Design Trend #1: SupertactilityLet's think of the screen as a living surface that reflects and reacts to our touch and gestures. How can the content on screen turn more tactile?
User feedbackLet’s imagine feedback as a manner to provoke the desired sensation in people or enhance their digital experience. Feedback can be the chasing game between the user’s gestures and elements on the screens; they dance correspondingly. Digital particles change and react toward the pointer’s movements. How about the user being able to adjust not only the size of the screen but also the separate components, thus changing the layout and content according to their preferences?
Then, there is synesthesia. This neurological condition is currently serving as an inspiration in UX as a method to evoke emotions. Normally, a person who has synesthesia might see colors while reading words and smell scents while hearing music. Think about the opportunities of how user interfaces can extend the scope to accommodate multi-sensorial experiences.
While the technology is being developed, artists and designers are researching the concept of this condition to apply into a digital interface. Imagine smelling scents while seeing an image; interfaces that rely more on feeling rather than reading; designs that adjust to human mood and the environment; rhythmic awareness as an immersive flow; goosebumps as a result of seeing something exciting.
The advantage of tactility in combination with technology is that it not always needs to be experienced physically. Instead, digital designs can be links to the physical world or apply the rules of nature, light, gravity and patterns. The problem is that the screen is often seen as a translation of paper instead of considering the different opportunities it possesses. That results in flat and linear interfaces. However, digital technology allows human expressions to exist without these physical constraints, enabling it to exist independently and evolve freely. Tools such as Web GL create immersive experiences, however, often it is added as a decoration instead of a function. What if the background had an actual connection to the physical world, such as a reflection of shadow, sun, and even the landscape?
Read the full article on Design Trend #1 on UX Planet.
Design Trend #2: What do infinite space and spaceships have in common?Let’s consider our screen as a window to a wider world. The screen is not a canvas, but an opening. The device is no longer setting the border of the digital page. Goodbye safe margins! Let’s go on an adventure in a digital immensity. In this infinite space, so much is happening on screen and off camera. You want to explore everything!
Imagine some elements are completely hidden and they have to be discovered. Only a part of the content is revealed to give focus. It’s like exploring a dark room with a candle.
The spaceship navigation
How big is the Internet? How to navigate through a multitude of information and links? The screen is the window. You can zoom in and out to navigate in the endless levels of data. Going deeper and deeper in the information is like opening a recursive window. In an airplane where the closest emergency door might be behind you, more content or Internet browsing history might be behind you.
The artist Ryoji Ikeda creates spectacular and seemingly infinite vistas through 2D sequences of patterns derived inspired from hard drive errors and studies of software code. It’s like sitting in the cockpit f a spaceship while jumping to hyperspace or driving in an infinite tunnel.
Read the full article on Design Trend #2 UX Planet.
To infinity and beyondBuzz Lightyear, Toy Story
Design Trend #3: Horror Vacui
The on-going trend of minimalism and whitespace has been leading for quite some time. The web is so white. I have seen I a thousand times.
Isn’t it time to set Horror Vacui, the fear of empty space, as a design principle? Horror Vacui is a term associated with the feeling of meticulously filling empty spaces with detail. It can also be observed in the interior designs of the Victorian age or in objects from the Migration period.
Let’s get rid of the functional white. Let’s make place for joy and opulence. Prepare your eyes for excitement and inspiration! “Make everything bigger” should be the main design slogan. Let’s fill up the space with details, ornaments and big text, until the viewport is full. Pictures are now side by side without any white gutters.
Nature abhors a vacuum*Aristotle, *Empty goes against law of physics. Nature hates empty.
In an attempt to fit in within the trend of whitespace and minimalism, brand websites end up looking the same. It’s safe. It’s impersonal. It is neither reflecting the brand identity nor evoking any emotion.
A brand has its own temperament and within an online version that should arise throughout the layout, grid, rhythm, colours, and typography. They are all a part of the identity. Exaggerating these elements as a methodology can help to communicate the uniqueness, the right emotion and the connotation.
The beautiful website of Marsell brand uses their products as the navigation pattern while keeping a focus on the assortment. This approach creates a memorable experience, just like standing in front of store window. Letters-inc, for example uses decoration as a narrative while it is also a part of the brand. Exaggerating these elements offers a lot of possibilities to build a brand without scarifying the quality of the design.
Do you feel the same level of excitement when visiting the Ikea store than when searching for items on the Ikea website? Web design shouldn’t always be about finding the right information immediately. Just like visiting a museum for inspiration, a web page should be contemplated. Why not get lost in the assortment of beautiful products of an e-shop? It’s good to take time in life. It’s like hunting for antiques.
Read the full article on Design Trend #3 UX Planet.
Design Trend #4: Can speculative Design make UX better?
When working with technology, we regularly think about 'the future.' What speculative design does - it uses the idea of possible futures and creates artifacts in a future scenario, based on current trends. Basically, it is about testing the current idea in a future scenario and then bringing it back to Here and Now. This allows to understand the impact of our actions and to trigger a debate as well as a critical reflection. Speculative design helps to reveal things that are happening right now, in front of us, but which we never managed to turn the angle on in a different way.
This way of thinking about futures in plural changes our understanding of them from something happening to us towards something we shape.
How does it work? A scenario that starts with “what if” question is intended to open up a space for debate and discussion. This way the idea allows you to feel a different reality, which is the strongest aspect of speculative design. Questions such as the following can be asked: “What is the most desirable future? What are the unethical implications? What is the most absurd situation? In 5 years? In 10 Years?”
By creating a speculative brief, prototype or props, for example, ideas can be more easily communicated to business-driven clients and actually be fun to work with!
Human(-ity) centered speculations
The problem with the current design thinking practice is that it focuses on a small number of users and fictional personas. It mainly asks fundamentally narrow questions, for example, “How might we rent out our homes?” But the question we forget to ask should be: “Who else is going to be touched by this innovation?”
By focusing on all actors involved in the innovation it becomes possible to get a bigger idea on the actual scale of implications. Pairing human-centered design with speculative design can inspire more original and more forward-looking solutions.
Let's now twist the angle and look at how other actors are involved in the designing of technology. For example, everyday products are slowly equipped with sensors, All, and data gathering mechanisms focusing on our behavior.
Iohanne Niceboim, designer and researcher explores poetic interactions between humans and technology. In her project, “Objects of Research”, she uses speculative design in order to twist the conversation about Internet Of Things. She focuses on the “things” as autonomous machines adjusting to complex situations without our intervention. This way she raises the question of whether we are the actual objects of the Internet Of Things.
This becomes particularly interesting in UX design, where our digital gadgets are beside us constantly. This would mean that we would consider both people and things in our studies and design process. Perhaps then the question we should ask is not: ”how might we..” but rather: “how might my kettle..”
Why it is also important to think from the perspective of things is because the function of our everyday objects constantly changes. Just like a regular glass that we drink from can be turned upside down to catch a spider, our gadgets constantly morph into new functions. Just Google: “how to use my phone as…” and be assured we use our phones as many different objects.
Read the full article on Design Trend #4 on UX Planet.
Do you have questions about the Design Trends in this article? Contact Visual Designer & co-author Audrey Cruchade.