UX and Web Design Predictions for 2021 – What The Experts Say

  • TechRound has collected 2021 UX and web design predictions from industry experts.
  • Kirsty McLean predicts that 2021 will be a year where “AR and VR will become an industry standard in Web Design and UX.”
  • Ben Jamieson predicts “2021 will be about more than personalised content, it will be personalised experiences”.
  • 2021 will be a year where “More brands will begin to plan for AR integration to allow virtual interaction where possible and partner with providers in the AR app space” according to Kristen Miller.
  • It is predicted that “leadership will prioritise UX over traditional sales” in 2021 according to Daniel Kyne.

 

No one could have predicted the sudden change that would come in our lives in 2020. In the digital universe, one that was already a non-physical contact world, business continued as usual. And if anything, the pandemic boosted the industry. Business are appreciating how far digital can reach and how instrumental it can be for a business, especially when face-to-face contact is no longer possible in the current climate.

As a result, going into 2021, online services are more popular than ever. UX and web design play a huge role in ensure consumers have a positive experience and it is important to understand the top tips on what you can do for your company.

So, what will 2021 bring for UX and web design? We have collected a list of 14 industry expert predictions into what has been on the rise in the past year and what advice and practices businesses and individuals should follow and use in the coming year.

 

Our Panel of Experts:

  • Fabio Da Cruz – UI-UX/ Web Designer at Best Response Media
  • Daniel Kyne – Co-Founder and CEO of OpinionX
  • Ben Jamieson – Ecommerce and Technical Lead at Numagoo
  • Kirsty McLean – Head of Creative at Vertical Leap
  • Adam Stanway – Lead Designer at Degree 53
  • Alan Rowe – Director of Web Strategy at ClickThrough Marketing
  • Kristen Miller – CEO of Stylyze
  • Liam Gillespie – Chip’s VP of Design
  • Fiona Hawkins – MD at Plinkfizz
  • Aaron Parker – UX and UI Team Leader at Amdaris
  • Daniel Krüger – Head of Product at Valutico
  • Michael O’Sullivan – CEO of Bywire News
  • James Whittall – Founder and MD of Influx Digital
  • Liam McCabe – Co-founder & Technical Director at Code & Wander

 

 

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Fabio Da Cruz – UI-UX/ Web Designer at Best Response Media

 

Fabio Da Cruz

 

“More than ever, people are alone in 2021. The social interaction moved to social. It’s obvious now that people like to get some attention and like to feel like they’re in control.

We’ve seen that many Spotify’s users share their end of the year round-ups as something they see as fun data. People also enjoy Netflix’s personalised experiences.

The big thing in UX design this year will be hopping on that train, allowing users to have more control over their interfaces, even if they can only change the app’s colour.

Design this year won’t be just about following brand guidelines, toying with colours and fonts and delivering one static set. It’s going beyond that.

It’s gonna be important to embrace the use of design systems as this will allow flexibility and consistency in the designs while providing more personalised interfaces to the user.

The more user can change, to tweak the app or profile to his/her own taste, the more he will feel like a part of it and, bottom line, use it.

Most of my designs currently are for e-commerce websites, and there I see the use of AI as a way to personalise the shopping experience. This trend has already started, but it’s evolving. You may have stumbled on websites that are trying to sell glasses with virtual try on. It doesn’t feel right quite yet.

Also, IKEA is trying out an app with augmented reality to personalise the experience. They are still officially working on it. These methods still have to be polished, but I see it as an upcoming trend.”

 

Daniel Kyne – Co-Founder and CEO of OpinionX

 

OpinionX - Daniel Kyne

 

The rise of mixed methods UX research:

“As tech companies continue to shift their focus from executives to end users are part of the move to Product-Led Growth, leadership will prioritise UX over traditional sales. Understanding end user pain points and unmet needs becomes centre stage. This changes the expectations of user researchers, who are now required to act beyond service and become strategy leaders.

The research industry has traditionally been split into qualitative and quantitative specialists, but as UX researchers become increasingly important in forming core strategy, it becomes more important that they can stakeholder the organisation and evangelize the needs of the user cross-functionally.

