15 Cutting-Edge App Design Trends to Follow in 2020

App Design Trends
tiffany-palmer@2x By Tiffany Palmer October 13th 2020

There are now over 4.7 billion smartphone owners in the world using 9 apps a day and 30 apps a month. With this kind of exposure, the app design industry is exploding with innovation and driving a global cultural revolution.

No question that apps are driving our modern lifestyle. With things changing so quickly it can be difficult to stay on top of the shifting landscape of app design trends. The industry professionals here at EB Pearls are constantly monitoring the very pulse of the mobile app design industry.

Do you have an idea for an app and want to create something great? You are speaking our language and we want to help you design an app that will be a hit in the app stores. Read on to understand how apps are evolving and how you could potentially break into this $380 billion worldwide in-app purchasing market.

2020 App Design Trends

It is a new decade and new app trends are emerging in response to higher expectations from consumers and ever-improving mobile device technology. In this article, we will take a quick look at the top 15 app design trends of 2020 and kick start your own app creation imagination.

1. New Content Daily

Applications that offer something new from day to day are trending. Application developers want the user to have every reason to use the app every day so the design should employ a strategy to do just that.

The popular e-commerce site Catch (catch of the day) became a household name in Australia by centring this strategy in their internet and mobile app marketing. The company offers a daily deal on a different product every day. Online shoppers are kept excited with anticipation for what the next day’s deal will be and this keeps them coming back.

2. Augmented Reality

Technology is changing everything, even reality. Augment means to make better and that is what AR in apps means – a better more connected experience. Apps are able to layer a digital reality on top of the world around using the device’s camera or a headset.

Imagine trying on your clothes before you buy them online or placing your furniture in a room to see how it will look when it arrives. AR in mobile apps is blurring the line between our digital world and our “reality.”

3. Advanced Animations

With the success of the bootstrap 4 framework for responsive mobile-friendly websites, the app design industry has been scrambling to catch up with the trend. Animated interfaces bring to life the user’s input.  In 2020 you can expect to see more menus that move and change as the user scrolls over them.

Instead of changing the entire page or scrolling down to new information, apps are animating the changes into the screen as they happen. This trend gives the app user a greater feeling of control over the app’s environment. The animations deepen the experience by providing realism to the changes to information being shown on the screen.

Take the good old “tell us how we did,” a rating of service query, for example. As the user scrolls over the stars a picture of a customer service representative changes according to the number of stars you are about to rate. Once a selection is made, say 5 stars, further animation of the character brings alive the choice the user made.

4. IoT Integration

The Internet of Things (IoT) is just getting started on the big stage. The smartphone is already at the centre of most people’s lives being used constantly throughout the day to interact with people and yes the “things” in our lives.

Mobile app design trends in 2020 are influenced by the integration of more connected devices. From smart homes to smart coffee makers you can be sure that applications are beginning to control, regulate, and collect data from everywhere we work and live using these internet-connected devices.

5. Illustration Focused

A picture is worth a thousand words they say.  It stands to reason that illustrations will continue to be more prominent in application designs in 2020 and beyond. App designs are trending away from displaying large blocks of texts and multiple user prompts at once.

This centred and visual approach is helping to simplify the app’s use and direct the app user easily through the application queries. One important point at a time clearly explained in large prominent illustrations is something we will see more and more of as this trend develops.

6. Password Alternatives

Passwords can be a pain to remember. Nobody wants to take the time to enter usernames and passwords many times a day on multiple applications. Many security protected apps in 2020 are taking advantage of fingerprint readers and facial recognition software to keep app security as effortless as possible for the user.

7. Chatbox User Interfaces

It seems like everyone is on social media these days and taking advantage of the convenience and power of instant messaging apps. The chatbox interface is associated with a feeling of being connected and having a friendly social conversation with a friend.

Instead of just having customers fill out an order form, an automated chatbox interface can play the role of friendly customer service agent asking for the information needed to fill the order just like they would if ordering a product or service in a traditional brick-and-mortar business.

Apps that have large volumes of information available to their users are integrating chat interfaces to help guide their users to the content they are looking for at any given moment. Take an app that sells movies for example.

The app could be designed to open a chat interface that guides the user to their taste of movies. Based on responses to a few simple queries an app can be designed to take the customer straight to the movies they would be interested in buying. In the end, the experience is friendly, personalized, convenient for the customer, and profitable for the app creator.

8. Dark Backgrounds and Vibrant Colours

Apps in 2020 are starting to dare to be different. Darker themes with high contrast graphics are becoming more common. The bright on dark app format has several advantages besides looking really cool.

