2013 was an exciting year for UX/UI design with one of the key changes being a marked move from skeumorphic to flat design. However, beware of thinking this approach is merely a move towards a minimalist style. The real point behind this change is that it is a shift of focus onto content and functionality, while doing away with superfluous elements. It is important to note that it is not merely about removing as many elements as possible in an attempt to reduce clutter. It is about deciding what to remove in order to make the product easier to understand while still maintaining a clear hierarchy of elements.
With input from designers the world over, we feel 2014 is going to be an extremely exciting year for UX/UI design. In the coming year, we will be seeing a number of impressive changes in design. We feel confident that the trends we have put forward will enrich our growing usage of mobile devices, as well as making the experience even more intuitive overall.
Increased sense of depth and layered information
Despite moving towards a cleaner design, by using layered interfaces the experience will be richer, giving a real sense of 3D, as well as clarifying the relationship between elements and interaction.
Developing a cleaner UI design also means removing any unnecessary elements. Creativity will certainly come into play with the separation of content, not through lines and dividers, but through the clever use of navigation elements and content such as images, icons as well as buttons, colors and spacing.
Touching and gesture capabilities, as well as more gesture-based actions will become the norm. By learning a simple gesture, the user will not only simplify their experience, but will also enjoy a quicker and more comfortable interaction with the interface.
The days of complex gestures are quickly disappearing. With mobile device use spreading to every location and occasion, it is frequently the case that the user is only able to use one hand to both hold and use the device. More thumb-focused interactions will solve this problem.
Using color as a tool
A visual and clear way of highlighting a call to action is the use of simple color schemes. By using a neutral palette for the general scheme, the contrast with a more vibrant color will define the call to action.
Improving communication with iconography
We predict a huge rise in the use of icons using a stroke & fill design pattern. Making the recognition of active tabs, toolbars and controls easier, it will also give better contrast between active and inactive sections.
Improving interactive feedback
Due to the specs and technical capabilities of new mobile devices, complex animations enriching the user experience can be created with more ease. It’s a great way to really engage the user, but best not to overdo it. Try to use animations only when you have a clear reason for doing so as the excessive use of animated effects can be detrimental to the experience.
Typography does not escape the move towards simplicity and we foresee more focus on varying weights and dimensions of the same font, rather than using different typefaces. The objective is increasing clarity in functionality and usability.
Clarifying hierarchy further
We predict blur effects will be used with even more frequency in the coming year. It allows for a clear understanding of the mobile solution’s flow and hierarchy without dominating the overall design. A subtle touch in a world doing away with the excessive.
Somewhere between a phone and a tablet, we think Phablets are going to be growing in popularity in 2014. With Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, it won’t be long before Apple and Windows follow suit and release their own devices. It will open up the possibility of UX solutions which perhaps had previously only been considered for tablets.