This results in a tidal wave of change for user researchers. What was once a peripherally-located, service-based, skillset-siloed support function for product teams suddenly has a seat at the leadership table. Now the UX researcher needs to be able to speak in terms of qual and quant output and to blend these two fields together in mixed methods projects that ensure outcomes which can be leveraged for every internal meeting.

We’re moving into the era of the Full-Stack Researcher and the emergence of mixed methods as a third research specialism.”

 

Ben Jamieson – Ecommerce and Technical Lead at Numagoo

 

Ben Jamieson from Numagoo

 

“Smart Merchandising – Showing the right product to the right person, at the right time!

Although there has been a slow trend in this direction for a while, I predict that 2021 is the year a lot of ecommerce stores will be getting super-charged with some smart, AI-driven merchandising and personalisation solutions delivering huge improvements to UX and conversion.

For most ecommerce stores it is still the case that  you are presented with a range of options to organise the products. Price lowest/highest, alphabetically, featured etc. Smart Merchandising combines the behavioural data collected by the site with AI analysis and blends them beautifully together to come up with a category page individual to that customer. However, behavioural rules can go beyond just reordering categories, and can influence product carousels, recommenders and even page imagery.

Whereas only a few years ago these features would need a room full of specialist developers or the resources of the likes of Amazon to make this kind of thing happen, in 2021 if you use Magento, OpenCart, Shopify, or any mainstream platform, then there are a wealth of cost-effective options which can plug directly into your site giving you the powers of Jeff Bezos.

I predict that 2021 will be about more than personalised content, it will be personalised experiences. Ecommerce stores will flex and adapt to customers in real time, resulting was a much higher chance of putting the right product in front of the right person at the right time!”

 

Kirsty McLean – Head of Creative at Vertical Leap

 

Kirsty McLean

 

“In 2021, I predict all things AR and VR will become an industry standard in Web Design and UX. As an industry, we need to help users recreate the feeling of connectedness without being able to physically connect, and AR/VR can both help to achieve this.

With so many businesses becoming more open to remote working for employees and feeling comfortable with tools such as Zoom, I’m certain that working life will never be exactly as it was pre-Covid-19 even once we are all vaccinated and able to return to a more normal existence.

Remote working can bring positives for employees in terms of work/life balance, but there are also huge benefits for employers such as saving money on office space and staff travel. These savings could be re-invested in tools to virtually replicate an office environment or events, and further support wellbeing which I also think will be centre-stage in 2021.

I also think that UX will continue to move toward full inclusivity in the coming year, and more designers will need to take into account WCAG 2.1 guidelines when creating designs to ensure that websites are providing a good user experience across the board, and not just to those without disabilities.”

 

 

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Adam Stanway – Lead Designer at Degree 53

 

Adam Stanway

 

“Web design and UX will move towards more consideration for accommodating working from home. As a substitution for in-branch or in-store interactions, businesses will be looking to adapt to WFH to continue supporting their customers. There might be more demand for web redesign or improvements to incorporate the services that customers now need remotely, scaling up systems and making them more efficient. This could lead to a rise in chat bots and AI use to help businesses resolve certain queries quickly, saving time and cost on running large customer service departments. Designers will have an opportunity to make them interactive and integrated into the whole product design for smoother customer experience.

With the arrival of 5G, we’ll be able to create much larger websites or apps that will load much quicker, also allowing for seamless interactions. It will allow for higher capacity and increased availability. This will enable product owners to create greater user experiences and connect users with a lot more services or products that have so far been only web-based due to their capacity. This will impact many industries, including transport, healthcare, finance and more.”

 

Alan Rowe – Director of Web Strategy at ClickThrough Marketing

 

Alan Rowe

 

“A lot of UX standardisation has occurred over the last few years but UX designers and Conversion Rate experts still find many ways to evolve and improve UX. There is always a compromise to be had between creating understandable, usable immersive experiences and also slick and speedy websites. 2021 strengthens the latter with Google incorporating its new Core Web Vitals into its search algorithm in May. This will force business owners to make ever more difficult compromises to try to pass the tests.

October 2020 also saw the release of GA4 which encourages website owners to think of their websites as apps and works best if you understand what events and actions users take on your website. This means that designers will push boundaries even further in terms of encouraging key user actions.

