UI Design Trends: 3 Reasons Why Neumorphism isn’t Effective

Published on Jul 09, 2020
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Neumorphism has got people talking, but is it worth the hype? Designed by Michal Malewicz, who just wanted to explore a new style for his projects; Neumorphism, ended up being one of the biggest steps in experimental design."Neumorphism" is like a hot new 2020 UI Design trend, that just popped out of nowhere and flooded Behance and Dribble. 

However, that’s not entirely true. Neumorphism is a hybrid of flat design and an old UI design style named Skeuomorphism, with a hint of solidity and clever implementation of highlights and shadows.

Roughly around 4 to 5 years ago, designers struggled to mimic the real world as much as possible with the use of shadows and reflections. Quite similar to the trend in art, called Hyperrealism, where an attempt is made to make digital objects look extremely realistic. With Neumorphism, the trend still continues but with much fewer complications. In this unique style, the shadows are softer and longer, and the highlights follow the same rule. It gives an extruded plastic appearance with a muted color scheme that gives the UI a fresh look.


Most of the experimental UI design trends suffer from accessibility and UX issues. According to the basic principle of UX design, however appealing the design may be, if it’s not user friendly then it’s of no worth.


Let’s talk about 3 crucial reasons why Neumorphism fails for designing user interfaces, despite its classy look and feel.

3 Reasons Why Neumorphism isn’t Effective

1. Accessibility

A majority of Design Advocates talk about accessibility, and this is a big factor when it comes to User experience because Neumorphism does not support cognitive, physical and visual disability.

Neumorphism causes the greatest hindrance for people with vision loss or color blindness. A color-blind person only differentiates when he sees some contrast between objects. As Neumorphism is heavily based on shadows and highlights, there is not just enough contrast for them to spot the functions easily.

For example

Designing CTA requires special care in terms of using contrast for buttons. If it doesn't stand out from the rest of the content then it would fail to grab the user's attention in the first place. However, in Neumorphism, buttons have the same color as the background or we say Material. So the only thing that would separate them from the rest of the content is the angle of the shadow and highlight, which is dependent on the Device it is designed for.

"Mobile and laptop Devices are used in several diverse environments including outdoors and glare from the sun or direct lighting affects the displays as well as content so good contrast of interface is important for all users and also for who has a low vision"

Tip: If your using sketch or Adobe xd for your Design work W3.org has plugins for both of them to detect Contrast Ratio for all sorts of Disabilities so your design is usable for all those people who have issues like color blindness, the low vision you can download the stark plugin from here https://www.getstark.co/

2. Cognitive load

Neumorphism trend creates a cognitive load on the user's brain and makes them think which object is active and which one is not? For the last few years, our mental model is trained to see objects that are of importance with shadows or highlights. Designers often use this trick to grab the attention of the user by elevating the component with shadow,  but in Neumorphism everything has shadow or highlight. 

Hierarchy, in contrast, is missing. Therefore, the user's decision making is highly influenced. As the saying goes "If everything is bold nothing is bold",  it's very arduous for the brain to distinguish between components in the Neumorphism style of design. Abiding by the basic principles of UI/UX design, if your Product makes your users think then obviously your UI/UX is not good.

Cognitive and learning disabilities impact how people process information. For example, they can affect people’s perception, memory, language, attention, problem-solving, and comprehension. Terminology for categories and conditions varies and includes intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dementia, dyslexia, and more. -- [Source: W3.org]

3. Confusing UI

Neumorphism also creates confusion when it comes to defining different stages for components like an active state for a button or a pressed state. Every single designer has their own variation when they design these states, experimenting with colours, shadows, and highlights. Early experiments are always with inner shadows but when they start adding colours and it does not go with the design theme then the user faces a lot of issues like:

Is it clickable? Is it Selected? Is there any background task working? Is it Active? Which one is Disabled? Etc.

Final Thoughts: Find the Worth!

Neumorphism is undoubtedly the eye-catching trend but not necessarily every Design trend in the world meets the UX requirements. As a designer, it’s our duty and passion to explore new trends. As Neumorphism comes with various accessibility issues we can mix and match it with other styles to satisfy the UX requirements. After all, it’s style not just to be hyped about but worthy of the hype.

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