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15 Top UX Design Trends for 2021

  • Abhay Vohra
  • By  Abhay Vohra
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  • 87D32530-FD6E-468E-BB24-045278513D21 Created with sketchtool. 11 MIN READ
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  • 6BCC25D0-42B3-420B-8C28-C5D7EF3F6856 Created with sketchtool. Updated: December 7, 2020

Today, 94% of first impressions are design-related. No matter how useful your website or product is — it is rendered powerless if integrated into a poor or obsolete design. This is the reason why UX design trends need to be tracked closely, and the best of experience needs to be offered to convert first visitors into loyal customers.

Here we present the latest UX design trends for 2021 to make your design look attractive, modern, and neat, and clean. Here’s to the next big thing in UX.

What are the Latest Trends in UX Design for 2021?

User experience design changes the way how a customer perceives your brand. It is, in fact, the fundamental parameter behind increased traffic and conversions later on.

To make your web, app, and product UX look and feel awesome, there is a need to engage users with key UX elements and track the latest UX trends that continuously evolve. And when it comes to taking a proper leverage of these UX design trends, only an experienced and well-versed UX Design Agency can help.

To start with, here are the modern UX design trends that dominate or will monopolize the market in the times to come.

1. Neomorphism

Neumorphsim is an in-between version of skeuomorphism and flat design and is gaining traction for its subtle yet innovative look. In this design, the user interface (UI) elements are placed behind the background, i.e., similar to the watermark setting.

Once the user makes a selection, that element protrudes out and looks like it is coming out of the screen. Neomorphism is about using solid colors and the blend of right contrasts and shadowing effects.

The thumb rule of starting with neomorphism design is to keep the background color and the UI elements of the same color. Product designs are predominantly relying on neomorphism nowadays to design different aspects across the user interface.

Skeuomorphic design vs flat design vs neumorphic design - example

2. Illustrative Design

Illustrative design or vector graphics is the latest UI/UX design trend where images are created using computer graphics and are connected using lines or curves to give them an identifiable shape.

More and more web designs are relying on vector artwork these days. Not only it looks sophisticated, but it also adds a unique look to the UX design.

These vector images are perfect for keeping it minimalistic while conveying the message to your audience.

Vector design example

3. Password-Less Login

It is a common scenario that users forget their passwords every other day. According to a Cyclonic Password Security Survey, 27.95% of respondents said users forget their passwords ten or more times per year.

We can say that forgetting a password is a customer’s pain point that you need to address.

The real problem lies with password-setting protocols that oblige a user to include special characters, numerals, or upper and lower case characters. Though mandatory for security reasons, these requirements only add to the complexity and lead to users having to reset their passwords frequently.

A simple solution that would work here is the transition to “passwordless” logins, i.e., logging through Google, social media accounts, fingerprints, iris scans, or phone unlock patterns.

It is one of the emerging UX Design Trends that is already being implemented by various big brands.

Although it was not as popular as other forms of login before 2016, this concept is growing gradually. It is forecasted to overtake passwords as the primary form of login within the next six years.

Forecast (UP vs Passwordless) | UX design trends

Microsoft has worked on removing passwords from Windows 10. Microsoft’s Windows 10 Version 2004 introduced “Windows 10 Hello,” a biometric system to sign-in. Once the setting is turned on, users can sign-in using fingerprint, iris scan, face scan, or a pattern. This implies that PCs will use Windows Hello face authentication, fingerprints, or a PIN code.

Microsoft going passwordless with its new update

4. UX Writing

Creative and intentionally decorated words do not work anymore, as it only adds to the fluff.

People want to hear to-the-point information that will bring them value, which, in turn, will lead to more customer engagement and conversions.

UX writing or aptly a “Microcopy,” is all about using short sentences that help users understand where they are, what they need to do, what the brand story is, and how the brand can help. It is about saying less while expecting to make a more significant impact.

