1. Ethical design
What is ethical design? According to Encyclopedia.com —
Design ethics concerns moral behavior and responsible choices in the practice of design. It guides how designers work with clients, colleagues, and the end users of products, how they conduct the design process, how they determine the features of products, and how they assess the ethical significance or moral worth of the products that result from the activity of designing.
To be more specific, the ethical design is about keeping goodness in mind by respecting people’s time and personal needs. When designing, be kind, and consider what would benefit people the most. Keeping the same level of great user experience, your product should respect data privacy, accessibility, and adaptability. Providing a dark mode switch, a high contrast option, a tryout version that does not require signup, an AUTH sign-in without the need of typing in username and password, are some obvious examples.
2. Storytelling, a must-have in product design
Storytelling has become essential in product design in the past few years, so will be in 2021. Why? Because it builds user empathy and involvement in a simple yet powerful way. By telling a story of why your company builds this product, how does it benefit users and society, what specific challenges you faced and how you solved them, you are much more likely to win users’ emotional attachment. By listening to your stories, users get to know more about your product effortlessly.
A good example is Webflow’s video tutorials.
End-user feedbacks (comments on YouTube) show these tutorial’s great potential for increased customer conversion and retention:
3. Go virtual, anytime, everywhere
It’s obvious that the work-from-home situation caused by COVID-19 in 2020 tremendously boosted virtual social gathering and remote meetings. Will this virtual lifestyle be gone with the presence of the COVID vaccine? Probably no.
Companies have seen economic benefits of working remotely (particularly for international companies: why still do partially virtual office, while completely virtual office saves rents?), and people have seen time and money-saving benefits of virtual gathering (particularly for families and friends that live far away). In 2021, while we may be able to safely breathe the air outdoor and gathering in a local park, virtual social will still be a significant part of our life.
4. Design system
As the industrial standards of digital product design become more mature, the design system becomes more necessary than ever. A great design system is extremely powerful when you have more than one designer because it could save tons of time and greatly boost the productivity of a design team.
Big companies convey their original design philosophies through their unique design systems. For ambitious startup leaders, 2021 is not too late to keep a place for design systems in their roadmap, as the awareness of building a design system will prevent lots of hassles as your design team grows.
When establishing a design system, carefully consider affordance, accessibility, scalability, and localization.
5. Visual design trends
When it comes to visual design, neumorphism deisgn, muted color, and cartoon illustration will be hot in 2021.
Neumorphism (Skeuomorphism) design
Neomorphism design was a trend in 2020, and will probably be there in 2021. It evolved from the mimic design 10 years ago and has developed its own aesthetic styling matching the current visual design trends.
An example of the ancestor of neumorphism design:
Examples of trending neomorphism design:
Embracing colorful visual patterns for years, visual design trends firstly welcomed muted colors in 2020. With its minimalist aesthetic design, muted colors create a clean and calm atmosphere for webpages, allowing users to focus on the most important thing — the content. A great example is Notion, a note-taking product.
In 2021, muted colors will probably keep serving more products whose key functions are focus and productivity.
Cartoon illustration came in a few years ago, signifying the come of the light-weighted digital product and web era. It has been used by notable companies like Jira, LinkedIn, and Duolingo. With its playful and crispy atmosphere, it will keep being trendy in 2021.
Thanks for reading!