User Interface Design / 10 min read

App UI Design Trends for 2022 and 2023

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By Marion / August 08, 2022

First, let’s talk about what is UI Design before we can go into what trends there are in 2022 and maybe see some trends for 2023.

A user interface (UI) design is the touchpoint between the user and the digital device (or product).

On an app, UI design considers the feel, interactivity and mainly the look of the product with the main aim that the product is as intuitive as possible.

That means that the UI designer needs to consider carefully each visual as well as an interactive element the user might encounter.

Different designs, colours and shapes

See also our previous blog where we write about: What is UI design and why is it important?

1. App UI Design Trends for 2022 and 2023

1.1. Skeuomorphism

The name comes from skeuos (means container or tool) and morpe (means shape) and has been applied to objects since 1890. In the 1980s this term has been used to characterise icons used in graphic UI. The idea was to make UI more intuitive with skeuomorphic design (examples are ‘save’ and the ‘bin’ – or ‘trash can’ as Americans call it).

In today’s world, you’ll hear about the ‘theory of affordances’ which means, in a nutshell, an affordance refers to the possibility of an action on an object (a chair affords being sat on). Understanding this term is essential to understand for a UI design to be ‘intuitive’.

1.2. Minimalism

As the name implies, minimalism is about simplifying the UI and to remove not necessary parts and only keep the elements which support the users’ tasks.

The design must be clear and simple in its presentation to the user. White space should be contrasted with colours and different font sizes to construct a hierarchy on the interface. The user should grasp the details clearly and quickly.

Sometimes less is more

Read more here: “8 minimal UI designs and why they work”

1.3. Material Design

Google announced their Material Design language in 2014 which uses grid-based layouts, responsive animations, transitions, padding and depth effects (3D effects with shadows and lighting).

Material Design 2 was launched in 2018 and Material Design 3 in May 2022.

Read more here: “Update to Material Design 3” 

Quote from Google:” Material is an adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools that support the best practices of user interface design. Backed by open-source code, Material streamlines collaboration between designers and developers, and helps teams quickly build beautiful products.”

2. How to design an app UI that converts

The conversion rate records the percentage of users who have completed a desired action. Conversion rates are calculated by taking the total number of users who ‘convert’ (for example, by clicking on an ad), dividing it by the overall size of the audience and converting that figure into a percentage.

Every business wants to achieve high conversion rates as this means higher sales numbers and, overall, higher profits.

With this you can also analyse how compelling a ‘call to action’ is and if the UI design is intuitive.

Growth is necessary to survive

The three most important elements for apps to achieve a high conversion rate are:

2.1. Keep it Simple

As discussed above, minimalism is one of the most important factors to keep it simple. The user should grasp the details clearly and quickly.

2.2. Use Visual Cues

The user should find a design that is clear and simple in its presentation. Use the white space effectively and it should be contrasted with colours. Different font sizes also help to construct a hierarchy on the UI.

2.3. Use Negative Space

We’ve also briefly discussed this, but what the heck is negative space?! It is nothing more than the white space on a screen. It’s the area of the layout that is left empty. Yes, even this is fundamental! Negative space is a kind of breathing room for all the objects on the page or screen.

Is negative space important? Yes, it is. It also goes hand in hand with the ‘keep it simple’ point as per above.

Imagine, you have been asked to work in a room that is full of stuff and is cluttered. Would you be able to work in such conditions? Are you able to concentrate? Are all those things needed? This is probably the same feeling users have if they open a screen and it’s cluttered and hasn’t got any negative space.

Just keep in mind, that users don’t need everything at once, only what they’re looking for.

3. How to optimise your app UI for different devices

So what devices are we talking about? The range goes from micro-screens (smartwatches) to wide TV screens and content is viewed on all of them. Taken, these are extremes, but even mobiles, tablets and laptops have a range of screen sizes. Designers must take into consideration these different sizes to maximise the user experience. It is important to develop an effective strategy to satisfy users with a different range of devices and screen sizes.

Different devices and sizes

Before we go into details, please note, that first, you need to identify the core user experience for your product. To establish the core UX of your product, ask yourself: “What is (are) the most important task(s) that my customers need to do?”

Often, you’ll find the core UX in a company’s strapline. 'To Fly. To Serve.' You might know whose strapline that is…

3.1. Think About Screen Size

I’m using my mobile phone mainly for simple tasks which has short user sessions. With my tablet, I’m reading content and sometimes I use it for work too. On my desktop, I do my main work where I can work for hours and use several screens.

I consider myself average. I use different services in different contexts.

The UI designer needs to understand these basic details and can design accordingly. The designer needs to adapt the experience for each context of use as not all features make sense on all devices. Mobile users want different content from the product than desktop users.

3.2. Consider Input Methods

This might have driven you crazy too: some apps don’t rotate and only work in one orientation! Movies, for example, can’t be watched on portrait orientation and there’s more out there.

And then some apps don’t automatically switch to the proper input mode, i.e. numbers and keyboard, that means I have to manually switch to numeric entry, every time.

For data entry purposes, apart from using your keyboard, you can use the pen input (it allows text entry while standing or when vibration or movement is likely).

The big trend for 2023 I predict is the virtual input with the voice. These speech-to-text systems (especially supported by Android and for iOS devices more recently), like the pen input, have varying degrees of utility and generally provide similar methods of proposing candidate translations, which the system automatically accepts. The user may then select from among alternatives, edit values directly, or try again. It is useful for hands-free input or whenever it would be inconvenient or dangerous to directly manipulate an input device.

I’ve come across this interesting research project by Heinrich Hussmann from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich titled: “Evaluation of User Interface Design and Input Methods for Applications on Mobile Touch Screen Devices”

In this research, two prototypes of a simple social networking application were implemented using a G1 phone that runs the Android platform. A user study has been conducted to compare different input techniques and UI designs and evaluate their usability.

3.3. Use the Right Colors

60-30-10. This rule is often applied for house decorating and should also be applied to UI and screens on apps.

Colours should be combined in the proportion of 60%–30%–10%. The biggest part should go to the dominant hue, the third of the composition takes secondary colour and 10% percent goes to the colour which helps to make the accents. A simple idea brings balance into the composition.

Contrasting colours are also vital on a page composition making them stand out and shows their individuality.

Consider the psychology of colours on human mood and behaviour.

Which coloured smarties do you like best?

Read more about this here: Color Matters. 6 Tips on Choosing UI Colors

Conclusion

What are the App UI design trends for 2022 and 2023 was the theme of the blog and the conclusion is that skeuomorphism and minimalism are highly trending and Google has shown that they want to be at the forefront of the future by launching their Material Design 3 platform in May 2022.

Of course, every business wants to achieve high conversion rates as this means higher sales numbers and, overall, higher profits. Designers will have to analyse how compelling a ‘call to action’ is and amend the strategy of the UI in their business.

Optimisation of device size is utterly fundamental. Designers must take into consideration these different sizes to maximise the user experience. It is important to develop an effective strategy to satisfy users with a different range of devices and screen sizes.

I predict that the big trend for 2023 is the virtual input with voice. These speech-to-text systems have varying degrees of utility and generally provide similar methods of proposing candidate translations, which the system automatically accepts. It is useful for hands-free input or whenever it would be inconvenient or dangerous to directly manipulate an input device.

The use of the right colours is also vital for UI experience and designers must consider the psychology of colours on human mood and behaviour.

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