Design Trend: Soft UI
There’s one app and website design trend that’s subtle and almost the ‘smoothest’ thing for your eyes.
The soft UI design creates a frosty-style blur or a glassy blur. The elements on the screen sink in, blend, and yet extrude from the background to create a certain level of depth in the dimensions. Combine this effect with a softer, pastel palette to bring that ‘softness’ to the interface. Add depth with subtle shadow effects. If you cannot recall what we mean, look at this example.
Source : Dribbble – Art by Lee
This design trend is a shift from all things bold and flat. Soft UI design, also known as neumorphism. It is quite the opposite of the bold themes because it’s less dramatic and has muted colors, contrasting shadows, and lighter typography for smoother design results.
To better understand this design, we need to travel back to the first design from which neumorphism was adopted. Let’s take this learning process step by step.
The Shift To Neumorphism
Since the 1980s, web developers, desktop app developers, UI/UX designers, and mobile developers have constantly been working to improve the user experience for both the users and the customers. These design trends since then have played a significant role in revitalizing digital experiences.
The shift started from a family tree where Skeuomorphism is the mother of all trends and flat designs are the father. They spawned a new type of catchy UX, called the soft UI, neumorphism, or ‘New Skeuomorphism’.
At this point, you might be all thought about what is the difference between the three. Let’s resolve your confusion.
Skeuomorphism design trends define an interface that takes inspiration from or simply mimics the real world. For example, think of the recycle bin icon on your desktop. The bin icon truly represents a dustbin, which is a real-life object. Well, all of us are probably familiar with it. Taking this as a concept, Skeuomorphism was meant to make early computer interfaces more intuitive and familiar to use.
Smartphones then evolved, making real-life buttons look cluttered. This is why flat designs came into existence.
Flat designs were inspired by minimalism. Moving away from 3D, these designs are free from gradients, textures, and shadows. Instead, it focuses on amplifying User Experience (UX) with the help of solid flat colours and elements. Flat designs are the easiest to implement. They can be made responsive too for different screen sizes.
You may find them a bit limiting at times as the designs appear less intuitive and too minimal. And so, material design was introduced, which can be said to be a subtler version of Skeuomorphism.
What is Neumorphism?
Look carefully and tell if you can feel that the elements seem like they are being pushed through the display. Yes, that’s precisely what Neumorphism does.
What should you expect from software UI design? Well, here are some of its key characteristics that’ll help you understand the design better.
- The monotone colour palette is soft.
- Fuzzy shadows separate the elements or the items.
- Smooth edges and round corners.
- The unified icon is set to match the colour and softness.
- Edge is taken out of the background with the help of gaussian blur.
- Lighter typography.
- High-resolution design elements.
- Use of subtle variations of fade, gradients, and other simple colour patterns.
- Realistic feeling.
Why Neumorphism Still Stands Out Today
It symbolizes realism
Colours have a primary role
Colours have the capacity to give a protruding appearance to your website, app, or design. Even users want to see some colours that are new and fresh. As you can tell from looking at the examples above, the Neumorphism UI style is defined by the use of contrasts and strong colours.
Shadowing colours can be used incredibly to make the elements look like they are popping out from the screen, giving it a whole new look. Also, these shadows make the elements sink into the background.
It increases the usability
Neumorphism comes with easy access and enhanced design usability. This software UI gives users the opportunity to innovate existing possibilities and bring considerable differences to the design trend. This is one of the reasons why Neumorphism is efficient, performs well, and offers the utmost satisfaction.
You can count it as a groundbreaking design pattern made to define the future of product design.
Is it still beneficial to use?
Debates have clarified that Neumorphic UI design isn’t just limited to desktop apps but to running iOS, Android, or Windows mobile devices. There is no question that all the website UI designs should be mobile-optimized as if not, you can lose more than half the chances to engage with the users. According to statistics, 88% of users are less likely to come back to a website if they encounter a bad experience. Also, mobile users are 5X times more likely to abandon a website if it lacks mobile optimization.
The following reasons can well summarize how Neumorphism is an excellent design methodology to create engaging UX for users.
Neumorphic designs use monochromatic colour palettes for interactive elements and backgrounds. Interactive elements include switches, progress bars, buttons, etc. Inner and outer shadows are used to achieve a gradient-like effect, giving an elevated, extruded look to various elements. These shadows and effects create a 3D-interactable UI that users enjoy anyway.
Create a Neumorphic effect using design software like Adobe XD. CSS code can also be used to achieve a neumorphic layout for web applications.
Allows you to experiment
As already said, Neumorphic designs are mostly monochromatic. Still, you can experiment with the design by adding different colours to the buttons, icons, and switches, ensuring that they have a low level of contrast. The low level of shadow and contrast creates an impression of an interactable element.
As long as your chosen colours don’t disturb the design, designers can experiment around until they feel like settling on a colour that matches the palette and catches the user’s attention. The main aim of using this design is to make the button feel life-like.
Implementation of UI design
Easy UI design prototyping
Bridge the gap between UI and users
Design tips for neumorphic interfaces (soft UI)
Add illustrations over photos
Animate if you want
Fire up Your Design Game
Neumorphism is the soft UI trend that always brings something to the table, giving users a fresh interface design that looks soft and is really easy on the eyes. People love its aesthetics and the freedom it gives you to experiment on. One thing that we’re sure about is that you’ll see more neumorphism coming to you. Although some usability issues arise, this design is nothing like other styles because it is simple to build.
At Syndell, we are ready to innovate with Neumorphism designs and see what changes will come in the future.
To use soft UI design and neumorphism in your designs, you can try the following strategies:
- Use gradients and subtle shadows to create a sense of depth and dimensionality.
- Experiment with shades and colors to create a softer, more organic look and feel.
- Use rounded shapes and curved lines to create a more natural and intuitive interface.
- Avoid using harsh lines and sharp corners; instead, opt for softer, more organic shapes.
Neumorphism and flat design are two different approaches to user interface design. Neumorphism is a relatively new design trend characterized by soft, blurred elements, combining the best of both flat and skeuomorphic designs. In addition, Neumorphism uses 3D effects, such as light and shadow, to create the illusion of depth. In contrast, flat design is a minimalist approach that relies on simple shapes, subtle gradients, and bright colors to create a visually appealing UI. While both designs can be used to create beautiful user interfaces, Neumorphism provides a more modern and engaging look and feel.
The advantages of using Neumorphism are:
- It provides a more natural and tactile user experience.
- It creates a modern and appealing user interface that is easily recognizable.
- It allows for better contrast between two-dimensional elements, making them more legible.
- It allows for a more subtle and gentle transition between different parts of the UI.
- It provides a more unified look and feel for an overall application or website.
- It emphasizes elements, making them stand out more.
- It provides a more comfortable and calming user experience.
Neumorphism is a design trend that combines aspects of material design and skeuomorphic design. To implement Neumorphism in your design, start by creating two layers of your design elements, one for the background and one for the foreground. Both layers should have a soft, slightly raised, or embossed appearance. Then use subtle gradients, shadows, and highlights to create the illusion of depth. Finally, use muted pastel colors to create a calming and relaxed atmosphere.