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10 UI/UX design trends for startups to watch out in 2021

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Now it is more important than ever to keep an eye on UI/UX design trends if you want your mobile solution to stand out in 2021. 

Let’s be honest, 2020 has been a game-changer. In fact, the pandemic has had a huge impact not only on our ordinary life, but also on technologies and user experience. In a matter of days, everything has moved to remote mode and millions of people got stuck at home, spending time on the phone and using more online services, such as delivery apps, streaming services, mobile games, social media, online training solutions, and others. 

Along with the number of users, the number of competitors has also increased. In the battle for user attention, it is crucial to know what features and elements are relevant and up-to-date for startup mobile app development now.

What will be in trend for interface design in the next year? Purrweb’s design team has created a list of 10 top UI/UX design trends for mobile apps to keep an eye on in 2021, including some tips and advice on executing. Get ready to take notes!

1. 3D elements

The first thing to start discussing trends, UI/UX mobile app design, and execution is 3D graphic elements that bring components to life and help to visualize things. The trend has been with us for a while, and it will definitely be popular for several years to come. Why are we so sure? A lot of big companies like Apple or Google use eye-catching 3D elements in their solutions. For example, Apple has recently shown an updated macOS named Big Sur with integrated 3D icons. 

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Big Sur OS with 3D graphics was released by Apple in November, 2020

Overall, the visual style of major companies could be a reference point for mobile apps for startups. Here is a piece of advice from us: before integrating such heavy content like 3D graphics into your solution, make sure your app’s UI loads fast and renders smoothly enough.

2. Blur effects

Blurred elements are not only chic but also very important in terms of functional design. They help to add depth to the interface and show the hierarchy of elements to the user so they immediately understand where to look at. Blur is not a universal trend: it feels natural in iOS solutions, but not really suitable for Windows apps. 

As much as blur can be called one of the biggest UI/UX design trends of the next year, its future is also a bit controversial. Frankly speaking, even within Purrweb’s design team there is no compromise about it.

Here is what our leading designer Vadim Subbotin says: “Blur will certainly die soon. It exists in the vicious cycle that happens every six months: the trend dies, then the new generation of designers review the past, do the same thing, and now the blur is ‘in trend’ again.”

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No matter of what future holds, blur will still be in demand in 2021

If you need some ideas and inspiration, check out blurred designs here.

3. New neumorphism

Neumorphism (or neomorphism, it’s up to you) is not one of those new trends in UI/UX design – it took off in late 2019 – early 2020. It comes from the words ‘new’ +  ‘skeuomorphism’, the design trend with elements that mimic real objects. Skeuomorphism was popular back in the 2000s, and recently the new version of it, neomorphism, cropped up.

At Purrweb, we see it more like an anti-trend. The fashion for everything voluminous has led to the fact that all and sundry have begun to do this, without paying attention to the quality of execution. Instead, we suggest the new neumorphism as one of the UI/UX design trends for 2021. It includes well-rendered shadows, volume, and gradients.

4. UX copywriting

Text is one form of interaction with users, and it should be as important as visuals in the app. Do you know that whether users click or tap a button or not can depend on the words you would put on them? Good UX-writing might solve a lot of communicational tasks and increase the engagement of the app up to 17%.

Since actions speak louder than words, here is just one example of what well-thought UX-copywriting can do to a company. Every year the streaming service Spotify announces ‘Wrapped’, the personalized reports for listeners of top songs and albums. They usually do it in a very fun way, but in 2020 it was especially interactive and thoughtful. As a result, we all saw screenshots on Instagram Stories, and on the day of the release, Spotify Shares jumped 16% to all time high.

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Even these screenshots are too tempting not to share in the article – that’s what good UX-writing does.

5. Icons and emojis

The way we consume information has also changed over the years. No doubt that we are used to focusing on symbols, rather than words, and icons and emojis are an internationally understood way of communicating. No matter the language you speak, you know that 💵 = money and 🧑🏻‍💻 = developer.

