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Top UI/UX Work of 2021 for Inspiration

These are the top UI/UX trends of 2021 and the work that stood out this year. Keep reading for UX design inspiration and the best app design examples.

UX work

All things remote and virtual

2021 was the year of virtual reality and augmented reality. As remote aspects of working from home kicked in, AR and VR paved their way into healthcare, education and art by leaps and bounds. Tools like Spatial made it possible for people to work remotely from anywhere. There is also tons of content made for VR on Facebook, Youtube and even E-commerce apps. There are interactive VR travel apps, apps that can help you create three dimensional works of art, AR apps for interior design and museums, educational VR games and more.

More and more organisations are thinking of ways to integrate VR and AR into their digital products. 

AI and other tools to the rescue

AI and other tools

Many tools have come out in the market that help in easing designers workflow with the help of modern tools and technologies. Adobe announced an update to Photoshop version 22.0 that includes many AI powered features from Nvidia, a set of image editing tools that Adobe calls “neural filters” among them. Colour variables and components view are new features in the Sketch App. They make it easier to keep colour consistency and work with components. Figma has also added new features for distributed teams that make remote collaboration even easier, including templates and virtual meeting features. The latest update to the graphic editor Pixelmator features machine learning enhanced and GPU powered image editing. Another potentially promising UX/UI trend is generative design. This is the name of programs that can analyse a large array of similar data, find their defining features and characteristics, and then create new ones based on the provided data. 

Advanced personalisation

Personalisation in design is an approach where a company or brand creates individual content and recommendations for each user based on the information they provide. The goal of personalised design is to make the user feel that the content is created especially for them and in this way increase conversion rate. The best examples of personalisation in UI/UX work are Google and Apple assistants for their ecosystems that are now able to understand who is interacting with them by voice, face or fingerprint. Personalised music recommendations and show or movie recommendations on Netflix are great examples of this. Amazon creates a personalised homepage for its customers based on their shopping habits, Wishlist and shopping cart. 

Touchless interactions

Touchless interaction

This is another UI/UX trend that began in the pandemic. Touchless interactions refer to various methods of interacting with devices without touching them such as voice user interfaces and air gesture control. Adding voice-interface to your design can expand its reach. For example voice chatbots for users to communicate using voice commands. VOICE by Denislav Jeliazkov is a great example of a voice bot.

Advanced onboarding

Advanced onboarding

Air gesture control is a technique that takes various gesture control mechanisms that were introduced with the advent of touch screens to the next level. Recently DS Automobiles, a European luxury car brand showcased their new contactless controls through mid-air haptic feedback and gestures. Last August Apple was awarded a patent that describes some of the cool features we could see in future AirPods Pro models, including the ability to control the wireless earbuds with “in-air gestures”. 

More 3D and immersive experiences

3D design got a new boost with Apple incorporating it in their new recently released macOS update. macOS BigSur has a set of revamped icons some of which look rather 3D-ish. Another thing that has changed is that whereas before 3D elements were not diverse in practical use, because they often dumped a very heavy load on user machines and were not in demand, modern front-end frameworks and libraries are able to significantly reduce page load time allowing 3D objects to become even more detailed and larger. 

In the later half of 2021 and 2022, 3D will only continue to become more popular with the rising usage of VR and AR technology. Cool abstractions, unusual angles, you can do all this in 3D without using real objects, which often saves money, for example, when you need to present an expensive car or an unusual house. 3D attracts attention and makes websites more appealing making users stay on the page longer and increasing session time. Adidas, Apple have been using 3D to make their product displays more attractive.

Animated Motion

Animated motion

Both micro animations of buttons and transitions and large marketing animations in 3D. A lot more companies are experimenting with motion effects and elements. You can also entertain visitors with pull-to-refresh animations in mobile apps. Expect to see more animated button experiments in 2022.

Certain apps for example a fintech mobile app requires good onboarding to familiarise a user about the app’s major functions and purposes, giving them the opportunity to sign-up and collecting information to improve personalisation.

UX simplification

Apple introduced its super-button, which substitutes random data for registration. In many applications, you can now register with only one button without the involvement of social networks. There is an ongoing optimisation towards one-step action. The designer’s task is to cut down the elements and fields that need filling out to the minimum.

Sonakshi Kochhar