Happy New Year fellow designers and fellow design aficionados! We've just stepped into 2023, and the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us. Recent events have changed our habits so abruptly and drastically that things may not go back to how they were, for better or worse.
Remote work spread worldwide in the past couple of years and is trending permanent, resulting in the need to develop ways to ease communication between teams. Also, the economic and political landscape has become extremely difficult due to war, rising inflation, or supply chain delays.
The world is evolving in unexpected and surprising ways, as are UX/UI design trends. So without further due, let me introduce you to the 4 major 2023 UX/UI design trends closely interconnected with the latest events.
This trend might be the most prominent one this year. The Digital Experience trend comes as no surprise. Due to the many Covid lockdowns, we've had to shift how we connect and collaborate. Virtual worlds and VR chats proliferated and helped many connect with friends and loved ones regardless of the physical distance. The very first VR Fashion Week¹ emerged at the beginning of 2022. Also, the Metaverse Fashion Week² has been accessible online since March 2022.
Many companies gave up offline processes for digitalized ones. Even though some companies call their employees back to the office, many choose to adopt hybrid working, and some even commit to complete remote work. Accenture, one of the first major multinationals, adopted virtual workspaces for training sessions, presentations, and socializing.
We can expect for AR, VR and mixed realities to grow and expand even more in the upcoming years. According to the World Economic Forum³, the global VR market is projected to grow from $6.1 billion in 2020 to $20.9 billion by 2025 and the global AR market from $15,3 billion in 2020 to $77.0 billion by 2025.
These technologies can be a lot of fun when applied to video games or music videos, but they can also save lives. Many startups are working on solutions integrating AR/VR to improve health education methods and practitioner's work conditions⁴.
Medical Realities offers medical training products specialized in AR/VR and gaming. AccuVein uses AR and a handheld scanner that projects veins over patients' skin for nurses and doctors. SentiAR provides physicians with a real-time, interactive holographic AR view of the treatment their delivering. These are all brilliant ways to aid and improve users' experiences and lives!
However, we need to take certain factors into consideration. Like, what physiological impacts will a prolonged usage of a headset have? How can we prevent accidents by keeping users aware of their surroundings? How immersive should these experiences be? As we design for AR, VR, and mixed realities, many more fascinating questions will arise.
Beyond the realm of UX/UI design, we can see that the digital is taking over the physical world. According to TrendBook, interior design trends include "Digital Realism." The idea behind it is to integrate digital world inspired elements within interior environments.
Also, retail experts predict that the digital will have a stake in physical stores by 2025⁵. More and more users buy products online, and stores need to reinvent themselves. According to Russ Roberts, Client Services Director at Practical Minds, consumer experiences will be more immersive, interactive, customizable, and exclusive due to the digital.
We expect new opportunities to arise for digital and UX/UI designers as the digital world merges more and more with the physical world.
Developing greener solutions has been gaining steam since 2022 and continues into 2023. Different methods and services can be used to reduce the digital carbon footprint, such as green hosting services or minimalist content management systems. More may arise in the upcoming years, and for the sake of our planet, we may want to develop more sustainable UX/UI designs and eco-friendly digital solutions and reinvent the way we do things for a brighter future.
According to SG Analytics, two sustainable tech trends are emerging in 2023 and beyond⁶. Google's AI engine offers researchers and public sector agencies data to enhance climate resilience. Cloud technologies, such as Microsoft's Cloud for Sustainability, have been helping companies meet their environmental goals. And Amazon Web Services are working on switching to 100% renewable energy by 2025.
These are great tech solutions, but what more can we do? What can UX/UI Design bring to the table to improve the future of our planet? I firmly believe that there is much to explore in the field of sustainable UX/UI design.
This year more than ever, users want products to have their best interests at heart, and they want more accessible and inclusive experiences. The thumb-friendly navigation is an excellent example of this trend. One-handed users, people carrying a toddler, or people always on the go are all potential beneficiaries of this feature.
Typography also embraces the Ethical Design trend. Envato, a large digital asset supplier, has observed that "global corporations like Uber, Santander, and Badoo have shifted towards cleaner, friendlier corporate identities with typography that represents a more inclusive design," according to GSFX Mentor⁷. We might encounter more UX-friendly and accessible fonts in 2023 with slight quirks and oddities to set themselves apart.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were last updated in 2018. Failing to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Web Accessibility Law leads to financial penalties, damages to your brand's reputation & costly lawsuits. Now, Europe is catching up with the US with the European Accessibility Act. It took effect in 2019, and by 2025, applicable companies within the EU will need to fully observe the new legal requirements.
Data protection is a growing topic as well. Gartner Inc predicted in 2020 that 65% of the world's population would have its data covered under modern privacy regulations by 2023⁸. Countries outside Europe, which has been regulated by the GDPR since May 2018, continue implementing new data privacy laws. In the United States, California, Colorado, and Virginia will make essential updates to their data privacy laws in 2023⁹.
