Top 5 UX Trends for 2021

It can be hard to make predictions that are 100% accurate all of the time—no one could have predicted everything that happened in a year like 2020, that’s for sure. Yet in the world of UX design, there are some hard-to-ignore trends happening across the board that are giving us a clear idea of what is to come in the future of our industry. Luckily for us, it looks out of this world exciting. (We think it would make anyone want to start getting into coding.)

Wondering what might be coming next in the UX world? Here are the top five trends we think you should be monitoring as we approach 2021. 

5. Dark Mode 

Dark Mode in UX

Popularized in 2020, big names like Apple, Android, and Instagram have given users the option to switch from traditional light/white themes to dark, easier-to-view themes. Just look at your own devices—how many spaces have you switched to a Dark Mode? Dark Mode is easier on the eyes, better at highlighting key features, offers users a sleeker and more elegant view, and it can even save battery life on Android devices (or OLED/AMOLED screens).

In 2021, it’s likely we’ll see even more opportunities to “select Dark Mode.” 

4. 3D Elements

In an area that collaborates with UI, we’ve been seeing a clear shift towards 3D elements being featured left and right. The technology and allowances for 3D graphics to enter mobile and web has grown significantly, with many web browser capabilities making it easier than ever to integrate 3D elements into mobile and web interfaces. Need an example? Just check out any Apple product page (the AirPods Pro page is a great example). Not only is it thrilling to see as a trend, it’s just amazing to look at. 

With the popularity of trends such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality growing, it’s clear users are starting to favor the feeling of hyper realism—making 3D elements something to watch out for in 2021. 

3. UX Storytelling 

It’s all about the story. No longer is it enough to develop simple stages for a product or service. Users want to be told a story—they want to find a narrative flow or a clear path to follow to the answer they are looking for. In UX, if you can design something that has a visual and narrative flow that feels personable, understandable, and most of all relatable to the user, you might just be on the way to a greater sense of connection. We’ve seen more and more sites not just simply present their company, product, brand, etc, but begin to tell their story from the moment someone hits their landing page. Some great examples of UX storytelling in action include the Financial Times “Uber Game” (a combination game and article), and a more traditional example of Patagonia (a site that pushes you to start a story from the first click). 

We think it might be safe to say that 2021 might just be the year of the digital story, and we know many UX designers who are ready to tell it. 

2. Augmented Reality

As we spend more time at home, it’s no wonder that users might start leaning towards features that allow them to bring some of the outside in. We already know many of the leading tech companies are heavily investing in their augmented reality research and development. Apple recently introduced ARKit 4, its Depth API that allows the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the iPad Pro augment reality with their location anchors and expanded face tracking. Not only is it fun, it’s an amazing piece of technology to engage with. 

Moving forward into 2021, we could see an even greater push for a different kind of reality functionality. 

1. Voice User Interface

While many varying numbers have been thrown around on just what percentage of users will favor voice command functionalities in 2021, there’s no denying the current numbers we do know. For 2020, Statistica projected 117.7 million people used voice assistants at least once a month. For 2021, they are projecting that number will jump to 122.7. 

Google itself has stated that currently 27% of the global population—yes, the global population—is using voice search on mobile. Statistica found that there were 4.2 billion voice assistants being used in devices (electronics, household speakers, etc) in 2020, with a forecast for that number to continue to grow. 

With just a quick glance at these current trends, it’s clear we can expect to be working more and more voice capabilities into 2021. 

No matter what may be in store for 2021, we can safely say that it will be an interesting and dynamic year for the UX field—a year you won’t want to miss out on. Here at Burlington Code Academy, we can’t wait to see what we can experiment with next. We’re ready to get to work. 
Looking to participate in the future of UX? You can easily jump on these trends by visiting our Burlington Code Academy UX Boot Camp or our UX Design After Hours courses.