What Are the Top 5 UI and UX Design Trends This Year?

Katie Mikova / Thursday, February 3, 2022

If you’ve wondered why your design’s

  • dark mode
  • skeuomorphism
  • neomorphism

no longer excite the eye and the mind of digital users, it is because these are things of the past. There are now new UI and UX design trends that are game-changing!

If you’ve wondered why even the best of your ideas and prototypes

  • have to undergo significant changes
  • are somewhat lost in the entire design-development process that also happens to be really slow

it is because you lack the modern-day automation tools that streamline the whole process.

So, it’s time to tweak and automate the way you see and work on your UI and UX designs to resist the “disturbance in the Force” and stay ahead of the game

Here is what to try your hands on, navigate your design thinking into, and simply experiment with all that is new in design.

Questions and topics to be covered in this article:

How many designers does it take to change a light bulb?

Does it have to be a light bulb? ‘cause I noticed something cooler going on right now so I have an idea…

Ideas and designers – it’s a never-ending story… There is always something coming up, something shifting and transforming in the world of UI and UX design. And these ideas, shifts, and transformations are driven by several key factors that influence UI and UX trends today. From modern-day technologies offering never-before-seen capabilities to both digital product creators and end-users, devices, and software that improve each year, and this ever-growing consumeristic appetite for innovations. Events (like the COVID-19 pandemic) that wipe out the old status of the world, societies, business operations, and the way people communicate and work are demanding a new type of thinking, new type of solutions, and new ways of adopting. You are simply so bored of seeing all and the same that you start reflecting more diligently on what already exists so you can come up with something new that becomes a trendsetter.

2021 was an interesting year in terms of design. Things like bold typography and diverse and flexible vector graphics (such as the error state illustration by YouTube or the Dropbox illustrations on their website) really changed how people perceived information and interacted with different websites and apps. True, they remain definitive for pleasing UI and excellent UX. But this year is giving rise to new modern elements and practices in digital product design like AR/VR and metaverse or the combination of scrolling + storytelling. You might still be driven to the cool "good old" design trends, but staying on top of the latest UI and UX movement gives you more room to experiment and drive innovative flair to your project that delights and surprises end-users.

What Are the Top 5 UI and UX Design Trends?

Outdated and poor design will render your project powerless. According to MyTechnology, 94% of people don’t trust a degraded website. The statistics showed that users closed webpages or went as far as to lose their customer loyalty to a site with an outdated design. Here is what to keep an eye on, then, to avoid giving the impression that you don’t care enough to keep up with what excites and retains digital product consumers.

1.     Metaverse and AR/VR – the 3D Spatial Design

Forget the UI that only happens on-screen. Now, you must focus more on interactions that will not only bring together the physical and the digital world but will also take user experience to an entirely new level. By now, you must have heard the term “metaverse” a thousand times. But before Mark Zuckerberg used it for his project, “metaverse” was first coined in the 1992 dystopian sci-fi book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. The novel refers to a virtual space that blends the physical and the digital, offering a new cyber-punk reality and dimension for socializing, escapism, maintaining a virtual existence through avatars, and simply being.

Likewise, the “embodied internet,” as Zuckerberg describes it, is gearing people up for a digital experience of the future that will change how people connect, socialize, get business done, work, and live through augmented and virtual reality. The company is already testing and using the Horizon Workrooms app with the Oculus Quest 2 headsets, which enable workers to organize their meetings in virtual offices and be present as avatars.

What does this rising trend mean?

Virtual and Augmented Reality is not something new to companies, designers, and users. However, the means through which they are now being implemented and the purposes for which they are being applied set a revolutionary and immersive manifestation for people, experiences, and businesses. Things with VR and AR are not too far from shifting from “being something cool” to “being a norm” in people’s lives and the ways they handle the serious and fun matters of the existentialist basics - work, communication, interaction, shopping, and living.

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that the physical realm is changing, and the world is becoming extremely digitally oriented with people, life, practices, and experiences moving online. If seen through the perspective of opportunities, such events open many doors for UX/UI design but also require a shift in tools and methods. Constructing a space of the real and the unreal, the new metaverse trend urges you to focus more on using AI, 3D graphics, blockchain technologies, and user behavior analysis. And this type of virtual connectedness in design is based on:

  • Detailed and fast process information.
  • Decentralized but synchronized online reality that can be accessed on multiple platforms anytime, anywhere.
  • Changes even in terms of how UX writing is being done, this time with AI in mind rather than SEO metrics.
  • Transparent but more secure web environment and connected virtual experiences.

Today, the world of design should anticipate a wave of innovations that use Augmented Reality and 3D. More businesses and fields like e-commerce sites, museums, supermarkets, and medical institutions are expected to embrace this new trend. From 3D logos or texts to online museum visits that allow access to people anywhere in the world with the use of VR goggles and local apps – the possibilities for AR and VR implementations in UI and UX design are countless.

