The computer industry had made tremendous strides in the last seventy years. From the invention of first computer weighing 50 tons back in 1946 we are now in the present era of desktops, laptops and tablets which are more user friendly, simple and advanced. The trend repeats in the case of UI/UX in mobile phones although the progress has been faster. From the earlier to current versions, Operating Systems have gone down a path of simplification and minimization of user interfaces, making them more user-friendly and appealing. The rapid growth of the industry is shaping newer design standards.
It is worthwhile taking a look at the basic concept of UI/UX while trying to know the UI/UX trends in mobile application design. UI and UX are both similar sounding terms but in fact different and often misunderstood. User Interface (UI) is defined as a series of screen, pages and visual elements like buttons and icons that you use to interact with a device. User Experience (UX) on the other hand is the internal experience that a person has as they interact with every aspect of a company’s products and services. The explanation is not exactly comprehensive though. User experience has many elements, including UI, and is concerned with all facets of the overall experience delivered to users.
Here are some findings I arrived at while going through the latest trends in mobile application design to pick up some of the most relevant ones.
Visualization is as important as effective and easily readable content. Integrating diffused images as the background will make the design more appealing and enhance effective visual contents. Last year saw diffused backgrounds proving to be a hit amongst web designers. It is likely that these will make an indispensible part of mobile design in the long run.
Image Illustration : EXPEDIA HOTELS, FLIGHTS AND CARS application with Diffused background
A couple of years back Google announced Material Design, at its annual I/O conference. Unlike real paper, Google’s digital material can expand and reform intelligently. Material has physical surfaces and edges. Seams and shadows provide meaning about what we can touch.’ Material design came with new improved elements such as Material Theme, Lists and Cards, Shadows and Drawables, which set a new standard in application designs. These impressed users at many levels so much so that many of its features were adapted by other Operating Systems.
Image Illustration : RAINDROP.IO application with material design features
Flawless transitions and animations raised the levels when it comes to user experiences and interactions. The improved animations and motions of applications along with their transitions have grown so far and maintained an important position while defining UI and UX. 2D animation and cinemagraphs brought ordinary pictures and illustrations to life. It is a hybrid of motion and stills and was able to easily catch the attention of uses without much distraction.
Image Illustration : MORNING ROUTINE - ALARM CLOCK application being perfect example for simple animations and motions
The usage of gestures has grown in navigation within and outside applications, making it simpler and friendly for the users. Gestures always simplify the user experience, creating shortcuts for users and delighting them. Apple’s 3D touch takes gestures to a higher level, as they can detect the amount of pressure on the screen and translate that into a gesture.
Image illustration : APPLE’S 3D TOUCH shortcut feature with mini menu
Color Schemes have improved over time. Material Design suggests using unexpected and vibrant colors and building color hierarchy within. Now, simple colors and soft contracts are being replaced by new color palettes focusing on both dark and light color backgrounds.
Image Illustration : GOOGLE KEEP application with bold color schemes
Integration of social media buttons with mobile app will enable users to login or sign up using the social media platform of their choice, minimizing the effort and making us to get in with a click’s span. Since 2014, the prominence of Social media buttons inside applications has been remarkable and is all set for its survival in future apps.
Image Illustration : MYNTRA ONLINE SHOPPING APP with social media buttons
Wearables, including smart glasses and smart watches are trending on the mobile market. The wearable market seems to be rising constantly, forcing designers to continuously improve the UI/UX and make it more efficient. The latest research forecasts wearables to outstrip a number of 200 million units to be shipped by 2019, driven by strong smart watch growth.
UI/UX trends will keep on changing, some of them will stay longer, some shorter and some will move on. It will be quite interesting to watch these trends come and go and guess which lasts forever.