As an online business owner, you already know that customers buy with their eyes when they browse your website. Much like traditional brick-and-mortar stores, if you want users to come in and spend time inside, your website must be clean, well-kept, easy to navigate and modern.
But as an experienced digital entrepreneur you also know that user interface design is not everything – your users will accept a few bad icons or mismatched buttons if your user experience or UX is on par.
In other words, you can have the best looking store in the world, if your website or app is hard to navigate, or if your checkout process is not working, and users seem to generally be confused or frustrated, they will abandon you in a second.
So, UX design is important because it seeks to fulfil user needs in an intuitive and simple way which will improve user satisfaction. Moreover, a positive experience boosts loyalty to your product or brand and will help reach your business goals faster.
What is the difference between User Experience design and User Interface design?
You probably heard this before, but user experience or UX design is not the same as the user interface or UI design. But, they do go hand in hand, which is why you usually hear the term UX/UI design and not just one or the other.
In simple terms, user experience refers to the overall perception that your users have when they interact with your product, which includes the user interface.
The first thing that makes a great user experience is meeting the customer’s exact needs without any hassle. Following that, comes simplicity and elegance that result in products that are a joy to use.
So, user experience design isn’t just about the practical use of your system, or how pretty it looks, but also about the emotional experience a user has with your product or service. Basically, simply offering customers “what they ask for” or a checklist of tasks, is not a true user experience.
To create a true user experience, UX design brings together engineering, marketing, graphical, industrial and interfaces design, which helps your users remember you, your brand and your products and makes them want to come back.
UI design in contrast to UX design
While UX includes UI, the user interface design refers to the more technical approach of optimizing human-computer interaction. So, a good UI anticipates the users’ needs and develops specific inputs to get users to where they need to go.
In other words, UI designers use icons, buttons, visual elements, colours, responsive design, and information architecture to help the user achieve a goal. Whether that journey is easy and intuitive depends on the user experience – hence UX/UI design.
This is because aside from UI, UX design also includes visual design, information architecture, and interaction design, all artfully put together to create unique user experiences.
So to clear it up once and for all, both UI design and UX design have the user as the focus. But, UI focuses strictly on how your user interacts with your platform to get from A to B. In contrast, UX focuses on how that journey from A to B feels for the user.
Why do you need to stay on top of UX/UI design trends?
Users in any industry around the world are becoming more and more dependent on technology and the devices they use every day. But, as they become increasingly tech-savvy, their demands and expectations also grow exponentially.
This creates a snowball effect where technology evolves to meet new user needs, then users become dependent on said technology. Once that happens, other needs emerge that technology must now solve, and on and on we go.
Because of this constant cycle, it is incredibly easy to become obsolete. And to avoid that, you need to keep up with the latest technology trends. not just UX/UI trends.
But, we must warn you – only follow those trends that make sense for your users and for your business goals. If you run around following every single trend, you risk investing a ton of resources in a purely confusing implementation that will end up in a disaster.
That said, what are this year’s top emerging UX and UI trends to look out for?
1. Top 5 UX Design Trends of 2022
1.1. Inclusive design
For the past few years, we have seen a recurrent trend in accessible design, which is meant to make products easier to interact with, not only for people with disabilities but every user in general.
However, our perception changed, and it soon became clear that accessible design is not quite enough anymore. We needed to be more inclusive, which is exactly our first trend – inclusive design.
As opposed to accessible design, which focuses on the ease we interact with our devices, or alternative solutions for one task – inclusive design takes into consideration not just users’ needs or abilities, but also age, educational level, social background, ethnicity, religion, technological understanding, spoken language, etc.
Simply put, inclusive design is a practice that enables everyone, regardless of who they are, to experience technology the same way as anyone else.
1.2. Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR)
COVID-19 has greatly influenced VR and AR and boosted both fields to become important components of UX design. Just to name a few examples:
- Both AR and VR have been incremental in remote work training;
- Companies like IKEA use AR to showcase how their products fit your home without you having to visit their brick-and-mortar store;
- Other companies use VR to give you a complete tour of a home you might want to buy, all from the safety of your living room;
- More and more fitness and health-oriented apps using AR or VR are emerging every day
- And the list goes on.
That said, it should be noted that the main player in the VR and AR fields is still the gaming industry, with developers finding new and more creating solutions for immersive interactions. And we can see why.
One notable achievement for next-generation VR user experience was achieved by Stress Level Zero and their VR game engine, Boneworks. This experimental VR experience uses advanced physics and hyper-realistic interaction that
a) allows users to interact with absolutely every element in their environment;
b) uses resistance to replicate gravity and weight so heavy objects feel heavy, while light objects feel light. How amazing is that?
Now, big players like Meta (also known as Facebook) and Microsoft are working to create a Metaverse, that promises to bring together reality, VR and AR in one environment.
Are you as excited to see how VR and AR will evolve this year as we are?
1.3. Personalized experience
Although it isn’t anything new, it certainly won’t get old! Making a connection with your users is extremely important. The more engaged users are, the more likely you are to sell your products.
Don’t forget, human nature and universal needs are appealed to by personalized experiences. Hence, if your customers do not have an experience that is personalized to their needs, they are more likely to switch to the competition.
In the absence of personalization at any level, your business will probably lose customers and lose out to a competitor. So, make sure you provide your audience with the best personalized UX design experience possible! Simply put, personalization creates a connection between the user and your website, it gives a familiar and attractive touch that will help you maintain the users’ loyalty.
