Our mobile devices have permeated our everyday lives in unprecedented levels. From emails and texts not only to our friends but for work, social media and entertainment, maps and GPS guidance, we devote a lot of time to our phones, tablets and laptop computers. As a result, a few trends have popped up to make our lives easier.
Syncing Over Multiple Devices
Users use different devices randomly every day. Now, it’s common to start typing information in one device and finish the action in another. Device multi-use is the reason why UI elements in mobile, web or desktop apps should look as similar as possible. In this case the user expects that all of their actions and all the content is saved in the cloud automatically. There's also Responsive Design - due to the various devices being used, Responsive Design becomes not a feature, but rather the norm to adapt and display the content for any device.
Efficiency and Flow
Sometimes in life every second matters and there is no time to deal with an unnecessary UI element; it just slows the users down. If the app is not structured as a single page, it’s good to provide links for everything. It helps the user to complete actions faster. When using links for everything, every function that a web app might have, the user can avoid dead-ends and using the browsers "back" function more than once.
Additionally, when the user tries an app for the first time, it’s very important that example data is provided as a placeholder for editable fields. One recent popular solution to this problem is having a sticky navigation bar. No matter if the user uses side bar controls or scrolls deep down on a page, the main navigation bar is still visible and available. This kind of navigation layout helps not only to navigate more efficiently inside the app, but also shows the core structure of the app.
The user always focuses his attention on the content he’s consuming, so the UI of a web app should be neat, without clutter and unnecessary elements. The aim is to reduce the amount of extra elements while leaving just the important ones. Removing the pile of UI elements eases the weight they have on the UI view and helps the user to quickly perceive what actions are the most important. Less important actions could be placed under the main navigation and grouped in a logical sequence.
A deficiency of the aforementioned UI trend is that the user can’t see the desired action until the action group is expanded. This means that the user must know the exact locations of the actions by heart, if it needs to be quickly used. All of these situations need to be taken into account when choosing what elements to keep grouped and directly available.
Make it Aesthetically Appealing
It is also important that the user actually enjoys the app, therefore the app should look good. There are some important details to achieve that:
- Content. Minimalistic and clear content presentation is best. The main accent should be what is most important while disregarding irrelevant elements. Bold accents surrounded with some space and attractive multimedia elements to provide some life. For the main content presentation, it’s always important to pay attention to readability.
- Color. Pick a vibrant color and contrast it in your UI design, especially to separate content from navigation. The whole UI solution should be contrasting and clear. It is realistic to expect a successful result if the UI involves two or three main contrast colors.
- Animation. Animation provides a dynamic in UI and is a hint to how objects move in the real world. The element should respond dynamically when the user interacts with it. This is very important in the modern web, because UI design is mostly flat and it’s vitally important to give some life to it’s elements.
- Grid. It’s important to enable the user to view content in a grid or list mode. If content involves a lot of multimedia content, the grid mode is more engaging, because the user can look over more content without scrolling and see larger multimedia elements. It’s good to provide an ability to switch to list viewing mode, if the user prefers browsing through headlines.
- The user wants to browse multimedia content without a distracting UI. That’s why it’s important to show elements in a lightbox or in full-screen modes, so that the user could focus attention on the content.
All UI trends are developed thanks to continuous technology improvements and user interactions with apps over time. User behavior and habits dictate the UI trend, so if a designer keeps that in mind while creating UI design, it's possible to stay ahead of trends.