User Experience – UX – is both a buzzword and an essential building block of the digital landscape. Simply put, it is the means by which a user experiences a website or app.
“But wait!” – I hear intrepid readers e-ask, “isn’t that basically the same as UI?”
“No!” we shout back! UI – User Interface design – is the cool cousin of UX; it’s the sunglasses-wearing, vintage iPod sporting, gap-year embracing twenty something, who liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers before they became mainstream.
UX is all about function – how the placement of certain elements on a page contribute towards its functional purpose. UI, conversely, is all about visuals – how the aforementioned elements improve the aesthetic.
For a much more detailed comparison between UX and UI (one that involves fewer parentheses and family analogies), we’d highly recommend this article.
For a look at how UX and UI trends have evolved in 2021 (and for parentheses and family analogies), read on!
UX Trends in 2021
1. Simplicity. Now, more so than ever before, simplicity is king. If you are one of the 4.7 billion people worldwide who have heard of Apple, you will likely associate them with big, colourful buttons. The sort of interface that is obvious to users of all ages, and one that has seen Apple devices burrow their way into the hands of pensioners and toddlers alike.
More and more websites are adopting this mantra of simplicity, showing their wares to the user via a small number of obvious buttons. Users of Instagram are probably familiar with Linktree. This link aggregation platform uses big, colourful buttons, to showcase the host user’s top 5 links. Nothing confusing – just big, obvious buttons (see below).
We practice what we observe too: check out Glowbay, our latest e-commerce website, has a homepage consisting of several large, colourful buttons, with self-explanatory headings. If you’re a glutton for ‘how we built it’ stories, check it out here! As the digital world becomes increasingly clever, complex and convoluted, the need for simplicity grows ever stronger.
2. Anthropomorphic Animations. Whilst researching this article, we stumbled upon this piece by Jamahl Johnson. His observation about anthropomorphic animations was so very on point, that we could not help ourselves from echoing it. Simply put, these are lifelike animations, rendered digitally. For example, digital characters blinking, wiping their nose or scratching their eye. The digital brought to life in all of its mundane regularity.
Subtlety – along with simplicity – is key here. This type of animation stands as a juxtaposition to the flashy, Michael Bay-esque animation that has evolved in line with new technologies. A staggeringly effective example of the beauty and pervasiveness of simple, digital banality. Here’s an example we love on Humaan
3. Nature and Sustainability. Green = Nature. Nature = Good. Trite? Yes. Effective? Also Yes.
Motifs of sustainability, green living and natural preservation are, unsurprisingly, more important than ever before. Business that embody and encompass nature and sustainability have a ready-made market of devotees into which they can tap – whether that is through blog and discussion pieces or through digital design and functionality.
The examples below portray the ever-increasing significance of digital sustainability – a trend we see increasing and developing in the months to come. The Body Shop exemplifies this trend particularly well
Let us know if you agree with the 3 UX trends that are coming more to the fore in 2021 – and stay tuned for the sister piece (I did promise there would be more family analogies…) on the cool cousin that is UI.