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User Interface and User Experience Trends For 2019: Part One

Every year we create blog posts about the web design trends of the year and so do the hundreds of thousands of other web design agencies in the world. However, rarely do you see agencies talk about user interface and user experience trends, despite those being the whole reason web design exists in the first place.

The number one trend for modern design is context. We no longer experience the digital world through generalisations and everything we see is in context and connected. Of course, everything can be designed better, from the packaging we see in supermarkets to the way nations are perceived. For now, let’s look into the top 5 user interface and user experience design trends that are forecast for 2019.

Browsers Are Evolving

Web browsers are the vehicle we use to experience the online world and for our experience to be rewarding, the browser needs to make an impact. The most popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) are evolving and becoming faster, more powerful and attractive to users.

The benchmark and performance tests that we can conduct show that there has been significant performance boosts for the most popular browsers used around the world. These increases in speed are largely due to streaming compilation, which impacts the way they are designed massively. In a recent report, Mozilla claimed that their new compiler will be 10-15 times faster than any previous version of their optimising compiler. Additionally, all modern browsers support WebGL 2, which allows them to render a whole new level of objects, 3D textures, fragment depth and vertex array objects.

These improvements are allowing both mobile and web browsers to bridge the gap between conceptual design and reality. Below is a graph of the evolution of the web from its beginnings to 2012 (the company behind it stopped tracking then :( )

Of course, these advancements promote their own value without impacting the industry itself on a wider level. There is so much going on in the digital world that it’s difficult for developers to clean up the internet with universal solutions that fit every website.

Still, no matter how great the browser is and how great the advances in technology are, they are often still contaminated with bad user experience design. This is where we should see improvements in 2019, with better design choices that enable the full potential of web browsers to unfold.

Purposeful Animation and Motion Design

The aforementioned advancements in browser capabilities have opened the door for more purposeful animation that enhances a user’s experience. This creates not only an opportunity for the motion of elements but also a legitimate design opportunity for developers. The discipline that deals in such elements is known as motion design, which involves a lot of different aspects of design and is intersected with psychology and biology.

It is anticipated that this field will continue to be explored to deeper depths over the course of 2019, as companies strive to differentiate themselves from the competition. The complexity in design will replace the fads we are used to seeing in animation as the main characteristic feature of the animation we see in designs.

To engage customers at a much deeper level, we need to be with users throughout every step of their interaction with our company, making every second count. This presents an opportunity for designers to take advantage of this before it becomes poisoned by blunt marketing.

The utilisation of motion design not only creates stunning presentation and serving as a gap filler but also becomes an embedded part of the branding of a company. Logos are merely the totems that brands use to identify themselves, but what if we could tap into our imagination and bring life to those logos?

We need to start thinking about what makes up our logo – how it feels, tastes, smells and sounds. After all, motion is much better at putting across what a company is about better than lighting, positioning and materials. With motion, we can tell a story and we should make a conscious effort to make our logo part of our story.

3D Design In User Interfaces and Deep Flat

As you will be aware, 3D rendering and computer-generated augmentation of real footage and imagery is nothing new as we have seen it in movies and TV shows for decades.

However, because of speed, performance and accessibility issues, designers have generally avoided complex 3D model use in user interfaces. With the advancements we have mentioned in browser technology though, we have seen what was once a luxury becomes an affordable feature. Much more complex visual effects that take scenes from movies into the realm of web design.

Specifically, this trend is becoming useful to production companies that have complex processes that are not very easy to describe in a satisfactory visual manner. By adding 3D visualisation into the mix, companies are able to accurately display their processes and create a deeper level of understanding for their customers.

Of course, this works well in movies and video games because it isn’t displayed for very long and simply creates a superficial impression on the audience. If you were to combine purposeful animation with 3D elements, it would become a very powerful tool for user interface design.

This can be seen in the mobile space already, where newer, more powerful chips are making it possible to not only render 3D objects in detail but also use them within an interface – this is perfect for smaller screens.

The vast majority of UI design has been flat for the past five years and this hasn’t really changed until recently. We’re beginning to witness a clear shift in UI design towards depth and dimension within a flat design, without altering the main idea. This depth is necessary to flat design as it creates a symbolism to make sense of what we are looking at.

The combination of real 3D and CG creates a customer response to life-like objects that they can interact with and we are beginning to see flat design’s capability to build on this in a unique way. Pseudo 3D is the generally accepted term for this and is defined as flat layers stacking to create a three-dimensional feel. This extra dimension is added through the use of shadow, light positioning and reflections.

This “fake” 3D trend can also be spotted using conventional design tools like After Effects to create movement patterns that emulate 3D movement.

2019 may see the return of skeuomorphism in a way that we haven’t experienced yet. It makes sense that if flat can be deep, it can also be isometric. This retains the flat symbolism and taps into a realistic looking interface.

Thus ends part one of our roundup of the user interface and user experience trends for 2019, stay tuned for part two and sign up to our newsletter below to be notified!

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