For startups or upcoming companies, the focus is on providing the best experience to the end-users. Startups with an emphasis on design make 32% more revenue on average than those who don’t. And with new tools and technologies making their entry on the market, startups need to keep up with the pace and offer unrivaled user experience to their target audience.

If you think good design is expensive You should look at the cost of bad Design by Dr Ralf Speth

So, what’s new in 2021 for startups to ace UX design? Let’s find out.

New Neumorphism

Neomorphism or Neumorphism is a familiar term for UX/UI designers. A blend of ‘New’ + ‘Skeuomorphism,’ this trend is about elements that mirror real objects. It also draws inspiration from flat design and includes subtle contrast, solid colors, well-rendered shadows, gradients, and volume. The clever use of shadows and light in this design trend creates a wow effect.

The Dark Mode

The design industry was taken by storm by Dark Mode in 2020. According to a report, over 1,658 websites have used timeless and elegant dark themes to attract customers. Apart from giving the software products a classy look and feel, the dark mode is easy on the eyes and is more important than ever due to increased screen time. As a result, users spend more time using a website or an app. Not to forget, it also helps saves battery.


Everyone loves a good story. But not everyone is well-versed with the art of storytelling. Digital storytelling often happens via UX/UI by narrating the storyline of a product or a service. Color schemes, typography, animation, graphic elements, and sounds play a role in online storytelling and entice users.

For instance, Google’s Pixel Earbuds landing page showcases various product benefits with solid imagery, typography, and powerful animations. This elicits a positive emotional response from the users simply through storytelling.

Icons and Emojis

The way we consume information and interact online has changed phenomenally, focusing on symbols rather than words.

An Instagram study states that emojis increasingly push the text out of our messages. An integral part of our daily communication, they are universally accepted and used by everyone alike. This is the reason why more applications are moving towards adopting them. Professional social networking channel LinkedIn also introduced emoji reactions a couple of years ago.

Embedding icons and emojis in software products will be one of the mainstays of UX/UI design in 2021 (and beyond). Learn more about how to gain traction with icon design via this resource.

Touchless Interactions

In a post-pandemic era, touchless interactions are on the rise. This includes creating interactions with VUI (Voice User Interfaces) and Air Gesture Control.

Companies can use interfaces that will be based entirely on VUI by integrating voice chatbots to communicate. Likewise, they can also use Air Gesture Control, which takes touch screens to the next level. The technique uses contactless control, as demonstrated by DS Automobiles – a luxury car brand. They showed how their system offered thrice the accuracy of touchscreens via mid-air haptic feedback and gestures.

3D Graphic Elements

3D graphic elements help visualize things and bring components to life. This trend allows UI UX designers to get creative by integrating 3D graphics in both mobile and web interfaces. However, it needs an artistic eye, attention-to-detail, and intense creative skills to guarantee success. The entire exercise can be time-consuming as well.

Overall, it makes the software product more appealing and provides a futuristic vibe.

Super-Apps and Mini-Apps

2021 is the year simplification has gained tremendous traction, including startups and enterprises. Super-apps are software products that unify multiple smaller solutions. By combining various services, these apps help make the design appear clear and minimalistic. For example, Grab, a ride-hailing service, moved into finance in 2018 with GrabPay digital wallet service.

Similarly, Mini-apps are also high in demand. According to HubSpot, Mini-apps are small apps with limited features that exist in a more extensive app. Usually, they are often developed or co-created by a brand that partners with the main app’s company. For instance, users can follow a link or scan a QR code to access a service without downloading the entire app instantly.

The Wrap

These are some of the critical UI UX design trends for startups in 2021. While implementing these, don’t forget to keep the human element in mind – ergo, show them that you are empathetic and care about their needs. Most importantly, keep the product interface simple!

AuthorAlka Jha
Alka is the Design Director at Pepper Square and she has defined the user experience for some of the finest global brands over the last seven years.
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