The Top UI/UX Trends in 2021

Why check out UX/UI trends?

UX/UI is evolving, just like any other skillset.

And like anything else that develops, new trends are continually emerging and growing. UX/UI professionals should stay informed about current trends and leverage them, as an updated design gives your users a feeling of freshness.

So it is essential to keep an eye on the latest design trends rather than miss the wave and design an outdated software experience.

What is influencing the trends of 2021?

In a world where everyone is dealing with a pandemic, product design is changing. In the software world, lockdown, forced closure of stores, and so on have had an enormous impact.

Remote collaboration, online shopping, streaming services, work from home, and communications platforms see rapid growth. As always, in periods of dramatic change, technology and design trends reflect customer needs. So in the coming days, the UI trends will prioritize speed, simple page designs, mobile-first approach, and, most importantly, artificial intelligence.

ui ux trends work from home
(Work from home. Photo by ‘Standsome Worklifestyle

#1 Dark Mode

The rise of dark siders will likely be continuing this year too.

The look is elegant, stylish, and modern. As we’re spending more time with our smartphones and laptops, dark mode plays a vital role in user experience.

But dark mode isn't just white text on a dark background. It has a couple of more advantages too.

  • It saves the battery if the device uses an OLED or AMOLED screen.
  • It is better in terms of the readability of text.
  • It is better for reducing eye strain while using the device at night.
  • It reduces the screen glare and minimizes blue lights.
(Source: XDA Developers)
ux ui trends dark mode
(Dark mode in macOS system apps)

#2 Neumorphism

Neumorphism combines flat design and skeuomorphism. It is a visual style that combines background colors, shapes, gradients, and shadows to ensure an elements’ graphic intensity. All that allows achieving a soft, extruded plastic look and almost 3D styling.

While it is so popular among the UI designers of Dribbble, most UX experts think just the opposite.

Neumorphism doesn’t play nice with basic usability principles. It almost kills the intuitiveness and accessibility. And there aren’t lots of real-world apps built on top of this style.

But it’s beautiful and futuristic in terms of design. So, we might see more implementation of Neumorphic UI in 2021.

ui ux design neuromorphism 1
(Source: Dribbble)
ui ux design neuromorphism 2
(Source: Dribbble)

#3 Animations

We've seen a significant increase in popularity with UI animations.

Designers can utilize UI animations to enhance the user experience by guiding the flow much better than a static graphic. Expect many more animations in 2021—both in UI and product promotions. They are an immersive way for mobile apps to convey messages to users without using modals or banners.

ux ui trends animation
(Source: Dribbble)

#4 Advanced micro-interactions

Micro interaction exists in every software application. The “Like” feature of Instagram and “Retweet” of Twitter are perfect examples of micro-interaction.

Advanced micro-interactions such as gestures and touchless controls bring new opportunities to crafting a more intuitive experience. We will see more of these in 2021 for sure.

ui ux trends microinteractions 1
(Caption: Instagram feed)
ui ux trends microinteractions 2
(Caption: Twitter tweet options)
ui ux trends microinteractions 3

#5 Bold Typography

Did you notice that web typography is getting bigger and bolder?

Especially for landing pages and microsites.

Bold typography is one of the easiest ways to grab your users’ attention.

Bold typography stands out from its surroundings and demands to be read. But it has to be an integral (and integrated) part of the overall aesthetic.

Popular websites are adopting this technique. It looks like bold typography is here to stay with a straightforward and proactive approach that will continue to grow in 2021.

Landing pages of Dropbox, Drift and Nike are great examples of bold typography usage.

ux ui trends dropbox
(Dropbox home page)
ux ui trends drift
(Drift home page)
ux ui trends nike
(Nike-Canada landing page)

#6 Smooth gradients

The reign of smooth gradients is in full swing.

Microsoft’s fluent design system and the new design approach by Apple in macOS Big Sur are two of the big pushes in gradient-based designs. Google also joined the party with redesigned logos of Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Meet.

gradients ux ui trends 1
(Fluent icons for Microsoft Office)
gradients ux ui trends 2
New icons from MacOS Big Sur
gradients ux ui trends 3
(New icons for some Google Products)

#7 3D is everywhere

3D designs have been attracting users for the last couple of years. Despite some drawbacks on memory consumption, 3D is trending in both mobile and web applications.

In 2021 3D will continue to thrive, especially seeing VR and AR technologies’ rising popularity.

ux ui trends 3d ar vr 1
(Source: dribbble)
ux ui trends 3d ar vr 2
(Source: dribbble)

#8 Empty and error states illustration

Errors are scary, and emptiness is boring.

But they both are an integral part of a software application.

So UX/UI professionals are taking a step forward to make them more exciting and more comfortable.

ux ui trends empty state 1
(Source: dribbble)
ux ui trends empty state 2
(Caption: YouTube Error State Illustration)
ux ui trends empty state 3
(Source: Pinterest)

#9 Design system

This trend is about discipline in the design world, and it’s not new.

Companies are getting serious about a unified design experience and building their design system. Material Design, Ant Design, and Fluent Design System are the most popular open-source design systems today. There are also tons of other free design systems, but we are hoping to see more comprehensive design systems this year.

ux ui trends design systems 1
ux ui trends design systems 2
(Source: Dribbble)

#10 Remote and virtual collaboration

We are all (mostly) working from home.

Small to large companies are all adopting this new culture out of necessity, so the demand for remote and virtual services is skyrocketing.

ui ux trends collaboration
(Source: NextPlane)

#11 Augmented & Virtual Reality

There are endless opportunities to innovate and create exciting experiences in the AR/VR space.

A lot of AAA games are coming to VR platforms. UI design for AR will be one of the significant trends in 2021.

ux ui trends vr ar
(Source: Road to VR)

#12 Voice User Interface (VUI) and touchless interactions

Another UI and UX trend that began in the wake of the pandemic is touchless interaction.

Various methods of interacting with devices, such as voice control and air gesture control are gaining popularity. We saw lots of voice-activated services last year. VUI is going to be a new hotcake in 2021 too.

ux ui trends vui
(Source: )

#13 Great user onboarding

What is user onboarding? User onboarding is the crucial process that starts from the first login of a new user and ends up in their aha moment where they understand and become hooked on your app.

The power of good onboarding is rising when millions of people are forced to deal with installing and using new video conferencing and remote-work services. This trend will shine in 2021 too.

ux ui trends onboarding
(Onboarding UI of Slack Mobile App)

#14 Frictionless authentication

We all hate passwords.

It’s complicated, hard to remember, less secure. In 2021 we will see a continuing demand for frictionless and secure authentication such as social and biometric logins.

ux ui trends login
(Source: MacRumors)

#15 Rising of super apps

Nowadays, the so-called “Super apps” like Wechat and Yandex Go are insanely popular in Asian countries.

Silicon valley was always skeptical about the super app. But times are changing now and we may see the rise of the “Super apps” as tech giants look for more ways to keep customers in their ecosystems.

ux ui trends super apps
(Caption: Yandex Go)
ux ui trends super apps 1
(Wechat: One app covers all the features of 12 popular apps)

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