Elegance and Functionality: UX Principles for 2017

Uncover key user experience principles that stood the test of time, guiding designers to create interfaces that are both visually appealing and intuitively functional. Dive into the world of design excellence and discover how these principles continue to shape user interactions, making them relevant and impactful in 2017 and beyond.

January 18, 2017
Reading Time
3 Minutes
people working on a laptop and tablet
people working on a laptop and tablet

In recent years, web-based sales have grown exponentially, specifically through mobile devices such as smartphones. Digital portions of sales rose 23.7% in 2016, accounting for 8.7% of total retail spending worldwide (which will increase to 14% by 2020). Given the increasing importance of an online business presence, a contemporary, user-friendly website is key for large and small businesses alike. While keeping up with current UX trends can be challenging, some knowledge of UX styles helps to keep a business modern while offering a satisfying online retail experience.

Fortunately, current UI and UX tendencies are focused on combining functionality, style, and commercial viability, so I can stay on trend stylistically while keeping my e-commerce site user-friendly. The goal is to marry form and function. For example, while the carousel design looks very up-to-date, it is slow and can cause problems for SEO. Instead of hip design elements that don’t work well, designers are attempting to emphasize clean designs while boosting functionality across devices. Here are some more specific recent styles that allow designers to create a rich user experience with a contemporary, elegant appearance.
Semi-flat designs: Flat designs have been very popular over the past few years, in part because they look clean and clearly emphasize products. However, while the flat design is certainly timeless, it is becoming too omnipresent, giving it a cookie-cutter look. Semi-flat designs create dynamism while keeping the elegance and simplicity of flat designs. By adding small amounts of shading or depth cues, a site can stay current without losing readability.

Original images: Similarly, stock photos have been overused tremendously over the past few years. They are easy to obtain, but if I run a reverse image search online, I can easily see exactly how many other e-commerce websites are using the same image. Luckily, most phones today are built with a camera that can take professional-looking pictures for an e-commerce website. This small but original touch allows an e-commerce site to stand out as unique and detail-oriented with very little extra effort.

Creative Typefaces: This is the year to start looking for bolder, more creative fonts. While Google Fonts is fantastic, and new fonts frequently get added, their most popular ones are oversaturated in the e-commerce world—especially traditional sans serif fonts. Instead, we’re looking at big, beautiful fonts that become the statement piece of the website.

Dynamic Colors: More dynamic colors are getting deployed very judiciously in combination with copious amounts of whitespace. For example, designers are choosing a highly contrasting color palette (grays and reds, for instance), but only minimally, so that color can highlight the dominant whitespace. Or, alternatively, designers are using subtle color shadows in muted hues (shades of blue), which work well with a semi-flat design style. Both of these trends add dimensionality through thoughtful use of color.

Interfaces for unique users: Many new users are both older (65+) or younger (less than 10). As such, many designers are working with designs that can be tailored to age groups. For example, larger fonts are good with older users, while brighter, more vivid colors work well for younger users. As the ubiquity of metadata increases, so will the ability to have targeted web interfaces geared toward specific users.

Very simply, I see 2017 as the year of mobile interfaces, user and vendor functionality, and small, individual touches that make websites unique. Many of these styles are already popular, but given the emphasis on functionality and simplicity, they will continue through 2017 — and probably well beyond.


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Black circle badge with person outline
Michael Bower

Gamma Waves

We leverage our expertise in Shopify Plus to craft high-performing stores and unlock growth potential for businesses of all sizes. Here, we share actionable insights and industry trends to empower and inspire you as you navigate the e-commerce landscape.

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