What’s Trending in UI: A Designer’s Perspective
Trends within the user interface landscape change rapidly as new ideas and innovations occur – so it’s critical to stay on top of whats new. Some new trends in the industry are brand new trials; others embrace the older and well-used methods, tweaking them slightly to adapt within the interface and new technological advancement.
The following are some of the new (and critical) elements that have caught the eye of ux/ui designers industrywide. As always, with new ideas and implementations, testing is key to ensure each new design introduced is optimal for the site it is representing.
Hidden Menu Navigation
A website design trend that has really taken hold is the hidden (or hamburger) menu. This is the application of a site hiding their menu navigation when a visitor first lands on the main page. The hidden menu information becomes visible when the visitor is ready to move on to additional information and clicks on the requested icon. The hidden menu application lends a great deal for user interface design and usability in keeping the user highly engaged due to the fact that information is clearly illuminated, not being overwhelmed by mass amounts of initial content. A visitor to the site will quickly, intuitively and easily understand what the story being told is, and engage accordingly.
Personified by two-dimensional, clean, smooth, crisp edges and bright colors – flat design could be coined the ‘champion of usability’. Designers who employ flat design identify with a simplified, digital aesthetic, choosing to oppose artificial realism and intricacies in favor of simple iconography. Flat design helps designers and site owners by affording the design a much faster load time as extra elements are not present and elements are streamlined. Efficiency is key, allowing the faster site to resize and form around the navigation (content, rows and columns) it displays.
All pun intended, a huge trend in current web design is the implementation of oversized images (often called mega images) on the main page of a site. These images, when placed and curated properly, create an instant connection to the information on the page and illuminate the content. Even static, still images that are oversized in this application have a life-like, somewhat interactive quality. Choosing an image that is relevant to the brand or illuminates the lifestyle it creates is critical to ensuring a user connection.
Initially developed by Google, material design is described as a ‘design language’, integrating aspects of flat design with movement and shadows that produce a slight 3D effect to selected graphical elements. Featuring grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows the design was initiated by cutting elements of the interface, namely icons, out of paper to get a feel for how shadows were cast over them in a real life setting.
The use of ghost buttons is a relatively new treatment to the well used and loved call to action button. Ghost buttons serve the same purpose as traditional buttons but feature transparent interiors and have basic shapes such as rectangles or squares. Outlined, or bordered by a hairline, the inside features very plain text usually in a thin sans-serif. Ghost buttons are incredibly attention grabbing and intuitive which can explain their meteoric rise for designers and developers alike.
Visual storytelling, whether told via sound, image or motion, attract users in a powerful way and creates a level of connection and intrigue that no other technique can achieve. Emotion, anticipation and stimulation reward the active participant with a resulting heightened engagement for the site owner. Visual stories, as opposed to static content, are interactive and get people to commit themselves to a brand. There are several effective platforms to apply visual storytelling in the digital environment such as typography, sound, video and interactivity.
More than half of the commerce traffic today is done on mobile devices. The demand is clear and the consumers have spoken. Drop rates are rampant for sites that are not mobile-friendly equating to money left on the table for a business that has chosen not to optimize. The average consumer is highly technologically versed, and this means that a smaller screen will not suffice. Purchasing from multiple screens, the user demands a seamless experience which can only be delivered through Responsive Design. Delivering an optimal shopping experience with high quality imagery, zoom capabilities, scrolling and readability, responsive design brings a plethora of added value to the site owner through increased traffic and heightened conversion.