There’s little dispute that UI design is one of the most exciting, creative, and in-demand fields in tech. But with the software industry growing and maturing with each passing day, new technologies, products, and services emerging in an endless stream, and the behavior of customers constantly changing—keeping up with UI design trends can seem like an impossible task.
To help you to stay ahead of the game, we’ve rounded up five trends that are set to shake things up in 2021.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
1. Dark interfaces
Many designers are already opting for dark mode on their websites and apps. But with both Apple and Android introducing two types of dark mode (Force Dark Mode and System Dark Mode) and applications like Microsoft and Google releasing dark versions of their e-mail apps, dark UI design is set to flourish in 2021. Boasting a reduction in eye strain and screen glare, dark mode is fast becoming a preference for health-conscious mobile device users.
It’s not just users who are enjoying the benefits of dark mode; designers are also increasingly drawn to the mesmerizing colors, sharp lines, and clear separations that feature as part of a dark user interface. If you’re sensing dark mode’s growing popularity and would like to add dark UI design into your arsenal for later, this is a trend worth getting ahead of.
New to the world of mobile app design? Here’s a guide for you: Mobile app design for beginners. And if you’re ready to dive in and get designing for mobile, here are 12 mobile app design tools to try out.
While they may not necessarily be a ‘new’ trend, micro-interactions are nevertheless a trend worth watching in 2021. Typically found all over your electronic device and within most apps, micro-interactions can make the difference between a good website or app and an exceptional one. Every micro-interaction on a user interface tells a story, sets the atmosphere, and helps to establish a brand’s personality.
With micro-interactions, it’s possible to experiment with new design solutions and look for new ways to surprise your users. Reflect on how your users would interact with the platform, then design the appropriate interaction to engage with them along the way. One thing’s for sure: as the use of micro-interactions increases, any website or app that lacks them may get overshadowed.
3. Voice UI
Voice user interface is one of the biggest trends that will dominate 2021—so much so that mouses and keyboards have already started to become redundant. The numbers speak for themselves:41% of US adults already use voice commands on a daily basis, which can exceed 50% in 2020. Voice UI can guide users and help them to navigate complex digital products without substantial assistance from other features, such as screens. In fact, 30 percent of Google searches are projected to be completed without screens by 2020.
The most significant advantage of using voice UI is that it eliminates the requirement for a graphical user interface, and elevates the user experience of your website or app.
(Along these lines, if you want to break into UI design, you should learn a little about Zero UI.)
4. Designing for 5G
It’s been almost a decade in the making, but 5G has finally landed—and it’s set to completely revolutionize the way we design. While 5G has already started making appearances in cities around the U.S, much more comprehensive rollouts can be expected in 2021.
Combined with significantly better mobile display quality, 5G will enable designers to be a lot more experimental when it comes to animating texts, fonts, and graphics. A website with static images and contents may still be acceptable now, but with the rise of 5G on the horizon, designers are fast recognizing the need to step up their mobile UI design game.
5. Accessible design
The demand for accessible design has rightfully skyrocketed in recent years—but in 2021, we predict that it will become a necessity rather than an afterthought. Users with permanent, temporary, or situational disabilities interact with a website or app in different ways, and adopting an inclusive mindset is essential for designing a product that everyone can enjoy.
Accessible design can take the form of gesture recognition technologies, voice input, fully responsive layout, consistent navigation, accessible audio/video elements, transcripts, captions in audio/video content, high-contrast color combinations. Whatever you do in 2021, ensure you’re taking on an accessibility-first approach.
To learn more, check our our handy guide on what not to do when getting started in UI design.
6. Final thoughts
So there we have it, five exciting UI design trends to keep you on your toes in the new year. Staying abreast of new trends won’t just challenge and improve your skills as a UI designer; it will also ensure you remain in tune with the shapeshifting needs and preferences of your users. You’ll also enjoy the added bonus of always being one step ahead of the competition as we enter a brand new decade in design.
Diversifying your reading list, attending regular UI design networking events, frequenting UI design blogs, and completing design challenges are just a few ways to stay in the know of new and emerging trends in the burgeoning field of UI design. Remember, keeping an open mind is key!
For even more UI design trends, check out these 8 typography trends that will transform your user interface. Want to explore the field of UI design in more detail? Check out these blog posts: