Now when 2014 is closing we took the time and gather a few Jaywayers to look at UX trends found in ongoing projects. This is our very personal thoughts and reflections of these trends and the challenges they introduce. To make it a bit more interesting we placed this on a chart and evaluated each trend on spread and how good or bad we found the trends. So here is the finished diagram followed by a summary of the discussions and findings:
On the rise
Flat design next – flat design is in everything now, however it has now been re-iterated with carefully added depth. Not to mimic the real world but to add some spatial sense in the digital world. Consider the various implementations in platforms and think an extra time before you just bring out the hammer to flatten an older design.
Animations done right – the usage of animation has gone from “just because we can” to actually enhance and bring in a new dimension in the digital world. Just remember that well-designed animation take time so prepare and take height for this.
Playful design – playfulness has sneaked into more than consumer systems. The tone of voice used in core OS parts has changed from a strict technical or authoritative tone to something softer and friendlier. Watch out for the diminishing of serious events with smiles and cheerful messages.
Undo everywhere – the undo case is also related and needed to replace the fast declining save and submit trends. Make sure a complete strategy is in place. Having only parts of the undo strategy in a system will have your users loosing trust in no time.
Zoom and map navigation – using the users spatial memory to help navigating and recalling functionality in a UI by moving around zooming in and out of parts of the UI. Performed right it can be a both visually stunning and easily navigated interface. If not you will end up with a chaotic mess.
Not that great
Spinners and loading… – as the demand for up to date data is increasing bad connectivity and unsuitable APIs are increasingly being masked by undetermined spinners and indicators. It is vital that the API driving the mobile solution provides the correct data in an efficient way. All too often there are way too many calls for a single page update or instead of caching perfectly usable data we constantly ask for new data.
Disappearing signifiers – when the design is getting cleaner and flatter the signifiers telling users what to expect are lost leaving the user confused.
Platform biased design – a design from one platform is carried over to another platform with very few modifications. One of the most obvious examples being the back button from iOS moving over to Windows Phone and Android. The obvious thing here is that designers need to use and evaluate each platform they design for as a primary platform.
Splash screens for web – Remember those old landing pages? Yes, the ones forcing you to stare at and act on to get to the actual content. – Well they are back. It can be a way to introduce a user to a new web, but no more than once, please. If it’s really, really needed as a way mask page load performance, either make it useful or extremely entertaining.
Submit behavior – this is related both to disappearing signifiers and no save/auto save. Submit behavior is disappearing from many UIs today and in some cases it leaves the user uncertain of the state of things. When it’s obviously a submit behavior (ordering something in a web as an example) make it completely clear what is happening.
Not that great
Save/auto save – no one really want to forget to save stuff when we are entering any kind of data. For years we have been trained to hit that save button again and again just to make sure and as soon as it is missing we feel uncertain. (how many times haven’t you saved a web page…) Make sure the saved state is obvious to the user and could someone please catch ctrl-s in the browser so I don’t fill up my disk with saved web pages
Modal windows – You know when you erase those files and the flow get interrupted by a big dialog. We really don’t want that so please let that behavior die, especially on the web. Most of the time it masks the inability to undo stuff. Forcing the user to make a decision
Splash native – In mobile applications the splash is used to mask slow startup times or initial data loading. This should of course be avoided as much as possible. Instant on is what you really prefer. Beware when this is used to brand applications especially when you are asked to delay the splash so the user “get time to see the logo”.
There will probably be a lot of others coming along in 2015 and we are excited to find out what the can offer and how to use them for all users benefits. Enjoy the holidays and keep creative :)