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The State of UX for 2021

The State of UX for 2021

By Animation, digital transformation, experience design, rapid prototyping, UX No Comments

UX design is a dynamic field that brings us new trends every year, and the last twelve months are no exception. The global COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns have brought a sudden change to the way we interact with the world, both digital and real. People have not only started to spend more time online; they’ve started to think and behave differently. Naturally, the coronavirus situation has impacted the current state of UX and formed a foundation for the UX trends of 2021.

This article outlines the main 2021 user experience trends that we believe will dominate and are likely to shape the year to come. Take a look and see which trends you can make use of to outrun your competitors and stand out from the crowd.

Voice interfaces

We’ve talked about voice user interfaces (VUIs) in our State of UX for 2020 projection article. As this year has shown, voice commands remain one of the hottest trends in UX design. It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t ignore it for the coming year.

There’s no doubt that, in 2021, voice chatbots and virtual assistants will keep growing in popularity. Users continue looking for simplicity and efficiency when it comes to digital experiences. Market demand, high expectations, and the rapid development of artificial intelligence technologies have left brands no choice but to include voice-based features in their products.

Already, numerous businesses are laying the groundwork for widespread VUI implementation. For instance, Starbucks has introduced an AI-based chatbot called My Starbucks Barista. Its goal is to improve the coffee-ordering experience by allowing users to buy their favorite beverages via voice commands.

Minimalistic UI

Minimalism is probably one of the most noticeable trends in visual design these days. Users are experiencing a constantly growing number of critical messages that website owners want to deliver. Cookie popups, discount ads, and various notifications aim to engage and convert website visitors, but they also exhaust our attention. This is where minimalistic user-centric design comes to the fore.

But “minimalistic” doesn’t mean “dull” or “primitive”; it means “elegant” and “efficient.” Although a limited number of colors, design elements, and bright combinations is a must, UX designers can still play with proportions and compositions. Besides, the functionality of elements comes to the forefront, and the ability to properly highlight product features and deliver the right message requires a lot of creativity. Components with only decorative purposes, on the contrary, are gradually losing their relevance.

Minimalistic UI
Image source: tubicstudio.com

Clarity of content, messages, and navigation is another important aspect of the minimalistic approach to UX design. Information overload is a pain for most modern audiences – meaning that website owners should strive to make their UX writing clear and concise.

Negative space

Negative space is a big UX design trend that has grown out of the market demand for minimalistic UI. Simply put, negative space is the empty areas on page layouts either around the objects (macro space) or inside them (micro space). It has already become a separate design element that plays a vital role in visual aesthetics and user experience optimization. Google’s homepage, Apple’s official store, and some websites made in Webflow are great examples.

Leaving some space empty, adding “silence” in the design, must always be meaningful. Otherwise, users can perceive it as a lack of information. The main function of the negative space is to declutter a web page in order to draw users’ attention to crucial objects and messages. Establishing a sharp content hierarchy helps UX designers draw the user’s focus on what’s most important.

Negative space
Image source: dreamerux.com

The negative space is also sometimes referred to as “empty space” or “white space.” All these terms are interchangeable. When the space is free of elements and you can also use this user experience trend in dark mode or with any other color.

Imperfect elements

Online experiences after the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the same as those we got used to. UX design reflects the imperfection in a relatable way. To make the brand’s digital presence more relatable, designers intentionally implement some “imperfections” in layouts. It may be anything, from hand-drawn objects to extraordinary elements in compositions or proportions.

Imperfect elements in ui
Image source: mailchimp.com

In general, imperfect design can be an excellent way to demonstrate the brand’s identity and highlight its uniqueness. However, if you want to apply this UX trend, you have to remember one critical rule: there needs to be a balance. It won’t work if you overdo things.

Neumorphism

The neumorphic style is a combination of two other massive approaches in UI design,  skeuomorphism and flat design, which are often considered opposite to each other. Skeuomorphism is all about mimicking real-world objects and the way we interact with them.

It was popular a few decades ago when hyperreal elements were necessary to create an intuitive and user-friendly UI. A trash bin is one of the examples. On the other hand, flat design is a more recent, simplistic concept centered around two-dimensional elements, minimalism, and bright colors.

Neumorphism takes the best of both worlds. It uses graphic-intense elements, shadows, and gradients to make buttons and cards resemble the objects in nature while not precisely recreating them. The neumorphic style doesn’t push realism to an extreme extent. Instead, it strives to achieve a “soft” look with pale colors and subtle contrast.

Neumorphism
Image source: justinmind.com

Neumorphism has been one of the most discussed topics among UI/UX professionals for the last year or so. While there are still not many real digital products whose user interfaces follow this approach, a lot of designers are excited about this concept. Professional platforms like Behance and Dribbble already contain a number of neumorphism examples. So we have all reasons to believe that this trend will finally find its place in our phones and laptops in 2021.

