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Out with the old, in with the new: UX Design trends for 2018

Published January 26, 2018 by PLATFORM

Every New Year brings new trends and 2018 will be no different. Here are some of our thoughts as to what we might see in the upcoming year’s design trends. While the UI trends will continue to work with color, typography, layout wish some small tweaks, the experiences are about to get a new spin thanks to some hardware improvements bringing new opportunities.

Touch ID Will Become a Must Have Feature in 2018

We all hate having to remember yet another password. Touch ID has solved this problem to a certain extent, however, most applications are lagging behind the financial institutions in implementing it into their design. For the user, this is not just a security feature, this is a convenience feature and thus we should expect to see more apps implementing it to please the customers.


Additionally, as the adoption of devices with face recognition becomes more widespread, this type of biometric authentication will also become increasingly more sought after, not just for accessing the phone itself but also for accessing the apps within the phone. It is no wonder users are looking for easier ways of accessing information on their phones securely since according to apple, they are on average unlocking their device 80-times a day.

Increased Use of In-App Gesticulation

New models of smartphones offer several different sensory cues when we interact with them from vibration to the ability to do different things depending on how many fingers are used on the screen at the time to how hard we press on the screen. Apps will continue to explore how best to allow users to perform different commands with gestures. We will continue to see increased use of tap, drag, pinch, press, double tap, press and tap, etc. used in design. You may be wondering why these trends will make it into the 2018 designs, and the answer is rather simple. These commands can be often faster and are more playful.

Pushing the limits can be rewarding, however, be careful not to make it so difficult and different than what is commonly used that the user will need to reference a manual for proper operation.


Functional Animations and Use of Colors

We have seen animations used in the previous few years to add to the visual appeal of applications, however, these can be also used to add to the functionality. Animations by default have a motion in them and this motion could be used to guide the user towards a specific action. These types of animations can also serve to alert the user to new content, for example, the inbox icon does not necessarily need to display the red number indicating the new messages, it could simply grow in size and shake to alert you to the fact new messages have arrived.


Source: Alex Kipin

Some of these simpler notifications will be also done using color. Depending on the background color, you will know which particular subsection of the app you are interacting with. We will see color-coding taken to another level.

Improved Conversational Interactions

We are going to see increased use of voice commands for actions as voice-activated assistants are taking over our home lives as well as our interactions with the phones. This trend will likely become increasingly popular not only with people who have their hands occupied by let’s say driving but also by people who have a difficult time learning how to navigate the phone such as the elderly and even children, who find voice activation amusing and natural.

According to Google, approximately 20% of all searches in 2016 were done with voice activation!

However, we will also see another trend take over with chatbots powered by AI answering our questions instead of having to place a phone call to customer care or having to wait for an answer to our email for a few hours to a few days. The challenge for companies will be to create bots that seem natural so that customers do not lose trust in the organization.

Full-Screen Experiences

The release of iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8 created an expectation of full-screen experiences. This, of course, creates a challenge and an opportunity for redefining how you interact with the display when perhaps the image or the video takes up the entire screen and now there is no home button or a menu readily visible. Additionally, with these new vibrant screens, users will expect flawless graphics and videos (4K) and vibrant colors.


Source: Pontus Wellgraf 

Video and 3D Animation Effects

2017 exploded with the use of video which will continue to dominate 2018. This should come as no surprise as according to Hubspot 55% of users watch videos online every day and 78% of people watch videos online weekly. We will likely see some changes, however, adaptations for viewing a video in both landscape and portrait mode might be one of them as most people prefer to hold their phones in the portrait mode. We will also see shorter and shorter videos and snippets as our attention span continues to shorten, now standing at only 8 seconds! In addition to the video, we will see an increased use of 3D effects. Whether it will be to show products from multiple angles or to captivate the audience with a trendy look, 3D effects will surely impress the audience. Products might be showcased in various places throughout the website, however, the most common placement for these 3D effects will be above the fold or on a landing page.



Functional Use of Augmented Reality

Many of these trends will come together with improved personalization and augmented reality. Face recognition will bring more than just snapchat-style augmented pictures with flower crowns and bunny ears, we will see entire emoticons mimicking our facial expressions. Believe it or not, we will also see a utilitarian use of AR, such as AR Measure, which creates a virtual measuring tape for you. You know, just in case you do not carry one in your back pocket ;)



Increased and Improved Personalization

AI will take personalization to a whole another level, where location-based messages will no longer display to us in a format that is generic but will be personalized to a product-level for some retailers. More interestingly, however, there will be personalization to interaction with the phone itself (no, I did not confuse customization with personalization) the devices will adapt to your use without your need to create specific settings. For example, this could be done in terms of font size, where you will no longer have to increase the size of the font if you have a difficulty reading every time but these will start being adjusted for you. There are many other elements we will continue to see explored in design. Colors, typography and shape size in different variations will be combined to create new bold looks. We are looking forward to seeing your amazing designs in 2018! In the end, it comes down to a simple idea best expressed by Milton Glaser:

There are three responses to a piece of design - yes, no and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for!

Anna McNab is a product strategist at PLATFORM and an associate professor at Niagara University

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