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UX (user experience) design is a fascinating field that involves creating new products, apps, website designs, and user interfaces—and staying on top of technology as it evolves.
The goal of UX design in 2022 is twofold:
First, to take care of new demands and provide users with the best experience when they interact with products. Second, to ensure that brands and businesses across all industries have the tools they need to keep up with the new developments that will satisfy customers (fun fact: nearly 33% of bad user experiences result in users never coming back to a brand).
Where UX design takes us in 2022? From new standards of personalized experience to the doors of virtual reality, we sat down with Wix in-house UX designer Avital Santo to grab insights into what UX trends will look like in 2022.
In many ways, this dynamic industry is a balancing act between creating new ways to engage users, while listening and taking care of their needs. And as we ride the wave of what's shaping the UX design world in 2022, it’s obvious that it's moving forward in a way that goes beyond metrics—but rather chooses to hone in on the human beings we’re designing for.
Here are 10 UX design trends to look out for in 2022:
A cursor is a fundamental web design tool that bridges the gap between users and the user interface (UI). It’s something each visitor undoubtedly interacts with, allowing them to navigate and take action on a site. A cursor’s significance has always depended on functionality—but UX trends in 2022 will treat cursors as sophisticated design elements that play an even bigger role in delivering a smart and trendy user experience.
Cursors have already experienced a major evolution in recent years, thanks to UX design programs like Figma enabling us to make more refined use of this element. We’ve seen UX designers change the shape and size of cursors, add unique animated effects, and even give cursors the ability to produce actions that were previously made using UI inputs.
Ultimately, these cursor improvements are not just about impressing users with advanced design gimmicks but facilitating a more effective user experience. Santo explains that “making the cursor part of the action is a phenomenon that gives a minimalist and intuitive feeling to websites.” He adds, “there used to be a lot of buttons involved to take actions, but many of these are being replaced by the cursor. It's part of clean and smart behavior in design.”
Curated show recommendations from Netflix, shopping suggestions on Instagram, pre-made playlists on Shopify: are just a few examples that prove we live in an age of hyper-personalization. Companies are collecting more data about their customers—from demographics and behavioral data to localization and more. And with the artificial intelligence to make sense of it all, personalized experiences today are becoming a regular part of UX that is just too good to give up on.
Personalization benefits businesses (especially in eCommerce) since they can use data to target potential customers. It helps users as well, providing us with a more convenient online experience that gives us the information we want without having to ask for it. But as Santo points out, it’s the role of UX designers in 2022 to hone in even further on the user.
Santo explains, “The goal is no longer just to improve customer satisfaction: it’s to curate a meaningful experience.” As technology advances, the UX world needs to define even stronger boundaries and ethical approaches to create a holistic encounter with users.
“Personalized user experiences have intensified in the last year, and companies want to understand how they can create a ‘total package’ for the user. Designers are adapting themselves to the users’ personal needs, and trying to communicate on a personal level that respects the user while producing an emotional feeling,” Santo says.
UX trend example of Netflix user interface and localized personalization UX trend example of Netflix user interface and localized personalization
Data visualization is the art of putting data into a visual context, arranging it in a composition that builds a story for the user. This has become an invaluable and expected part of user experience since it improves how users interact with certain products and even fosters a more trusting relationship between them.
“Understanding and analyzing certain types of data is a process that’s always been left to professionals,” says Santo. “But now, it’s a fundamental part of the way most programs, brands, and applications interact with their users.”
For example, the ability to view screen time data on our devices offers a level of transparency that makes us more accountable for our cell phone usage. Plus, there is the invention of apps made solely to track and visualize meaningful day-to-day data. One such app is Lumen, which gives users detailed information about their metabolism and energy levels from the convenience of a hand-held device.
In 2022, more brands will be on the hunt for data that can improve interaction with their products, and in general have a positive impact on users’ lives. Placing the value on the user, we’ll also see an emphasis placed on trendy aesthetics.
“Data used to be displayed generically, using pie charts, graphs, etc. But now it needs to speak to the user, and we’ll see apps crafting fun and personal ways to make this data more interesting,” says Santo. He refers to Spotify’s in-app experience Only You, which displays a colorful and trendy visual language to make personalized music suggestions for users.
Simply put, dark mode refers to user interfaces with a predominantly dark color palette. Using, for example, black and other dim hues for the background and flipping the design so text and secondary details stick out in light colors. This is not a new trend: dark mode has already been used for years in programs like Apple, YouTube, and Google—but it’s becoming more of a default in UX since users and designers alike seem to prefer it.
Users appreciate the new, fresh appearance of dark mode, and as Santo puts it, “Designers have a bias towards dark mode and the minimalistic, visual tone it has to offer. Anything that sits on black looks more elegant.” But the aesthetic appeal is not the only reason dark mode is rocking the user experience. “Dark mode is part of an overall attempt to de-stress the user at a time when we spend more time looking at our screens. White screen mode reflects light, black doesn’t, so it’s easier to read things” adds Santo.
