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Mobile App Design: Top UX Trends of a New Decade

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Mobile App Design: Top UX Trends of a New Decade

When it comes to technologies, their main goals are to offer users a unique digital experience, satisfy their needs and provide a new way of interaction with a digital product. When a person uses an app everything should feel maximally natural and convenient. And to reach such high level of users’ engagement some unique methods and techniques of User Experience Design (UX) should be applied. 

UX itself is derived from the physical world, conceptual design, and ergonomics and has its own design principles. All users face UX, no matter good or poor one, whenever they contact a digital world in any way – either by launching the app or by writing an email. To bolster my point, I would like to give some examples. Everyoneprobably knows about such free emailing service as Gmail. Chances are, you faced a situation when you tried to share a Google Drive file (especially the text or table one) in your email and ended up with the annoyed addressee asking you for permission to access that file. It’s not critical if the addressee is your friend, but if it is a business partner, your reputation and professionalism can be questioned. To avoid such situations and improve user experience, Google added a pop-up alert allowing users to change access permissions without leaving the mailing system. 

All iPhone owners appreciated the advantages of Siri long ago. Like many other users I like scheduling things using Siri and as a designer I noticed the main UX principles that were applied by Apple. Let’s imagine you decide to ask Siri to remind you to do something tomorrow and you are doing it after midnight. In this case the system will ask you to choose whether under “tomorrow” you mean this day or the next day (the exact dates will be specified on your display). This option is totally user-oriented and allows you to avoid numerous errors. Therefore it ensures great user experience. 

Although the essence of UX (which is to design always keeping users in mind) stays the same, the design trends change. So to create a great mobile app design you should take into account all emerging trends. 

Five trends a new decade brings us

Foldable devices. After Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X were released, all designers understood how many challenges await them. All foldable devices have non-standard screens which makes it hard to create a UX for that special aspect ratio and resolution. If we speak about user experience, it should provide an opportunity to manage the device with one hand, which is quite complicated. It is hard to tell whether foldable phones will invade the market and replace usual models, but the trend appeared and it will change the way we design. 

Augmented and Virtual Reality. Although this trend appeared in 2019, it’s only in a new decade it reached the peak of its popularity. All business niches like education, healthcare, gaming, real estate and many more resort to AR. It is not enough anymore to create a good application, it should be somehow complimented with AR technology. The user experience should feel natural and real, which means that the designers need to pay more attention to creating overall layout, scaling the objects, setting reference point, simplifying the interaction. 

5G introduction. People started talking about 5G at the end of 2018 and now this breakthrough is real and closer to our lives as never before. According to the GSM Association report “The number of 5G connections will reach 1.4 billion by 2025 – 15 percent of the global total”. This means the beginning of the new epoch when the Internet of Things will blossom. Numerous devices will be united into one ecosystem and such trend will influence the designers and UX they work upon. Taking into account the main feature of 5G (which is speed), the approach to the design will be changed. All heavy components will be excluded, the design will be light. 

Frameless devices. Each year the displays of our devices got bigger and bigger, while the frames were decreasing. Now no one is surprised by the look of a frameless phone but this shift brought numerous changes and new requirements into the design sphere. To create an effective UX every designer should take into account screen space and offer functional and yet visually appealing design. The visual part needs to be impeccable, so pixelation should be forgotten and aspect ratio should be carefully preserved. As the display size increases, it is harder to manage a phone using one hand. So when it comes to convenience, it is a good choice to replace usual tapping with gesturing and move navigation bar to the bottom of the screen as it is more convenient and feels natural. 

Personalized content. Have you noticed how many apps and websites added the recommendation section? Personalization is definitely a new highly popular trend. Whatever you are doing using your device – searching for movies or music, listening to podcasts or reading e-books – you will likely be offered a list of suggestions formed according to your previous choices. This all leads to a necessity of UX design for recommendations and personalization of interfaces. 

Practices that keep their position 

Dynamic transitions, parallax and motion effects. All these techniques became mainstream in 2018, and now are just well-known and common things that should be applied wisely. Many startupers and business owners tend to think that these effects will make their apps the best and all users will be extremely impressed. In fact, this approach is wrong, unless they hire a mobile development team that can make those effects not only cool-looking but also to perform correctly with no crashes.

Time-Saving. Some say it is a problem of this decade, some say it is a normal practice, but it is obvious that people started spending more time with the devices in hands.  They use smartphones for working, entertaining themselves, ordering food, making an appointment in clinics and many more activities, Phone became an indispensable tool and users became more demanding of it.  The average time a user spends in a mobile app per session is constantly decreasing. For now, it’s 5,4 minutes for an iOS app and 6.03 minutes for Android app. Did you notice this pretentious 20 seconds difference on the Apple’s side? Yes, this is simply because of the effective UX applied. 

Is there even a need to tell that a primary concern of the UX app designer is to keep the user journey in a 5-minutes time frame? I guess not. Frankly speaking, best UX practices used to achieve this in 2020 are generally the same as in 2019. A designer should refine mobile app navigation design. When it comes to colors, it is better to use shiny ones for vital buttons. To improve UX it is important to add user educational practices, tooltips and various hints. And what is more important, the user should understand all app possibilities right from the start. So the designer’s task is to familiarize the audience with them through UX. 

To sum it up 

You may say that a couple of mentioned trends are not completely new and they were heard of previously. But the thing is, all those trends became popular only now when the devices became more complex with the new standards and demands. UX trends constantly keep changing and bring new challenges to all designers. It is hard to predict what awaits us in a year or two, but what I can say for sure is that every design challenge is a perfect way to improve your skills and find a new creative solution. If you remember about the user while creating the design, you will likely succeed in what you are doing.

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