Trends in UI design 2021 that will take your projects to a new level

The best interface is the one which is intuitive to a user, gives him a sense of control and stands out visually. First impression matters the most — that’s why it’s important to be up to date with the latest trends. Let me present you some trends for 2021, I hope you’ll get inspired!

Microinteractions

Microinteractions are used in design not only for their aesthetic value, but also to give users a sense of control, improve the quality of navigation and, in result, provide a better user experience. Well-crafted interactions are usually very subtle and we don’t notice them, but they give us a feeling that we smoothly pass from one part of a process to another and everything works “as it should” . The examples of interactions are : calls to action (i.e. submit button, downloading, add to cart), typing, push to refresh, swiping or data input, just to name a few. Mesmerising animations can really take your application to another level. They are visually attractive, but also necessary to create a sense of “natural movement” and encourage an interaction. Don’t hesitate to use them in your future project ! But remember : Microinteractions should be intuitive. If you are using an unusual type of interaction it is always good to test it and check if it doesn’t cause confusion.

Credits Cosimo Scarpa
Credits Mauricio Bucardo

Scrolling

Well-crafted and unexpected scrolling effects will always engage the attention of a user. Some of the effects like parallax scroll animations, horizontal scroll are (still) very hot this year !

Another trend which you should consider while designing, is an infinite scroll. Most mainstream social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest popularized this effect over the years.

Parallax scroll animations

Parallax scroll animations are already here for a while. They can be very engaging and encourage users to scroll further. I recommend to use them for product presentation or storytelling.

Credits Zhenya Rynzhuk

Horizontal scroll

Horizontal scroll is an interaction which can make your interface memorable. The downside is, that in some cases users can feel a bit lost, especially while using it on a mobile display. Make sure that the direction of scrolling is clearly indicated. Keep in mind that there are some exceptions, like horizontal scroll of cards, which became a standard and don’t always need much explanation. As in the case for any interaction, always test your design before launching — it’s the only way to know if your design fulfills its purpose.

Credits ✞anton mishin✞

Illustrations

Illustrations have become an essential element of brand identity. Over the years many startups have been created and many of them are using some types of illustrations to facilitate understanding of their service or products features.

Are you looking for a way to illustrate your product or service ? Have a look at some examples of illustration styles trending in 2021 that will allow you to stand out from your competition.

3d illustrations

This trend is undeniably gaining speed. 3d characters, devices, shapes and realistic elements will definitely give your brand a fresh, modern look.

Credits Tran Mau Tri Tam

Textures which look real

As technology tries to be as human as possible, the same comes to the visual design and illustration world. We want to see the elements we are familiar with.

Credits Halo UI/UX

Animated illustrations

Even simple animations of your illustration can do a better job than using a static one.

Credits Taras Migulko

Black and white illustrations

We are living in a world full of colors, shapes and information. That’s why sometimes using black and white illustrations can bring a relief to our over-stimulated brain. You can use them with equally popular black and white interfaces, but they look great also with some colorful patches.

Credits Ivan Balog

Glassmorphism

To understand the concept it is necessary to briefly explain other terms correlated with glassmorphism:

Skeuomorphism

It’s a term that describes a trend of creating the elements of interface which are imitating “real world”. The purpose is to help users to interpret those elements, which they are already familiar with. It can be applied to the elements of interface, like trash bin or to whole interface.

Credits Sandor

Neumorphism

A hot trend of 2020. Also called neo-skeuomorphism. In contrast to skeuomorphism, which is very explicit, the effects are based on subtle shadows. The screen is less cluttered and more readable.

Credits Emy Lascan

Glassmorphism

Glassmorphism has become one of the main tendencies in 2021. Glassmorphism is using a blurred glass-like effect, which gives the impression as it would float in the space, creating a pleasing effect of depth. It is desirable to use it with a subtle line around, which is giving an impression of the glass edges. Applying this effect we have to use the right background and make sure that it is accessible for some users with vision problems. To better understand this trend let’s have a look at this example:

Credits Nicholas.design

Color trends

Pastel colors

With pastel colors we can create some really beautiful and modern palettes. They can look delightful together and they are comfortable and pleasing for an eye. You can combine them with some graceful typography or/and interesting grid to obtain a simple yet neat and captivating effect.

Credits Kim Walker
Credits Levon Saribekyan

For more “modern” results, mix them with darker colors or/and colors with high levels of saturation.

Credits habitat

Dull colors

Many designers are tempted to use colors with high saturation. They can be very good-looking and easily attract attention, but implementing them in big amounts can give a visually overwhelming effect.

That’s why using colors with low saturation (so-called dull colors) can be a good alternative. They can create a very elegant effect or add more calming overall feel to your brand.

Credits Afterglow

Adding the elements from different “families” of colors can give a very charming outcome — just have a look at the example below with a pastel lilac color used as a contrast.

Credits Ramotion

Dark mode

Dark mode, contrary to other elements on our “color trends list” , was created more out of necessity rather than for its aesthetic value; it is used to save battery on some types of screens, for example screens with amoled displays.

Credits Dwinawan

I would recommend using rather light mode with an alternative of dark mode, as the human eye is more used to read dark text on light background rather than opposite (unless the content of our interface doesn’t consist of a big amount of text).

Credits Dwinawan

Colorful gaussian blur

Another very noticeable recent trend in UI design. Gaussian blur is often used to “soften” some elements and at the same time emphasize another. It is an easy way to give a tremendous, unimposing look to your interface design.

Credits Olha Vdovenko
Credits Filip Legierski

Emoji design

Personally and subjectively, it is one of my favorite tendencies of last few years. I really like seeing emojis on landing pages and used in apps. They are creating a bit more informal ambience and are a perfect way to briefly pass what we have in our mind. At the end of a day, who doesn’t love to use emoji ?

Credits Baten
Credits Sajon

Minimalism

Minimalism , already present for many years in different disciplines of art, influences UI designers in their style and design choices. The purpose of minimalism is to use only the essentials. We can define a minimalist design as one that could lose it’s value if we remove any single element. Even though it looks “easy to make”, a very good minimalistic design requires a very good choice of typography, colors, grid, photography and other components.

Credits Remon
Credits Remon

To sum up

Some trends are completely new, some of them are here already for some time. You can mix them or you can choose to use just one. In any case let’s remember, that all your visuals should express the spirit of your brand, your interfaces should be intuitive and accessible for everyone. And never stop experimenting. Who knows — maybe you are the next interface trendsetter!

UX/UI designer with international experience, specialized in design for startups. Currently living in Lyon, France.

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