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Improve user experience: top UI/UX trends of 2023
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the newest design trends and here are the tools you can start using right now to achieve a quick user experience improvement.
UI/UX design is evolving fast and so are users’ expectations for the look and feel of digital products. While trends are fleeting, it’s crucial that UI experts, creative professionals and web engineers in different industries take time to analyze them and their impact. They need to be aware, always, of the latest tools that can help improve the user experience.
So, as we move into 2023, we’ve decided to give you our picks of the trends that are likely to make a splash in the design world this year. From dark mode to morphisms and various color palettes, we will discuss tools that Avenga has already used successfully to help our clients stand out, or those that we plan to start using soon as we can clearly see their potential and usefulness.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of what to expect in 2023 and offer some design tips you can implement now to enhance the experience for your users and visitors. So, let’s get started.
Improving the user experience with dark mode
Lately, dark mode, also known as night mode or dark theme, has become available in most of our favorite apps and websites. We’re at the point where people just expect it to be there. The bright letters on a dark background are soothing, easy on the eyes, and better for battery life.
Additionally, they can make software potentially more accessible to visually impaired users.
The trend, as you’ve probably noticed, has been prevalent for a few years now and is still relevant in 2023. Therefore, our general advice is to always consider how a website or app looks in dark mode, especially if your default interface design is light. You should strive to have a dark theme available (at least as an additional option) while matching the overall flow and vibe of the content.
This means, don’t make it just a simple reversal of the color palette; it should be a carefully thought-out combination of deeper shades that generate a similar feel for the brand as the light mode, while improving readability. Instead of just using black and white, build a hierarchy of dark colors and experiment with a variety of combinations, including dark purples and pale grays, without resorting to palettes that are too saturated or similar to each other.
Historically, designers have been discouraged from using reversed text because it can be difficult to read. However, this is only applicable for large blocks of copy. With the increase in monitor resolution, and the recent move to reduce the amount of copy on web pages, the trend of dark mode has been able to thrive.
Most operating systems and web browsers now have an option to choose dark themes too. So, don’t neglect it. It’s an easy way to create a mysterious and dramatic mood, while tapping into people’s instinctive association of rich dark and white colors with premium goods.Figure 1. Dark mode used on SNL’s website
Using AI to get new ideas
While we decidedly refuse to join the hysteria surrounding generative AI models, such as Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DALL-E 2, being on the brink of replacing human UI experts, we are sure that they can and should be utilized to enhance, speed up, and automate parts of the design workflow, however they should be wisely used. And, this is exactly what we have been witnessing lately: designers are increasingly delegating certain tasks to AI while focusing on solving critical design issues.
The range of AI applications in design is quite extensive. Some prompt models to generate background images for their landing pages, which they then either use as is or blend with their own creations. AI can also suggest ideas that a human expert might not have thought of, which can greatly enhance their personal style. Some utilize the tools to create illustrations, custom graphics, or icons in vector form. Some have AI networks generate entire designs for their websites or apps, which they then tailor to fit specific requirements. Additionally, prompting-savvy experts are using AI for testing and prototyping, where it quickly generates mockups and other UI elements, which enable them to experiment with concepts and iterate efficiently.
In either of these cases, the algorithms save designers a tremendous amount of time and money. They can produce high-resolution images with numerous variations in just a matter of minutes, compared to the number of days of manual labor that would have been required in the past. As a result, the use of AI in UI design is expected to surge in 2023.Figure 2. Example of an AI-generated background image being used in design
Implementing NEUBrutalism to stand out
The trend of NEUBrutalism finds its roots in Brutalist architecture and pre-2000 websites that were characterized by simple HTML with minimal decoration. This unadorned simplicity, when reimagined in a modern NEUBrutalist style, creates a visually striking effect that is firm, unorthodox, and unapologetically bold. It is a great way to stand out in the market, whether you have an app or website.
Key elements of NEUBrutalism
- An unusual or slightly off background color
- A seemingly random and chaotic layout where cards do not match
- Few gradients
- Default shapes
- Sharp contrasts and hard shadows
- Thick and dark outlines
The challenge lies in striking the right balance between attention-grabbing and easy-on-the-eyes. The colors should be bright enough to draw attention, yet slightly muted to avoid hurting the eyes. Another key element is the combination of different lines: thin, thick, dashed, or dotted, that create a purposeful inconsistency that enhances the design. This can be combined with parallax scrolling and high contrast photography to add interest even to simple objects.
