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 penetrating 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 2022 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.


With the rise of 3D elements in recent years, more and more users expect an interface that mirrors their real world. Look at your phone. In all likelihood, it may be popping out. Glassmorphism is making waves as it is characterized by blurred backgrounds. To design a glassmorphic interface, place light or dark elements and objects on multi-layer backgrounds – this helps create the illusion of frosted glass; and also makes it look like a physically-touchable object. The idea is to make it look like the icons/elements are seamlessly “morphing” into the frosted glass.

But, nailing the glassmorphic look is tricky as the background color can either make the icons and elements appear as though they are floating on space or make it look like a flat design. Avoid dull and low-contrast backgrounds as they tend to fade away under elements and objects. Another good way to make the objects stand out its to create light borders on translucent objects. As always, don’t clutter the interface.

Dark Mode

In 2020, the dark mode took the visual design world by storm. 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 save battery life.


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. A good UX designer knows that color schemes, typography, animation, graphic elements, and sounds play a crucial 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.

Voice User Interfaces (VUI)

41% of adults use voice search at least once per day.

If that number doesn’t jolt you into action – you’re not reading that number right.

Another research states that by 2023 we’ll be surrounded by 8 billion digital voice assistants. It seems then that voice user interfaces or an integration of voice search is imperative to the products success. Why are VUIs becoming so popular then? One reason is that conversation UX is changing the way we design products. For instance, “Dim the lights” doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity. When human emotion, range, tonality, facial expressions are removed from the equation – what remains is a command. It all ties back to uncomplicating a user’s life.

It’s 2022 and when designing or building a product you must think about how you can make it inclusive. Product designers should incorporate VUIs as they are an excellent tool to make your design or product more inclusive and accessible.

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

In 2021, simplification gained tremendous traction among 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.

Simplifying interfaces

Over the past few years, we’ve seen millions of apps and product vying for the top spot, yet ones that aren’t a sore to the eyes are the ones that have found themselves a snug spot at the top. For instance, Calm has become the number one app for mental health and sleep. While the content of the product is what makes it loved by millions across the globe, the interface and aesthetics of the app plays a major role in the app’s success.

At the heart of all startups lies a vision that aims to change the world – or at least fix a problem. To fix a problem, you shouldn’t give your users another problem – a cluttered interface. Your design should be functional, clear, and easy to navigate. Try to make the interaction process as smooth as possible. From start to finish, the user must follow intuitive steps – that is the beauty of stripping everything down to retain only what is crucial. To make your minimalist designs pop, incorporate classic Serif and Alpine fonts. With basic monochrome themes, you will be able to tap into the aesthetic senses of many.


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!

Are you looking for an experience-driven digital solution for your product or service?
Author Alka Jha
Alka is the Chief Creative Officer at Pepper Square. She has defined the user experience for some of the finest global brands over the last eight years.

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