The right microscopy can build an iconic brand and an unforgettable user experience for your customers, alongside improving conversions anywhere between 14.79% and 166.66%. — Joshua Porter, Father of Microcopy

For instance, Google analyzed that their potential users are more inclined to browse hotel room options casually and are not in the headspace to make a reservation right away. Thus, they changed their copy “Book a room”—which was not empathetic— to “Check availability”—an appropriate microcopy for the intent at the time—which increased the engagement rate by 17%.

How Google used UX Writing to improve engagement | UX design trends

Here are some tips to make your microcopy stand out:

  • Stick to the point and do not beat around the bush
  • Provide an objective to the user before they proceed further to explore more
  • Try and directly address the user by not generalizing things
  • Incorporate “present tense + active voice” in your microcopy
  • Using numerals when required is undoubtedly a good practice
20-Point UX Checklist for Your Next Product


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5. Dark Theme

Dark themes are about changing the brightness and contrast levels of UI (user interface) design to make it soothing for the eyes — especially for all the night owls.

With iOS and Android announcing their dark theme modes, many apps are shifting their focus towards embracing this trend.

This new UI Design trend positively influences UX and is gaining momentum day by day. UX design teams today have been taking full advantage of the available design opportunities by introducing themes that adjust to one’s environment. Brighter in the day and darker in the night give users the power of choice, thus making for a design that works in favor of people.

However, before adding this UX Design Trend change to your bucket list, you should know whether your app usage spikes up in the evening and continues through the night.

Spotify, Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube are already dark-theme ready. The reason is that people typically use these entertainment channels later in the day.

On the other hand, light themes work well for news websites, social media, etc., who get most of their traffic in the daytime.

Thus, as a key decision-maker, it should be your responsibility to put on the thinking hat and understand your primary user’s needs before you make the decision.

Whether or not a dark theme would work for your business, here’s the difference between the two to help you make an informed decision.

When to use Dark Theme and Light Theme | UX design trends

6. Air Gesture

Gesture control is a new mobile design trend that promotes use of body gestures to perform an action — for instance, a user showing a palm gesture in front of the camera to capture a selfie.

Since the advent of touch screens, a lot has changed, which is evident from the mobile interfaces’ increasing touch screen aspect ratios. Increased aspect ratios mean fewer bezels in the front, which, in turn, means a better gesture experience.

Although Apple initially introduced gesture control technology in iOS, the new UX trend (air gesture) is taking this technology to the next level. You can wave your hand or pinch your fingers in the air to make stuff happen on the phone, without using touchscreens.

A real-life example of this:

Google has unveiled Pixel 4 that uses a radar sensor that makes it usable through air gestures. Its latest invention is attracting eyeballs as it is primarily radar-powered, making Pixel 4 one of its kind.

Have a look at the demo below:

Now that we know the possibilities of air gesture, we can say those gesture possibilities showcased in Fifteen Million Merits–one of the most popular episodes of the Black Mirror series–will soon be a reality.

The most significant advantage of using gesture lies in its intuitiveness and sensitivity to touch. Thus, touch gestures will always play their part, no matter how far the ‘Gesture Trend’ goes.

Here’s an example of different types of touch gestures that should be a part of any UX developer’s to-do list.

20 Types of Commonly Used Touch Gestures | UX design trends

7. Inclusive Design

Designing for one and all is where the true essence of inclusive design lies.

Inclusive design is a design methodology that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity. — Microsoft

To be precise, inclusive design is a cooperation of ideas and expectations of people from all walks of society having varied perspectives.

If a designer is solving a problem from his perception, it might work for some, but not everybody. So, what do we do to change that?

The answer is simple: Work on a design that is physically, cognitively, and emotionally suitable for everyone.

There are three principles around which an inclusive design revolves.

  • Recognizing Exclusion: It is about understanding whose perspective is included in your UX design and who gets excluded. Once your team understands the design requirements, they will have a clear picture of their key responsibilities.
  • Solve for One, Extend to Many: Designing for accessibility, i.e., for people who deal with one disability or the other, should get priority. When a UX trend such as this addresses the needs of people with permanent disabilities, it benefits people globally.
  • Learn from Diversity: Design thinking plays a significant role when it comes to including diversity. This principle is all about putting people in the center from the very beginning so that the design strikes the right chord in the first instance.