Although more companies are experimenting with this style, it is still considered an acquired taste. Companies like Gumroad and Figma have managed to make it look astonishing, but others have not been as successful. If you are interested in dabbling in NEUBrutalism, you can start by incorporating some elements of it into your current design, such as interesting layouts or giant typography, without completely revamping your branding. When executed correctly, NEUBrutalist elements can help you stand out from the crowd and, like dark mode, potentially improve accessibility.Figure 3. Gumroad’s NEUBrutalist website
Giving websites and apps a spark with motion animation
This leads us to the next trend, which is motion design. Whether it’s large-scale animations or small transitions, most websites and applications now contain some motion design. And, this is not surprising as our attention span continues to decrease and we want software to be lively and engaging.
With the proliferation of Tik-Tok, Instagram feed, YouTube Shorts, etc., which deliver constant motion, users expect their apps and websites to be ‘full of movement’ as well, meaning static elements are no longer in UI fashion.
Here’s what you can use to add a spark to your software products
- Typography: stretching, twisting, bending, and shape-shifting letters can create a 3D-like effect that instantly makes copy more engaging. While moderation is required, and smaller text is better kept static, headings can be accentuated with some form of interesting movement.
- Liquid motion: this refers to the movement of objects on the screen that resembles fluid motion. This is often combined with interactive animation, such as ripples that occur when a cursor hovers over a region of the screen, or waves that appear during scrolling.
- Grain texture: this helps give website imagery a similar texture to the real world, as opposed to a super polished and shiny animation which can look artificial and off-putting. This effect feels welcoming to viewers.
- 2D/3D combinations: 3D animation has become a powerful tool for creative brand storytelling that engages the viewer and elicits emotions. Merging realistic 3D illustrations with 2D paper cutouts is a unique way to capture a user’s attention even faster.
- Morphing: this is when one element on the website seamlessly transitions into another, creating an interesting continuity of motion that keeps the user watching until the end.
Figure 4. Motion animation on Avega’s website. As you can see, motion animation enabled us to optimize the use of a limited visual space by conveying multiple messages simultaneously.
Enhancing the user experience with vibrant gradients
Gradients are no longer just limited to a standard fade. The latest trends feature mesh, abstract, and aurora gradient styles that offer a more sophisticated and eye-catching look. These innovative styles can be seen applied on buttons, cards, and website backgrounds, and are often paired with a parallax effect. Many companies are taking it a step further by incorporating gradients into their web page text too, which gives their sites a fresh vibrant look.
However, it is important not to forget about balance here. Overuse can make the design look cluttered and overwhelming. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using flashy colors on body copy, as it could hinder readability and cause eye strain, and just use gradients to emphasize headings, button text, or calls-to-action.
Combining gradients with animation is another way to make the design more dynamic. For example, you can consider applying a smoke gradient, which adds a cool moving gradient effect to the background. Another popular option is incorporating gradient movement that follows the cursor or appears when a button is pressed, adding an interactive element to the design.Figure 5. Vivid gradients in UI design
Conveying a no-nonsense stand with vivid minimalism
Heading in a different direction, but just as enduringly popular, is the minimalism trend. Monochromatic and simplistic designs continue to be highly valued by users for their ease of navigation and understanding. They too can increase immersiveness as viewers don’t have to process a lot of complicated elements and their attention is immediately drawn to the content the company wants highlighted.
Minimalism can give a brand an aura of authenticity and unpretentiousness. People often feel a stronger connection to a company with a more stripped-back and down-to-earth design, without flashy excesses.
An added advantage of minimalism is that it is arguably easier to implement than some of the other trends we’ve talked about. Its primary focus is to ’trim the fat’ from the brand’s messaging and select the graphic elements that will convey what the brand is about, simply and stylishly. A well-executed minimalist approach can leave viewers thinking that your company is no-nonsense, aspirational, and future-focused, which is always appealing and can give you a competitive edge.Figure 6. Award-winning minimalist design
Making users feel at home with candy tones
Sweets-shop shades add a soft and soothing feel to any website or application. They’ve been in style in the UI world for years and they’re surely not disappearing in 2023. Companies in different areas continue to cleverly use muted, pleasant and non-aggressive tones to conjure a calming atmosphere in viewers that are interacting with their software products or websites.
When implemented in a branding scheme, these non-invasive colors also look playful and inviting. They can be a distinguishing tool and help your organization to stand out in the world of ubiquitous bright and screaming user interfaces. Figure 7. Welcoming pastel colors
These trends are not necessarily something new. Most of them actually are not. And, it is impossible to capture and integrate all of them into a design, since they may often be contradictory or even mutually exclusive.
However, it’s always smart to use them as a jumping off point when building something unique-looking and when trying to improve your user experience. Have them influence your UI decisions, at least to some degree, and let them be an inspiration for your exclusive ideas, as this is how you ensure your product reflects your vision and hits the mark with your clients.
If you’re wondering how to enhance your user experience or need any assistance in creating an engaging and stylish-looking digital product, our UI/UX experts are ready to become your competitive advantage in design! Contact us
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