New trends appear every year, as is the way of trends, also in UX/UI design. Also as with trends, they will inevitably become ineffective due to oversaturation. One of the trends in 2021 is a trend I think will never become ineffective and is also more important than ever, this trend is simplification.
Our environment has become noisier than ever. You have to carefully select what you want to pay attention to. As a business you are no longer just competing with other businesses but basically everything your users pays attention to. So how can you get their attention? Every year, more and more content is pushed out. We have our mobile devices available at all times serving us with endless possibilities. We should design products with this context in mind. As designers we can’t remove the noise around our design, but we can remove the noise within.
What is simplicity?
We are in constant pursuit of developing simple and user-friendly products. More features, new technologies and advanced capabilities but still in a simple to use format. We strive to make things simple, but more often than not, making it simple is hard.
The definition of simple is: Something that is easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty. However, simplicity is subjective; things that appear simple for one person may not be perceived as simple by another. This all leads back to our users: who are they and what do they need — the very core of UX design.
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.
– The Law of Simplicity, John Madea
UX design have always been about simplicity, but in 2021 the trend is about further simplification.
The amount of effort and time used to reach a goal is one of the most significant elements to how we identify something as simple or not. We should design products with this context in mind and optimize tasks, user flows and interface design.
There is an ongoing optimization towards one-step action. It’s about shortening the customer journey by removing unnecessary steps and fields to fill out, keeping actions at a minimum. For example, one of the latest trends is placing the whole checkout in a single step.
Simplified registration and log-in processes is also becoming a UX trend, thus making it a sidestep in the user flow. For example, when logging in to an online store, don’t force users to remember their passwords, instead make them user their phone number. Apple followed this recent UX trend and made a custom button that helps avoid extra registration steps.
At the same time, respect your users and their competency. Are they ready for a new and simplified flow? Take your target audience into account and always test your ideas. Even when the general concept is correct, you can still find many minor flaws just by listening to your test audience, especially users with little experience. Also, good UX is in many cases strongly connected to familiarity, so an unusual UX can cause irritation.
Designing for limited attention
You always have to think about the context your product will be used in. Can people really concentrate and pay attention to your product? We don’t want to take the users attention away from more important things, and we don’t want to rob them of their attention. We just want to relieve the cognitive load by only requiring the amount of attention required in that context to accomplish their goals. So, what can we as designers do?
You really need to understand how your users feel in the various contexts of using your product and service and design for those specific situations. That said, some basic principles can help you to not make your user think more than they should. People don’t like it when they have to do or think more than necessary. In general, we design with the goal of making people’s life easier.
Our job as UX/UI designers is mainly about reducing clutter and chaos while preserving messaging and hierarchy. We spend most of our time wondering what to reduce, not what to add.Many general design principles convert well into UX/UI design, but I think that no rule is more applicable than less is more.