If you implement this UX Design Trend, businesses are expected to reach four times the number of intended consumers.

8. Micro-Interactions

Small moments where a user and the design interact to offer an engaging experience are defined as micro-interactions. It is similar to paying attention to small and intrinsic details that matter.

Micro-interactions are about adding animation effects to the objects on the screen to make them feel alive.

It can be related to a human-centered design because it is the user who is the prime focus here.
Here’s an example of how Pinterest managed to embed micro-interactions to enhance their UX design smoothly.

Other examples could be Facebook’s like button, a visible indicator of the volume button visible on sound change, or even hovers on animations.

Where everybody is putting their efforts to make their design stand out, you could set the standards too. In short, it is your best chance to draw the audience towards your brand.

As a result, adding micro-interactions would surely be a great UX design trend of 2021 that will bring you positive light, leads, and much-needed conversions.

9. Getting Rid of Hamburger Menus

Like a cheap fast-food chain, it got designers addicted to its convenience, and now serves millions each day. — Nielsen Norman Group

The three parallel lines that open up the menu is a common UX trend prevalent in the market. Though it makes the design look clean and neat, it is losing its significance gradually.

What Led to the Hamburger Icon Downfall?

Call it a side menu, navigation drawer, or a hamburger, hiding your features off-screen behind a nondescript icon in the corner is now a poor mobile UX design choice.

a) The Features do not Get Much Attention

A hamburger icon acts as a hiding place for all the essential products, services, and other information offered by the business. It is like a designer decorating the web pages while sidelining what matters.

b) Click Rates are Significantly Low on the Top Left Corner

After analyzing the easily accessible touch zones on a mobile device, one thing is sure; reaching the top left corner with the thumb is not a convenient task.

This, in turn, implies that having a hamburger icon in the left corner will likely reduce the click rates, which can be the reason behind people leaving your app.

Here’s the proof:

Thumb zone depicting the ease and difficulty of thumb touch on mobile screen | UX design trends

Designers will have to think beyond these hamburger icons for your design to stand out and grab some brownie points for creativity. This would surely be one of the significant UX Design Trends to adopt for 2021 and beyond.

Spotify got rid of hamburger icons smartly and creatively. They showcase the best example of addressing a “decrease in discoverability” by converting it into an “increase in click rates.”

Removing hamburger icons on Spotify increased their click rates by 30%.

Spotify - Without hamburger menu | UX design trends

10. Voice-Activated User Interface

Voice-activated user interfaces allow users to interact with the UI using speech or voice commands.

The explosion that the voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Bixby, and even Google Assistant have caused in UI is phenomenal. They will continue causing ripples in UI and UX design as it evolves with respect to accuracy and usage rates.

The US market for intelligent virtual assistants is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 36.7% through 2016-2024. — Grand View Research

The basic idea behind a voice-activated interface is to eliminate the need to type through the interfaces. The good news is that people are embracing this trend with open arms as it also happens to be viable options for people with accessibility issues.

Now, even as search engine optimization explores voice-command-based queries, voice-activated UI is just the thing businesses will look up to. With regular updates and newer advancements, the competition among UX design teams is increasing more than ever.

The only reason why voice interfaces still aren’t used primarily narrows down to “word recognition” accuracy. But, now, even that is changing, which makes it one of the noteworthy trends in UX.

Here’s a demo of how Amazon Alexa’s smart ring is setting high standards in the market.

11. Coming Forward with Material Design

Since the advent of material design in 2014 by Google, user experience trends have a new facet in the form of responsive animations, 3D icons, light and shading features, transitions, and padding.

Material design is a “Design Language System,” which is all about bringing the material to life!

Unlike real paper, our digital material can expand and reform intelligently. Material has physical surfaces and edges. Seams and shadows provide meaning about what you can touch. — Matias Duarte, VP of Material Design at Google

“Reflectly” bagged this award in the category of innovation, thereby changing the face of UX trends for good.

