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7 UX trends to inspire you to build better products in 2022

If you've read the rest of this guide, you now have what you need to make informed decisions for the best UX tools, surveys, and metrics, and to conduct your UX analysis. 

Now, it’s time to address and evaluate the key UX design trends for 2022 and learn how you can incorporate them into your product workflows to improve the user experience.

Last updated

3 Mar 2022

Good UX design improves the product experience, making it smooth, seamless, and easy to navigate. As a product team, researching user experience trends and best practices can help you separate the hype from what’s most helpful to your customers.

But remember: following trends isn't a substitute for knowing how people experience your product and focusing on the changes they need most.

Whether it’s an increase in attention to detail and micro-interactions or just creating seamless, personalized experiences, UX trends should work with and for your users. 

Let’s take a look at the top 7 UX design trends coming our way in 2022, how they might impact our work and products in the next year, and how they hold up to the hype.

Improve UX with product experience insights from Hotjar

Use Hotjar to understand how real users are experiencing your website or app—then improve it for them!

As a product team, you’re constantly trying to find new ways to build intuitive and easy-to-use products. Staying on top of UX trends can help your team understand what that looks like for today’s customers. 

It’s like taking a step back and asking, "why are we doing this, and who is it actually for?"—but staying future-focused on your product roadmap. 

Good business is human-centric. And researching user experience trends can make it easy for you to:

  • Find better ways to save time and effort for users

  • Discover new solutions to old problems

  • Explore new design approaches to your product

  • Ask new questions about human behavior, which in turn drives new product and value opportunities

  • Compare your product features with new markets and competitors

It all comes back to observing customer behavior as people interact with your website, app, or product and digging deeper to ask direct questions about their experience. 

By focusing on users' needs and desired outcomes, you start to learn about their concerns and hesitations, so you can deliver solutions that address them.

It’s an exciting time for UX design. In 2022, user experiences are evolving meaningfully in ways that benefit both your users and your business.

But simply following trends isn’t enough to build a UX strategy that works. Instead, you should always be focused on creating a valuable experience for your customers. 

Trends can sometimes be superficial and sacrifice usability, focusing too much on the 'design' element and too little on the 'UX' part. It’s all too easy for product designers to become sidetracked with something that seems exciting, but isn’t the best solution to the problem.

This is the perfect time to be picky and only test trends that inspire your product team to build better experiences for your users—which is exactly how we evaluate them on this page.

We’re not just talking about UX trends that are centered on UI or design elements themselves, like scrollytelling, glassmorphism, aurora backgrounds, 3D art and animation, or wild typography. 

While design- and UI-centric trends are important, here we focus on the UX design trends that understand the larger context of a customer's actions to deliver real value for your users.

This list of trends looks at what product teams need to know about each trend, the pros and cons, and how Hotjar can help you proactively drive engagement and conversions through better user understanding.

Remember: your users are the people who matter most to your business. Building a customer-centric culture by obsessing over your users and customers is something that will outlast any trend. 

Let’s get down to it.

Hotjar Surveys in action

1. Remote user research

What you need to know about this trend

The shift towards remote user research and usability testing was underway long before the pandemic made it necessary. 

These past few years, it’s been helped along by digital UX tools that help reconcile your vision of your product’s user experience with how your users actually use it—tools like Hotjar 👋.

User research processes will gravitate further and further away from 'in person' research. It’s a consequence of the remote revolution and the continued hybrid nature of work—a trend that will likely keep expanding in the future. It also means that you have a true competitive advantage if you use behavior analytics and product experience insight tools.

Developing a system for effective remote research isn’t the problem—there’s a variety of UX tools that will help you get the job done. The field is still struggling with how to best pull qualitative takeaways from remote setups.

How Hotjar can help

Using Hotjar tools can ​​bring back some of that observational lens that your team is missing. UX researchers can observe behavior more directly, rather than rely on participant self-reporting:

  • With Hotjar’s Session Recordings, you can see your product through the eyes of your customer. Eliminate guesswork with recordings of real visitor behavior on your site. Seeing your visitor’s clicks, taps, and mouse movements helps you identify usability issues on the fly. 

  • Hotjar Heatmaps show you a aggregate of user behavior on individual site pages: where do your users click and scroll? What are they interested in? Do they see the page's most important elements and interact with them?

🔥 Keep in mind: don’t settle for either quantitative or qualitative insights—instead, build your analytics dream team by combining data from Google Analytics and Hotjar.

Quantitative insights (from GA) let you know what’s happening on your website, while qualitative insights (from Hotjar) fill you in on the how and why—so you can see the whole picture of your customers' journey and optimize the user experience for them (and boost conversions for you).

