in Ux & Ui

A Recap of the most popular UI trends for 2016


by Karim Hachani

I’ve learned I don’t know anything.
Have also learned that people will pay for what I know.

No one can easily forget the GIFs of the previous decade, the more current focus on flat design as well as the craze of mobile ready and responsive web design.

But every so often we see (boring) conversations declaring a deep change in the way we design. The issues of the debate vary widely. One day it’s about the role of typography and the other is about how web design itself is dying. Even though some of these articles are valid to an extent, we can argue for a lack of balance and overall objective vibe.

These discussions aren’t really helpful. I am only mentioning them here, because they’re perhaps one of the only means to push our creative boundaries. At the end of the day, they challenge how we go about our craft, but they don’t necessarily help us evolve collectively as a community. 

What actually works though is a completely different story.

The introduction of different types of handheld devices makes things a bit more complicated. The ability to adapt to each device while retaining proper attention is a must in order to consistently bloom in the competition. Designs have to be more creative, simple and concise.

It’s fairly easy to find a decent designer to work on any type of project. There’s just one caveat. Everything this person comes up with must be current. So, without further ado, let’s explore the 10 most current UI trends for 2016: 

1.Long scrolling

Most of us are already well-acquainted with long scrolls thanks to mobile devices. With so much information to feed in, and the vast increase in the population of mobile devices, long scrolling is now a must. Viewers of today do appreciate this design which increases user engagement and lures users via (more) effective storytelling. 

2. Card Style Layouts

It’s Pinterest’s fault really. Unlike tile-based designs, this activates more interactions with the user. Everyone prefers information to be presented in chunks, it’s way more easily digestible. Embedding animation into the images can improve the way content is shown and can better trigger viewers’ interest. Say hello to content containers! 

3. Micro-interactions

They’re everywhere. Chances are you started your day by turning off your alarm. Or, perhaps, you went on Facebook and clicked like on that little funny pussy cat. Point proven. All these interactions are done without much thought and basically engage the user with the interface in a single, but important, moment. 

4. Material Design

RIP Flat Design. Your replacement has arrived, goes by the name of material design and is now richer than ever before. Ever since Google launched its fresh style language, we were given the ability to use movement concepts and shadow effects at will. All these make for a design that appears more realistic to the user. While it has quite a few common features with flat design, this trends makes use of depth and shadows. That’s why it’s a game changer. 

5. Full-screen Slides

Firstly we were astounded by sliders. These were introduced to allow the movement of images within a specified frame. They indeed made it easier to showcase content. The next step was obviously full-screen slides. Such set ups not only help us to easily grasp the message which the web page conveys but make room for an experience that’s more physical than ever before. 

6. Animations

Moving elements are everywhere. Albeit this was one of the ‘must’ trends of 2015, we see these growing exponentially in popularity. These animations may be decreasing in size but also provide us with a fun way to engage users beyond belief. We give them something to play with, while they patiently wait for the content to load up. These tiny surprise elements minimize the impact of the ever-shorter attention spans. 

7. Fearless Colors

There really is no way to design without color. Even straight up black and white websites feature multiple options for balance, contrast and hue. The old boring defaults are now long gone. Time to say hello to gradients and shades of every kind. Good use of colors provides brand emphasis and enhances mood which effectively provides visual interest and redirects users’ focus. Endless rainbows of vibrant colors are spread out all over the internet, and you know you can’t afford to not partake in the whole shebang. 

8. Videos

We only have a couple of seconds before users’ attention is lost forever. It’s not surprising that we see more homepages featuring videos as their main point of interaction.

Nobody hates videos. If pictures say a lot of things at a glance, videos can tell a whole lot more, without needing to read a lot of text. The less time it takes to convey a message, the better viewership the web page gets.

This trend gains its popularity because of higher internet speed and better resolution in our devices, be it mobile, PC or TV. The technology paves the way for a better viewing experience, and telling a story over the internet needs not be tedious at all. Why read when you can watch? 

9. Dramatic Typography 

It’s not anymore only about finding the perfect words, it’s about a small revolution in the typography world. Given the fact that the average Joe spends up to 11 hours per day going through digital media, such typography trends are bound to make a long-lasting impression. Script styles, watercolor, really small or big font sizes along with geometrical shapes and slab serifs really define the core of it all. 

10. New Age Button Takeover

The look of CTAs is definitely getting a face-lift in 2016. They tend to be transparent and outline the design with a thin stroke that contains light, easy to the eye, sans-serif fonts. Also they’re becoming more dynamic. Such buttons easily attract attention in a subtle, super-effective way and their clicking is becoming more of an experience than an action. We never liked old-fashioned CTAs either way. 

Progress is impossible without change, that’s why we need humanity to embrace it. Not only are we getting a pretty cool year with awesome updates, but these are expected to evolve pretty quickly into something that’s bound to reshape the face of digital yet again.