User interface design: trends.

A look at developments that are influencing the design and usage of interfaces now.

By Jordan Lambert10th December 2018

User interfaces are constantly evolving, parallel to the technology that enables them. Even if you don’t agree with the latest trends, its’ advisable to keep up to date. They may introduce you to new functionality and help you understand how people are using digital products. Consequently, that will help you achieve your customers’ expectations.

Content is king.

Some of the most popular apps all look the same - and there’s a reason for it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instagram, Apple Music, Airbnb, Twitter and number of other products have ditched their colourful past for a more minimal look. The extraction of colour, big bold type headings and the strict focus on content all add up to create better user experiences. The focus on content leads to quicker outcomes, eliminating any energy wasted on the interface.

A range of new tools.

Designing user interfaces has never been more accessible. There’s a range of different tools to choose from, each with their own benefits. In 2017, we saw a surge of prototyping tools emerging in the market. Now it seems that the focus has shifted from prototyping to real-time collaboration. Rather than having multiple files of feedback, teams can now discuss ideas and designs on one platform. Combine this with version control and you have a clean and organised design process with no fear of lost files or missing feedback.

Animations.

Thanks to a combination of new hardware and software, animations are now possible across multiple platforms and devices. Today, animations are seen in multiple UI elements such as hero banners, buttons, and transitions. They do not only help elevate the visual level of an interface but can also serve as a distraction to keep users entertained while something works in the background. Micro interactions are perfect for letting users know when an action has been performed. A visual key that appears after a button has been pressed is much more effective than a pop-up text message.

Death of the bezel.

Take a look at any smartphone that has been released in the last six months and there’s a good chance that it’s ditched its borders and gone for a full-screen design. With the new design comes a range of new space and functionality to take advantage of. Since most of those devices have eliminated the physical front button, gestures will now be used to complete certain actions. Designers will also have to cater to the front-facing camera ‘notch’ that can be seen across multiple devices.

Design systems.

Introducing a design system will benefit a project in many different ways. We know that each designer has their own style and technique, introducing a design system will ensure that a consistent design style is followed throughout, no matter who is working on the project. It will also increase the speed of a project. Design systems include component libraries which allow designers to re-use components instead of re-drawing them. Any amendments made to those components will change on a global scale, eliminating the process of editing each individual component on different screens and most likely resulting in a quicker process for the front end build as developers can follow this library. A design system can also increase the efficiency of tasks outside of design such as the onboarding experience. It allows people new to the project to quickly get a feel for it.

Integrating trend with brand.

Blindly following trends is not what we’re aiming for. Rather, it’s about watching them and identifying innovations and developments that will change the field you’re working in and that could be good inspiration. Platforms to follow are Fast Company, Behance and Dribbble, for example.

Think from your brand’s perspective. There are certain developments that you need to follow, but not every new feature or design trend will help you to achieve your goals. The key is to find those with the potential to move you in the right direction and implement them in a way that complements your brand identity.