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Top Application Design Trends of 2018

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This summer in July the Apple App Store turns 10. It’s almost been an entire decade since its launch, and app culture has changed drastically during that time. What started with 500 apps in a single store has evolved into such a part of our culture that 197 billion apps were downloaded last year alone. In three years, that number is expected to reach 352 billion.  That’s a big jump in numbers, and there’s one thing that must remain consistent for that forecast to come true: innovation.

The digital world is a constantly changing landscape, and we’re always looking for ways to make it bigger and better so that we get more out of each interaction. In recent years, it’s been mobile app development that’s really been on the front lines of innovative thought.  We don’t expect this year to be any different. We’re expecting to see some amazing app design trends this coming year, and almost all of them focus on one very important factor.

User experience.

So, let’s peek into where 2018 is going to be taking app design with these 7 forecasted trends.

Touch ID

Security on smartphones has become more important than ever. We use our phones for absolutely everything from carrying out sensitive conversations, tracking our health to banking. There’s no shortage of opportunities for an enterprising, although unscrupulous, individual to try to gather pieces of your private information.

Expect to see app security get tighter, with features like touch ID becoming more commonplace. This also comes on the heels of face ID being used to authenticate users on the latest version of the iPhone. Apps will be formulated to accept touch ID while using facial ID devices.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Page load speed is huge to UX. Maybe you remember when Google launched AMP and how it immediately shifted how we thought about page speed. The truth is that you only have a few seconds to grab a user’s attention before they decide they aren’t interested. This is just as true for apps.

Apps absolutely need to be designed with the mobile user and their need for speed in mind.  Accelerated Mobile Pages are going to help apps load faster, reducing the bounce rate. Businesses are also going to reap the benefits of AMP in the form of increased traffic and easy user analysis.

Up in the Clouds

Another feature of UX that app developers are looking at is the available storage on phones. Plenty of people keep their entire “life” on their phones. From business files to thousands of pictures, mobile devices have become virtual briefcases.

The only problem is limits. There’s only so much space, a lot of which can be eaten up by apps alone. This year, we plan to see more apps using cloud based technology, making it easier and faster to access files and data without bogging down the device’s internal memory.

Simple, Clean Design

The next trend we’re looking for in 2018 isn’t so much about creating apps that are technically more advanced and easier to use, but more about how they make us feel. Users are looking for a breath of fresh air. Take a look at the average mobile device and it’s cluttered with apps, each one trying to stand out and get noticed above the rest. Can you say overstimulated?

This year, we are looking to push the clutter aside and focus on a clean, streamlined experience. Look for apps to take on clean, minimalistic designs. App pages will be straightforward and easy to navigate. Menus will start to look a little different, and unnecessary design elements that take away from UX will disappear.

A Little Color Theory

Just like we’re going to see cleaner app design, we’re also expecting to see a change in traditional color schemes. Why? Because we’ve been bombarded with dark or bold colors to catch our attention, and quite honestly, after a while it starts to give you a headache.

More apps are going to start taking the user’s state of mind into consideration and begin using colors that are visually soothing. Sure, there are apps that benefit from bold splashes of color, but the app’s intention is going to become more important in choosing a color scheme than just trying to grab attention.

We Start Playing Around with Gestures

Gestures, or the way that people use their hands to interact with apps, are a hot topic in app development right now. We’re seeing two trends in app gestures, and oddly enough, they are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum.

How you maneuver around an app contributes to UX. Some apps are catching on to the fact that people like consistency. They like the idea of a swipe or a pinch accomplishing the same thing across multiple apps. There’s something to be said for not needing to relearn how to navigate an app each time you download a new one.

On the other hand, users are also looking for a bridge that makes app usage more personal. They want interaction that feels real. App developers are taking this cue and creating apps that explore new gesture possibilities. This includes using multiple gestures for different purposes, but also experimenting with completely new gestures as a means of navigation.

Exploration of Wearable Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has caused the app landscape to change dramatically. With the surge of wearable devices, we can only expect app development to follow suit in creating apps that work just as seamlessly on wearable technology as they do smartphones or tablets.

As our world becomes more connected, growth of apps for wearable devices will become a necessity. This is the year that we expect to really see this take off.

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Abdul SuleimanAbdul SuleimanChief Experience Officer

Abdul is our founder and CEO. He’s helped over 40 Fortune 500 companies make informed user-centered design decisions through evidence-based user research and UX best practices. As an Adjunct Professor, Abdul has taught in DePaul University’s graduate UX programs and for nine other universities.

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