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Top UI Trends for Mobile App Design to Follow in 2021

Doesn’t the ever-changing landscape of UI designs feel perplexing at times?

Whether you’re an app developer or an entrepreneurial spirit with a brilliant idea, the importance of UI design isn’t lost on you. You must have even felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of mobile app design trends at some point.

So, let’s try to make sense of the UI/UX trends. Starting with a context on how user interface design arrived where it is now, can help you understand the recent developments better.

1970s – user interface finds a real form

The history of UI UX design isn’t that definitive but rather an abstract one. Hence, it’s better to explore the qualitative progression of mobile UI design.

It started with the introduction of the first commercial Graphical User Interface in 1973, which accompanied the Xerox Star workstation. At the time, Xerox’s PARC research centre led the way in graphical innovations. Today’s personal computing is based on those inventions in many ways.

When Apple changed the world –

As Apple enters the market, it ushers in an era of a new design principle – skeuomorphism. This new way of organising the digital realm captured the collective imagination of that time.

Skeuomorphism suggests that every element of the user interface be an imitation of a real-life object. The digital world needs to look like the physical. Take, for example, the recycle bin icon or the volume control dial.

Apple relied on this principle heavily under Steve Jobs until 2013. The release of iOS7 saw the emergence of a more simplified interface that had a flatter feel. Realism gave way to Minimalism, which by now is an essential design principle and influences aesthetic choices.

Now It’s a Material world –

“You know we are living in a material world…”

Who knew that the words of Madonna’s song – ‘Material Girl’ – would one day echo the tune of a design philosophy? In 2014, Google released its Material Design language to change the mobile app design game forever.

Material design is remarkable in many ways as it –

  • Uses textures from the physical world but reimagines surfaces as if they’re on paper and ink.
  • Borrows from print design methods to create hierarchy.
  • Includes subtle motions that give feedback to the user and maintains continuity of actions.
  • An intense focus on the creation of surfaces, expressing elevation, and rendering shadows.

Material design created a highly interactive environment with a sophisticated intersection of light, surface and movement. It relies on strong visual cues to guide the user’s interactions.

Google implemented its new design concept to every product: mobile apps, Android updates, search, maps. With the hit of this style of mobile app design, a stream of new design trends followed.

  • Comfort visuals

You know about comfort food, right? They are dishes that comfort the heart in times of dejection. With simple, bold flavours and heart-warming smells, comfort foods soothe you after a stressful period. 

Similarly, think about comforting visuals that are easy on the eyes. A recent mobile app design trend, this style favours the use of soothing visuals and natural colours. It calls for minimalistic layouts that don’t overwhelm a user. 

In times of ‘Zoom fatigue’, a stripped-down mobile UI design makes longer screen times less uncomfortable.

  • Neumorphism

“new skeuomorphism” – yes, it’s based on that prehistoric design idea you read earlier in this blog. To interrupt the monotonous flow of flat designs – one app after another, designers are perking up the interactive touchpoints.

Neumorphism is a hot mobile app design trend to watch out for. It takes simplistic flat buttons and revamps them to be more three-dimensional. A touch of graphics-heavy realism can impart a lot more tactile feel to an app.

  • Inspirations from abstract art

Predicting the uptake of abstract art in UI design is a no-brainer!

It’s everywhere these days. Graphic tees to notebook covers, fans of abstract art can’t have enough of it. Symmetrical yet whimsical shapes, bold yet delicately finished; these are some ways to describe the abstract style of mobile app design.

Start-ups and micro-enterprises find this design particularly helpful. It looks good on products and doesn’t depend on pricey photography. When done well, they can grab the audience’s attention quite strongly.

  • No-button designs

Amongst the top mobile UI design styles of 2021 are clean edgeless user interfaces without any buttons. Buttons can sometimes create clutter on the screen, so this is a much-needed revolution. 

With devices having an increased capability for gesture control, a buttonless screen will free up so much space. It renders an expansive and seamless user experience. 

  • Utopic illustrations

Illustrations add a human touch to a mobile app design. Now, there’s a new way to illustrate apps. They incorporate clean lines and cartoonish imagery but with polished aesthetics.

UI/UX designers who do excellent illustrations are seeing increased demand. Prioritise the use of quality illustration to improve your app quality.

That’s a lot of trends to follow up on. Take the time to delve deeper into each of these new ideas; it’s worth your time and effort.

Aniket Agarwal