Technological giants like Apple and Google have already moved towards it, introducing the Apple Glasses, the ARCore, and ARKit. IKEA entered the game with its fancy AR app that lets you furnish your home with 3D models. Steadily transforming the market, this augmented reality trend in UI and UX is expected to boom this year, with an increasing number of businesses and retailers following up on it.

As if we haven’t been living in the digital universe enough, we have to get drawn even more into it with the metaverse. Yet, there is always something very intriguing that pulls us into this type of thing. The sense of escapism they offer and the potential of what feels like real experiences in an unreal virtual setting are fascinating.

2.     Scrollytelling or Visual Storytelling

Typography can empower a strong digital experience by playing with emphasis and user behavior. However, it somehow seems to have exhausted itself when used alone. This year is offering something new to UI and UX by introducing scrollytelling. Masterfully done, this becomes a robust combination of narrative and design aesthetics that work better toward building “emotional design”. When designed for emotion, it triggers increased user engagement and better retention and makes the user feel part of the visual storytelling.

There is a great book by Don Norman, “Emotional Design,” which delves further into people as consumers and their choices, which are led by emotion.

Image showing the three key features of Don Norman's emotional design

And scrollytelling is becoming a great way to evoke emotion and elicit decision-making based on such cognitive reflections. Which only speaks for a UI and UX design that influences and really reflects on users’ choices. A great example of scrollytelling is the article “Snow Fall” by the NY Times. It demonstrates how readers don’t have to simply scan a plain text and remain engaged on a somewhat basic informatively raw level. Instead, they can turn into agents of someone else’s narrative and become part of the story.

Thanks to scrollytelling, you make your design layout work on a subconscious and conscious level. Including moving elements, different navigation placement, unexpected animations as part of your scrollytelling, you can keep digital users curious, wanting them to interact with the app/website more, and exposing them to a more engaging visual experience with something that used to be static.

One thing to keep in mind though. Be careful when choosing to implement such gimmicks and tricks. They are not a universal quirk that works positively and effectively for every project and purpose. Not always lively and fun cursor inputs are the best solution to drive bigger engagement. It all depends on the nature of the project you build, the industry, and the target audience.

3.     Data Storytelling and Data-Driven Decision Making

Data is a gold mine. But a scarce number of companies make use of it in the most impactful and game-changing way. According to Accenture's The Human Impact of Data Literacy Report 2020: "Only 32% of business executives could create measurable value from data and only 27% said their data and analytical products produce actionable insights." In the same report, the authors also quote Forrester pointing out that 60-73% of all enterprise data sinks into the void as it never really gets analyzed.

But things seem to be shifting the opposite way now as one of the latest UI and UX trends is Data Storytelling. It is pushing the limits of Data Visualization into the realm of Data Storytelling with things like better design tools, augmented analytics, data democratization, and data literacy. But it also becomes an empowering method for UX designers to:

  • Bring them closer to any business goal.
  • Justify their role in big enterprises.
  • Present UX as a key differentiator that is driving opportunities and revenue.

But how do we make data more useful and purposeful for users?

We already talked about Scrollytelling but it is a craze that mostly big players can afford, using premier properties (like the NY Times). However, Data Storytelling is a trend to make data more consumable and actionable for the masses in any tool.

Imagine you work on a fintech project, creating a design for a mobile banking app. Your users wouldn’t like the idea of graduating with a degree in banking or finance to understand their balance, earnings, expenses, or any other data relevant to their account.

They wouldn’t like spending hours reading complex analysis and updates either. Such info should be presented immediately and in a super digestible way. And as of today, it must be graphically meaningful as well. To enhance user experience in one such “dry and unprocessed field”, you as a designer can tweak your design in a way that grants access to predictive data visualization and data storytelling, outstripping what users want to do. This will give them the means and visual information to make informative decisions and choices.

Ways to achieve this in your next design:

  • Use of machine learning algorithms.
  • Expandable features like sweeping or tapping to enhance UX.
  • Impactful and explanatory data visualizations, in-place Widget-level filtering, text-based anecdotal or augmented analytics.
  • Automatic predictive analytics, statistical functions like Min, Max, Sum, Delta, and more in-place on visualization data series.
  • Vibrant colors and interactive bar charts, pie charts, line charts, enabling differentiating dashboard and analytics experiences on any platform.

4.     Tooling Around Process Optimization and Design Standardization

We live in a digital world and there is no place in it for ad-hoc operations, slow manual efforts, and out-of-fashion thinking. Especially in design. To speed up innovation and remain present in your design practices, know that one of the hottest trends right now is the use of design accelerators. An example of one such modern-day tool is Indigo.Design which has become so advanced as to streamline any process in the digital product design creation – design ideation, collaboration, prototyping, user research, usability testing, design-developer handoff, data analytics, code generation. But these things you may already know. What might have skipped your mind is the fact that tooling around process optimization and design standardization is what lets you focus on the core aspects of designing.

