UX is at its best when its results aren’t even noticeable — but that doesn’t mean taking a closer look at the biggest UX website design trends is a bad idea. And that’s especially true today when UX is going through some of the most interesting trends in years.
Whether we’re talking about windows of escapism, the most lifelike animations ever, or sci-fi AR interfaces — the currently hot UX trends are definitely blurring the increasingly thin line between the real and the digital. If you want to see how this is happening in more detail, read on below!
It’s important to note something right off the bat — the concept of augmented reality isn’t groundbreaking or new. In various forms, it’s been around since the mid-nineties.
However, we’ve only now reached a level of technological progress that has allowed AR to become mainstream — with the main “culprit” here being the increasing complexity and quality of the smartphone camera.
And while the average person probably hasn’t heard of the term “AR” before, they’ve probably used it. The most common applications of AR technology are the now-famous Instagram and Snapchat filters.
However, now that it’s been adopted by the general consumer audience, AR technology is starting to find more interesting ground to cover.
Today, we’re increasingly seeing AR being used for everything from augmented nature walks and museum tours to innovative property rentals.
With that in mind, UX designers are starting to incorporate the possibility of AR into their interfaces — making them more easily adaptable to a smartphone camera overlay, along with 3D pathing, dynamic labels, and immersive, unobtrusive buttons.
It’s already been years since smartphone usage has eclipsed desktop browsing, and the trend is clearly continuing — which means people will increasingly want digital experiences “in their pocket”, and in their daily lives.
Smart AR interfaces will be the signals that guide us through this exciting new digitally-infused world.
90's retro style
Just like with fashion, everything that was ordinary at some point will become interesting and trendy in the future.
Retro has always been charming and nostalgic — and most recently, glitch art and jarring colour schemes have become chic, rather than a byproduct of technological imperfection that they were in their own time.
In 2022, this trend will further seep into UX design, with retro 90s inspired interfaces becoming more popular. And this is a wide palette to draw on — postmodern Memphis design, intentionally primitive 3D animation, glitchy transitions, screen tearing, and the most ubiquitous feature: VHS pixelated fonts.
Of course, not all of these elements have to be present; there are plenty of interfaces that only add a touch of retro flair to an otherwise contemporary style. But we’re definitely seeing more UX solutions that aren’t afraid to be a bit more adventurous — resulting in UIs that feel simultaneously familiar and avant-garde.
In 2019, most of us thought we were already living in a digital world — but then the pandemic and the subsequent remote work revolution really showed us what that could mean.
Fast forward a couple of years, and you can see an abundance of online collaboration features on all kinds of platforms. And seeing as remote work is likely here to stay to a significant extent, live collaboration features will continue to gain prominence in UX design.
Basic examples of this include live messaging, commenting, tagging, editing, and viewing — pretty much spelling the end for locally isolated files. And this new social and collaborative aspect of remote work is being followed by all kinds of additions by UI designers; like fun avatars, creative cursor designs, etc.
Usually, well-designed UX is a silent partner, gently guiding the way through a web experience. It’s largely supposed to help users intuitively find buttons or functions without having to do a lot of thinking. However, navigation isn’t the only purpose of UX design — especially these days.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in UX that’s also designed to build brand development value — mostly by demonstrating the brand’s values and ethics; giving users a glimpse of how a company’s services are rendered or products are created through the interface.
For example, a brand whose sustainability is one of its main selling points might incorporate labels highlighting this quality in its UX — along with overlays or social media pop-ups about positive company policies.
Brand development has finally come to terms with the fact that most users roll their eyes at the sight of a huge CTA shoved into their faces as soon as they land on a website.
Instead, they want to be sure that a brand actually shares its ethics and values — which UX designers are helping with through transparent labelling and clear product breakdowns.
We’ve already mentioned some of the ways in which the real-world COVID-19 situation has spilled over into UX design. We can see that through the visuals used throughout the user’s journeys in the past couple of years.
UX designers have started putting wanderlust lifestyles and exotic locations centrefold in their layouts — a modern revival of the Lord Byron-esque lust for adventure and travel.
This is also evident from lush and organic colour schemes, oversized hero images and hefty doses of gallery scrolling.
All of this is no coincidence, considering how many people have been cooped up in their homes due to social distancing measures.
The demand for digital worlds that people can live through has increased, and UX designers are just one of the many digital artists and professionals making that happen.
Now more than ever, our digital presence has become a huge part of our everyday lives.
Augmented reality and similar technologies are making the boundaries between the analog and the digital increasingly hard to distinguish — and UX design is increasingly following suit.
Plenty of web interfaces are making the user experience more organic with anthropomorphic animations.
In other words, the animations that users see when interacting with an interface are mimicking real-world human movements — tiny details, like nodding heads or blinking eyes.
This is a very subtle trend; you probably wouldn’t even notice an on-screen character blinking or twiddling their thumbs as you browse the main content of the page. The fact that this stuff is in the background is making the whole experience even more immersive.
Slowly but surely, technology is changing how we interact with our devices and the Internet in general.
While voice assistants like Siri or Amazon Alexa were just novelty gadgets for early adopters a couple of years ago, you can now see them in hundreds of millions of households.
And the voice command trend is shaping up to be more than the average fad — which is why UI and UX design in 2022 and beyond will have to accommodate the trend and capitalize on it.
Designers are increasingly interested in elements of their applications that could be infused with voice commands without making them clunky.
One of the most persistent UX and UI trends of the past decade has been a focus on mobile-first design — another trend that we don’t see dying down any time soon.
This only makes sense, considering that more than half of all e-commerce traffic happens on smartphones and tablets.
And with these handheld devices becoming more powerful each year, designers are getting even more incentives to make sure any user experience caters to mobile phones too.
As 2022 approaches, it’s becoming clear that we’ve definitely got a lot to look forward to in terms of UX design trends — resulting in plenty of smarter interfaces that give us precisely the intuitive and natural experience we want.
From the perspective of UX designers, staying on top of the most prominent trends is always important — it’s what makes or breaks any consumer-facing web product.