Neumorphism
Image source: dribbble.com
Image credit: Varsha Singh

3D elements and parallax

Parallax effect and 3D elements are not something entirely new in UX design. We have already seen how they are implemented in many web design solutions. However, we still observe these user experience trends marching ahead in popularity.

First, it’s a significant increase in use. Today, 3D elements and the parallax effect are no longer fancy exotic things on the web. They’re more commonplace, especially on websites and apps representing fashion and e-commerce brands that want to stand out.

3D elements in ui
Image source: uxdesign.cc

Another tendency is the attempt to combine a parallax effect and 3D graphics in one interface. When you use parallax scrolling, the background of a web page and foreground elements are moving at a different speed. It alone creates a feeling of depth. By adding 3D objects to this effect, you can create a truly immersive experience that will stay in users’ memory for a long time.

parallax scrolling
Image credit: toyfight.co

Asymmetry

As the screens of our devices become wider, it’s given rise to the asymmetrical trend in UI/UX design. In general, asymmetry is an attribute of brutalism, a style in art and web design that is opposite to minimalism. However, if used separately from other brutal design elements, it can make your website look interesting while allowing it to remain subtle and elegant.

asymmetrical trend in UI/UX
Image source: i.pinimg.com

The UI/UX trend for asymmetrical layouts is often implemented along with other creative web design techniques, such as a broken grid, overlapping elements, and split screens. You can also apply asymmetry to typography. If done right, it will make your brand messages more noticeable and memorable.

asymmetry in typography
Image source: dribbble.com

However, it’s vital to keep in mind that asymmetrical design doesn’t mean “randomly placed UI elements.” The unusual way of locating objects on layouts should guide a user’s eye in the right direction and help a brand emphasize important information.

Animations

Today, when we enter a random website on the internet, chances are we’ll see GIFs, micro animations, animated illustrations, or some other elements of motion design. Animations remain popular in user experience design, and the frequency of their use keeps growing.

Besides being visually attractive, moving objects can improve user engagement and simplify navigation. They can also breathe life into digital products or services – making them more personable.

Animations in ui
Image source: justinmind.com

If you want to use this software development trend in user interface design, it’s critical to do it wisely. Objects that float on a screen with no particular purpose can confuse visitors, prompting them to leave a web page even sooner than they’ve planned. Animation elements shouldn’t make user interfaces unnecessarily complicated, either. They always must be relevant, valuable, and smooth.

Information architecture

Information architecture is the way different pieces of content are organized and structured on a page. It’s an essential element of user-centered design (UCD) that aims to make digital environments more comfortable for users. Building an effective, useful, and coherent information architecture is a mandatory stage of the UCD process, along with user research and usability testing.

Information architecture
Image source: XD Ideas

To create a decent information architecture, UX designers need to have a solid understanding of the product’s target audience, their behavior, and the reason they use a digital solution. Users should be able to achieve the desired result without it taking too much effort. That’s why the user's goals, clear navigation, and content representation (including blind-spot monitoring) must always be taken into account at the wireframes stage of the design process.

Final thoughts

We created this projection article to give you a leg up in today’s hyper-competitive digital world. All UX trends mentioned here can definitely improve the user experience of practically every software solution or website. They can also make your product more visually attractive to its target audience, even when user expectations are high.

Nevertheless, the past year showed us that it’s impossible to anticipate everything. So, we’ll keep you in the loop and provide a regular update on what’s happening in the UX area.

Looking for a professional team to build your next digital product? We are ready to help!

Video UX Trends in 2020: Online Experience after COVID-19

Video UX Trends in 2020: Online Experience after COVID-19

By experience design, mobile, UX, video No Comments

Actively making use of online videos is a clear trend in 2020 as it better improves the user experience. Of course, using quality video content has always been one of the most effective ways to make a website stand out. But after the coronavirus outbreak, the role of online videos in delivering delightful user experience has become even more crucial.

Across the board, during the early peaks of COVID-19 in March in the US and Western Europe, media consumption sky-rocketed. Social distancing and an increase in largely stay-at-home lifestyles have also facilitated the popularity of video chats, video games, and video creation.

For business owners, it means that customers will expect to see more videos in the digital space in both the mid- and post-COVID era. There is a greater need to adjust to the new market demands. In this post, we will discuss how video content impacts the UX and give you some tips on creating engaging online videos.

How videos can improve UX design

Incorporating videos into websites isn’t a passing design trend. By making the user experience more immersive, videos help businesses create a stronger connection with their target audience.

Videos also demonstrate more clearly how products and services meet customer needs and, as a result, help sell products and services more effectively. Let us look at the main benefits companies get when they decide to embed online videos on their websites.

