Trends that will shape app design in 2018

2017 is over and it’s time to consider the future of app design. Apps are being adopted more and more in the workplace, and with every success and failure we are starting to notice certain successful trends appearing. 

These trends have risen to prominence in past months and will continue to shape the world of app design in the coming year. Want to know how to make an app in 2018? These are the themes that should be at the forefront of your mind.

01. Invisible interfaces

Representation of Siri

Apple's Siri is leading the way with voice UI

In 2018 our thumbs will be able to rest as our vocal chords take over, thanks to a rise in voice user interfaces (VUIs). VUIs are already being implemented by big companies, like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, and going forward we will see them popping up more and more. 

According to a report by Gartner, in 2018 some 30 per cent of our interactions with technology will happen through conversations. They may never fully replace GUIs (graphical user interfaces), as there are some situations where we won’t be able to speak, or the commands required are too intricate for VUIs to handle. However, having the option for both styles of input may soon become an industry standard.

Read How to build a chatbot interface, How to design a chatbot experience and 5 essential chatbot learning resources for more.

02. Customisable interfaces

Everyone is unique, which means it's difficult to design an app that suits everyone. Some people are more analytical and want to see a lot of data and options on their screen, whereas others prefer simple and large buttons that make navigation easy.

The UX is a vital part of an app design, and now, thanks to significant progress in AI and machine learning, it has become possible for full-on customisation of apps based on the user’s personal data. Designers can hand the tools over to the user and let them personalise the app in a way that speaks to them.

03. Omni-channel UX

Illustration of office with devices

Are we heading for a device crisis?

When people think of apps their mind often defaults to smartphone apps, and a few years ago this was fine. Things have changed since then, and continue to do so thanks to the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Now a person’s mobile device isn’t their only point of quick access to the internet. Users aren’t necessarily going to default to a phone any more. 

To keep up with this, app designers will need to focus on omni-channel UX to bring consistency into this ever-growing device population. Read How to build cool stuff for the Internet of Things for more.

04. Braver colour schemes

In corporate apps we often find the same boring black, white and blue every time. The intention may be to give off a professional vibe, but it increasingly comes off as boring and unoriginal. Colour can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your app, helping to bring forth specific feelings in the user and guide them through your app. 

Colour may sound like a simple tool, but it is an incredible one and shouldn’t be understated. Check out The designer’s guide to using colour in branding and our guide to 12 colours and the emotions they evoke, for more.

05. Time-saving apps

Man looking at smartwatch

Users increasingly value their time above all else

Time is possibly the most valuable asset of a person’s daily life. Nobody wants to waste their time, and in this increasingly impatient society everyone wants apps that can help them achieve their goal as fast as possible. This trend ties in with the earlier point about user customisation – designing your app with time-saving features in mind is key to user satisfaction.

This article is featured in issue 302 of net, the magazine for professional web designers and developers – offering the latest new web trends, technologies and techniques. Pick up a copy now for more insight into the trends to look out for in 2018 – or subscribe here

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Jake is the design director at Pocket App. A UI/UX specialist with a keen eye for mobile interfaces, he is responsible for user experience, design and leads the creative team in the UK office.