So in 2021, I expect to see even better layouts of fonts for readability with every clear spacing around buttons. There will be greater attention on not loading all content immediately and using ajax to load in content on demand with video still very important. This will further encourage designers to ensure this content loads discretely and cleanly.  Even more effort will be put into making experiences slick with micro-animations pleasing users as they interact. Because we have to build mechanisms for this, this will make greater personalisation easier and I expect much more voice activation this year.

Almost every website owner has seen ever greater traffic come from mobile and so true mobile first design will grow in popularity. Most developers and designers have faked this so far with responsive design. We now need to load only appropriate resources for each device and think about true mobile optimisation. If we do not, we will fail Core Web Vitals and we will do this at our peril!”

 

Kristen Miller – CEO of Stylyze

 

Kristen Miller Headshot

 

“For 2021 much of the trends will be impacted by the pandemic and the way lifestyle restrictions have affected our online behaviour. A prime example of this is the rise in online shopping due to physical stores closing. A strong online platform from retailers, especially in the fashion and home industries, has become a necessity to compete in a volatile market. I am expecting many developers to adopt a mobile-first design to accommodate consumers shopping via smart devices. This will lead to an increased security focus – encompassing authentication technology – as mobile becomes a primary payment platform.

With more people shopping from home, the use of video as an alternative for the live interaction with potential purchases, such as models walking in the clothing, or a virtual tour of the showroom will become more popular. More brands will begin to plan for AR integration to allow virtual interaction where possible and partner with providers in the AR app space – a goldmine for companies who can supply these optimized tech solutions, fast.”

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Liam Gillespie – Chip’s VP of Design

 

Liam Gillespie

 

“2021 has already started strong with some exciting new trends arising. One of my favourites being the heavy use of custom illustrations, psychedelic shapes and colours, creating a dream-like atmosphere. Iconic 60s graphics with a modern spin. A great example being Habito’s recent rebrand – I can definitely see others following suit and incorporating this style into brands eager to stand out from the crowd.

3D illustrations, icons and abstract shapes are also popping up everywhere and will soon be the hallmark of many up-and-coming tech companies across the world.

The next step will be to really bring these to life with the use of clever animations and micro interactions to add a level of uniqueness to brands.

Something we maybe haven’t seen too much last year, but will start to see more of this year is the use of 3D icons. With the release of Big Sur at the end of last year and Apple introducing their own suite of 3D icons, others are bound to follow.

Finally, there always seems to be a new type of trend that emerges each year. Personally I’m enjoying anything big, bold and animated.”

 

Fiona Hawkins – MD at Plinkfizz

 

Fiona Hawkins 2021

 

“In a world where the digital economy has fast-tracked by years, web users are either thriving from the pace of change, or reeling from it.

It’s very easy for brands to get swept up by the latest design trends, retro fonts or colour palettes, scrolling trends and design styles, but fundamentally, good website user experience and website designs should simply stand the test of time and deliver a great brand experience.

Putting the needs of the website visitor first and foremost is critical. And future-proofing information in an engaging and fast way, that conforms with planned algorithm rollouts is critical.

In other words, don’t overthink it.

Here are our top tips…

  • Provide empathy to your website users. Pre-empt their needs. Deliver against them beautifully.
  • Don’t be phased by what’s on-trend. Use your company values to drive your website user experience.
  • Follow the data. Understand the needs of your website visitors intrinsically. They’re already telling you want they want to take from your website, you just need the tools to listen.
  • Be immersive. Tell your brand and product story in such a compelling way that linger times float upwards and propensity to buy increases.”

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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Aaron Parker – UX and UI Team Leader at Amdaris

 

Aaron Parker - UX and UI Team Leader at Amdaris

 

“The big one right now is remote solutions. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of companies improve their offerings to better reach customers remotely, and it’s a safe bet that this will continue. In a lot of cases, this will turn out to be a permanent shift in expectations and demand – especially in remote work. Designing for communication and collaboration has significant, unique challenges, and it will be a major focus for a lot of people this year.

I’m expecting to see at least one or two breakthrough AI products this year. I would love one of these to be Voice related. Right now Voice devices still rely heavily on command-and-response style interactions. Improvements to AI could make them feel genuinely conversational and open up a whole new wave of innovation.

