We predict which trends will have the UX industry's attention this year
While it’s hard to believe it’s already February, there’s still time to note this year’s highly anticipated design trends. Our smartphones, wearables, and computers have greater processing power than ever before, and 2019 is the year we’ll see designers leverage that power in some really interesting ways.
Social changes impact design in major fashion, so it’s only prudent to include them in the discussion. Finally, as designers we can design for any technology that can support our vision, once it exists — so we have to mention some advances in this year’s tech and what that means for the industry.
Gmail's mail icon is a well-known example of material design.
Look out flat design, material is taking over
The introduction of this new design method has been a slow burn, but material design has become widely accepted over the last few years, and in 2019 it’s expected to surpass flat design in popularity and use. This means layouts that leverage print design methods that more closely mirror the feeling of real paper and ink. It means heavier use of shadows and gradients, animation, grids, and vibrant colors.
Design in motion
If a picture speaks a thousand words, an image in motion must speak millions. From interactive logos and charts to gesture-based controls that show users how an app behaves, animation is a new and creative way that designers convey meaning.
“Motion and transitions convey a lot of information that otherwise would be lost,” says UX writer and researcher Moses Kim. “Motion speaks better than lighting, positioning, and materials. Motion tells a story.”
And while isometric illustrations aren’t new, bringing them to life with animation is something we’ll see a lot more of in 2019 as well.
If leveraged properly, this new trick could be a real treat — if not it will definitely leave a bad taste in our mouths. Only time will tell, but I’m optimistic!
Healthier living, one app at a time
Last year, it was brought to our attention that our devices and social media accounts could be wreaking havoc on our emotional, mental, and physical health. In response, industry leaders like Google, Apple, and Instagram answered by integrating health-conscious features into their line of products, such as prompts to limit screen time.
I foresee 2019 being the year that everyone else catches up. As savvy users become more and more aware of the impact technology has on their overall health, they’ll gravitate towards technology designed to help them monitor usage and spend less time on their screens.
You did what with my data?!
I’ve lost count how many apps have had some form of a security issue in the last year, from Facebook’s data breach to Apple’s latest FaceTime debacle. Now more than ever, consumers are questioning the security of their information and are making decisions on which sites, tools, and apps they’ll trust.
You might argue that this is a problem for developers to tackle, but they can’t do it alone. It’s also very important that designers build trust with their users via clear, concise copy that explains how their data is used and an experience that conveys trust. This is the year we’ll see some innovative ways to take on this challenge.
Attacking the voice design challenge head-on
While voice-controlled devices are no longer a novelty, the technology still has a way to go as far as user satisfaction is concerned. About a third of smart speaker owners end up using them less after the first month, according to an NPR and Edison Research report from last year. Still, in spite of the challenges that voice control has had over the years, according to comScore “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020”, and 55% of households in the US are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022 (OC&C Strategy Consultants).
There’s a lot of incentive for improving voice user interfaces (VUI), and in 2019 we’re anticipating major strides to be made in this space. Here are a few of the ways that VUIs are seeking to improve:
Context: The ability to remember a specific topic in order to have a continued conversation.
Example: A user could ask a series of related questions: “How old is Harrison Ford?”...”When was he born?”...”How much money did he make last year?”
Empathy: The ability to recognize speech patterns, proper speech etiquette, and social behaviors would not only improve the overall experience but build trust with using voice-enabled systems and delight users in the process.
Examples: The voice assistant says ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ or recognizes pauses in speech as the ebb and flow of normal conversation and not the assistant’s opportunity to answer the command/question. Last fall, Amazon announced Alexa’s capability to detect whisper speech and respond in whisper — perfect for anyone with a sleeping baby.
Complexity: The ability to interpret multi-clause commands or complex requests correctly without the user needing to phrase them in particular ways.
Personal Experience: I get frustrated with Siri when I take the time to learn the “right” way to do something, only to have her require that I ask it a different way after an update. For example, I used to be able to say “Hey Siri, call Mom’s cell mobile” but after the last update it only works if I say, “Hey Siri, call Mom’s cell iPhone”... How infuriating, just call her already!
We’re all really pushing for VUIs to get it right, whether it’s our smartphones or home speakers. We want to leverage this technology, but it has to be done right. Therefore, designers have their work cut out for them to build back trust that bad tech has broken. I’m hopeful that this is the year that they finally get it right!
Last year we saw an uptick in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) as enabled devices became more affordable and readily available. Most newer smartphones these days offer some form of AR as a built-in feature with no increase to their price tag. This year, however, is when I believe we’ll see a huge increase in Mixed Reality (MR), where designers and engineers use AR, VR, 360-degree video, and even holograms to create a fully immersive experience.
Take for instance the Microsoft HoloLens, which at the time of this article has 379 apps ready for download (and that number is only expected to grow). Watching a demo of this headset reminds me of Marvel’s Ironman, because just like Tony Stark, you can interact with apps that unfold in 3D before your very eyes.
Not all of the MR devices in production are for productivity — we’ll be seeing it used more and more for entertainment. From MR Arcades to MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), MR has implications across a whole multitude of mediums and designs. So the question isn’t if or when MR will be leveraged, it’s how.
In case you missed it, 2019 is certainly shaping up to be a fun year for design! If you’re interested in learning more, here is some recommended reading for you: