3 UX Trends to Look for in the Next Decade

By Kate Salkin, Digital Art Director

December 30, 2019

User experience (UX) design trends move fast. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that we were excited about the unforeseen potential of responsive design and the Internet of Things (IoT). But as user-centered trends continue to grow, shift and evolve, we are taking a look at what is next and how these design trends will influence the way brands operate both inside and outside of the digital landscape in the next decade.

Designing for Trust

As we conclude the 2010s, consumer confidence in companies and their dedication to digital ethics are at an all-time low. One culprit of this cynicism is company misuse of user data. And this mistrust is justified. According to digital identity solutions startup Selfkey, at least 5.3 billion accounts were breached in 2019 alone.

Additionally, people have wised up to the manipulation behind addictive UX design tactics like Facebook’s unlimited scroll and Candy Crush’s limited play. Each created to hook users and prevent them from averting their attention. (Look up the terms dark patterns, gamification and skinner boxing for more information on this topic.) As privacy concerns, unsavory design practices and the spread of misinformation continue to make their way into our daily lives, consumers are hungry to interact with products and brands that provide a level of trust and optimism.

Moving forward, this means that successful brands and products will focus on creating experiences that support the natural behavior of the user and their environment instead of using design as a way to manipulate it. Usability, transparency and clear messaging will all play a role regaining user trust through design moving forward.

Examples of how MailChimp successfully designs for trust.

A great example of a brand that is designing for trust is email service provider MailChimp. Between 1) using outcome messaging that focuses on the audience instead of feature messaging that focuses on the product, 2) building ancillary features that help create a sense of community between MailChimp and their users, 3) designing a simple yet intuitive UX that walks a user through the otherwise daunting process of building and sending an email campaign and 4) aligning themselves with trusted third-parties, MailChimp is a brand that is ahead of the curve in building an audience through trust.

Designing for Alternative Interfaces

For as long as modern UX design has been in effect, the discipline has always been evaluated through the lens of sight. How does it look? How does the user see a particular feature? Still, the fact that you likely know who (or what) Siri, Alexa or Bixby are suggests that alternative forms of interaction design are capable of making big moves in the next decade.

Two alternative forms that show the most promise are voice controls and gesture-based controls. Of these two interfaces, voice control design is easier for most to envision in the near future. In fact, according to Jason Clauss at UX Planet, “Last year, 41% of adults and 55% of teens were using voice control, and up to 71% of people claim to prefer voice over keyboard to find information online.” The future of voice assistance in the 2020s will include personalization for individual users based on voice, increased integration into smart technologies (e.g. TVs, refrigerators, car audio systems, etc.) and more individualized, streamlined notifications (e.g. “Bob. I noticed you haven’t left for your doctor appointment yet, but traffic will delay your arrival by thirty minutes today.”)

As for gesture-based design, the vision may still feel space-age to some (think: Tom Cruise in Minority Report), but Apple, Google and many other organizations are hard at work bringing this futuristic design form to the present. For example, Google’s Pixel 4 already integrates gesture controls that allow users to snooze alarms, skip songs and silence calls with the flick of the wrist. And, according to Wired, Google hopes the new chip used to craft these controls, called Soli, will wildly expand the potential for gesture controls very soon, making the future of design both accessible and controllable through gesture alone.

For brands, this suggests that if you can’t be on the ground floor of early innovation, you need to think about how alternative design controls can play into the future of your brand. As a retailer, how can you use voice control design to help convert sales? Or, as a brand, how can gestures be used to help communicate your brand’s message? Lastly, what kind of talent and knowledge does your organization need to start recruiting to make integration of these design advances into your brand possible within the next ten years?

Static Interaction is Dying. Do Not Resuscitate.

This trend is simple. Microanimations – the animations that take place when a user initiates a specific interaction with an element in a product or website – will continue to dominate UX in the next decade to the point where static interactions will appear passé. It was only a few years ago that the only animation a designer had to worry about was the color a link or button would change to when the user selected it. In the next decade, we can expect that every interaction will have a corresponding microanimation. There are two reasons behind this meteoric rise in microanimations. 1) We have learned through UX research that users’ brains are stimulated by movement through video content and animation in the digital space. 2) Microanimations provide an intuitive way for designers to offer subtle recommendations to their user. In this way, microanimations are truly a win-win.

Designer Gleb Kuznetsov demonstrates how microanimations can dominate simple interactions like sending and receiving files in Dropbox.

For brands and organizations, this ever-growing trend suggests that focus needs to be placed on collaboration tools, like Figma and Adobe XD, that prioritize animations and interactions in their products. Additionally, it is absolutely vital that companies recruit talent that are capable of creating and bringing these microanimations to life.

To explain the importance of UX in a rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, UX leader Jared Spool said, “Design is the rendering of intent.” Therefore, if the world is increasingly feeling deceived by products and companies, brands have the capability to design for trust. If alternative interfaces are tearing down the walls of how companies interact with consumers, brands can access their audience in a whole new way. And, if studies suggest the human brain responds well to movement and animations when interacting with a digital product, brands can serve their audience information in a way that delights them. Overall, UX has come a long way in the past decade and, for brands, the opportunity to take advantage of upcoming trends and truly design digital products and experiences for their audience creates a new potential for brand/consumer interaction that is endlessly exciting in the decade to come.


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