We all thought we knew how it would go.
As 2020 drew to a close, UI/UX design trends in 2021 were heading in an exciting new direction. One where simple interfaces met with high-powered, high-performance trends like AI, 3D, as well as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
Then the pandemic came along – and with it, a whole new base of users reliant on easy-to-use technology and tools. Designers were forced to shift gear. Accessibility became the priority. Simple navigation, large typography, and clear directions were critical (even life-saving).
And while we haven’t seen the last of 2021’s UI and UX design trends, the impact of that accessible Covid-centric approach is likely to be felt across the UI/UX world for some time.
10 UI and UX Design Trends Worth Inspiring Yourself With in 2022 and Beyond
Let’s take a look at the latest UI and UX trends that will dominate this year and get you your users’ attention, as well as impact your design style.
1. Turning to Lottie Animation
As the digital marketplace becomes more competitive every year, designers are looking for new ways to catch the consumer’s eye and retain their custom.
But sometimes, the old ways are just as effective – as the recent uptick in animation proves. In 2022, animation is set to become one of the best ways to reach users (we’re super-visual creatures, after all).
One of the more prominent trends that can be observed among UI/UX design teams is Lottie Animation. According to Exploding Topics, searches for this animation method have skyrocketed by 2300% between 2017-21.
image: Lottie FilesThis open-source, JSON-based tool is built to give designers the ability to build, test, and display animations quickly. These are not simply GIFs – they’re a lot smaller than that, while featuring superior image quality.
2. More apps & sites will feature dark mode
Dark mode has been around, in one form or another for a long time, but it was Apple’s 2018 Mojave update that really brought it to the mainstream. Since then, not only is it available in iOS, but it’s been implemented by ecommerce leader Amazon, as well as Microsoft, Google, and many more. And for those apps and platforms where it’s not available, users can just download a browser tool like Dark Reader to force the switch.
There are tons of great reasons to introduce (or smarten up) your dark mode feature. For instance, it can help improve the battery life of devices and help reduce the dreaded ‘blue light’ that keeps our brains awake at night.
On the UI UX design side, dark mode’s high contrast has the advantage of making texts more readable. It can also help enhance colors and details in images and videos. It also reduces eye strain, making it a compassionate feature which is also useful for user retention.
That being said, it’s not as easy as running with a negative palette swap. Designers need to account for the fact that black-colored text featured on images can disappear if the user switches on Google Chrome’s dark mode.
3. Voice user interface is on the rise
Another UI UX trend worth paying attention to is voice search. User Interface Design goes beyond visual screens. It starts to incorporate other senses.
Voice user interfaces (VUI) have already hit the mainstream, thanks to Siri, Amazon Alexa, and the Google Nest devices. According to MarketsandMarkets report, the speech and voice interface market is set to grow to almost $25 billion by 2025. But in 2022, voice is set to become even more relevant.
It’s not hard to understand why. People want speed and convenience, and Voice User Interface makes that possible without having to even touch a device, let alone spend time navigating to a specific app or typing out a message. Any time, any place (although, maybe not in a loud voice at the back of the bus). This is especially true for younger users who aren’t just familiar with VUI; they expect it.
4. Microinteractions are key
We know that animation is coming in a big way, but microinteractions will also be a major tool in your UI and UX design kit, especially for those working in the mobile realm.
Small-scale graphics and animations, such as loading bars, are proving an excellent way to engage users. Want to show them that you’re processing their request? Add a loading bar. Need to point them in the direction of a new message? A ringing bell notification might be just the ticket.
You can use microinteractions to grab users’ attention, inform users, and direct them where they need to be (or where you want them to go).
5. Strong emphasis on usability continues
You’re not the only one thinking about how to improve the user experience. Google is also considering how to enhance UX, revealing three new usability metrics. Known as Core Web Vitals, it’s ‘an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.’
The three metrics are:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)LCP measures loading times – with 2.5 seconds being the maximum effective amount of time a user should have to wait.
FID checks how long interactions take to engage – so, the time between someone clicking the ‘Add to Cart’ button and the product actually being added (and the user informed). 100 milliseconds or less is best.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)CLS focuses on visual stability, with your pages maintaining a CLS or 0.1 or less.
