The State of UX Design in Mobile App Development: 6 Trends for 2020
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on print


Ninety percent of users report that they have stopped using an app because of poor performance. This research proves that high-quality user experience (UX) design is no longer a competitive advantage alone. Instead, UX is a critical component in ensuring long-term market success. 


Truly understanding a product’s user, researching to solve user pain-points, learning about latent behaviors and needs is the only way to ensure exceptional product performance. As the relationship between humans and technology continues to evolve, it’s more important than ever for businesses to emphasize UX design in mobile app development initiatives. On that note, companies need to stay up to date on current and emerging UX trends to meet the changing demands of mobile users. 


While the principles of UX design may not change, the trends and techniques certainly do. In this post, we will identify key UX design trends currently on the radar of industry professionals that we think will be big in 2020. 


New call-to-action

Trends in UX Design for 2020

Voice Experiences 

eMarketer forecasts that nearly 100 million smartphone users will be using voice assistants in 2020. Similarly, comScore data reveals that voice technology will account for 50% of all searches by 2020. More brands are starting to invest in voice technology, as more mobile apps are beginning to incorporate vocal user interfaces (VUI). At the very least, companies are beginning to integrate VUIs in some capacity to meet the changing expectations of smartphone users. 


However, there is a unique set of challenges that will hinder a complete voice take-over. Accessibility issues are the primary concern as current voice technologies have shown difficulty in accurately identifying instruction when heavy accents or background noise is present. Secondly, a VUI allows actions to be executed based on spoken commands. Changing interfaces require UX designers to abandon old techniques and mindsets for what it means to design a mobile app experience. While VUIs won’t entirely take over mobile experiences, the technology is showing significant potential for enabling further advancements in consumer AI technologies. 

Designing for Healthier Relationships with Technology

Society is awakening to the need for more mindful relationships with technology. Users want products that provide solutions to their pain points but still respect their lives and time away from the app. Instead of fighting for attention, UX designers should strive to achieve relevance and comfort, finding a meaningful place in the daily life of the user. This trend is centered around UX designers understanding that users want to develop healthier habits with their technology. It’s important to design experiences that empower and enable users to achieve their personal goals while respecting their life outside of the app. 


A perfect example of this trend is with Instagram’s “All Caught Up” feature. The purpose of the feature is to notify users when they have viewed all the most recent posts. When users are aware that they’ve reached the end of their feed, they no longer need to keep scrolling, which saves time and limits distraction. Gmail’s snooze function is another relevant example. Gmail gives users the option to resurface emails later in the day or within an extended timeframe. This feature helps keep users’ manage their inboxes and keep track of relevant emails that could get lost in the clutter. 

Deeper Personalization with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

2019 marked a substantial shift towards more profound and more sophisticated personalization in mobile UX. As AI and ML continue to take giant strides in the ability to understand user behavior and interaction, mobile products will become increasingly personalized. When it comes to UX design, the key is to design something flexible to the individual. Functionality and in-app content should be defined by user data, such as location, purchase behavior, online communities, events, and personal calendar. 


Brands such as Spotify already do this, for example, by curating custom playlists with suggestions based on previous listening behaviors. These playlists are unique to the user and provide a service unique to them. UX designers need to tap into AI and ML personalization opportunities as much as possible to supply variable content where appropriate. 

Designing for Consistency Between IoT & Wearable Devices with the Cloud

As the number of IoT and “smart” devices continue to rise drastically, users will come to expect seamless integration and responsive design that covers all devices and platforms. UX designers need to look at creating integrated experiences between physical design and the functionality of each device as well as interaction design within the whole IoT system. With 5G technologies slowly starting to roll out, the more stable network will allow for more apps to rely on the Cloud. For UX designers, the Cloud will prove to be a valuable tool when it comes to designing for consistency amongst IoT devices. Cloud-based connected devices allow designers to keep all platforms and software always up-to-date. As a result, it provides users with seamless transitions between system elements with minimum effort, adaptation, and wasted time.


A great example of a brand that has been able to achieve this is Google and the Google Nest. Essentially, the product helps a user control their home’s temperature. All nest products (mobile app, smartwatch app, and thermostat) stick to a similar design pattern, and distribute functionality according to the device’s specifics and build a user interface relevant to every element of the system. Similarly, the way a user interacts with the Nest is the same across all platforms. 

Coding Becoming a Part of the Design Process

The question, should designers learn how to code has been the center of much debate. While it is reasonable to suggest that knowing how to code helps designers come up with technically feasible suggestions, it is also noted that spending time creating code takes away from a designer’s primary role, designing. In 2018 prototyping tools that allow designers to sketch ideas on paper and have the tool return code in a matter of seconds began to appear. These tools bridge the gap between designers and engineers working on design systems at scale, helping developers build upon designs instead of replicating them in production. 


Going into 2020, we will see more instances of design tools that “know how to code” allowing designers to put these machines to work for them, instead of having to learn an entirely new discipline and start thinking in terms of integrated workflows.

Designing for Speed

5G technology has rightfully created a large amount of excitement in the tech world. This new network infrastructure will significantly strengthen mobile connectivity and improve the smartphone experience. Ten times faster than existing wireless technology, as 5G gradually replaces 4G networks, users will notice a significant improvement in data transfer speed and latency. This means that any mobile services, be it an application or a website optimized for mobile, will need to be optimized to support the speed and full capabilities of 5G networks. 


It is rumored that all iPhone releases from 2020 will come with 5G capability. In this environment, slow applications will be seen as having a bad UX. Therefore it is imperative to ensure that the app provides a fast, smooth and efficient experience.

The State of UX Design in Mobile App Development

2019 saw UX design take on a less traditional approach, adapting to changes not only in user interactions, preferences, and behaviors but in physical changes to the very devices we use. As technology changes, design must also adapt to provide users with a broader range of diverse options so that they can find the ones which fit their specific needs and wishes. User experience encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with a company, its services, and its products. Keeping an eye on the UX design trends listed above will help UX designers stay ahead of the curve and ensure they continue to provide their users with the tools they require to use a product to its fullest capabilities. 


Keep Reading:

[Infographic] 9 Common UX Design Mistakes to Avoid

Why Mobile App Onboarding is a Central Component of UX Design

10 Best Practices to Enhance Your Mobile App User Experience


New call-to-action