Emojis influence the way we perceive and read information, as well as change what message we receive from a text. Research says that we even judge people and tone of voice based on emojis that are used in the conversation. Therefore implementing icons and emojis into mobile solutions will be one of the leading UI/UX design trends in 2021.

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First thing people see in text is emojis, and then words. Use them smartly!

6. Dark mode

The first time this feature had appeared in several applications was a couple of years ago, and in 2020-2021 it went mainstream. Dark mode is not just stylish but also has some practical benefits. Firstly, it saves battery for certain types of screens, and secondly, it mitigates harmful effects to your eyes in dark environments.

Today, almost every application makes it possible to switch to night mode, and some of them, in order to brag, go with a dark theme only. We suggest following UI/UX design trends wisely and developing apps with two modes and an option to switch between them.

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Dark mode looks undoubtedly fancy and gives a rest to users’ eyes.

7. Super-apps

We guarantee, in 2021 everyone will be striving for simplification, including large companies. Super-apps, uniting several smaller solutions, will definitely be in trend for the next couple of years. The all-in-one concept not only simplifies access to various services such as cinema, food, taxis, marketplace, and music but also makes the design more clear and minimalistic. 

For example, dominant super-app WeChat knocked out the chinese mobile app market. It started as a messenger like WhatsApp, but turned out into an integrated platform for social networking, taxi rides, food delivery, restaurant bookings, payments, and gaming. The idea behind it is simple: users need only one app that covers all their needs. It saves time and some room in the storage capacity of a phone.

We can say for sure that when it comes to a multifunctional application, making complex interfaces is no longer relevant in 2021. Here comes the next trend.

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8. Minimalism, not brutalism

Raw heavy-looking brutalism in UI/UX design will be extremely outdated in 2021. This style was inspired by the specific architecture of the USSR and fell away back in 2018. Brutalism has proven to be inconvenient, difficult to develop, and inefficient to use for both designers and startup owners. So, frenzied fonts and awkward graphics have been replaced by clean and clear minimalism.

9. Mini-apps

One of the key trends in UI/UX mobile app design is apps that you actually don’t have to download. Instead, users just follow a link or scan a QR code to get access to a service, for instance, to rent an electric scooter or get food delivery from a local cafe. This trend is a greater chance for small companies to cut the costs of the development and get new clients, which is vital amidst the global pandemic.

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10. Airy interfaces

Light airy design will surely be in demand in 2021. This trend correlates with the tendency to design minimalistic apps – airy interfaces are intuitive, straight-to-the-point, and interactive, while content in them is well-organized and clear.

Our design team member Polina Tolmacheva advises: “All that is pleasing to the eye and easy to use are light and aerial interfaces. Do not overload the user with your design delights – everyone already knows that UI / UX studios can execute cool things. It is better to be user-friendly and use pastel colors and light backgrounds”

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The mental health app that helps to cope with stress and anxiety has to enhance trust and create a homey atmosphere, visually alleviating stress by color scheme and fonts.

Let’s reinforce!

Knowing the top UI/UX design trends for 2021 is crucial for startups. Since the competition gets more dense and tense, being in trend is even more valuable than before. That’s why our design team got together and picked the top 10 tendencies that you should know about in the next year. Here are the trends:

Key trends for 2021 are a response to a fast-changing world around us. No doubt that nowadays users are overloaded with information and demand more simple, minimalistic solutions with a clear interface, emojis, and blurred elements that foretell where to look at and a dark mode that eases eye strain at night.

At Purrweb we perform UI/UX design, prototyping, creating and visualizing content strategies, and much more. We believe that sloppy design can ruin releases and UI/UX services should be added in the early stages of development. On a daily basis, we help startups execute intuitive and user-friendly interface designs. Throughout the years, our team members have developed intuition and have trained their eyes on predicting recent UI/UX design trends and implementing them into robust high-performance solutions.

Click here if you want to learn more about the stages and timelines of UI/UX design services.

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