The dynamic digital UX and UI design environment is constantly evolving. Every year appear numerous lists of new trends in this field, and many come back cyclically. At the same time, users’ requirements are growing and changing rapidly. Improving this art involves observing their habits and providing new impressions which should be verified on an ongoing basis.
Originally published at https://websensa.com on May 12, 2021.
When designing a website, what matters is its visual attractiveness, being UI’s responsibility. It consists of details that significantly impact the overall user experience, e.g. text typography, colours, graphic elements and the sequence of buttons, messages or evaluation of intuitive tools. And the key to keeping the user’s attention lies in UX activities — a good website design should be aesthetic and functional. We have selected trends that will shape 2021 in the context of visual design.
UX/UI trends for 2021:
1. Simplicity and aesthetic minimalism
With the constant flow of digital media and data, information is attacking us at every turn. Pop-ups, intrusive ads, full inboxes or ringing phones. All this makes it necessary to lower the anxiety level and remove the “mess” we are used to. At the same time, specific product design processes have become complicated. It is not suitable for designers, customers and the digital products themselves.
There is a need for change and time to look at the field of website design with a fresh eye — rethink concepts, rebuild difficult and time-consuming processes and make it easier for novice designers to learn how to create a product.
Simple design and minimalistic creation, so far popular, especially among brands associated with quality and elegance, is a trend that will maintain its strong position in 2021. And although it will not be as easy to implement as it may seem, it is worth trying this path because minimalism allows you to highlight the most important information and to clear communication with the client.
How to keep users attention with UX/UI design?
- aim for selectivity;
- focus on what is most important to the product;
- reduce product data to primary attributes;
- avoid complicated creative elements and unnecessary accessories;
- say goodbye to flashy colours;
- try to get the geometric structure and symmetry on the page;
- build a clear, intuitive navigation pattern;
- use consistent colours;
- limit information to concise content and readable messages;
- remove unnecessary notifications and pop-ups.
Simplicity and minimalism do not mean primitiveness — less is not worse, and free space does not mean emptiness. You don’t need a fancy user interface or spectacular effects to make a product look amazing.
2. Unorthodox structures
There are also opposite trends to those above. For although a geometric structure can make information neat and clear, in the design world symmetry is often associated with classic and conventional designs.
On the other hand, websites built on grids can look similar and reduce their uniqueness — both in terms of positioning in search engines and distinguishing themselves from the competition. So unorthodox and creative layouts, giving the site more character and personality and highlighting its important areas, are also becoming trendy.
3. From perfection to „incompleteness”
Many websites have focused on the perfect design in recent years, where all the graphic elements were extremely precise. This trend may be changing as unique and distinctive design becomes more critical. We are talking about projects that look a bit “incomplete”, as 2020 has already shown.
The main idea now is to give this incompleteness a professional look and create it with familiar elements, but arranged and presented in a unique fashion. It is a reverse technique to pixel perfect site elements. It consists of creating incomplete, handwritten aspects of design, and thanks to unique shortcomings, users can distinguish the brand identity from the crowd and retain it in their memory.
4. Dark mode
When we think of minimalism, white is usually what comes to mind. And indeed — most minimalist designs use it. Black colour could not gain popularity earlier because our screens were not able to bring out deep blacks. Since the advent of high-tech monitors, black reflects better than it ever has.
Black defends itself in the latest designs and perfectly fits the principle of minimalism, which intelligently reverses all light colours and whites into their natural, dark counterpart. By using the dark mode, a user can choose, for example, to highlight and display other elements of the site. There is also a popular function that allows a user to schedule the time of changing the screen colour, e.g. depending on the time of day.
5. Realistic textures
As of 2020, there has been a return of textures and it possesses excellent potential for further development. While the reign of ethereal and cool gradients and flat and smooth objects is still in vogue, there is a tendency to add life to products with uneven textures. The trend is eagerly used in photos and multimedia, especially by companies that sell products such as furniture or cosmetics.
By designing contours, grain and adding an element of graininess, you can make users feel like reaching and touching textures. It creates a sense of connection between customers and products. It is worth remembering to choose textures carefully depending on the theme of an application. Otherwise, the user’s attention can be distracted from the actual purpose of purchasing the product.