Refelectly mobile app | UX design trends

Material designs will keep evolving to give better-detailed textures and patterns, personalized User experience, along with increased intuitiveness and an engaging user experience.

12. A Personal Experience for Everyone

Personalization extends to appealing to the universal human nature and needs.

On the other hand, if personalization is missing at any level, the chances are that you will be losing out to a competitor.

33% of customers who abandon business relationships do so because personalization is lacking. — Accenture

Personalization is one of the UX Design Trends that tend to be dynamic by nature. Its USP is that it learns and adapts by leveraging the art of machine learning.

If you need an example to look up to, Netflix fits the bill. They definitely do the best job at personalizing UX design experience for their ever-growing audience.

Personalized experience served by Netflix | UX design trends

13. The Rise of the Video

Content comes in various forms and formats. One such form dominating the World Wide Web is videos that are already in the limelight for grabbing the attention of users like never before.

It is one of the most amazing ways to deliver an experience that has been created around content that matters. So much so that it is expected to be the sole reason for boosted internet traffic.

The video will comprise 80% of all internet traffic by 2021.- Cisco

Videos are just a way to express more in little time and make for an invest-worthy user experience trend. It’s the kind of content that makes every second count if made and placed intelligently.

But, not all videos make the same impact! Where some prefer animation videos, others prefer real-life videos.

However, the thumb-rule of making a video successful, no matter what its type, is integrating storytelling. They should look realistic, evoke emotions, and should make a connection that lasts.

The following infographic showcases the real power of video storytelling.

Importance of video storytelling | UX design trends

14. Virtual and Augmented Reality is Here

From just being a future possibility of real-life implementation, virtual reality and augmented reality has come a long way.

This technological advancement has become one of the latest UX industry trends and will continue to be in the coming years.

The market size of AR is expected to grow at 85.2 CGAR between 2016-2021. – Zion Market Research

We have seen that with the changing times, AR is not just restricted to gaming but has spread its wings to other sectors as well. Some of them include AR in retail, travel, automobile industry, education, healthcare, and social media platforms.

Here is how AR is sweeping the healthcare industry:

It is magical in every sense!

15. Biometric Authentication for a Secure UX

Biometric authentication is here to make devices secure and prove to be a significant UI and UX trends of 2021 and beyond.

This is one technology that can embrace a security-first approach for both the businesses and the end-users, thus improving User Experience substantially.

The promising biometric authentication market is an innovative technology that has been giving identity to people without being at risk of being impersonated.

The US biometric market revenue for the year 2018 stands at 4.9 billion USD. – Statista

The various innovative biometric technologies blooming in the market include iris scans, facial recognition, voice, and even vein pattern recognition.

If your business needs a password for authentication, move on to iris scans next. If you have an iris scan authentication in place, move onto facial recognition next. The idea is never to stop advancing and keep innovating.

Google has been a pioneer in this regard. They added biometric sign-ins to some of their web services. This means that now, one can sign-in using fingerprints, PINs, or even usual unlock patterns.

For more information, you could also go through this video by Google Developers.

Conclusion

Aah, that was one big list to explore, but we hope these latest trends in user experience design give wings to your brand to help unleash their creativity to come up with something new and exciting.

Whether it is trends that are already in the market or the newly emerging ones, you have to find what suits your business needs and the respective user expectations — only then will you be able to nail the user experience at large.

Every Dollar Invested in UX Bring 100 in Return

Choose a UX design that resonates with your brand, is user friendly and intutive.


Abhay Vohra

About the Author

Abhay Vohra has 17+ years of experience in the IT industry. Abhay started out with us as a Quality Analyst and moved onto the Business Analysis team, where he discovered his passion for Information Architecture, Wireframes, and User Experience. Now, he possesses an impressive experience in UX and has delved into User Research and Service Design. Abhay also happens to be a culture enthusiast and takes a keen interest in world cinema and literature.

Leave a Comment

Siddhi

1:08 PM, Apr 14, 2021

Great observations and really helpful.

Manjunatha

1:46 PM, Jul 20, 2020

thank you for all the information

Prakash Francis

9:17 AM, Sep 14, 2019

Superb article

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