Hotjar-accessibility-inclusive-design

2. A rise in accessibility and more inclusive design

What you need to know about this trend

Parallax scrolling messing with users’ sense of depth, the continued neumorphism debate, and often inaccessible typography that subscribes to brutalism (think of this past year’s Spotify Wrapped).

The sad truth is that some of the interactive web design approaches that are popular right now are not accessible, and designers need to confront that. What can start as an intriguing, eye-catching effect can end up completely unreadable and irritating.

These trendy-but-inaccessible elements have led to an increasing need for inclusive designs built upon more representative UX research.

How Hotjar can help

Inaccessible products are broken products. The first step to fixing them is to care about your users. 

  • Keep your users’ comfort in mind and in the first place when designing. Invest in user research—it’ll help you narrow down your approach so you’re not relying on rogue or irrelevant data. 

  • Run usability tests. Use input from the people who use (and could potentially benefit from) your product to pick up on nuances or solutions to problems you might’ve never thought of on your own.

  • Make having more diverse research participants a priority. Focus on more inclusive copy and imagery choices. Incorporating research and elements that represent a truer sample of the population will greatly impact the design and products you’ll see coming out in the next couple of years. 

Making sure that everyone has equal access to information, functionality, and experience on digital platforms can only start with one thing: user feedback.

With Hotjar Surveys, you can empower your customers to be honest by asking questions like:

  • What is your main goal when using this website/product? 

  • What, if anything, is preventing you from achieving that goal? 

  • What is your greatest concern about [product/brand]? 

  • What changed for you after you started using our product?

  • How can we make this page on our website or app better?

#Sorting through a Hotjar Surveys dashboard
Sorting through a Hotjar Surveys dashboard

💡 Pro tip: don't know what to ask? Here are 28 of our favorite customer feedback questions to get you started!

Collecting ongoing feedback is your best way to be systematic about building customer- and user-centric experiences on your product. Here’s how we use our own feedback tools at Hotjar to improve our product.

By committing to more accessible, inclusive design, you’re acknowledging that what you create has an impact on the real world—and taking ownership of that responsibility.

How Hotjar’s Design Language speaks to accessibility standards 🌎

It’s minimizing to frame accessibility and inclusive design as simple 'trends' rather than long-term social progress. And there’s always room for improvement.

At Hotjar, we’re still on a journey to make our site and tools more accessible. We believe we have a responsibility to give our users and customers not just the tools they need to create better user experiences, but also offer a product that’s Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust for all users.

We approach accessibility as part of our Design Language, which holds the same importance as our Brand and Design principles. This includes:

Hotjar-pictures

3. The evolution of UX theater

What you need to know about this trend

'UX theater' is a strange but rising phenomenon in the world of UX design. Tanya Snook developed the idea in 2018 to describe UX methodologies that are applied without including a single user in the process, or only including users for show.

It’s an open secret in the UX industry and is seeing frustratingly substantial growth and interest across the board. Businesses are cherry-picking the bits of UX which are most compatible with their existing agendas.

Let us know if this sounds familiar: designers that aren’t permitted to do the work of design; research that’s conducted but never gets used; findings that get shelved because they don’t align with executive or shareholder expectations; workshops in which staff pretend to be users because it’s cheaper and faster than researching with actual users.

It’s basically a game of pretend, where organizations tout themselves as beacons of user-centricity but only apply UX strategies where there’s very little 'user' in the experience. These organizations tend to generate poor design outputs and results that don’t meet user needs, generate complaints, returns, poor reviews, and even lowered profits. 

How Hotjar can help

Preventing 'UX theater' requires user experience professionals to do more than design. Product teams and designers often need to evangelize for true UX design in their organizations and advocate for users' needs during the design and delivery process.

Hotjar can help you get the bigger picture of why it’s important to understand the context of a customer’s actions. 

As a visual tool, Hotjar Heatmaps help you understand what users want, care about, and do in your product by visually representing their clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior—which are the strongest indicators of visitor motivation and desire. But they’re also useful on a wider business scale: heatmaps let you show team members and stakeholders what’s happening and get their buy-in more easily when changes are needed.

#A scroll (left) and move (right) heatmap
A scroll (left) and move (right) heatmap

Using heatmaps, you can see whether your customers are:

  • Reaching important content or failing to see it

  • Finding and using a page’s main links, buttons, opt-ins, and CTAs

  • Getting distracted by non-clickable elements

  • Experiencing issues that lead to drop-off rates or increased errors across devices

With Hotjar, you can help your product team make informed, data-based decisions for A/B testing, updating, or (re)designing your website. That way, UX design can go from superficial interest to a story of more success, ever-increasing influence, and, most importantly, happier users.

