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11 Mobile UX Design Trends

Published September 8, 2016 by PLATFORM

Wondering what the future of web design will look like? We should see more and more of these design concepts in more native apps and mobile websites this year:

1. Invisible Design: Invisible Design: Google Maps automatically re-routing when you veer off course is an example of invisible design. Airbnb using machine learning to show you hosts that are most likely to accept your type of booking request is another example. “Good design is invisible. Good screen design happens in the subatomic level of microtypography (the exact definition of a typeface), the invisible grid of macrotypography (how the typeface is used), and the invisible world of interaction design and information architecture”, says Oliver Reichenstein, founder and director of Information Architects. The best type of design is where the design goes unnoticed by the average user, where the product or feature integrates seamlessly into the user’s lifestyle.

2. Thoughtful microinteractions: A microinteraction is a single, small product interaction. “Liking” a status or sliding to unlock your phone are microinteractions. These details may seem insignificant, but our evaluation of our overall experience, whether we consider it wonderful or frustrating is often based on an experience during a microinteraction. Virgin Airlines creates a delightful experience by adding small touches such as adding a “hey there” or a “nice name” to the otherwise common and boring task of filling out a form. Uber connects with its users through adding fun details like turning their black cars into witches riding brooms on Halloween. The key to creating delightful microinteractions is talking to your users like a human.
3. Diffused backgrounds: The diffused background became popular in 2015 for websites. We expect this trend to flow into the world of mobile design in 2016. A diffused, blurry, background simultaneously displays modernity and simplicity. It’s not plain, but yet also not unnecessarily fancy. It also allows call to action buttons to stand out more. With a small screen, bringing important elements to the forefront is even more imperative.

4. More data-driven decisions: Design will be rooted, not in principles learned in design school, but in information about the user. Decisions will be based on deep user research and ergonomics. We’ll see design teams working closely with data scientists to make sense of all the user data we have available to us. Design elements will be scientifically designed in tandem with how people behave and will be user- informed.

5. Cards: We saw a lot of new apps presenting their content in card-style fashion and a lot of not-so-new apps switching over to this format. I don’t expect this to die off anytime soon because this technique makes so much sense. In the age of information overload, cards allow content to be displayed in easily digestible summaries. Cards also remove the need for users to figure out how to navigate through content because they are able to interact with them in a familiar way - the way they interact with a deck of cards. The two main types of card layouts are the continuous stream of cards like the Facebook Newsfeed and the stacked cards like Tinder’s user profiles.

6. Context Awareness: We should see more mobile experiences leveraging the user’s current environment to present hyper-relevant information. Nazmul Idris, Founder of Trnql says that we can be more relevant by customizing the UI based on the user’s activity, offering location-based recommendations and taking weather into consideration. For example, if the user is on foot, give them walking directions as a default instead of driving directions. Know their location? Why not suggest nearby friends to invite? If it is expected to rain tomorrow, send the user a notification suggesting they leave a little earlier or bring an umbrella.

7. Material Design: As the ongoing flat vs skeuomorphism debate continues, an emerging middle ground is material design, which is layered flat design. It creates more liveliness than flat design while embracing the modern, minimalistic aesthetic of flat design.

8. The Thumb Zone: People are increasingly interacting with their phones with one hand so keeping your most interactive elements within a thumb’s radius is important. Steven Hoober coined the term “The Thumb Zone” in his 2011 book “Designing Mobile Interfaces”, who describes it as "the most comfortable area for touch with one-handed use". Facebook took the thumb zone heavily into consideration with their most recent re-design. “If I can’t reach all navigation elements while holding my phone with one hand, it means we need to move things around so that we can”, says Stano Bagin, lead designer at PLATFORM.
9. Simpler forms: Users are completing purchases and information requests on mobile more than ever before. The highest-converting forms are ones that will make the form-filling process as simple and quick for the user as possible. Lukas Horak, CEO of UX Design company PLATFORM suggests “Mobile forms should be as short as possible. Remove any fields that are not absolutely necessary. You can follow up later asking for more customer information. When it makes sense, pre-fill fields and use auto-complete. If possible, let users tap in their information instead of typing. For example, use a visual calendar instead of a free-form date field”.
10. More personalization: This is not to be mistaken with the idea of customization. Customization is where users have the ability to tailor their experience to their personal preference. A personalized experience is one that makes use of user data to automatically provide a tailored experience without the user having to do anything. Some common ways to do this is through location-specific content and recommendations. Users are now more welcoming of content based on their personal data than before and actually come to expect it.

11. Design as central to business and product: UX is becoming a bigger priority and the core of companies. Companies will be hiring more UX designers (in-house and outside agencies) and adding a UX expert at the executive level. UX thinking will be integrated into the operations of other departments. We should see more of an overlap between UX and business. UX teams will be required to be more business savvy and the demand for designers that understand business will grow.

Conclusion: The user is king and approaching design through the lense of their experience is the key to a successful product.

Diana Solatan is an entrepreneur and Managing Director at PLATFORM Design Agency.

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