When we talk about modern trends in User Interface (UI) design, we’re not talking about former trends that have since become popular design features — such as minimalism or dark mode.
Rather, we’re intrigued by where UI design is headed next. As user needs, desires, and expectations evolve over time, so do the appearance, interactive features, responsiveness, and overall experience of user-centric products.
The best UI design, whether fashionable or commonplace, still understands how to anticipate user needs. Let’s take a look at what emerging UI design trends are on the horizon.
Emerging Trends in UI Design
According to UXPin, modern UI design in 2023 is all about personalization like scrollytelling or data storytelling. Other UI hot topics include buttonless UIs, generative AI, animations, bold typography, and voice-operated interfaces.
Of course, trendy doesn’t always mean useful. Here’s a breakdown of modern UI trends that have the most utility.
From unusual hover effects to kinetic typography, UI designers are reinventing how animation can be used to enhance interfaces.
Of course, a little goes a long way. There’s a fine line between “just enough” animation and a busy, cluttered interface.
Interfaces with too many animations run counter to the principles of good design. You don’t want your website or software products to overwhelm the user.
If you’re thinking about implementing more animation in your product’s interface, keep the following in mind.
Effective UI animations should:
- Simplify complex ideas and information.
- Visually demonstrate how a product, service, or function can be used.
- Make the interface feel creative, playful, and engaging.
Animations may be ineffective for UI if they:
- Distract the user from finding information or completing tasks.
- Lead to sensory overwhelm and make using the interface an uncomfortable or disorienting experience.
- Appear too rapid or too slow.
Designers should consider the platform their users are on when watching the animations, as well as the attention span of their core userbase.
One of the main benefits of incorporating AI with UI forms is the increase in efficiency.
AI-powered forms use artificial intelligence to autofill forms with accurate and necessary information. It saves the user time and energy, and improves the user experience by:
- Reducing errors: AI enhances real-time error detection and provides the user with feedback to help them identify and correct errors they might overlook.
- Improving accuracy: Pulls from user data to autocomplete or pre-fill form fields.
- Saving time: Predicts which information the user needs to enter next, reducing the average time that users spend filling out forms.
Voice-operated interfaces function by responding to voice commands. These interfaces support users who want to interact with gadgets and programs, but without using their hands or eyes.
This UI feature is especially useful for people with disabilities or who need to use a product when hands-free operation is required, such as while driving.
Voice-operated interfaces increase accessibility by giving consumers additional means to interact with products. They also lower cognitive load by letting users interact with products in a more natural manner.
65% of Americans in the 25-to-49 age group use voice-enabled devices at least once per day. Some of the best uses for voice-operated interfaces include:
- Voice search: A voice-operated search bar for hands-free interaction with a website. It reduces the friction that comes with typing, and makes websites more accessible for people with physical challenges or disabilities. E-commerce websites are currently leading the way in implementing voice search for retail consumers.
- Voice assistant: Voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home connect to other smart home products, allowing users to voice-activate products that may otherwise lack voice-operated features.
Voice-operated interfaces have undergone a rapid expansion since 2020, when sales for smart speakers reached 150 million devices. That same year, 30% of online sessions took place without screen interaction.
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Principles of Modern Design
Modern UI trends may be quick to change, but the core principles of great design endure.
Not every new design trend will be the right choice for your products or user base. Use the following standards as your north star when navigating the newest and most cutting-edge UI designs.
Strategic use of aesthetic design components can improve the UI of your website by making it more aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.
Color schemes, typography, and other aesthetic elements can make or break the experience of using an interface. By establishing a visual hierarchy centered on color, for example, you can use color to guide users through an interface.
Color can be quite powerful in UI design, but it's not always dependable.
Some users may have visual impairments like color blindness. If you use a color hierarchy to guide your product’s interface, take care that the colors you’ve chosen will not alienate or exclude some of your user base.
Likewise, which color family — also known as hue — you choose will matter more than the specific tone or tint within that color family. That’s because colors convey certain psychological meanings and can trigger different emotions.
Text and typography
When it comes to user interface design, great typography is all about accessibility.
Clear and legible letters make text more readable. Readable text, in turn, aids the reader’s ability to understand and digest content.
Employ typography and font sizes to establish hierarchy and enhance readability. Effective use of typography can make complicated ideas more intuitive to understand, while also establishing an emotional connection with the reader.
Designers tend to agree that the smallest legible font size for online readers is 16px. The typeface you choose, of course, will be the ultimate determinant of ideal font size.
Use different, but consistent font sizes to establish a visual hierarchy, as well as to organize headers and distinguish them from body text.
Photos can have a positive influence on how consumers view a product or brand. When consumers see images that don’t resonate with them, they risk having a negative influence, too.
Excessive use of images can be just as harmful, given that clutter reduction is one of the most fundamental principles of UI design. Since the screens that mobile and laptop users use to access websites are often small, too many images and other visual elements can create a noisy interface that is a challenge to navigate.