Also, users want to be presented with data in an understandable way. They really want to be able to comprehend it. Also, issues around ID authentication have been addressed in the past years, but some questions still linger. What about ID authentication privacy? How can we differentiate from other apps on the market and show that our system is truly secure? And more questions still need to be answered.
Emotional Design could be the answer to the frustration built up within many of us during the pandemic. 2023 trends beyond UX/UI design highlight a subconscious need to fight off the exhaustion Covid has caused. This need translates in various ways: some trends are more inclined towards wellness and comfort, while others are inclined towards happiness and vivid, colorful schemes.
In Interior Design, aesthetically pleasing and cozy spaces will have the upper hand in 2023. TrendBook forecasts that arches will be a big thing next year, followed by "Instagramable Walls and Lounges" along with calm & organic-like environments¹⁰. Also, there seems to be a growing need for private spaces to foster peace and concentration. These interior design trends highlight the need for organic, welcoming, comforting, soothing, calming, and pleasing environments that will add up to the well-being of individuals.
Emotional Design adds up to the overall narrative of the application, and it can help users feel more included. Users seek more authenticity and genuineness, and Emotional Design could help bring that to the table. A beautiful design can help build better connections with the end user and generate loyalty. It is in the best interests of both users and companies to apply Emotional Design to UX/UI Design works.
It is essential to recognize that apps don't give information. They give feedback. They let the user know whether they've accomplished a goal or not. For example, a graphic with a microcopy stating "You just broke a record on a one-mile run," informs runners that they've progressed and are getting closer to their goal. This feedback helps users and makes them feel a certain way about their goal and the app, and, in turn, can help generate customer loyalty.
It is also very likely that the MLP (Minimum Lovable Product, not to confuse with My Little Pony) will overthrow the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). According to Quetra, an AI that analyzed anonymized data points over 125M mobile devices, mobile apps lose 77% of their average daily users within the first three days after download¹¹. Creating products that users love could help increase products' retention rates.
Products are a complex combination of functionality, ergonomics, aesthetics, etc. Aesthetics play a huge part in how users respond to a product. The Aesthetic-Usability Effect refers to users being more tolerant towards minor usability issues when they find an interface visually appealing¹². This means applying a perfect balance between usability and aesthetics to your product is critical to users' satisfaction and retention rates.
We, humans, love to believe that we are rational beings who make decisions based on logic. But most of our decisions aren't. Gerald Zultman of Harvard says that 95% of our decision-making processes are non-conscious, and only 5% are logical. In other words, almost all of our decisions are "irrational." In his book Design with the Mind in Mind, Jeff Johnson explains how framing a choice (how a choice is worded) can affect how people choose¹³. Therefore, stories significantly affect how people make decisions.
Stories have been hardwired in us since the beginning of time, from paintings on cave walls to nowadays movies by way of books, audibles, etc. When narratives are involved, our mind makes us feel like we are living the story by stimulating parts of the brain related to actions described in the narrative¹⁴.
We experience stories as if they were our own. This phenomenon makes the story more memorable and intensely personal. This is why you may feel super scared when watching a horror movie, although there's no rational reason to (unless you're immune to jump scares and psychological horror, which is a commendable skill).
In short, storytelling can humanize your product and build a sense of trust with the user. It can help users feel a deep resonance with the product and shape their decision-making. But be mindful and ethical about how you use storytelling in that way.
This year, you can improve your product's overall storytelling by aligning your product's tone of voice with the image or the story you want your product to give off. Users want to avoid cold, robotic, and impersonal interfaces. So, how would your product interact with users if your product was a person? Would it be friendly? Funny? Straight to point? Think about how this "person" would converse with its "interlocutors" and then apply your learnings to your product's copywriting accordingly while keeping your interface's message clear.
Another smart way to improve the storytelling of your product is by making interfaces more entertaining. One way to do so is through scrolling. Scrolling through a static page can be tedious, depending on your product's goal and purpose. One could spice things up by adapting the regular vertical scrolling to the story you want the product to convey and its content by applying different scrolling patterns.
Lastly, hone your motion design skills and rethink your interfaces to better convey your product's story. We will likely see more animations and micro-interactions in 2023. The inclusion of libraries, such as Lottie files, enables designers to create outstanding animations while keeping file sizes low. Animations can surprise users with delightful experiences. Motion design makes interfaces more dynamic and appealing and creates a much more immersive experience.
I believe these 4 UX/UI design trends will be prominent in 2023 and the upcoming years. Although, we live in times when things evolve ever so rapidly, so we can expect new trends to emerge shortly. For instance, we may see more AI-related UX/UI Design trends, while AI creations' copyrights are still in a grey area.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed this reading as much as I loved writing it. If you want to ride the trend and get your Minimum Lovable Product, feel free to contact us at BAM.design. If you want to talk about design, contact me on LinkedIn. And until then, I wish you the best for 2023. 😁 See you soon in another article!