What makes chess an amazing game?
I once asked a chess master this question and he struggled to give me a compelling answer.. but as a design-focused frontend engineer, I have thought deeply about it.
Chess is exquisite. Each side is perfectly balanced. I think the secret is that the bishop and knight are both worth three points each but have such different powers. They offer consequential trade offs. All the creative tension comes when you swap a bishop for a knight in certain key positions.
Similarly, the choices we make when designing our UI’s offer consequential tradeoffs that will directly impact our UX. Our choices matter. A strong UI can be the difference between a consumer falling in love with our product.. or discarding it before even giving it a chance. We want to delight our end users with a rewarding experience. In this technical piece we’ll explore emerging design trends so that you can begin to incorporate them into your products and business.
The Evolving User Interface: 2021
There’s no doubt about it: a plethora of new design trends are coming into the fold. Some strong additions to the current landscape include vivid color-contrasting, glassmorphism, and 3D rendering (think both imaging and animation here). I predict we’ll see these used in tandem with both each other and existing design principles.
While vivid color-contrasting and 3D assets seem self-explanatory, you might be scratching your head wondering what glassmorphism is (at least I was when I first heard about it). It’s a new age frosted-glass effect we can give elements through the combined use of a background blur and opacity. Now let’s get to the visuals.
Design Code gives us a clear look at the direction the industry is heading. The background makes use of vivid color-contrasting. To the right of their header is an interactive glassmorphed image which uses an animation to transform into a 3D asset. It’s elegant, minimalist design lends itself to an intuitive flow. It appears to use lazy loading, amortizing the load time across the application — delivering a polished user experience.
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Stripe is another early adapter to vivid color-contrasting. You can view a minimalist concept video utilizing glassmorphism here and this is an amazing guide on implementing glassmorphism. You can also view it implemented in a restaurant menu concept-UI here. I’d also recommend checking out Spline, a 3D design tool!
Those are the —
Another example of glassmorphism just appeared from around the bend:
Ok sorry about that! So those are the three major user-interface design changes incoming. Now let’s move onto UX changes.
Important UX Changes: 2021
There are many small changes coming in UX.. but there’s one major change that dwarfs the rest. Machines are becoming autonomous.
Cars are driving themselves:
Drones are flying themselves:
Emails are writing themselves. So are articles by the way:
If you watched that ☝ ️you know that software is even beginning to code itself! Wireframes to react-component companies are being started en-masse.
It doesn’t stop there either. Soon, phones will be calling restaurants and ordering things for you:
So doing more is less, and doing less is more. We need to begin thinking about how we’re going to do more for our customers so that they don’t have to do things they once would. We should begin to transition to a world in which we manage the logistics and we let machines figure out the rest.
There are many ways to do this, but I’ll provide two emerging trends I see that are going to play a central role in 2021. Voice Interfacing & Improved Accessibility.
Chatbots, AI assistants, and VUI’s or voice commands are moving into the fold as we begin to move up the logistical hierarchy, acting as a layer in between us and the base-level duties of machines.
Designing a VUI — Voice User Interface
More and more voice-controlled devices, such as the Apple HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon Echo, are storming the…
I think we’re going to see this massive change in thinking merged with rapid accessibility improvements. This article covers some of the changes Apple is making:
iOS 14 is filled with accessibility improvements
Apple's new operating systems - like iOS 14 and tvOS 14, which are due to be released later this year - include…
Sound recognition will help people with hearing disabilities by alerting them when a smoke detector goes off, the doorbell rings, a baby’s crying, or water has been left running. Now that’s awesome!
There’s a back-tap feature that replaces nuanced swipes & voice activated features that would be difficult to access for someone with motor, cognitive, or speech disabilities.
There are also headphone accommodations, sign-language detection, and screen reader features being integrated into their new update. The future is bright. In 2021 we’ll be focused on ensuring everyone has access to it.
I think those are the most consequential cross-industry changes coming and I’m very excited for them. Thanks for reading!