Neumorphism is growing in popularity thanks to its straightforward yet inventive sense, which incorporates skeuomorphic and level plans. The trends appeared in 2020, but its popularity is not going down. The minimalist approach of neumorphism gives a sense of three-dimensionality via buttons and other elements.
When a user makes a selection, an element emerges from the screen. Neumorphism involves the use of solid colours, the blending of contrast effectively, and the use of shadows. Currently, a few companies are already taking advantage of this trend, but that number will grow in the next year, so be sure you’re a part of it as well!
In the present day, about half of all searches are done using mobile gadgets. Hence, your website or app should not only look great on desktop computers but should also have a great performance on mobile devices. Mobile phones are the most used mobile devices, but you should also keep in mind tablets and all the different wearables.
Designing mobile variations for your website is an important step that you should take to increase traffic. According to Statista, in 2021, over 54% of web page views will originate from mobile devices. Your customers are no longer primarily searching the web on their laptops or desktops.
2. Top 5 UI Design trends of 2022
Now that we looked at what UX has in store for us, it’s time to check out what UI will look like in 2022. Let’s get started!
2.1. Dark themes
This trend started in 2020 and since then many app and website developers started implementing it. For 2022, the dark theme is keeping its popularity. Furthermore, it will likely be available in more colours than just black, such as dark blue, green, and brown. You can choose whichever you like the most.
One of the advantages of a dark theme is that improves visibility and contrast. This is not only a strict design advantage, but it also represents a great help for your users that may have slight seeing disabilities. As a bonus, dark themes also reduce power consumption on smartphones with OLED screens.
Some of the reasons that might convince you to add the dark theme in your design are:
- the capacity to highlight single design details
- battery saver of the mobile device minimal visual workload
If you haven’t already, now you might want to consider creating a dark mode or dark theme for your apps and websites!
2.2. 3D elements
In 2022, designers will utilize new approaches that will immediately display the content of the website and its graphical 3D additions. First, they will prioritize loading the core elements. Hence, websites or mobile applications that follow this trend will look more attractive. Using visual effects is the best way to attract the attention of potential audiences.
Most probably, the use of 3D interfaces will probably replace all existing flat-structured interfaces. Due to the new and simple to use tools that are attracting the webmaster’s attention, this trend has gained such high demand. Additionally, a large portion of said tools is available in the free segment, which is a big plus.
You can go even further and create some 3D animations! In the past, it was difficult for designers and developers to use animations in their websites and apps because they slowed down the loading times and consumed lots of data.
However, due to the advent of 5G, that problem is now a thing of the past. Specifically, 5G technology offers you a higher speed in the transfer of data. By enhancing the speed, users will have access to files, documents, and applications, including 3D animations, without much delay.
2.3. Adaptation to new gadgets
You may not realize it, but a designer’s everyday work is not just creating cute icons. For example, it’s important for designers to design interfaces that adapt to different gadgets, screen sizes, and pixels.
You probably designed interfaces for apps primarily for mobile devices. These devices typically had a fairly small and standard size. However, as one of the top UI design trends for 2022, it’s time to start thinking about how you can adapt your work for larger screens, such as foldable phones.
Some of the reasons that might convince you are:
- you need a cleaner screen
- when using gestures, the resource needs a navigation optimization
- because visual perception must be improved;
- it is important to improve the picture quality and add additional graphics.
Although UX design adaptation has been around for a while, the current trend cannot be compared to the one from the past. With smartphones’ new appearance, developers need to produce new interfaces. In order to keep the new generation interested, you must create an attractive design that does not cause rejection.
2.4. Animated logos
Have you thought about reinventing your logo and what is the best way to do it? Adding motion to your logo is a simple way to do it and it is also trendy in 2022. The impact of static designs is not the same as that of animated designs – they don’t get the same kind of attention.
Your logo is your trademark, even though in print it cannot be changed, in digital, an animated one becomes an instant eye-catcher. While you’re at it, why not include an animated version of your brand name as well?
Combining it with 3D can offer you an even more powerful impact. For example, the animated 3D Meta logo Facebook created for its new service does exactly that, and it is hard to ignore. This is a smart strategy for raising brand awareness and getting people’s attention.
2.5. Voice-activated interface
Nowadays, more than 70% of users rely on voice search and smartphone control. By using voice-activated interfaces, users can reduce the time spent typing and reading results, so it is a great addition to your interface. Moreover, this trend helps save time, effort and if there is a special station with a voice assistant, does not force the user to pick up the phone once again.
They might want to know some information regarding your products and services, but not have the possibility to look for it at that certain moment and then they might simply forget what were they initially curious about. Therefore, by implementing a voice-activated interface you make sure their curiosity and needs may be satisfied no matter what they are doing at that specific moment.
Always remember that the user experience is different from the user interface. In contrast to UX design, UI design represents the technical approach to optimizing human-pc interaction, which represents a part of the overall interaction between a user and your website, products, and services.
You can be sure that UX design is entering another exciting year. Clearly, it is critical that you keep up with both the trends of UX design and UI design in the industry in 2020 to engage your users and give them the best possible experience. While several trends from 2021 have continued to grow and will reach 2022 as well, new ones are just getting started.
The goal of UX design is to create resources that are easily accessible and offer a more lively user experience in order to encourage the user to do more on the site. There is no need for you to implement all UX design trends on the same product or website.
By implementing all trends, your usability may become too complicated and goal UX might actually backfire on you. Rather, you should follow the trends and use those that are best suited to the needs of your customers and your company.