial for millennials.
But dark mode is not the only method to make apps or a website more personalized. Depending on your product, you can allow your customers to customize a lot – navigation, content, notifications, etc. The sky’s the limit but in the center of the sky is your user and their demands.
As we wrote above, this year we should focus on minimalism and simplicity. And near to these two topics are muted colors. They are more calm, soft, and quiet than neons and bold colors, which have been trendy in recent years. Experts also think the muted colors trend is an answer for the informational chaos we’ve been through this past year.
Muted colors are also easier on the eyes, so just as dark mode makes users less tired, we trend towards muted as opposed to bright, neon colors. It’s easiest to relax while being surrounded by “quiet” colors. It’s not an accident all the apps for meditating, health, well-being use this color palette.
What is also essential is that muted colors feel more organic and natural, which relates to the idea of a more ecologic life. Being eco grows more popular every year and is a huge deal after a year when we witnessed uncontrolled wildfires in Australia and California; when the whole world was affected by a pandemic of a zoonotic disease; when we saw that, during the lockdown when human activity was reduced, the ecosystem started to heal.
BCG surveyed more than 3,000 participants from eight different countries to check if people are more concerned about ecology now than before COVID-19. 70% of the participants said that they are more aware that human activity threatens the climate than before the pandemic, and 40% of them reported that they intend to adopt more sustainable behavior in the future.
In terms of these, it’s hard to ignore the ecological trend. Every business should consider this, and not only in their products, activities, and CSR actions but also in design, which is the first thing customers see and which is the first to make an impression.
3D graphics and visualizations
For years, eCommerce has wondered how to make the shopping experience the most realistic; 3d visualizations are the obvious answer for this challenge. So why are they still mentioned as one of the graphic trends of 2021? People have spent nearly the whole year of 2020 at home; all they need are realistic experiences, not only when shopping.
And as people miss the real world, businesses need to try to recreate the real-world in the users’ computers and smartphones. Not only with 3D visualization products but also in graphics.
The second reason businesses use 3D on their websites is that it attracts attention and makes users stay on the page longer, as we can read at uxplanet. What is also important is that the growing popularity of VR and AR technologies drives the popularity of 3D graphics and visualizations.
Although the Instagram gallery feature is nothing new and Instagram users can swipe up photo accounts they follow since 2017, the idea of swiping content horizontally is more and more popular. The most significant advantage of the horizontal scroll solution is that you can give more content on your page and still keep it short. It’s especially useful on mobile devices because long websites on big screens start to be enormously long on small smartphone screens.
Of course, if you want to use the horizontal scroll, you should remember to give your customer all critical information on the first view, not on graphics hidden on the “scroll gallery.” Moreover, it would be best if you choose the most eye-catching thing on the first graphic to appear on the scroll, and you can’t forget to inform users that they can see more by swiping or tapping.
Horizontal scrolling still doesn’t have many fans among UX experts because this kind of feature has a high interaction cost, which means that users need to make an effort to take this action – it’s still not so obvious as vertical scrolling. That’s why using this on the whole webpage might not be the best idea, but products in an online store, movies on streaming platforms, or photo galleries are often expanded with the horizontal scroll, and it has proved very useful for users.
Still, we are more and more used to horizontal scrolling, and in the nearest feature, it will be as natural as vertical scrolling. Finally, books, which can be considered earlier versions of internet web pages, have both horizontal and vertical “scrolling.”
2020 was a hard year, and what all people need right now in 2021 is hope and a bit of optimism. Of course, nothing gets them more uplifted than the fact that we finally have the vaccine. But still, they will look for some joy and playfulness, which you can give them with a good design.
As Michelle Solomon – illustrator – said: “My clients are excited about designs that reflect a more open and inclusive future” and she added: “2021 will be all about finding ways to be positive despite challenges, in contrast to the darker vibes of 2020”.
And this optimistic point of view should be the end of this article about 2021 design trends and the start of the new year, which I hope will be better for all of us!
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