The first advantage of dark themes is reduced battery use. Dark themes can significantly reduce the battery drain from the app. Battery life is a valuable commodity to many mobile device users and apps that hog battery life are often frowned upon these days.

Another perk is reduced eye strain that gives the user a comfortable and visually stimulating experience. Using vibrant colour on dark backgrounds really pops the content into the focus of the user’s attention.

This approach wouldn’t work well for all kinds of apps and types of content. Those apps that are looking to stand out and look modern are popping up out of the dark everywhere.

9. Transparent Elements

Transparent buttons and other elements give the app an added dimension of depth. The user feels like they can dive in and explore the environment. They can reach behind the foreground to background elements like they can in the real world.

Transparent textboxes can bring new information to attention without blocking out what is going on underneath. This gives the app the ability to display multiple elements at once and yet still brings into focus the active element as needed.

10. Rounded Shapes

Boxy and straight-edged designs are giving way to curves, waves, and rounded elements to give the app a more modern flowing feel to the user experience. Boxes are associated with containment in our minds.

Today’s apps are trending towards creating the feeling of open, flowing, and changing UIs that the traditional square, rectangle, and circle shapes don’t capture. A button might be irregularly shaped or text boxes might morph from one rounded shape to another. Following app design trends means thinking outside the box.

11. 3D Animations

The ability to manipulate 3D objects and even a 3D interface is giving apps in 2020 a more realistic look to the app environment. 360-degree shapes, images, and even videos are being integrated into app designs in 2020.

Imagine instead of the usual boring photo gallery for the product they are considering buying, the user is able to rotate and look closer at the object much like holding it in their hand at the store. The greater processing power of mobile devices means apps are beginning to have the raw technology they need to go 3D.

12. Retro Feelings

Believe it or not the old pixel graphics and the 8-bit look are back. Generation X is in power now and many app developers are seeking to capture the nostalgic and warm feeling the old graphics and simple styles bring to those users that still remember.

Graphics arts in apps are beginning to incorporate the old with the new as to not lose the familiar comfort in exchange for the futuristic look and feel. Similar to the cubism movement in painting lead by Picasso, retro graphics seek to bring the imagination to capture the true scope of the impact of the application on the user.

13. Custom Experiences

Our applications are becoming more personalised and dynamically respond to our preferences and individual needs. Mobile phone apps in 2020 and beyond will change on the fly more and more to adapt to their users. 

Ever since the change to dynamic websites that came with internet 2.0 consumers have come to expect websites and apps to get to know us. Apps that treat us as individuals are a trend we expect to continue.

From changing the theme or influencing the app’s functions according to our individual tastes and needs, a more custom experience is the goal of this application design trend. E-commerce sites are always looking for ways to make their apps more personalized and user friendly.

14. Voice Controlled Interfaces

In today’s fast-paced environments more apps are looking to make interacting with our apps easier with voice commands. Voice recognition software has come a long way in recent years. Adding this function to apps is a handy feature for faster and seamless interaction with the app.

Typing on the phone takes time and effort where it is much easier and faster to just hold a mic button and tell the app what it wants to know. Some apps are even designed to be “on-call.” They will respond to the user on command, like Google’s Android wearable voice activation prompt “Hello Google.”

15. Artificial Intelligence

The apps of the future will do more and more of the thinking for us and we are beginning to see this trend in app designs today. Integrating AI deep learning algorithms into app design makes it possible to connect with customers in a way previously impossible.

Artificial-intelligence-driven apps are bringing new levels of personal interaction to the user. Apps collect useful data about consumers’ preferences, buying habits, and can even predict what would interest them.

Imagine if you could take your most charismatic employee and have them talk with every one of your customers individually 24 hours a day 7 days a week. One day many years from now these AI bots will be that sophisticated, but now is the time when AI starts getting serious attention.

Changing for the Better

The very fabric of our world’s society and culture is being interwoven into our digital device use. We can see by mobile app design trends in 2020 that technology is bringing us benefits only limited by our imagination.

Are you ready to get started developing an award-winning app? Contact us and we can start by chatting about your vision and what we can do to see that vision become an amazing reality. Our expert team in Sydney Australia is standing by with anticipation and excitement to get started developing your app.

tiffany-palmer@2x By Tiffany Palmer

Tiffany comes with a unique creative ability. She is one of the quickest learners of new tools and methodology. She leads the atomic design principles within our UI & UX team that has helped us to deliver high-quality design faster.

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