UI & UX Trends To Be Aware Of In 2016

There is no good mobile app, web app or even website without good user experience. End of story. Therefore, it is really important to keep it up to date and to react to trends and user expectations.

We have asked UX experts about their predictions on UX and UI trends that will be important this year, so we can do better in 2016.

At Whalla Labs we love big data, trends, and expert-based predictions. Actually, everything that can help us to cut off the gut feelings and implement data-driven decisions into our work get us going.

You could have noticed that already if you read our latest mobile app design, development and marketing trends – all based on experts’ opinions, not reading the tea leaves.

We liked the idea of blog posts like that so much, that we have asked UX designers about their predictions in UX and UI for 2016.


Why UX Design Matter?

Before we will jump into UX designers predictions, let me explain to you the importance of UX design – if somehow you are one of those people who don’t believe it (yet).

If you know exactly how important UX design is, you can quickly scroll down to the UX design trends.

According to this infographic, about 30 UX Statistics You Should Not Ignore, there are a couple of reasons to implement good user experience:

  • 79% of people who don’t like what they find on your site will go somewhere else
  • 5x mobile users will abandon the task if the site isn’t optimized for mobile
  • 52% of users claim that bad user experience made them less likely to engage with a company
  • 86% of users uninstalled at least one mobile app because of its performance issues

The rule is the same for every mobile app, web app, and website – if you want your users or customers to engage with your company, you need to take care of the user experience.

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If you don’t know what to focus on this year, here are 6 UI and UX trends that are going to be important in 2016.


1. The comeback of layered interfaces

ux trends 2016

After 2015 being the year of Material Design, we might see the comeback of layered interfaces this year.

Dan Rose, the author of Responsive Web Design with Photoshop, foresees that it might be the merge of flat design’s patterns with layered interfaces. Because the popularity of Material Design, a lot of websites and apps look alike now. The blend of some of its patterns with layered interfaces may be refreshing.


“In terms of UI trends, I think we’re getting back to layered interfaces relying on subtle drop shadows, blending modes, and angled containers. Type on its side is also something of a trend. I think we’re seeing designers attempt to balance the simplicity learned from the flat design era and the complexity of layering, which should produce some interesting results” Dan Rose


2. Artificial intelligence is going to be huge

We have seen it already. Companies like Google, Apple or Facebook – they all want to bring VR even closer to their customers and users. Mark Zuckerberg himself said that “VR is going to be the most social platform”.

There are already products and apps that allow us to dive into the world of virtual reality, and the experience of it is only going to get richer.

In Brand Winnie’s opinion, this will lead UX designers to face problems that they haven’t dealt with yet. But it’s a matter of time they will.


“I don’t think we will see a lot of anything different towards the first part of the year but the latter half will get exciting. I think artificial intelligence is going to be huge and because of it, it will simplify user interface design and enhance the UX. We will start to see a lot of designers approaching UX problems by thinking about speech, hand gestures and other forms of VR that we aren’t currently thinking about today because either they simply don’t exist or they aren’t necessary just yet.

I think as more people use voice commands, they will adapt to it habitually and it will force us to rethink how to solve these problems. I think the really smart designers are already thinking about these things now and towards the end of the year, they will start to surface.” Brand Winnie, Growth Hackers


3. Growth of products and services for the over 55s

Have you ever thought about a mobile application to monitor health, remind about taking meds or simplifying in other ways the everyday life of user over 55 years old? Now is the time to do so.

This is a great niche if you want to build mobile products and some brands are slowly starting to realize that. And with the beginnings of developing such mobile products, UX designers will have to find a way to design a friendly user experience for those users.


“As life expectancy in developed countries continues to increase, there are huge opportunities for designers and technologists to build products and services for the over 55s. These people might not be as tech savvy as the younger generations, but they certainly don’t want to be patronised by user interfaces that are over-simplified and lack ingenuity.  During our research at Hive when building Kindeo – the need to strike that balance was obvious from the start.  I think in 2016 we will see the launch of more digital products that cut across generations and deliver experiences that benefit us all as we live longer, more dynamic lives.” Sebastian Sabouné, Hive


4. Growing importance of the Content Strategy

As companies and brands started to incorporate content strategy on their websites, blogs, and social media channels in last years, 2015 become a year to really rearrange things up.

