2021 is in some way a special year. Due to the pandemic, almost every industry had to switch to remote work and online activity. To paraphrase a big tech company, “the Internet became important more than ever”. One thing that connects all of these remote-based companies is the fact that they need websites designed well enough to earn money. That’s why I think trends in this year are exceptionally crucial. Let’s be honest, when the interface gives a good User Experience, the clients are likely to come back and enjoy using the app.
Of course, there are many useful and beautiful trends right now and sometimes it is extremely hard to choose one for the whole design process. Nevertheless, I would like to present 10 trends that I think are good to remember – and don’t worry, I will not include all those beautiful and impossible to code Dribbble-style projects.
1. AR & VR – check if the sofa fits without measurements
There’s no doubt AR is becoming increasingly popular and common in design. Actually, the first famous app where Augmented Reality was quite a big part was the well-known and anti-nerd game called Pokémon Go. In a more usable and practical way, AR was used by IKEA in their app which you can use to simply check if this beautiful sofa would fit in your living room.
There are so many reasons why augmented reality will be used more often and so many ways in which industries will take advantage of it, e.g., hair-cutting businesses or jewelry shops. I think this trend will grow from one year to another.
2. 3D everywhere
In some way, it is similar to AR but still 100% digital, with 3D illustration and visualizations. This trend actually quite timidly appeared some time ago in mock-ups of project case studies but now the three dimensions are being used more often in UX. To be honest, this trend surely fits e-commerce.
Just imagine the possibility of checking out the products from all sides by just rotating them on the vendor’s website. Right now, the automotive industry uses it most often but the flexibility of 3D is so great that it can fit almost every industry.
3. Your voice will have even more power
Alexa from Amazon, Cortana from Microsoft, Google Assistant from… well, Google and Poland’s favorite – Siri from Apple. All of these already existing assistants and those not yet brought to life are certainly the future of building User Interfaces and User Experience. You must admit that using voice control in your car is more comfortable and, what’s more important, safer.
Just say where you want to go and navigation set everything else. You are a single voice command from listening to that song stuck in your head all morning. Companies owning voice assistants know it and they’ll constantly improve this feature.
4. Let your app react
Simple static websites and apps without animations and interactions have been old-fashioned for a long time, and that’s why micro-and micro-interactions are required for your app to stand-out. I’m sure you have already seen the little dot following your cursor on a website, changing when hovering over elements.
This minor feature is so important from the UX point of view because its responds to many user actions. Till now, I observed micro-interactions mostly with creative agencies and freelancer portfolios but this trend would fit probably every business if 3D objects are added.
5. Tired of separate apps for each need?
App owners got us used to have a separate app for news, another one to chat with friends, and one more to date. This trend could solve this problem. It is now more popular in Asian countries, but I think it will appear in Europe soon because most of us already use “super-apps”.
I mean Instagram – maybe it’s not a perfect example of a “super-app” but you can scroll through your friend’s photos, chat with people and even stream live broadcasts in one app. Isn’t it a definition of a product from the “super-app” category?
6. Pastel colors and blur
Now let’s talk a bit about colors. This year will be surely dominated by many hues of pastel colors and blurred shapes in background. That trend is beautifully used by Stripe on their main page.
Flaticon also decided to stick to this style in promoting their new set of icons.
Why is using this style a good solution? When you blur any color in the background, anything that is white (like a container with a CTA button) will instantly pop up and force the user to focus on it. This could be crucial to increase conversion. But why pastel colors, you might ask…? I think it’s simple. Pastel colors are more pleasing to the eye so using a pastel palette could be an interesting solution in a world of sharp colors fighting for the user’s attention.
These trends will fit almost every business wanting to stay fresh and modern.
7. Mobile-first architecture
Perhaps I should’ve mentioned this trend when talking about the “super-app” but I think that this one is more complex. Mobile devices are dominating the world and that’s not breaking news. Based on TechJury research, people spent 51% of time online in US in 2020 on their mobile devices and there’s no doubt this value will increase this year. That’s exactly why mobile-first architecture is so important in app design processes.
8. Only real-world pictures
I know, I know... stock pictures are awesome. Many of them are free, almost every one is very high-quality. So why don’t use them, huh? Well… because they’re fake. Clients will have much more trust in your business if you use real pictures of – for example – your employees during work. I know, it’s more expensive, but still worth it. Otherwise, let’s be honest, you decide to use a stock photo from the first, maybe secthe ond page of search results and… that’s exactly how this process looks like for your competitors. So, invest in real pictures and stand out in your industry.
I believe that this trend appeared some time ago but is very visible today, which makes it worth mentioning. I’m talking about geometry in design. Personally, I must admit I absolutely love geometry in designs as well as their symmetry, but let’s focus on the first one. Why has geometry become so popular? Straight lines build trust, so it’s easy to find cases of using geometry on lawyers’ websites, but not only there. Every company for which trust of clients is important decides to stick to the geometric style.
Beside the lawyers mentioned above, Dropbox in a good example of the geometry trend.
10. Big typography
The last trend I’d like to talk about involves an increased size of typography. Again, why is that so important? The bigger the typography is (for example in the hero section), the more readable the written text becomes. Of course, not in every case, but carefully sizing up will help for sure. Bigger text will also make your clients pay attention to what your business wants to them to see and this could boost your conversion.
To sum up
As I mentioned in the intro, trends come and go, some of them sooner, others later. Although these 10 trends will stay longer in the design world, I think that this year’s trends are a milestone in the digital world because they introduce features that aim to make life easier and I think that’s exactly what UI/UX is about, don’t you think?
I may suggest which trend you should use in your product design project as it really depends on so many things. Still, it doesn’t matter which direction you’ll choose in the design process, remember that the best design is a timeless one, so use modern trends wisely.