Tone of voice & atmosphere

While background videos make landing pages look more compelling, there is more to it. Videos allow UX designers to create a particular atmosphere on a website and tap into specific emotions and intent in users. With the right UX design and video, it’s easier for a business to convey brand messages and convert leads into customers.

The Cadigal site below is a great example. The company offers property for lease, so the video on a homepage shows beautiful city views.

city view
Website address: www.cadigal.com.au

Higher SEO ranking

Using videos in web design enhances search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and help companies drive more visitors to their websites. Search engines ( most notably Google) rank sites that contain quality video content higher in the search results. Research shows that videos published on a web page can increase the site’s traffic by up to 157 percent.

Besides, online videos increase conversion rates by piquing people’s interest and encouraging them to stay longer on a website. It’s especially useful for businesses that undergo digital transformation and strive to build a solid online presence.

Storytelling video experience

Videos are a great content marketing tool that helps organizations tell the story of a product or brand. Our brains can process and interpret visual content faster than texts. It means that companies can convey more information via online videos in a shorter period of time.

Not to mention that people simply love videos. If video content is available on a web page, it will naturally grab users’ attention. Watch the ad below to get a better sense of how videos can tell a brand story.

Video as customer support

Sometimes people have questions about a product or service that a company offers, but contacting a support center seems like too much effort.

Using explainer videos on self-service portals is a UX design trend that allows businesses to optimize digital customer experience and make a website more user-friendly. It’s also beneficial for companies since they can save costs by hiring a smaller customer support team.

Top video trends for better UX

Online videos have been a dominant form of content for the last 5-7 years. We’ve seen changing video and UX trends during this time period.

As new tools for video recording and editing become increasingly available to a broader audience, new trends start to emerge. If you want to make your website more engaging, here are a few things that may help.

Vlog content

Creating a business vlog is an excellent idea for any company searching for a convenient way to deliver messages and ideas to customers. Informative and compelling online videos help capture the audience’s attention.

Videos are also more memorable than text and more effective in terms of building brand trust. Besides improving UX, a business vlog can be a working tool for implementing a video marketing strategy and increasing brand awareness.

Product videos

Ecommerce businesses use product videos to give potential buyers a close-up look of an item, explain its main features and benefits, or demonstrate a product in use. Statistics show that 72 percent of buyers prefer watching a video to reading a product description if both options are available.

The reasons are obvious. Videos provide more information about a product in an easier way. As a consequence, it speeds up and simplifies the decision-making process. Additionally, videos give more confidence that a product is real. Solo Stove serves as an example of quality product videos.

Live streams

Today, many social media platforms allow users to stream live videos. Instagram Stories, TikTok, Facebook Live, and Youtube Live are just the most popular platforms, but there are literally hundreds of them.

Advancements in technologies have also enabled adding live-streaming videos to corporate websites. So if you decide to start broadcasting business-related videos in real-time, you’ll easily find all the necessary tools.

Personalized videos

The personalized video is a very noticeable trend in video marketing these days. Such videos contain some personal elements, for example, a recipient name and give a feeling that a company speaks directly to each customer.

Of course, you don’t have to create a separate original video from scratch for all people on your email list. Modern video personalization platforms allow companies to customize videos automatically.

screenshot personalized video
Screenshot. Video source: vidyard.com

How to create a stunning online video

Most of today’s customers view videos all the time, and their expectations are rather high. In other words, if you want to create a positive user experience on your website you have to follow trends and apply best practices. Unfortunately, producing some video content now and again won’t be enough.

  • Don’t ignore a vertical video format. Videos in portrait mode are more mobile-oriented and are a perfect fit for social media. But you can also use them on your website and YouTube. See how Adidas did this.
  • Get inspiration from outside of your niche. Even if you need to create a simple ad or explainer, it shouldn’t be dull. In most cases, people enjoy videos when they are entertaining. Take inspiration from films or music videos — they’ll give you some new insights.
  • Make it simple. People choose videos instead of texts because they are simpler to perceive and process. So don’t try to tell everything in one video. Focus only on the important stuff and keep it short.
  • Invest in quality. Will you watch a video ad if the sound quality is so poor that you can barely hear the words? Good quality videos show that your company cares about your products and customers. In short, quality should never be underestimated.
  • Add in-person feel. Although the digital world offers limited opportunities for face-to-face interactions, users want to see more human beings when they are online. To make your video content more influential and engaging, create videos containing real people whenever it’s possible.

Wrapping-up

COVID-19 has changed our online habits and needs. People spend more time in the digital space and are exposed to a vast amount of information. It’s only natural that we want to get quality content but in a simple form, so understanding the ideas doesn’t require much effort. Online videos suit this market demand just perfectly.

No matter what message your business aims to deliver, you have a higher chance of being heard if you use a video format. Are you unsure whether your online videos and user experience design is up to scruff? Then it’s high time to review the UX design of your website, app experience, and add more videos to it.

Want to improve the UX of your website or digital product?

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