It is no longer important how much traffic to your content you are getting, but how much is it relevant to your business and how much revenue it is growing. Also, the content itself has to be more helpful and engaging.

Even the Google thinks that, so they put it in their guideline. More brand-relevant and well-curated content will be a huge part of brand’s success on the web, for any kind of business:


“We like to focus our attention on the world of recruitment. We see investors moving their money away from the job aggregation services like Broadbean and realising that quality of the job description is more valuable that the size of the audience it reaches. Therefore, sites like UXswitch which improves the job description and targets a niche audience will win out.” Frank Gaine, UXSwitch


5. More cross-platform tools

cross platform design

We have already seen this trend in 2015 and it seems it will be even more important this year.

Take e-commerce and mobile commerce as an example. Users are not longer using only one device to finish online purchase – they use two or more. And it looks the same with many other online tasks.

Laura Klein, Principal at Users Know & Author of UX for Lean Startups, says that it can go even further, involving the wearables, IoT and more.


“We’re seeing lots more products that exist across many platforms and that are shared by different users. We already had to design for mobile and the web. Now we’re starting to see wearables, voice interfaces, cars, TVs, virtual reality, and the general internet of things.

Consider a music service that might be used by different members of a family on phones, tablets, computers, the Amazon Echo, or a car stereo. You might have three people controlling a family account at the same time from their smartwatches and playing it through different speakers or devices in different rooms. I don’t think this stuff will go mainstream this year, but we’ll definitely see more of it.” Laura Klein, Users Know


6. New UX practices in the fields of data encryption and security

Online security was the important issue since the beginning of the web, and it seems that there is no end of those struggles.

As companies collect more and more data about their users, they have to put even more resources to protect them. Otherwise, users will shift away and brand’s reputation will suffer a lot.

According to Sebastian Saboune, the security doesn’t have to be dull, though, as UX designers can make it more fun, intuitive and engaging.


“In 2016, encryption and data security will continue to shape the agenda. Following the recent stories around Apple and the FBI, users will continue to expect transparency as to how their data is handled and protected. There is room for designers to make security more fun, intuitive and engaging. I suspect that in 2016 will see the rise of some new UX best practices in this area” Sebastian Sabouné, Hive


7. Beyond 2016 – deeper understanding of user

Indi Young, the author two books, researcher and co-founder of Adaptive Path, helps us to understand the deeper thinking about the “user” in the long run.


“It is a little hard for me to make a prediction bounded by 2016 because what I hear people talking about will probably take a few years longer. The thing I hear is a strong interest in understanding the “user” at a deeper level–and then that cascades into a realization that we can understand the thinking of a person as they work toward a larger intent or purpose or outcome. It’s the idea of understanding not “work through the insurance claim process” but “instill new habits in myself so this kind of accident never happens again” or “try to get an authority to make the other person change their habit of leaving loose parts in their truck that bounce out and hit other people’s windshields on the highway.” These larger purposes can be found out pretty easily, and patterns of thinking across people can be found and considered for innovative possibilities by organizations.

Really what this is all about is understanding the “problem space,” which is how product managers refer to it. So much effort goes toward the solution and toward marketing that solution. There’s a vast imbalance between the effort put toward solution and problem. It’s mostly because we’re still in the infancy of the era of connected devices, and we have been focused on the most obvious solutions so far. We are just starting to move into a more mature phase of the era when organizations start to consider the complexity of the problem space and recognize that they can branch solutions to support different styles of thinking. Organizations are just starting to recognize that there’s a vast amount of opportunity out there, and the best way to address it isn’t the immature approach of diving in with a solution, but to keep studying the problem space and adding to the understanding of the different angles they could support.” Indi Young, Adaptive Path


To sum things up

The user interface, great content, and more cross-platform tools are going to catch UX designers’ attention this year. With more VR possibilities and the changes of the user’s age and expectations, we can see some interesting UX solutions.

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As mobile app development and mobile UX are going to be part of those trends, we are really curious about what we will see this year.


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