The other trend I think we’ll see is around more meaningful transparency. What companies do with our data both explicitly and behind the scenes, is going to be something that we as designers need to learn to better communicate. The way social media outlets dealt with Trump, COVID-19 misinformation, or Apple’s privacy push – will continue to grow public awareness about this issue.”

 

Daniel Krüger – Head of Product at Valutico

 

Daniel Krueger

 

“COVID accelerated many trends we had been seeing for a few years already, pushing them from early adopters all the way to the right of the technology adoption curve. In the context of B2B companies, one trend that isn’t exactly new, but with the tailwind of the work-from-home movement received the final push so that no B2B company can ignore it anymore is the “Consumerization of B2B.

Consumerization of B2B” describes the spillover of modern UX concepts already prevalent in B2C applications into the world of B2B software. While for a long time in B2B software companies, it was enough for a product to “get the job done”, users who now spend their entire days in UX-optimized tools such as Slack, expect the same kind of experience for every aspect of their professional life.

While some segments faced this trend already years ago, it has now also reached more traditional industries such as accounting or corporate finance, transitioning user experience considerations from a “nice to have” to a “must have” for any business selling software to B2B customers in 2021.

At Valutico, we are building a Software-as-a-Service providing finance experts with a tool to semi-automate their business valuation processes. Our biggest competitor is Microsoft Excel, a tool not exactly famous for its user experience design. Despite, or perhaps because of this, we have always prioritized UX as a major competitive advantage. This year, we are pushing this even further with a big UI/UX overhaul of our platform set to launch in Q1.

The “Consumerization of B2B” will not only materialize in the form of UI&UX patterns, but will also require product teams in the industry to get serious about user centered design processes. If done right, the trend poses a big opportunity to challenge incumbents by staying agile & user-driven.”

 

Michael O’Sullivan – CEO of Bywire News

 

Michael O’Sullivan

 

“2021 will continue to see dramatic evolutions and integrations of existing and emerging technologies. Native apps will continue their endless march as will single page web applications. The rise of JS frameworks and the improvements and greater use of WebAssembly (which substantially improves JS frameworks performances) that allows any programming language to be compiled into browser machine code (Bytecode) will become even more ubiquitous.

UI’s will continue to improve with AI integration and optimisations, but the biggest improvements will be in UI motions, improving and directing user journeys. Finally, blockchain will continue its exponential growth, and 2021 will see conglomerates beginning to offer their own Blockchain services.”

 

 

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James Whittall – Founder and MD of Influx Digital

 

James Whittall

 

“This year it will be all about keeping it simple. What I think gets forgotten is that unique or exciting web design doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated. It takes their focus away from what a consumer actually wants — and it’s things that are right in front of their eyes, take for instance accessible light and dark modes that can be easily changed to suit a preference.

Customisation and accessibility options are often talked about online and on various social media platforms. Ideally, they should be available to customers from the get-go and shouldn’t be something that is rolled out later on.

We should start to see companies implement less intrusive, complex cookie banners that can be quite jarring if it’s the first thing you see on a page. Simple designs, that are easy for the user to understand and interact with, will make a world of difference.”

 

Liam McCabe – Co-founder & Technical Director at Code & Wander

 

Liam McCabe

 

“Every decade or so the internet shifts up a gear in terms of bandwidth and speed. In 2008 it was the introduction of Fibre Optic, which increased speeds ten fold and in 2019 it was the rollout of 5G, which again increased speeds ten fold but also, wirelessly. With each advancement comes richer digital experiences that deliver higher quality content, faster.

In 2021, we’ll see a rise in 3D content. Due to the increased speeds and bandwidth, 3D content will be delivered at a fraction of the time and cost. Brands and Companies will continue to explore more immersive ways of interacting with their customers using Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies and adding another dimension to their products and campaigns.

Design and development tools will continue to improve reducing the barrier to entry in creating large design systems and software architectures. Designers will slowly revisit the tactile nature of interfaces, leaving the previously popular ‘flat’ approach behind.

Video content will become spatial. For example, by utilising Lidar and image processing the iPhone 12 can map out a space and generate a static 3d model. As this technology progresses, it will become faster to capture an environment, so fast that it will be able to scan a room more than 30 times a second, which is more than enough data to create a fully immersive 3D video. You won’t watch a 3D video from just one position or angle instead you’ll experience it from all positions and angles.”

 

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

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