We’re constantly seeing the potential of technology, and as it evolves, digital design trends follow. With 2023 only around the corner, the new year promises exciting concepts and technologies to improve and transform user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.
Why the latest UX/UI design trends are important
As an experienced web design studio, we build digital products from end to end. Providing this as a service means that we stay up-to-date with the latest technologies that can influence user expectations—from design theory to interaction design. When creating a digital product, such as an app or website, it is important to remember that the user’s initial impression of your brand or company is heavily weighed on the product’s UX and UI, so ensure you’re meeting industry standards.
7 UX/UI trends to look out for in 2023
A human-centered design will consider the latest techniques in UX/UI to improve overall usability, functionality, and visual appeal.
Here’s a look at seven cutting-edge design trends for 2023 that you can consider:
- Mixed Reality + Augmented Reality
- Motion Design
- Immersive Scrolling
- 3D Imagery
- Light mode with an option for dark mode
1. Mixed Reality + Augmented Reality
You’ve probably noticed the hype into virtual worlds thanks to Meta and the proliferation of VR chat due to the many Covid lockdowns. We even had our first VR Fashion Week this year. Aside from that, many other companies are also developing solutions for socializing in a digital world or even merging our physical and digital experiences into hybrid workflows for different industries. Some examples of these use cases are decorating and painting an empty room with AR before buying furniture; AR business cards; doctors being able to iterate the separation of con-jointed twins in real-time from different locations using VR before the actual surgery; and supply chain operators navigating a warehouse in real-time with AR to maximize order picking efficiency.
With how AR/VR technology is being developed and commercialized, it’s likely to become more accessible for everyone to adopt and popularize. As experienced designers, we have to consider how these interactions will come to life and how to keep the individuals who use these tools safe as we fuse their digital and physical environments more and more with each tech milestone that is achieved. Ask yourself:
- How immersive should these experiences be?
- How do we keep users aware of their surroundings to prevent accidents?
- What ergonomic and health considerations will we need to take when designing mixed reality solutions that can be used throughout the day—for example, will using a headset for a prolonged period cause headaches or sight deterioration?
The development and regulations of these technologies will provide a fun challenge for us in the future.
2. Motion Design
In the past, developing animations for web and applications was complex, mainly because teams had to keep making trade-offs between animation quality, the performance of their sites, or the size of their apps. Many things have changed since then. We have bandwidth changes (Hello 5G!) and the inclusion of libraries like Lottie Files that allow designers to create stunning animations while keeping file sizes low and running smoothly.
Adopting these tools has allowed experienced designers to include motion design in their tool belts. From now and in the future, I’m confident we’ll be seeing more and more animations, not only to make designs more dynamic and visually appealing but to create a more seamless experience and delight users with awesome micro-interactions.
3. Immersive Scrolling
Immersive scrolling (check out this site example) has much to do with the previous point—motion design. Traditional scrolling behaviour had most designers thinking about scrolling through sites in terms of the content order. For instance, what order was best for users to understand the message, and what type of hierarchy could be used to tell the stories their clients want to share? Things were static, even with the occasional animation or video.
4. 3D Imagery
3D imagery is something I’ve especially noticed through social media. Still, I think the ‘friendly corporate illustration’ look prevalent from 2020/2021 will start to fade away and leave the path open for something new. I see designers increasingly trying to find more exciting ways of showcasing images by going back to photos (but edited to be colourful and dynamic), imperfect illustrations, or using 3D objects in websites or apps to decorate or complement the information. I believe the latter will continue growing to the next year as it goes hand in hand with the development and adoption of VR/AR tech.
You might have seen the popularity of gradients due to social media and fashion, but it seems the 80-90s are returning. In fashion, this means more groovy clothes and exciting colour choices. In the digital space, this has translated as the comeback of gradients, the adoption of brutalism and colourful palettes, among other things.
Gradients are a big trend that has been heavily adopted (and accepted) this year and that I believe will remain with us throughout the next few years. Paired with how people are using more happy, multi-colored palettes—as if to fight the exhaustion Covid has caused—we’ll have a nice, colorful parade of screens, packaging and more displayed around us.
Brutalism is another trend of the past that has come back to our screens this year, and I believe it’s here to stay with us in its pure form or some subvariant like Kitsch or Neobrutalism. With the wave of nostalgia, we also see nods to the web design past, where things were more personal and organic and less corporate.
There’s the return of browser default fonts, gradients, high-contrast colors, boundaries, and nods to old graphics/illustrations mixed with real-life photography. You know, all those things that made the web a quirky place to surf but with all the UX learnings to keep things as readable and accessible as possible.
7. Light mode with an option for dark mode
If you are designing a product to be used only in low-light environments or for users with impaired visions, there’s no doubt that you should only use dark mode for a better viewing experience.
Other than that, choose light mode with a toggle button for dark mode as part of UI UX Trends 2023!
While there is still an ongoing debate about whether light mode or dark mode is better for eyesight, this can be easily solved when you provide personalizations with both modes available.
Users who feel comfortable with light mode may stay with light mode. Users who prefer dark mode or visually-impaired users may toggle to dark mode. When reading under the sun or by the beach, users on light mode may just change to dark mode and change back to light mode at home.
The pandemic era and the normalization of the home office made many realize the need for mental health and general wellbeing. People learned that it’s ok to prioritize self-care. I believe this translates to people paying more attention to their daily rituals, habits, and emotional/physical wellbeing. I also think this behaviour will translate inside the Design Industry as the development of several trends following this same theme. This could mean a more significant adoption and development of wearable technology for both mental and physical health tracking or maybe the inclusion of muted “calming” colour palettes on screens.
Does this mean we will see more mindfulness, nutrition, and tracking apps? A greater focus on Data Visualization and Analytics? Yes. But with the appearance of Smart Textiles, hearables, and other wearable tech, we might also see new and exciting (maybe screenless) interactions in our future.
With so many cutting-edge technologies at our disposal, the opportunity for beautiful, friendly design and captivating narratives is at our fingertips. Keeping up with the latest trends can take your interface to the next level and give you a good lead in your industry.