As it becomes more standard in 2022, we’ll see more apps, websites, and products using dark mode, and more design programs enabling us to do so. For example, Velo by Wix enables any user to switch their site into dark mode without the use of complex coding.
From the once revolutionary “like button” to a scroll bar that shows you where you are on a page, micro-interactions are small visual movements that have a large impact on UX design. Whether it’s a swipe, hover color, animation, or data input, micro-interactions serve the purpose of making the user experience more engaging, interesting, and enjoyable.
“A few years ago, 'micro-interaction' was a buzzword. Everyone talked about the benefit of giving users feedback, and moving the design game from static to dynamic in general.” Santo explains. Google started this trend by making buttons enlarge when users click on them, and in 2022 we’ll see it become a standard trend in both mobile and desktop UX design.
“Now nothing can be static, because it gives an out-of-date vibe. Users need to know that you are out there,” adds Santo. “In the Wix Editor, for example, we understood that users need feedback from icons. As you can see [in the image below], small animation and changes of color give Wix users the feeling that elements talk to them as they build a website.”
There’s a common thread among most of the UX design trends on this list: creating an overall more engaging user experience. Of course, that implies the use of inventive, exciting visuals, such as those made in 3D. 3D elements are not a new design concept. In 2022 it will be less about the proliferation of the 3D effect, and more about the advancement of 3D design tools that make it a UX trend worth pointing out.
Once a style or design element gains popularity in the UX world, it is a common response to make it more accessible for a wide range of designers and users. “The novelty is in the new generation of 3D tools.” Explains Santo, “We see design content based on 3D everywhere—whether it’s in web design or app creation—and in the past, you had to use heavy programs for this. But now there are new tools that can generate 3D designs quite easily, such as those introduced recently by Illustrator.”
UX trend 3d images example of tool creating 3d spheres with marble design sux trend 3d images example of tool creating 3d spheres with marble designs
3D functionality in Adobe Illustrator
Keeping user interfaces clean is a standard every UX designer should aim for. But because we’re designing for 2022—it’s never a bad idea to add an inventive twist. “For the past few years, creating clean programs with generic, flat designs has been a trending style,” says Santo, But now we’ll see that even designs that are flat will incorporate small elements that jump out.”
These minor visual twists can have a positive effect on a minimalistic design. “Pitch is an app with a user interface like this,” Santo adds. “The entire interface is black and white, with flat icons—but then the generic design implements a surprisingly sophisticated gradient. This small solution is an example of how unexpected visuals and behaviors can successfully generate interest from the user.”
The revolutionary shift toward virtual and augmented reality is a phenomenon that intensified with Covid quarantines and the timely establishment of Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. Ultimately, this will play out in 2022 UX design trends with the creation of more immersive, customized, and unique alternative playgrounds.
“AR and VR have a huge impact on the way we will design in the future and are already redefining how users can interact with products,” says Santo. AR and VR-oriented designs will aim to respond more directly to a user’s needs and environment in real-time, taking engagement to a whole new level. Because of this, we’ll see the emergence of a whole new set of UX design rules across all industries as we move away from screen-centered interfaces.
One of the biggest competitors with Hollywood is the gaming industry, so it's no surprise that gaming behavior is something that’s being seen in UX design across all sorts of industries. In 2022, brands will fill their websites, products, and marketing campaigns with micro-interactions and playful content that mimic the playful interactions of video games and make users feel part of the action.
This trend will have a great impact on the way users interact with brands, and vice versa. “More and more companies will use gaming as part of their branding, marketing, and products in 2022,” says Santo. “We’ll see it become a regular part of the web, creating new entertaining spaces for visitors. For example, campaigns like Balenciaga’s 2020 Look Book start with a game before it leads you to their site.
Whether the gaming trend is implemented aesthetically on a website with an icon or image, or integrated full-blown into a brand’s marketing funnel, it is sure to grab attention and bring a playful vibe to some unexpected new places.
Each year, new screen sizes are born, and with them, a need for UX designers to adapt their creations to these devices—whether it’s one of the three newest iPhones, a smart TV, or a laptop. This is where responsive design comes in. Responsive design means setting up a fluid user interface that can adjust to fit any browser space or screen, ensuring consistency across different devices.
“We’ve been living with a responsive design for a while, but more and more we understand that it needs to improve,” says Santo. In fact, in 2021 approximately 55% of mobile traffic came through using mobile devices. “In the past, we would think about the areas that need to be designated with the best version of our designs, but today that needs to be everywhere.
Whether working with responsive design programs, like EditorX, or building layouts that are smart and simple enough to work well in any situation—it’s more important than ever to think about screen size.
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