UX design trends for 2023
We put the spotlight on the biggest UX design trends to watch in 2023, from voice-activated tech to mixed reality to imaginative personal experiences, and more.
As we move further into the potential of Web 3.0, the importance of user experience (UX) design will only continue to grow. It's the key to creating products and services that people love using and keep coming back to.
In this article, we look at what experts predict will be the biggest trends in UX design in 2023. From further integration of newer technologies to rethinking design from the bottom up, we'll cover it all to help you stay ahead of the curve and create the best possible experience for your users.
So, let's dive in and see what the future of UX design has in store!
1. The continued rise of voice interfaces
While the use of voice assistants and smart speakers is growing slowly, the trend for the coming years is definitely upward – research from Insider Intelligence suggests almost half the US population will use them by 2026.
With this proliferation of smart speakers and other voice-activated devices, we’ll likely see more companies incorporating voice user interfaces (VUIs) into their products and services. This will require UX designers to consider how to design effective and intuitive voice experiences.
Along these lines, Sam McGraw, CEO of Design Hub, says:
“Voice-activated technology has already become extremely popular and will only get bigger. UX designers must think of creative ways to incorporate VUIs into their designs to make them more efficient and user-friendly.”
Services that have so far led the way in voice-activated technology are Apple Siri, Google, and Amazon Alexa (and associated speaker products). While we may be a while off before other competitors arrive in this space, UX designers can think about creative ways to incorporate these existing services where appropriate (not every product needs it!).
2. The emergence of mixed reality
As the number of smartphone users across the world continues to rise, so does the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), i.e. mixed reality technology. In 2019, the number of mobile AR active users was around 0.44 billion, but by 2024, this figure is expected to balloon to around 1.73 billion.
As virtual and augmented reality technologies, particularly in smartphones, continue to advance, we’re likely to see more companies and UX designers using mixed reality to create immersive and engaging user experiences.
In 2022, we saw some brands making use of AR on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat for marketing purposes, for example Sephora’s makeup virtual try-on filter on Instagram Stories.
Elena Gurinova, a UX designer at SolveIt, thinks mixed reality will become more popular in other verticals:
“This technology is already developing and gaining popularity in various industries. It allows businesses to stand out from the competition, attract users’ attention, and expand the capabilities of the interface. In my opinion, in 2023 this technology will gain traction in various spheres, especially in e-commerce.”
One example of mixed reality being used creatively in e-commerce is Shopify. It's added AR capability so its customers can give shoppers a new way to experience products online.
In terms of product/service use cases for AR/VR, designers will likely incorporate mixed reality in different and useful ways. For example, Sam McGraw also comments on this trend, suggesting the technology can be used for product tutorials:
“This technology will be used to create more immersive experiences, and it can also be used to create interactive tutorials or provide more information about specific products or services.”
3. Increased focus on accessibility
As awareness of accessibility issues grows, we’ll see more businesses prioritizing accessibility in their products. This will require UX designers to have a deep understanding of accessibility best practices and to design for a wide range of users, including those with disabilities.
Jonathan Cardella, founder of GetVentive, suggests a great framework to reference is the European Accessibility Act (EAA):
“The European Accessibility Act is a set of standards and guidelines that all European Union member states have adopted. These standards are designed to promote equal access to information, products, and services for people with disabilities or impairments. By 2023, you should apply these accessibility standards across all your designs, even if you do not reside in the EU. You will not only improve the usability of your products, but it will also ensure that they’re accessible to as many people as possible.”
Some examples of incorporating accessibility best practices are using ALT text for images, closed captions and transcripts for video content, screen-reading options, and screen magnification options.
4. The rise of personalization
As companies collect more data on their users, especially first-party data, we’re likely to see even more personalized user experiences. As a result, UX designers should think about how to use this data effectively to create experiences that are both relevant and engaging.
A quick note: there’s a difference between personalization and customization – the former refers to practices from the business side, whereas the latter refers to tweaks a customer can make themselves. Both can make for great UX experiences, but AI advancements are making personalization an even greater asset.
Sam McGraw has a view on personalization being a bigger trend to watch out for in 2023:
“As AI and machine learning continue to advance, so does our ability to use these technologies to tailor user experiences to the individual. We'll likely see more websites and apps using customized content and features that cater to a person's specific interests, needs, and preferences.”
One of the most obvious examples of personalization is Netflix – how it greets users by their names and tailors content based on their watch history and how they’ve rated previous titles. As a result, it’s very unlikely (or impossible) for two Netflix users to have the same content on their home screen.
5. Bolder visual choices
As an overall trend, designers are also taking a bolder visual design approach to differentiate and provide more unique experiences moving into 2023.
While lots of white space and minimalist design have been popular for several years, more and more sites and apps are making use of gradient backgrounds, 3D objects, and immersive/parallax scrolling.
Two of the experts we spoke to had thoughts about these up-and-coming design choices – Elena Gurinova and Sam McGraw. Elena specifically talks about gradients in some detail:
“Gradients became popular this year, but without a doubt, its popularity will still remain next year. We notice how customers are increasingly inclined to the implementation of the gradient in design. You will see this trend almost everywhere: on websites, mobile apps, in branding, and so on. Gradients in 2023 will be all about bright colors and unusual shapes that evoke imagination.”
