2019 UX Design trends and the usability principles by Norman

At the beginning of each calendar year, the articles that identify or foresee the “new trends” multiply. The behaviors and expectations of users, in fact, evolve quickly, in parallel with the technologies that lead to new possibilities and provide new options

20 March 2019
  • Usability
  • User Experience
  • +1

It seems that the new trends testify to the search for the conceptual models that refer to the physical world

Team Conflux

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20 March 2019
  • Usability
  • User Experience
  • +1


Every year, it seems that the users become more demanding and smart, with so many options available and attention to be distributed on a multiplicity of channels and that therefore requires new visual languages, which we can, however, relate to well-known principles.


In 1988, Donald Norman, an American engineer and psychologist, wrote The Design of Everyday Things1 (translated into Italian as “La caffettiera del masochista”), where he listed seven fundamental principles of user-centered design: visibility, feedback, conceptual model, affordances, signifiers, mapping and constraints.


We have therefore tried to reconstruct the links between these principles and some 2019 trends reported by multiple sources, in particular: use of gestures, large titles, 3D interfaces, material design, video, voice commands.


For this research, the first 10 sources that emerged from Google’s SERP were simply consulted for the search query “UX trend design 2019” and 10 sources emerged from the same query on Medium.


Among these results, the most popular articles and those that focused on the aspects of UX, not only on the look & feel have been selected.


In this way, online publications have been identified mainly in the professional community of designers: online agencies and UX services such as Mockplus, InVisionapp, Netsolutions, Behance, Academyxi, UX Planet,, UxPin, Muzli, and Cadabrastudio.
These sources periodically provide updates, tutorials and other materials on the world of user experience design and report “rankings” and “forecasts” on what might be that year’s trends each year.


Comparing these portals with each other, recurring UX “trends” have emerged: it seems that the design choices are moving away from a minimalist visual and tend to include dynamic elements, very large titles, the inclusion of videos or animations within the content.


The flat design, more in vogue a few years ago, tends to be replaced by the material design, which aims to convey a sense of materiality and modernity.


What gives this type of approach its peculiarity is the use of UX design methods that are generally suitable for printing, the use of grid-based layouts, shadows, and animations.


Another trend expected from multiple sources for 2019, which aims to perfect the user experience of the user, the implementation of interfaces and 3D technologies. Using these techniques of representation, it is, in fact, possible in many contexts to create a deeper level of interaction through the game of three dimensions.
In this way, not only space is recovered through the third dimension, but it is also possible to present the contents in a more creative and engaging way.


However, the three-dimensionality also concerns the most strictly visual aspects: the widespread use of gradients gives depth to the image.


Among the other UX trends of 2019, they also configure voice commands and the frequent elimination of buttons on the screen, replaced by gestures: the scenarios in which the gestures replace the interaction elements of the interface are more and more frequent; this same approach leads to the facial recognition or the user fingerprinting.

Application of the Norman principles to the trends of the UX design


Donald Norman, in his “The Design of Everyday Things”, draws up a list of principles indicated to the designers to create products that are effective and simple to use; principles that are also applied today to the field of interactive design.


  • Visibility
  • Feedback
  • A clear conceptual model for the user
  • Affordances
  • Use of signifiers
  • Natural mapping in the relationship between the elements of the interface
  • Constraints to prevent errors


Applying these principles mentioned above to the UX design trends of 2019, it is clear that the trends in “material design” and “large titles” meet the criterion of visibility. They are elements or sets of elements that enhance the design aspect, making the site’s structure clear. These make the interface understandable and usable because they provide the user with the information on what actions to take and how to perform them.
At the beginning of the feedback, that is, the one that sends complete and continuous information about the results of the actions, the “gestures” and the “material design” correspond, because the way in which the graphic elements are positioned within the interface and the manual skills with which you select them, keep the dialogue between the user and the system alive.


For a good UX design to provide all the information necessary to create a good conceptual model of the system, it is good that all the elements that make up the interface enhance the visibility and the evaluation of the results.
In this regard, a clear and innovative conceptual model corresponds to “gesture”, “material design” and “voice commands”, as they provide the user with a valid conceptual model with a coherent system image. The voice commands, in particular, present themselves as real assistants who provide online information.


The principle of affordance, which indicates all the invitations that make the actions supported, can be perceived, finds a relationship with the “gestures” and the “material design”, which refer to “intuitive” modes of interaction in the physical world.
The effectiveness of the signifiers, complementary to the affordance and aimed at understanding how to carry out the actions, refer to the “material design”, the “voice commands” and the “large titles” because they predispose the clues to interact with the system.


The mapping and the constraints respectively indicate the relationship between actions and results and the conditions that limit the set of possible actions, with the aim of preventing errors.

“the way in which the graphic elements are positioned within the interface and the manual skills with which you select them, keep the dialogue between the user and the system alive”

How do the “Norman principles” relate to this year’s trends?

At this point, however, it is useful to ask how much the “Norman principles” impact the UX design trends of 2019.

Collecting the data in a pie chart, it has emerged that a good percentage of those principles mentioned above is attributable to the goals of signifiers and effective conceptual model, a fair portion of the visibility, the feedback, affordances, the mapping, and some to “providing constraints”.


Percentage distribution of the “Norman principles” applied to the UX design trends 2019

Consequently, the same percentages covered by the various trends have been included in the ring charts, in order to have a complete view of the whole and to understand which are the principles described by Norman that are more connected to the UX Design trends and which are less correlated.

Therefore, it seems that the new trends testify to the search for the conceptual models that refer to the physical world (material, vocal interaction, gestures), seeking an “intuitive” interaction in the new ways, sometimes freeing themselves from the principle of visibility (“making things visible”).

1. Everyday Things: Cfr. Italian version: D. Norman, La caffettiera del masochista. Il design degli oggetti quotidiani, Milano, Giunti, 1990, 1997, 2005, 2009
Cfr. English version: D. Norman, The Design of everyday things ( original title The Psychology of Everyday Things), New York, Basic Books, 1988; The Design of Everyday Things 1990 and 2002;
The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition, 2013

  • Usability
  • User Experience
  • UX Design

Team Conflux


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