The UI and UX trends projected for 2020 have taken a back seat to a different set of trends that no one saw coming. Many predicted that UI and UX would focus on:
- 3D graphics and animations
- Dark themes
Not all of these trends will fade, but the reality is the end-user has. With more people living virtually, it’s not just individuals who are comfortable with technology and online interactions that are surfing the web. People who have little experience with online conventions are having to purchase groceries online or connect with medical professionals. So, what does that mean for designers?
Before 2020, 52% of people felt overwhelmed in their daily lives. They felt emotionally and mentally exhausted with having to process other people’s emotional burdens. Due to constant virtual interactions, emotional distress increased in the early part of 2020.
Designers need to keep those statistics in mind as they create new virtual experiences. Simplicity is more than an uncluttered page and strategic use of white space. It is making navigation easy to follow and placing what is essential to the end-user in the most accessible places. Site visitors may have accepted lengthy scrolling to locate information in the past, but that willingness fades as stress and frustration rise. Remember, people may not always have the option to navigate to a less frustrating site, so when they have the option, they’ll take.
To engage the end-user, micro-interactions as one-purpose events. Some of these interactions have become an integral part of online engagement, such as scrolling, swiping, or toggling. Others are intended to attract the end-user through eye-catching animation or detract from activities such as lengthy downloads.
The key to successful micro-interactions is balance. How does a designer balance the purpose of the interaction with the customer’s expectation? Take, for example, the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website for COVID-19 benefits. In many ways, the site runs counter to any design UI and UX trends. It is text-based with a few visual effects. Yet, the site received unqualified praise for its ease of use. The designers only used micro-interactions to move the application process along. They understood the users’ expectation of a purposeful experience.
Adding humanity to a website through micro-interactions means letting customers know they are viewed as individuals. Pop-up recommendations or side-bar help are ways to bring the human touch to an online experience. With less human-to-human contact, those little touches may be the best way to engage people.
Creating themes with a dark background can have a dramatic impact. Black is associated with power and sophistication, but it also carries feelings of emptiness and loss. Designers will need to look at their use of color to ensure that their designs are projecting a positive feeling for the end-user. For most individuals, life has enough drama without adding to it through virtual interactions. Counterbalancing the dark with positive colors reduces the chance of an overall negative feel.
The projected UI and UX trends for 2020 are not invalid; they’ve just shifted because the world has shifted. People face processing a different world than the one they saw in 2019. That means an effective design should reflect the shifts in attitudes and the realignment of personal priorities. To move forward with 2020 trends without understanding the fundamental psychological and emotional shifts in the end-user may result in a design that is out-of-touch with what customers expect.
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