5.     Hyper Personalized User Experiences

This never gets out of date. But it gets more complicated. With so many services and digital products out there, consumers have become really picky now. The philosophy of users stipulates personalization and designs that clearly make a difference between the general and the specific. Content, imagery, layout, interactions – all be personalized, please!

What I mean is that the design today tends to become more and more user-centric. According to Adobe, 54% of people want to see content that really reflects on their interests. Led by the new UI and UX trends, designers now tend to emphasize more on localization, collecting behavioral data to build a 360-degree view of users’ personas and demographics before even starting to lay out the design. Giving them recommendations based on their location, generating the right size in an online shopping app, and sending reminders about an artist they like who is going to perform in their city — this is what now prevails in UI and UX design. It is not about giving users an option to change the background color of their Instagram. Users want to get to know them.

Such personalization is already happening in digital ads. They get really personal with the new ad platforms and all the user behavior data they collect about consumers. Given the rapid pace of digital transformation, things have gone beyond simply gathering statistics on app/website performance and analyzing data. It is only natural for all this to flow into UI/UX as well. And not only natural but even PIVOTAL. So, digital creators must act on that data on a UI and UX design level.

Design trends are constantly changing under the hammering of different events, technological breakthroughs, the users’ ability to quickly catch up and get fed up, and sometimes simply because another concept in a dystopian novel has finally emerged itself with the help of the right tools and innovative thinking. Following these UI and UX trends is crucial for you, no matter if you’re a UI or a UX designer, because:

  • You can more easily deliver what digital consumers expect.
  • Modernize your projects and even DesignOps.
  • The more you try with different things, the bigger the chance is to stir and lead other innovations in design. Trends inspire trends, after all.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Become more critical about what you develop because users become more critical as well.
  • Deliver contemporary results, increase customer retention, engage more users, help deliver better ROI.
  • You will help companies and businesses better communicate their value with their audience.

Indigo.Design and App Builder – How Can They Help You Keep Up With These Trends?

The evolution of digital technologies is honing in on revolutionizing pretty much anything in design – from its existence, through its processes and purposes, to the results and the products.

And when the industry offers this type of new and better ways for tooling around innovation, ideation, product creation, and collaboration, there is no doubt that digital and development accelerators, likeIndigo.Design and App Builder, become key to keeping up with all the trends in UI and UX design.

Narrowing down the benefits and showing the ways they can help you stay on top of the “design fashions” above.

With Indigo.Design, you can perform usability and user tests that will help you become a data-driven storyteller lead by more informative decisions when crafting the UI and UX. You will be able to:

  • Create hyper-personalized and user-centric product designs based on the data gathered from surveys, which is great for building specific fintech apps, for instance.
  • Integrate explanatory data visualizations and functions.
  • Use augmented and predictive analytics.

Tooling around process optimizations and design standardization is also something that these tools help you keep up with. Using them, you can:

  • Reduce design iterations and miscommunication.
  • Eliminate boring repetitive tasks, thus focusing on certain details (like UX writing which, by the way, is also gaining more traction now).
  • Avoid experiencing designer’s block as you can play around with different components and drag-and-drop elements (with the WYSIWYG App Builder in particular).

Key Articles Takeways:

Following trends doesn’t make you obedient. Trends inspire more trends and give you an opportunity to simultaneously create something with bigger value and come up with a totally new thing that may wipe out current tendencies.

The top 5 UI and UX design trends now are Metaverse and AR/VR, scrollytelling, data visualizations, tooling and process optimization, and extremely personalized UX.

Key factors that influenced these trends include the Covid19 pandemic, the need for inhouse automation of repetitive tasks and communication enhancement, tech-savvy digital consumers.

How people connect, socialize, get business done, work, and live will change through augmented and virtual reality.

Scrollytelling builds up emotional design, impacting users on a subconscious and conscious level.

The use of data in apps goes beyond simply presenting statistics. It is now a way to offer predictive data storytelling and outstrip what users want to do with that data, helping them make better informed decisions.

Tooling and design accelerators streamline design ideation, collaboration, prototyping, testing, design-developer handoff, data analytics, low code development.

Following the new UI and UX trends, designers now focus on localization, collecting behavioral data to create 360-degree users’ personas, and demographics to create hyper personalized user experience through design.

Indigo.Design or the App Builder help you keep up with the latest design trends.

And before we wrap it all up, here is an extra 6th not-a-trend-yet but with the potential to become, that you can still gather your thoughts around– designing for foldables. What do you think? Are Samsung Z Fold and Samsung Z Flip 3 going to revamp the market and generate a new hot design obsession? By the look of it, yes. The new foldable design and technological movement is on the rise and there are other companies, like Huawei and their Huawei P50 Pocket, catching up with the trend.