#A reminder from Twitter user @ShitUserStory that standard practices don’t always make great products
A reminder from Twitter user @ShitUserStory that standard practices don’t always make great products

4. Forgoing the framework

What you need to know about this trend

This one’s more of an anti-trend. 

2022 is shaping up to be the year when the UX industry collectively concludes that following a framework doesn’t guarantee good results. 

While filling out a template to 'follow the process' is easy, it doesn’t necessarily lead to great products. And just because a framework helps you arrive at a decision doesn’t mean that it’s the right one.

These cookie-cutter design frameworks can be problematic. You can end up inheriting their biases and, since what works in one context doesn’t necessarily work in another, they don’t guarantee results. Instead, find what works for your team and your users.

How Hotjar can help

Following a set of steps can streamline the work, but sometimes the right call is to pause, zoom out, and start over with a different approach. After all, no process is linear, and that’s particularly true for the journey of UX design

Good UX design recognizes that some users take a nonlinear route through a product. At the start of this nonlinear journey, you need to understand that while your path is your own, your users should be guiding you.

Start by proactively gathering user feedback and letting that feedback drive change to the product. A deep understanding of users and their intent lets you validate whether users need (or even want) the features and updates on your product roadmap.

Then, use UX and product experience tools—like heatmaps and recordings—to develop a plan for how users should experience your product. Take that ideal flow and start monitoring user behavior for signs of friction, and eliminate blockers. You can use Hotjar tools like Session Recordings to quickly identify user pain points, so you can remove them.

#A Hotjar Session Recording
A Hotjar Session Recording

Remember that UX is a process of constant improvement. You’re never done creating, so keep using data and usability testing to iterate and continuously refine your product. That way, your UX becomes more delightful for users as the product develops.

🔥 Keep in mind: direct feedback is crucial to understanding how visitors experience the nonlinear conversion funnel. Placing an on-site survey on a high-traffic landing page can help you discover popular referral sources and better understand your customers' unique objectives and reasons for choosing your brand.

Hotjar-microinteractions

5. Microinteractions with macro influence

What you need to know about this trend

One popular technique—which will only continue to grow in 2022—is the use of micro-interactions. These minute changes, which happen when a user does something on your website, app, or product, are as impactful as they are subtle. 

One peril of using micro-interactions is the pitfall of a one-size-fits-all UX design. Microinteractions shouldn’t be defined by what’s trendy in terms of cursor changes, color palettes, or animations. Instead, they should explain functionality, help users navigate, and effortlessly introduce new users to pages or product features.

 How Hotjar can help

Attention to every detail is a key aspect of a designer’s work. And paying attention to all elements in a design—no matter how small—can lead to a more positive user experience. 

Focus on reaching harmony in the elements, and not scattering attention to all sides of the monitor. Hotjar Heatmaps can help you visualize behavior by pointing out the most popular (hot) and unpopular (cold) elements of a webpage using colors on a scale from red to blue. 

You can also use Session Recordings to identify blockers like confusing navigation, broken links, or slow-loading pages that might get in the way of moving your visitors further along the funnel. Watch for behavior like rage clicks or u-turns, which could indicate a visitor's confusion or frustration.

#A rage click in the wild
A rage click in the wild

This gives you an at-a-glance understanding of how people interact with an individual website page—what they click on, scroll through, or ignore—which helps identify trends and optimize interactions for further engagement.

💡 Pro tip: analyze your heatmaps and session recordings to answer questions like:

  • Do customers see important navigation cues?

  • Are they clicking on key elements like links, buttons, and CTAs?

  • Are customers getting confused by non-clickable elements?

#Duolingo uses characters that congratulate a user when they do well, give them awards, or support them when they can’t complete a challenge
Duolingo uses characters that congratulate a user when they do well, give them awards, or support them when they can’t complete a challenge

6. A personalized user experience

What you need to know about this trend

Let’s get personal. More and more websites, apps, and products are choosing to personalize the experience to each user. This trend can give you a huge advantage in helping users get the most useful experience from your product.

For example, you might want to treat a brand new customer differently from a long-time customer or power user. The goal is to create a design and product that closes the gap between what users expect and what they experience.

Personalization keeps users interested and helps them associate positive memories with an app or website experience. For example, tech companies like Netflix and Spotify turn user profiles into personalized interfaces that tap into that emotional bond between the brand and customer.

However, any personalization that doesn’t take segmentation according to real-time user data is just a shot in the dark.

How Hotjar can help

Start by looking at how users behave on and interact with your website, app, or product. 

Watching Hotjar Session Recordings is one of the closest things to being in the same room as your users and seeing exactly what they do as they click, tap, scroll, and move on and across pages and screens. With that information, UX designers can create an experience and journey that is personalized to what users expect, need, and want.

