User experience (UX) incorporates every aspect of the interactions that end users have with a business. With the increasing prevalence of digital devices in the modern world, the ever evolving nature of UX has become more prominent than ever. 

Businesses cannot be complacent and need to ensure they’re on top of these trends in order to deliver positive experiences and drive long-term customer loyalty. Companies must focus on meeting customers’ needs and expectations by providing the best possible experience on every digital platform that they use. 

There are a number of design trends relating to UX that took off in 2020 and will continue this year that all businesses should be aware.

1. Personalising Content

The personalisation of content is of utmost importance in ensuring a good UX. According to Epsilon's research, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences.

Personalising interfaces to match users’ individual choices and preferences is one step businesses can take towards offering personalised experiences. Throughout this process, while it’s important for the content to be visually appealing, it must also remain functional and practical to meet their other requirements.

UX offerings need to be modified on an ongoing basis to stay relevant and continue to provide tailored experiences to users.

2. Dark Themes

Following the macOS Mojave update, dark themes began to gain greater prominence in UX design, with a number of software updates being issued to global organisations (including Liferay!) and individual users to provide the option to switch to dark themes. 

According to Medium’s survey, 82.7% of participants stated that they used dark mode on their operating systems. This highlights the strong preference among users and the increasing importance for companies to provide the option to switch to dark themes.

In addition to looking sleeker and sharper, dark themes are thought to be easier on our eyes which helps to enhance legibility and readability, ultimately improving the user experience of websites or apps. 

3. Creative Loaders

Animations that are both flexible and funny are often appreciated by users and can pique their interest when used in a number of different loading situations. On the other hand, animation that is overly complicated and lacks engagement can turn a user off. Despite being a relatively small detail, creative loaders can influence how users feel when digitally interacting with your company and therefore form an important part of the overall user experience.

4. Illustrations

The incorporation of illustrations, including graphics and hand drawn illustrations, can make a brand appear more playful and add character. In addition, it helps to enhance a screen’s artistic value and can align the overall look and feel more closely to the content being consumed by users.

5. The Execution of Material Design

Material Design is an adaptable design system that helps teams build high quality digital experiences. Back in 2014, they revamped the methods by which UX is created - they provided complex but easy, vibrant, and minimalist colour palettes and typography to transform the way in which system screens were considered and experienced.

The growing trend now is to move to a design that is livelier, with intricate designs and textures as well as a more interactive approach. However, this has not reduced the importance of flexibility of customisation, usability across different devices and the user-centric approach pioneered by Material Design.

6. Liquid Graphics

Liquid graphics have become more and more digitised, with a number of web designers intending to press forward with this trend in 2021 in order to bring much more complicated colour forms to life within the real digitalised world. Chromatic forms, holographic and liquid graphics have become increasingly popular recently.

7. Minimalism

Minimalism is another trend that has become increasingly popular over the past few years. It focuses on simplifying interfaces so that only essential elements are included. 

Aligning with the concept of ‘less is more’, minimal designs effectively use elements such as white space, colour, and contrast to draw viewers’ attention to the focus of the content. Opting for more simple and effective designs, rather than jumbled and distracting ones, contribute to the delivery of seamless experiences to your users.

8. Photo Interfaces

Mobile screens are getting larger all the time, resulting in varying types of viewing experiences. These experiences can change their focus from just the utilisation of symbols and vectors to actual pictures in real time. Photography is a crucial element of designs and it’s important that UX design and imagery complement each other.

Users should not be overwhelmed by too many images, and it is important to keep the proper use of colour balance, white space, spacing, and substantial margins.

9. Responsive UX

When considering your approach for mobile website designs, they are typically either mobile-friendly or responsive designs. Mobile-friendly sites function exactly the same way regardless of the device being used, with the exception of scale. This also results in limitations with website features such as navigation drop-downs which can be difficult to use on smaller devices.

On the other hand, responsive designs adjust based on the screen size of devices. Text, images, spacing and layouts are a few examples of page elements that will adjust for optimised display and enhance usability based on device size. 

In 2021, the UX design purpose needs to be offering seamless experiences to every single user regardless of the device they are using. To ensure a device-agnostic approach, responsive designs are the preferred approach.

10. The Use of Video Content in Promotion 

Another trend that is expected to take off in UX design this year is advertising video content. Videos that are short, concise, and clear in terms of the message they’re trying to put across to the user are tipped to be the next huge trend in terms of UX design. 

Stay Ahead of These UX Design Trends

Given the ever evolving nature of UX, it’s crucial for businesses to prioritise staying ahead of these trends. This will be paramount to delivering better experiences to users and ensuring both their needs and expectations are met.

In addition to benefiting customers, investing in a good UX design can directly impact your business through increased levels of customer acquisition, satisfaction, and loyalty.

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