Storytelling is often only thought of in terms of UX and the job of a UX designer, and this has been the case until now… But recently UI design has been dabbling, and quite successfully, in the essential role of the storytelling process. UI designers have the handle on color, typography, animation and interaction design, all components necessary to create a story, and more importantly necessary for good UX.
One great example of a landing page with amazing storytelling UI is Google’s Pixel Earbuds. It guides the visitor through the benefits of the product through thoughtful animations, relatable imagery, and flawless typography all to captivate the consumer and create a positive emotional response.
3D Graphics and Animations
The frequency of use of 3D graphics and animations has increased in recent years across multiple product categories in UI design. This is largely due to VR and AR apps that have taken advantage of these elements for things like viewing furniture in an actual room, trying on shoes via your phone camera etc. Another common example where 3D graphics and animations are used is the 360-degree product view that has become popular on eCommerce sites.
When a UI design needs to be particularly eye-catching, 3D graphics are the optimal way to accomplish that, while animation adds to the visual appeal: these effects are a lot more time consuming, but the end result is that the extra resources add positively to the overall user experience.
3D graphics exist everywhere — in movies, video games, adverts on the streets. 3D was introduced a few decades ago and since then has improved exponentially. The rapid growth of mobile and web technology is also to attribute for the dramatic evolution of 3D graphics, allowing designers to create and implement graphics into modern mobile and web interfaces.
3D graphic renders allow designers to present the product or services in a more interactive and engaging way. More and more implementation of graphics is visible especially in the real estate market where viewing homes has become much easier thanks to the 3D walkthrough. In 2020 it is foreseen that more and more brands will use renders and 3D models to present their services and products, making each web-shopping experience an emulation of the in-store experience.
In the last couple of years, the gaming industry has been (and will continue to be) responsible for A LOT of the innovation and new technologies in VR and VR headsets, and last year was a BIG year for VR. New product designs are constantly evolving and last year with the launch of Oculus Quest new doors have opened in the VR industry, causing other giants like Facebook to announce their (motion) Hand Tracking update coming this year!
AR has been steadily evolving and progressing over the last years. This is due to the fact that there are endless opportunities to innovate and create new experiences in an AR space. Global tech giants are investing millions into developing their AR, as such we expect expansion of this technology in 2020.
Even Apple has introduced their own AR toolkit called ARKIT 3 to help designers and developers build AR based products.
Unique Microinteractions: “Tiny but Vital”
Microinteractions are an essential element of any good digital product design. Yet, since they are so “micro” they are often overlooked by designers and stakeholders alike. Microinteractions can take on any format like interaction animations, color changes, but they are there to provide useful extra insight to our users. Microinteractions can elevate a design from functional to exceptional.
Take the simple but adorable gesture from the ReadMe mascot owl: he covers his eyes when you hover over the password, bringing the interaction to life.
2019 was the year for dark themes, even though they have been around for a few years, this trend really took off last year. This can be attributed to Apple´s help, with their introduction of the new Mojave update that enabled its users to automatically set the dark theme default to all the apps that support it. (As a dark mode lover myself, I could not be happier!)They also released an update for iOS that offers the same dark mode functionality.
The appeal of using the dark screen, beyond its visual appeal is that dark themes with proper contrast lessen eye strain. All three major tech giants: Apple, Google, and even Facebook’s mobile app have jumped on the dark theme bandwagon, so this trend is unlikely to disappear in the near future.
2020 Headline: Simplicity is in! Every year simplicity and minimalism drift in and out of fashion for UI design, but right now functionality is at the forefront of design. Simplicity is more of a collection of design principles than a single trend. Simplicity in design isn’t simple to create. It takes confidence on the part of the designer, and every element has to be perfect as there’s nothing to hide questionable design choices. When done well, it creates an elegant, high-quality feeling that people love to use.
Smartphones and mobile apps took voice interactions out of the Sci-Fi realm, Allowing people to interact with applications via voice commands opens up a world of possibilities for interaction with a product. When a consumer gives voice commands, they use the app in situations where touch interfaces aren’t safe or practical—such as when driving or following a recipe or tutorial.
This, we know is not new, but the early iterations were really hard to use, and mainly had a comical effect. But in the last couple of years, voice interaction has evolved to be a practical method of communication with an app, especially with the evolution of AI. As voice control keeps improving even more, it´s a trend that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Eventually, voice interactions are projected to take over other interaction types, not only in apps but on the web as well. UI designers should take familiarization with this topic seriously, especially following Google’s announcement of its Google Assistant feature at I/O 2019 that some believe could be the start of voice interactions replacing touch interactions almost completely.
Typography & Layering
New trends in typography pop up every year, sometimes it´s retro, others futuristic, sometimes we go into curves, others straight lines. Some of the more prominent UI trends that are likely to continue in 2020 include a return to Serif typefaces, and layering type with other elements.
At the beginning of interface design, the Serif font family was generally omitted as being hard to read, but as screens with higher resolutions started coming out, the Serif font has been readapted to a modern favorite. Layering type with graphical elements, underneath, above next to, or complimenting images is another growing trend. Sometimes text is over- or underlaid with boxed images or colors, while other times, it’s fully integrated with other visual elements.
Neomorphism aka. Soft UI
Softening edges making screens look like real life objects, seamless transition between real life and screen: this is neomorphism. Neumorphism represents a very detailed and precise design style. Highlight, shadows, glows — attention to details is very impressive and definitely on spot. Neumorphism has already inspired a lot of designers from all over the world and there is a big chance that Neumorphism will be the biggest UI design trend in 2020.
While some of these trends have rolled over from 2019 and the last couple of years, there are the most important to observe for growth: VR/AR, voice interaction, and dark themes are all trends that have gained strength and hold great promises of growth. At the same time, new UI design trends like typography, neomorphism and simplicity, are all fleeting trends that will evolve year to year.