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February 23, 2015 /UX/UI Design /

Mobile UX Trends for 2015

With mobile web usage outpacing desktop in 2014, and mobile apps accounting for most of the time spent on digitial, the importance of mobile UX is continuing to grow. As well, the boundaries are blurring between device sizes.  It’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish between mobile and tablet, with the ‘phablet,’like the iPhone 6 Plus, – straddling the limits between the two. So what kind of UX trends are going to drive mobile? In this post, I’ll walk you through a handful of them.

Responsive design

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By Tooroot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Responsive design is of course nothing new, however in the increasingly device and screen size fragmented world we are creating, it will continue to be an important trend. To some it might seem like old news, however many companies, large and small, are still behind the curve in terms of implementing responsive solutions. Expect lots of demand for responsive redesigns of existing sites. Excellent resources exist online such as Brad Frost’s This is Responsive, which details, for example, responsive solutions for navigation patterns. As a web designer in 2015, responsive web design is a bare minimum and a best practice. If you want to read more on responsive design, I wrote a blog series on the topic.

From skeuomorphic to flat to somewhere in between…

In terms of visual design, the web has evolved immensely over time. The past few years have seen intense debates about the merits of flat vs skeuomorphic design. The new trend is moving towards something more moderate. The thorny design challenge we are tackling is – how do we design in a minimal, elegant way while ensuring that our users have adequate affordances? How do we clearly communicate to users how to interact with elements and what to do next? Google’s Material Design language exemplifies this trend. No longer are we looking at completely flat design, elements such as shadow, animation, movement, layers are being re-born in a modern, clean, and elegant way. Expect to see much more of this over the next little while, as we find our way back to a middle ground between gross skeuomorphism and reductive flatness.

Flat design vs material design from Google’s Material Design guidelines

Cards and modular design

As with many UX trends we are seeing design for native mobile applications and web exist in a symbiotic relationship. We have seen platform native mobile design influencing the web, for example with the off canvas menu. “Cards” containing information can be linked to web design for sites like Pinterest and Twitter. Now, this trend is proliferating with examples like Google Now leveraging card design. Cards are a natural fit for mobile UX, as they allow for flexible, modular design. Cards also have the advantage of being great for progressive disclosure – depending on the timing, context and screen size of the interaction, more or less information can be shown.

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An interactive Twitter card with embedded YouTube video.

Examples of cards from the Google Now site.

Examples of cards from the Google Now site.

Performance as experience

Mobile users are often browsing using their carrier’s network. Growing numbers of people are using mobile devices in the developing world where data costs are a key consideration. Performance in terms of load time and impact on battery life are crucial when designing and developing for a great mobile UX. Mobile devices have come a long way and are incredibly powerful, but we still need to be cognisant when thinking about the performance of the apps and sites that we create. Every 100ms of loading time decreases revenue by 1%, according to one study by Amazon. Some ways to design for this include optimizing images sizes for responsive design, minifying CSS and Javascript and removing unnecessary page elements.

All in all, it is looking like a very exciting year for mobile UX, with lots to explore, The mobile frontier is still evolving, and keeping an eye on these trends and honing mobile focused skills will keep us top of our game! Some excellent places to read more include Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte, and Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski.

UX/UI Design