By their very nature, UI and UX are driven by changing trends. Both rely on advancements, new opportunities and forward-thinking. While providing unfettered access to global markets, the internet has also ramped up competition. Standing out in an increasingly crowded market can be tough, so business leaders need to be on top of new technologies and trends to stay ahead of the competition. Customers choose the best solutions to meet their needs and those that lag behind and don’t provide the desired CX will not garner anything by way of customer loyalty. UI and UX are all about creating tools and platforms that are intuitive, easy to use, fresh, and visually appealing. So, what are the key trends in UI and UX for 2021?
If you thought skeuomorphism had had its day, think again. Ok, so it hasn’t quite made a dramatic re-entrance, but it has reinvented itself. Neumorphism is a more subtle, realistic effect that looks set to take 2021 by storm. Similar to its predecessor but with added depth and a lightness of touch, neumorphism is incredibly detailed and precise. It combines elements of flat design and skeuomorphism, using layers of background colors, shapes and gradients along with pale color palettes, highlights and shadows to create quasi-3D styling without over-representation.
This is skeumorphism for the 21st century and is already attracting the attention of global giants like Apple.
2. Storytelling and micro-interactions
There was a time when companies were expected to present themselves to the world in a way that was formal, professional and…let’s face it stuffy. That era is behind us and modern consumers want to engage and buy from brands that ‘get’ them. Marketing is no longer about telling, it’s about relationship building.
The ability to interact with brands from across the world gives consumers massive amounts of choice. This has placed added value on elements such as the vision, mission and value of brands. In the past, consumers had no interest in a brands’ take on social issues. Those days are gone. Now consumers genuinely care what your brand stands for. And what better way to show them than through stories.
Storytelling is one of the oldest methods of bringing people together. Stories help build emotional connections that drive loyalty. They create desires and inspire consumers to want what you provide.
Storytelling is a UX trend that takes a brand beyond being a supplier of goods or services. It shows the personality behind the brand and lowers the defenses of consumers who don’t like to feel they are being sold to. Interactive features, visually appealing graphics and videos, and copywriting aligned with the brand message and values all contribute to successful storytelling and help build relationships between consumers and companies.
Micro-interactions are a great way to boost engagement. ‘Like’ and ‘share’ options available on social media platforms are a great human-centric way to allow consumers to get actively involved in your vision, mission and the story behind the brand with a simple tap of their screen.
3. Be bold in this brave new world
Apple, one of the most successful brands in recent years, is renowned for its minimalist approach to design. Naturally, this led to many companies jumping on the minimalist band wagon and copying them. After all, what could be more effective than following in the footsteps of one of the most influential brands on the planet. Well, it turns out that not looking like a poor imitation of Apple is more effective. Consumers are exposed to thousands of brands every day and, sure, looking a bit like Apple might grab their attention. But the moment they realize they’ve been duped, they simply scroll on by. The UI trend for bold, bright colors in your design, on the other hand, marks you out as something different. Consumers, drawn in by your use of color, aren’t disappointed when you’re not Apple because they weren’t expecting you to be.
Bold layouts are all the rage too. As brands turn away from minimalism, they are increasingly leaving symmetry in their wake too. Asymmetrical shapes and design techniques work in the same way as color to draw consumers in and keep them engaged. Just make sure you think about usability as well as attention grabbing to provide an enjoyable all-round user experience.
So, now you’ve got an interested audience that wants to know what you have to say. Now, that’s effective marketing!
4. Abstract data visualization
More data is shared each day now than was even stored in the internet 20 years ago. With so much information available and being shared across multiple platforms, it’s essential that data is presented in a way that the human brain can fathom it. Think back to simple pie charts and line graphs and you get the picture – data put into visual form for us to digest and make sense of. Of course, the options for how that data is presented are far more wide-ranging than just graphs and charts, but turning information into something of use is one of the top UI trends of 2021 as brands, business leaders and individuals seek to make the most of the vast quantities of data at their fingertips.
Data helps to tell better stories and paint better pictures. This is why we are going through a transformation of the data visualizations embedded in brand storytelling. And there is a UX element to abstract data visualizations too as the way it is presented and the ease with which it can be accessed are key elements in making data beneficial and desirable.
There is no doubt that data is crucial to decision makers in any organization and in some cases, numbers on the page may suffice. Business leaders clearly understand the various columns and acronyms and may be able to make sense of the figure, but to display trends, patterns and predictions to colleagues, investors or clients, it is often more practical to present the data in a visual format. Modern technology is evolving to find new and innovative ways to display data that make understanding it simpler, clearer and more easily digestible to all.
5. UX writing gets straight to the point
The trend for elaborately decorated words has passed. With color and shape doing the attention grabbing, clear, simple copy that gets to the point is the order of the day. Increased internet usage has reduced the average human attention span to just 8 seconds and this is a crucial stat to consider when formulating a marketing plan. Visuals will draw people in and, used well, will increase the time they spend on your site. But, ultimately they are there to see what you can offer them, and quite frankly, they don’t see why they should be the ones doing the leg work in this relationship.
The onus is on you to give them the information they need to navigate your site, provide the necessary data and make a purchase, for example, or any other key activity. Be clear. Tell users what you want them to do next. Guide them through your site with no effort on their part and they’ll thank you for it by completing those actions that are critical on every step of their well thought of user journey.
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