The goal of experiential design is to give users an immersive and compelling experience.
Experiential design emphasizes interactive elements like buttons, animations, custom scrollbars, visual storytelling, and virtual and augmented reality.
When experiential design principles are applied to UI, it improves the user experience in the following ways:
- Higher engagement: Interactive design elements keep users engaged. As we covered earlier, animations can add personality to a website or application and make it more memorable for the users.
- Enhanced usability: Experiential design can ease navigation of a website or app. Immersive scrolling, for example, is an interactive design element that curates and presents content to guide the user through a streamlined experience.
- Broader accessibility: Experiential product design makes products more accessible for users with disabilities. For example, large and easy-to-click buttons can aid users with motor impairments. Animations can be helpful for users with visual impairments, as long as they’re not too fast or flashy.
Clear User Flow
There are countless benefits to establishing user flows, including guiding product users to complete a desired action.
User flow is the path a user takes as they move through your website or mobile app to perform a job. The best user flow designs understand the user's objectives to provide an easy-to-follow path.
Users rely on thoughtful user flow to execute actions fast. That’s why they’re more likely to abandon your product if they have to spend substantial time learning how to navigate it.
When mapping a user flow, think about how you can simplify the initial path to ensure you’re supporting — not obstructing — user activity.
Maintain Design Consistency
UI design consistency refers to the uniformity of elements that comprise a design.
Consistency keeps the variations of a design to a minimum, preventing users from repeatedly learning how to interact with new elements each time they want to complete an action.
Design consistency also gives website users a sense of control and familiarity. By continually demonstrating that their expectations about the user interface are accurate, they begin to perceive your website — and brand — as more dependable.
Consistent design makes it easier for users to adopt a new product because they spend less time learning how to use it.
Scannable, concise website content is crucial since it lightens the cognitive load. Cognitive load refers to the resources and memory that a person needs to use to understand information.
According to the theory of cognitive load, an individual comprehends information faster when text has a low cognitive workload. Ideally, multimedia content design should demand as little cognitive load as possible.
Use short, scannable text when you need to accommodate a product with bolder aesthetic elements. Concise text gives designers more room to experiment with visual components and other design elements that can improve the user experience.
Our Favorite Examples of Modern UI Design
We’ve gathered a few examples of some of our favorite UI design examples. Use the below websites as design inspiration, while taking into account how they each use one or more of the design processes discussed above.
Anyday is an agency that provides brand, software, and web design services for technology firms and B2B service providers.
Their website is defined by its clear user flow and the broad appeal of its mild color scheme. The site also makes deliberate use of large text to create a visual hierarchy that highlights key information.
Anyday’s web design portfolio uses video to weave examples of their work into a compelling visual story. It’s an elegant way to convey vital information about their business mission, and substitutes the need for animation.
Kilberry is a management psychology firm. Their minimalist design scheme uses a limited amount of text, images, and videos to communicate its mission to visitors and promote a faster load time.
Kilberry’s website design uses animated elements to guide visitors around its landing page. The header menu is designed to adapt to a visitor's activity by fading from the top bar during scrolling.
Designed by Anyday, Oppono’s elaborate use of artistic animation communicates its business purposes while guiding visitors to perform desired actions.
The website's brief but impactful landing page prevents mindless scrolling to reduce the time a user spends between landing and visiting target pages.
Oppono contrasts its deep blue background with layers of red, green, and white to ensure maximum visibility. The website menu is bold and intuitive.
Dropbox is a cloud storage platform with a clean, text-driven design. It makes the most of its hero section by centering a visible call to action for visitors who do not currently have a Dropbox account.
The website uses a clear hierarchy of information throughout the website, which reflects the streamlined organization of its cloud storage services.
Algolia makes our list of web pages with beautiful design because of its modern UI elements like voice search.
The website's home page uses contrasting colors to highlight information. Its hero section displays its flagship voice-search technology products, while the rest of its home page and other sections use contrasting colors to highlight information and explain key product features.
Built to market and process their customers’ orders, Steasy’s website contrasts white space, minimal content, and vivid imagery to showcase its mobile mini steamer. Its multi-functional design allows the website to operate like a product photography catalog.
However, it’s still clear that the focus of their web UI is helping customers place an order. The header bar is fixed and accessible from any section of the website, acting as a quick-action button for making purchases. This design is both inviting and user-focused.
Modern UI design runs the gamut, so not every trend will be appropriate or useful for your website. Keep in mind that some trends may become obsolete or fall out of favor if they no longer serve or fulfill users’ needs.
With time, other UI design trends may be embraced as design standards. Make use of trends that support your website’s needs while observing the foundational principles of UI design.
There’s a reason why the most extraordinary user interfaces are effective user interfaces. Given that the ultimate goal of UI design is to help users complete actions with superior ease, aesthetics are important — but should remain secondary to function.