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Latest UX Trends 2021

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The field of user experience (UX) is one that constantly changes and evolves with the user’s needs. Trends come and go fast and navigating through these changes is what makes the process challenging yet exciting. For those in the field of UX, it is important to be able to keep up with the current UX trends to better match the user’s needs and provide a better user experience.

Being able to adapt to the latest UX design trends is all the more important with the way the COVID19 pandemic changes how people use and interact with their digital devices and interfaces. In this article, we will look at 4 up-and-coming modern UX trends and best UX practices that all UX enthusiasts should keep an eye out on.

1. Onboarding

More and more people are forced to download and use online applications such as Zoom and Google Meet for remote working during the COVID19 pandemic. This also means that proper onboarding is all the more important, especially for less-tech savvy users who may be unfamiliar with the use of digital applications.

The key importance of onboarding is to:

  • Set proper expectations for users on the app’s purpose and use
  • Inform users on key functions and how to use them
  • Impress users from the start for better user retention

The onboarding page is often the user’s first interaction with the app after downloading it. A study has shown that up to 25% of users only use an app once before abandoning it, as many of them simply do not value or understand the value of an app enough at the start. Thus, the onboarding process is crucial in capturing the user’s initial interest to get them to continue using the app.

Source: Upland

Other than short-term retention, initial onboarding is also strongly correlated to a user’s long-term use of the app. Beyond just functions and features, if the user is able to understand how the app can help them accomplish their goals, they are much more likely to use the app for a longer period of time.

Evernote takes a progressive and value-oriented approach in their app’s onboarding through the use of simple illustrations and concise copies. This helps users quickly and clearly understand the key functions of the app from the beginning. There are also buttons that let users try out their features such as creating a note or scanning a document, which can be helpful for those that are more unfamiliar to using such apps.

Source: UX Planet

Thus, a strong onboarding experience is important to portray a clear value proposition to the users from the start, through elements such as a clear copy or relevant graphics. With the upcoming rise of super apps like Grab and GoJek, this mobile UX trend becomes increasingly useful for companies to guide their users through the many different features and functions of these apps.

2. Dark Mode

Dark mode is a display setting on interfaces such as apps and browser sites. Rather than the default light background with a dark text, or what is known as the light mode, a dark mode has light colored text presented against a dark background. The popularity of dark mode has been gaining traction from users worldwide, with the feature being made available across many prominent apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

Source: 9to5mac

So what exactly makes dark mode so popular among users compared to the traditional brighter display?

Blue light reduction
Dark mode reduces the amount of blue light emitted from screens which can help users to sleep better, especially if they frequently use their digital devices close to bedtime. This is increasingly important in the age of COVID19 where working from home becomes the norm, blurring the lines between work and rest. Thus, having this feature can help people get better rest after having to work on their screens for long periods of time.

Helps with eye strain
Having dark mode also helps with eye straining especially after long periods of screen usage or in low-light conditions at night. Although not everyone encounters this problem, having the option for users to use the mode should they require it is a good interface design practice that can greatly improve their experiences on the app.

Better battery life
Battery life is another important factor for many users, especially those who are frequently out or use their phones for long periods of time. Having dark mode on an OLED screen helps to reduce power consumption and saves battery life, allowing users to use their devices for longer periods of time.

3. Micro-Interactions

As consumers, micro-interactions contribute to a big part of what makes using a well-designed app so satisfying and smooth, often without us realising it. Micro-interactions are the small instances where user and design interact. Although they usually only revolve around a single-use case and are rarely noticed directly by users, having proper micro-interactions is a sign of attention to detail and care for the user. If done correctly, micro-interactions can improve overall user experience and influence the user’s actions. They can be the factor that separates an ordinary app from an exceptional one.

Think about the typing indicator when someone is trying to reply to you or being able to pull down to refresh your social feed. These are small design elements that go far in providing a better user experience. Check out the example below of an email app where users can swipe an email in their inbox to either mark it as read or snooze, depending on how far they swipe it for.

Source: wyzowl

These are some benefits to having micro-interactions in your designs:

  • Allows users to better navigate around
  • Makes the user experience much more rewarding and engaging
  • Directs user’s attention

The animation when transitioning across text alignment styles makes the function more fluid and gives users a clearer idea of what is happening.


Google leverages on boring loading times by using animations in this space to subtly engage the users while being sure not to overwhelm them visually.

These are all examples of micro-interactions present in the apps that consumers use daily which contributes to how we think and feel towards the app. Hopefully these examples can give you a better idea of why micro-interactions are so useful in crafting a better user experience.


4. Inclusiveness in designs

COVID19 has pushed many people of different backgrounds and ages into a digital remote work environment, one that is unfamiliar and new to many. Thus, it is all the more important for apps and websites to be user-friendly to a broad audience, having a good interface design that anyone can easily use. Inclusive design involves the intentional inclusion of the needs of users that are often excluded, such as those belonging to a statistical minority.

Being accessible is also an important goal in inclusive design, where every page or feature should be easy to view, navigate and use regardless of the user’s technical ability. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a good place to start as it contains certain well-written guidelines. So how exactly does one practice inclusivity? Here are some real examples of how inclusivity is practiced in today’s world.

Airbnb’s approach at diversification

As a company that focuses on “building an inclusive platform for all hosts and guests”, Airbnb has recently taken a step back to relook at the illustrations that they use and the ideas that these illustrations portray.

The company found out that many of their users did not actually relate with tech illustrations commonly used, such as those with grey or white outlines, as they are usually assumed to be caucasian. This is a troubling concern especially since their users range from all over the world, from China to India. Airbnb ended up re-designing their illustrations to better reflect and represent people from different races, ages, body types and abilities.

An illustration that portrays a user with a disability. Source: Airbnb

An illustration showcasing a diverse range of people. Source: Airbnb

Pinterest’s inclusivity

The company has recently released a skin tone range feature where users can filter for looks and inspiration that are better suited to their needs. This is especially relevant since many of their users use the platform for creative inspiration on fashion and makeup. The feature helps to improve the experience of users with more uncommon skin tones in terms of functionality and inclusivity.

With the popularity of the feature after its launch, Pinterest have looked towards expanding it to additional countries, as they pledged to take action and create a platform that is both inclusive and inspiring.

Illustration by Pinterest

I hope that this article has given you better insight into the latest UX and UI design trends that many big companies have started to consider. Aside from UX trends, a clear foundation on UX knowledge also goes a long way in crafting a good user experience and user-centric design. If you want to know more about user experience and its industry, do check out our other resources available on our website, such as our articles, weekly webinars, and podcasts.

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