6. Inclusivity is at the forefront
Diverse. Inclusive. Accessible. These are the true UI/UX buzzwords of 2022. Building on the success of the tech sector in the face of a global pandemic, designers will want to continue strengthening those features to reach a broader user demographic.
This means approaching the design and development of web pages and mobile apps with an ‘inclusivity mindset’. Look for areas that might need improvement – flowery (but ultimately unreadable) typefaces, small fonts, and hard-to-hit buttons are all surefire ways of alienating impaired users.
Gather real-world feedback and test wherever possible, to ensure you don’t exclude anyone.
Accessible designs don’t have to be difficult to craft. UXPin’s accessibility features, for example, help teams create digital product designs that work for everyone – without compromising on quality.
7. Simplifying user journeys & information architecture
Keep it simple.
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen plenty of companies introduce new features and services to help users. But the unpredictable nature of the pandemic meant that designers and developers had to act fast and deliver quickly. So, while these are functional, they don’t always provide the best user interfaces.
As the world gets back on its feet, 2022 offers a chance to finally refine these additions, making them as aesthetically pleasing as they are usable – rather than some bolted-on Frankenstein’s monster of a feature. The challenge, then, will be adding more services and features, without impacting the overall experience. Indeed, it’s not enough to simply maintain. Apps and pages need to be streamlined, simplified, and uncomplex (at the front-end, at least).
8. Design closer to development: moving away from image-based tools
One of the trickiest aspects for UI and UX teams is the chasm between design and development. It’s the age-old battle, like that of movie director and producer, between what looks right and what’s actually feasible.
You have a vision for your product. Then the development team says it can’t be done – at least, not your way…
And that’s just not efficient or tenable in the always-on, always-instant online world. Because of this, 2022 will see design and development working closer than ever before. As part of this shift, expect to see a move away from image-based tools that present great-looking concepts that, unfortunately, lack functional fidelity.
Software like UXPin’s Merge helps you form a more cohesive design/dev process. The tool lets designers quickly create interactive prototypes built with live code. This means that what the design team creates works exactly as it should, because it uses the same components used by developers, who can just as quickly implement ‘the end-product vision’. The tool allows you to design anything you like, be it an app, web page or any digital product.
9. Localization of content and user experience
Personalization is key to creating those inclusive experiences – and, in the age of globalization, that means localization. Your teams should be ready to meet this challenge, offering customization options across your platform.
Back in the olden days, many users would turn a blind eye. The internet was built largely on American companies, and the rest of the world had to accept it. Users beyond the borders would ignore US English spellings and left-to-right interfaces, and other obviously non-localized experiences.
Now, they expect their own preferences and online-cultural norms to be followed. The internet, after all, is for everyone. Take this into account when designing for broader audiences. For example, your ‘Add to Cart’ button might, for British users, become ‘Add to Basket’. Your login page might request an email from Western users, but switch to a mobile number, which is the default in certain Asian countries.
Take time researching different markets, to identify what and where localization is needed.
10. Custom fonts (bold and simple)
Time for one of the leading UI design trends, which is bold typography that makes you stand out. In the crowded digital marketplace, you need to make an impact.
You need to identify yourself.
You need to become recognizable and distinct from the competition (and everyone else online).
Custom fonts are proving a popular way to do this. They can be expensive, taking up a lot of resources designing fonts that are totally yours – then implementing them across your website, app, and everywhere else.
However, they say that good branding means being able to recognize your firm’s assets even when the logo has been stripped away. Whether serif or sans-serif ones, custom fonts are an excellent way of achieving this uniqueness.
UI UX Design Trends – What’s Worth Remembering?
Creating accessible experiences for all users should be your top priority in 2022 – whether you’re attracting worldwide users, creating apps that work for users of all abilities and ages, or just simplifying the design/dev process for your team.
At the same time, you’ll want to focus on crafting attention-grabbing on-screen spaces. Use animated components, bold and clear fonts, and simple designs to draw users in. UXPin Merge helps you build digital products’ designs with real-life code components.