She also links the use of 3D objects with the rising trend of AR/VR in design:
“Three-dimensional graphics are becoming quite popular in design, making the interface original and unusual, allowing businesses to better convey their message to the users. The spread of 3D objects that are inextricably linked with AR/VR is going to continue in 2023. It is an excellent element to enhance audience engagement and illustrate the virtual space, especially since users are already actively interacting with these visual elements.”
If these trendy aspects of design are too “out there” for your brand, you can still consider immersive scrolling to relay information in a small space, as Sam advocates:
“Immersive scrolling should be considered for use in 2023. Immersive scrolling allows for more information to be presented without too much space, making it the perfect UX design trend for digital products.”
Immersive scrolling is also a great way to tell a brand story and engage users in a unique way. An excellent, yet simple, example of immersive/parallax scrolling is the Delassus Group (a Moroccan fruit and vegetable growing group) website, which also makes use of gradients (via transitions) and 3D-appearing objects.
6. Mobile-first design
Okay, so mobile-first might not be a trend, but it's definitely good practice and something to keep front of mind. Over 90% of users accessing the internet in Q1 2022 did so on mobile devices, which compares to just over 60% on a laptop or desktop. For many internet users, mobiles are the only way for them to access the internet at all.
The idea of mobile-first design is to consider mobile users in the first phases of design, and develop for desktop use from there. If your product or service is primarily digital, this point of mobile-first design is especially important, as the experience needs to be seamless across all devices.
Several experts we spoke to had thoughts about mobile-first design, which speaks to its importance. First up, David Stellini, Co-Founder of All Front, emphasizes the key benefits of mobile-first design:
“This approach to product design seeks to build a mobile version of your product first and then adapt it to fit larger screens. Mobile-first design allows digital product creators to build seamless experiences that are responsive to any device, regardless of how people are accessing the site.
From utilizing more concise language to ensuring that all elements of the interface are still easily viewable on smaller screens, there are a number of things you can implement to ensure an optimal mobile experience.
Mobile-first design often delivers higher user engagement rates and improved customer satisfaction, making it an effective strategy for businesses that are looking to reach their desired interactions with customers.”
Jonathan Cardella discusses how users are coming to expect mobile-first design as a baseline:
“Mobile users have come to expect a certain quality of experience when browsing websites and apps: they want to get what they need quickly and easily. If your website is slow or difficult to navigate on mobile devices, you won’t compete with other designers offering a better user experience.”
Finally, Sam McGraw sums up the need for mobile-first design:
“Mobile-first design will be more important than ever, as most people access websites and applications through their mobile devices. Companies will need to optimize their digital products for mobile devices to ensure that customers have a seamless user experience.”
A pretty good example of a mobile-first design I’ve come across in my daily life is Duolingo – the experience is seamless on all device I use, and no matter if I’m using a browser on a laptop or on mobile, or the mobile app.
A not-so-great experience I regularly deal with is using D&D Beyond. There are a lot of clickable items close together when viewing on a mobile device.
This cluttered screen makes me really not want to use the site on a mobile device and often prevents me from making impulsive purchases (good for my wallet, not so good for Wizards of the Coast).
Other UX design trends to look out for in 2023
While the above trends and progressive changes are front-and-center, there are a few other trends worth an honorable mention. These trends include:
- Emotional design: This is another concept within UX design that’s been on a slowly increasing trajectory of importance. A common line of thinking within design is the idea that a “better” user experience is tied to easily measurable metrics, e.g. everything must be faster. But the emotional experience for users is becoming more important.
Sam McGraw briefly mentions emotional design, suggesting “It's essential to consider the emotions a user might experience when engaging with a website or application and design accordingly.”
- Wearable tech: Smartwatch and fitness tracker devices are expected to see a compounded annual growth rate of 11% between 2021 and 2024. As a result, designers will need to consider the UX of wearable tech as the market grows. This includes alternative interfaces and making use of shortened text and voice commands, and using simplified buttons.
- Generative AI: One website that took the internet by storm in late 2022 was Open AI’s ChatGPT, and it’s an accessible example of the power of generative AI using dialogue models. In UX design, we’ll likely see an increasing number of tools with generative AI features that help designers come up with ideas quickly, such as Adobe Express.
Naturally, there are concerns regarding ownership and the level of “creative license” generative AI provides, however it can be used for simple tasks such as generating a website color palette or removing certain elements of a design’s background.
Trends that center on technology, such as generative AI, are nearly always subject to fast-paced changes given their speed of progression. This time next year, we could even be talking about AI-generated AR/VR content. How cool would that be?!
Looking ahead at UX design in 2023
Overall, the UX design trends we’re seeing in 2023 look toward creating more engaging and imaginative experiences through the use of new technologies, and moving away from minimalist visuals and toward uniquely bright and bold UI.
If you’re looking for some practical tools to help you out on new and exciting UX design projects and research this year, why not sign up for a free UsabilityHub plan to access unlimited active tests? UsabilityHub can help you with things like prototype testing and testing iconography, which, if you’re planning to try out some of these new trends, can come in handy during the design process.
Alexander Boswell is a freelance writer specialising in B2B SaaS and eCommerce marketing with a particular interest in the world of data, as well as a business Ph.D. candidate. When he’s not writing, he’s nerding out playing D&D and Magic: The Gathering.