6. Softness and depth
Delicate soft shadows and fluid visuals bring a feeling of lightness and are always perceived with positive emotions. They show the depth of the elements and make the site look a bit 3D. The trend was and is on the rise. It can be applied to any text, image, movie, etc. Moreover, today’s designers like to use layering to place elements on top of each other. Soft shadows can also be used to show increased depth and create a sinking effect.
And the latest trend in the user interface is the so-called glassmorphism. It is mainly based on blurring the background and essentially makes an effect of looking “through the glass” on the elements. Such designs look incredibly organic, warm and cosy.
7. Complex 3D graphics
3D elements have drawn attention and made websites more attractive for a long time . Thanks to them, the time of users’ sessions on the website is extended. However, this trend cannot be called innovative, both on the Internet and on mobile devices. However, designers have a new impetus in the form of the increasing popularity of VR and AR technologies. The perfect idea is to combine both techniques and build a hyper-realistic 3D web project.
Technologies evolve, but the main drawback of 3D remains: your website needs to be optimised enough to display complex graphics. Otherwise, users will experience lag and page freezes. Fortunately, the latest updates offer more and more modern frameworks and front-end libraries. They can significantly reduce page load times so that 3D objects can load faster and be more detailed.
8. Experiments with photography
The powerful flow of information means that stock photos alone may not be enough. A solution that can attract users’ attention is mixing photography with graphics. Layering graphics over images is a popular trend — it resembles a collage. It can be used both to create the effect of the childishness of product photos and make a financial or technical website serious. This way, it is possible to add personality to the project. While earlier in the illustrations, minimalism ruled, now the grotesque style is popular — based on a combination of real and unreal aspects.
In product design, illustrations in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) — a format of two-dimensional vector graphics (static and animated), have also become an attraction. 2D with unusual angles, experimenting with proportions, vivid or muted colours are still popular in illustrations. Surreal images of objects slowly become a commonplace on most e-commerce platforms and online stores. Their main idea is to amaze the audience and attract their attention by displaying unreal elements. This way, you can increase the average session time and improve your conversion rate.
Perhaps soon, users will get tired of collages, two-dimensional and 3D graphics so that real-life photos will have a big comeback. Real people and natural items hold the potential to make a massive impact on users.
9. Vivid colours and their combinations
You can also stand out from the competition utilising the colour design. Today, wherever you look, you see colours, both on websites and in mobile projects. High-contrast colour gradients will still have their raison d’être. It’s hard to fight this trend. The coloured gradients add more dynamism and emotion to website graphics, which are also excellent “sellers”.
The colours create a magical atmosphere — sometimes a fairy-tale one, other times ethereal one. And when we use vivid colours, it is easier for the recipient to distinguish and remember our product. Some designers encourage the non-avoidance of neon colours, retro aesthetics and multicoloured designs.
10. Sophisticated typography
There are many examples of large, sophisticated typography playing a significant role in your website design. Some of them are even entirely based on typography — creating a very eye-catching effect. The choice of typeface can sometimes be quite extravagant.
However, no matter how cool and unique such solutions are, it is worth remembering that they will not fit every project. They are not suitable for websites where the customer needs to focus on essential data, such as industrial device interfaces or general-purpose projects like traditional online stores. They can be used only when they do not irritate the users but arouse their interest, pleasantly surprise and awaken admiration.
Besides, this year’s web design trend will allow us to move away from the dictatorship of the sans-serif font on the Internet. It brings opportunities for designers, as the ornamentation of the serif typeface can contrast with the simple sans-serif style, adding variety to the site’s look.
Which trend should you choose? How to combine web design patterns to create a unique effect and make your site stand out from the crowd? It’s worth following these trends and also keep in mind to avoid common mistakes related to them. That way you will attract user’s attention and encourage them to stay on your site. The primary design trend that is always up-to-date points to critical thinking and is a key to success.
A good piece of advice is not to use all available techniques at once. Following a particular style becomes ineffective when it leads to surfeit of features on site and ultimately overwhelms the potential customer and makes them leave the site. Even if something is considered a trend, it follows its own logic and has its own development perspective. The website design is primarily to be adapted to the nature of the product and convey its value.