It’s a new year, which means new innovations in the user experience across a wide range of applications. If you’re creating — or updating — a user interface in 2020, it pays to be on the cutting edge of available technology, not to mention knowing what people are talking about, and what your users want.
While some of these trends are obvious follow-ons from previous years, others represent a clear diversion from previous bandwagons. What you use is up to you: the only real rule for good UX is to make it better, and better, and better.
Let’s jump right in with seven of the top user interface and user experience trends for the new year.
We like things that move. That’s made self-evident by how popular video content is versus written content. We learn faster and retain more from educational, entertaining, informative, animated content. So including animations and “moving” content in our overall design is one way to heighten the UX right at the get-go.
You might think that too much animation just unnecessarily bogs down the loading speed of your website, and might distract your user from getting what they really need from your site. And you would be right — too much animation could do both of those things.
But the correct amount, based on your genre, audience, content, and the type of animation you choose, can catch the eye and deepen engagement.
Consider using touches like animated navigation or responsive cursors, or even short animations included in your main graphics, such as a moving or shape-shifting your website logo design elements. The takeaway is that we love things that move, but it doesn’t always have to be macro — like videos, for instance. It can be micro — touch-responsive cursors, for example — and still increase engagement and enhance the user experience.
Last year saw a definite trend of over-the-top colors, something that threw me back to the late 80s and early 90s. We had rainbows and sparkles and unicorn colors, and whether they were solid or in a gradient, they made their presence known.
2020 is a year of toning it down a little.
It isn’t as though we as a group of designers are now embarrassed for the excesses of 2019 — though maybe we are — because bright colors definitely still have their place. But overall, the trend is toward more neutral, harmonious colors that allow for a stronger focus on the content, rather than the hue.
Maybe this is a trend inspired by the desire to bring a little calm to the craziness of our 2020 world. Who knows? But the end result is the same. The takeaway is that calmer, toned-down colors can enhance UX by not distracting them from the point of your page, or by the information they need. Color spots are used to draw attention to CTAs and FYIs.
Audience-Centered Written Content
If you’ve spent any time on Tumblr, Facebook, or really any other social media site, you’ve observed how certain sites develop their own lingo — when people post on those sites, they write for their known audience.
Writing for the known audience is definitely an up and coming trend in UX, and it may be in part due to the Tumblr/FB/etc. effect.
Writing for your known audience frees you up to word things in a way that amounts to shorthand, allowing you to say more with less, and use colloquialisms that will be understood by your readers. This has a personalization effect, putting you and your site on the same level as your readers, and creating a link between you.
The takeaway is that the human element to all content, especially written content, should not be ignored. If you know your audience and show your interest in them by writing in a way that they connect with, it will make the overall experience better for them, and result in increased engagement.
A not-uncommon trend over the years, white space, or negative space, is seeing another strong year in website design. This is even less of a surprise considering the resurgence of calmer, cooler, more tranquil colors; white space plays well with those kinds of palettes.
Judicious use of white space — and at times this means far more white space than not — gives your site an uncluttered appearance, which not only beautifies the site but can also cut down on anxiety and apprehension for your viewer. Negative space points to the important information, making it stand out.
Overall, the takeaway is that white space is a great way to keep your UI clean, simple, and elegant.
I mentioned navigation earlier in the section about including animations in the design and makeup of your site. Animation is one way to truly make your navigation unique.
A customized, unique approach is a perennial favorite for UX, because who doesn’t like to feel that their website visit is special and appreciated? So while simple, traditional, straightforward navigation certainly has its place, an emphasis on “story-telling” navigation (ie., including it as a narrative choice for the visitor, for example) leads to more direct involvement by the visitor.
How you choose to execute the layout and placing of your navigation is up to you and your site, but consider a non-traditional approach to catch the eye and the interest of your visitor. The takeaway here is that as long as you aren’t sacrificing usability, a different and intriguing method of navigation could enhance UX, and make your UI something truly unique.
Inclusive And Adaptive Design
Adaptability is becoming more and more important to design overall, as there’s an increase of mobile phone and tablet internet use. It’s important to ensure that your site is optimized for use on every device, because trying to use a site on your phone when it was only designed for a laptop makes it very frustrating to actually benefit from the site, or use it for its intended purpose.
Along those same lines, inclusivity is getting more and more attention, as well. Website design should follow the Web Accessibility Guidelines to make the design as user-friendly as possible, for as many people as possible.
With the growing awareness of the needs of different audiences, this is definitely a trend that has been long overdue.
The takeaway here is to design with the needs of all in mind in order to create the best UI and UX possible.
Alice Scott is a passionate writer and blogger who specialises in topics related to digital branding, blogging, and online business. She loves having Churros with her cat Chubby and morning walks.