#A Hotjar Session Recording in action
A Hotjar Session Recording in action

Personalization focuses on aspects like localization, demographics, and behavioral data, so keep those in mind as you identify areas that can be altered for a more customized experience.

Investing time and effort into proactively solving customer problems, getting to know your customers on an anecdotal basis, and shepherding them as quickly as possible to an ‘Aha!’ moment is what leads to customer delight.

🔥 Keep in mind: post-purchase surveys help you engage with customers after they convert, so you can find out what works well—and then repeat it. You can also use on-site surveys to engage with customers who dropped out before converting, to find out what doesn't work—and learn how to fix it.

For an even more personalized UX, gather feedback by inviting visitors to participate in an external survey, where you can dig even deeper into the customer experience (CX) with a series of open-ended questions.

hotjar-3-column-retrospective-template

7. Too much Agile, not enough UX 

What you need to know about this trend

More and more companies are starting to adopt the ‘agile way’ of doing things. This adaptive approach to product strategy planning and implementation focuses on business needs and allows projects to move into production. Fast.

Businesses want scaling. Teams work in alignment to achieve product goals, give faster feedback, implement product improvements, launch iterations, and, usually, achieve better sales. Sounds great, right?

Not so fast. Businesses keep trying to wring maximum productivity out of their growing armies of engineers, but in the rush toward transformation, something has been lost: product design practices have become increasingly less insight-driven. 

Research-driven persona development, concept models, task flows—these things often get cut out of UX processes because they simply don’t fit a development process that demands clear accountability for every activity.

How Hotjar can help

Good UX is where the stuff that makes people care about products happens: the human insights, the collaborative exploration, the creative experimentation.

In your team’s quest for super-charged product growth and turning customers into your biggest advocate, observe customer behavior as people interact with your website, app, or product. Dig deeper to ask questions directly about their experience. 

Use the agile methodology to quickly process customer feedback to incorporate product changes that meet their expectations and needs. Collect user feedback with qualitative tools like Hotjar Surveys and the Incoming Feedback widget. Then, use the data to prioritize specific features and set timelines to release them in phases.

The Hotjar Incoming Feedback widget in action

Our goal is to challenge teams to stretch their thinking to address deeper and subtler user needs—this grounds product design in understanding the problem and going beyond the line-item requirements of individual components.

Analyzing and applying user behavior insights is a sure-shot way to make changes to your website or app that genuinely matter to customers.

Hotjar helps by putting you back on ground level with your users.

3 key principles of good UX design to keep in mind for 2022

Remember, design always changes, but the meaning of design stays the same. Trends come and go, but users will always be the foundation of any successful product.

Use Hotjar’s qualitative and quantitative product experience insights tools to understand what your customers need—and what your product roadmap and initiatives should look like—to build customer-centric products.

1. Listen to user feedback 

Watch, ask for, and listen to real user experiences to make sure you're reaching your target customer.

Getting visual insight into the user experience and seeing what your visitors see and do is how you figure out who you’re talking to. But what’s next? 

What you need is context: the drivers that lead people to your site, the barriers that stop them, the hooks that convince them to do something. The added magic of Hotjar is how it completes the picture of user behavior with actual feedback:

  • Use Surveys to ask visitors what they want or what’s missing from the page before leaving. Then, edit the page to keep visitors from bouncing.

  • Collect feedback from real users on every page with the Incoming Feedback widget. Then, improve every page with changes users want.

#The Hotjar Incoming Feedback widget is easy to use and quick to implement
The Hotjar Incoming Feedback widget is easy to use and quick to implement

 2. Don’t ignore functionality in favor of form

In the world of digital design, if a website, app, or product looks like a user-friendly page, it should act like a user-friendly page, too.

Product function should always come before product design. The design itself shouldn’t make a user’s life harder (or slower). Good UX means users can do what they came to do, effortlessly.

Hotjar tools help you see what visitors love (and hate) about their experience on your site, their barriers to converting, and how they ultimately decide to make the move from visitor to customer.

You can even test new features with a ‘soft launch’ approach. Sure, they look cool, but how do your users feel about them? Get your answer by using Hotjar Surveys to ask users to rate their experience with the new feature. If a user gave the new design a low score, you can use Survey Logic to ask open-ended follow-up questions to understand why and what you can do about it.

#A Hotjar Survey in action
A Hotjar Survey in action

3. Don’t just rely on numbers 

You know what users do on your site. But do you know why? 

With the combined power of Hotjar tools like Heatmaps, Surveys, Recordings, and Incoming Feedback (all included on every plan), you can find out. Speak with your customers and get to know what they’re really thinking and feeling (and why!).

Improve UX with product experience insights from Hotjar

Use Hotjar to understand how real users are experiencing your website or app—then improve it for them!

UX trends FAQs