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Glassmorphism as a new trend in interface design: features and tips

10 December 2021, Friday By Priyanka Boruah
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The emergence of trends in interface design is a natural process that will never stop. Typically, trends begin to spread from specialized sites such as Dribbble, Behance, and so on. Some fashion trends disappear after a few months, while others remain relevant for several years.

In this article, we will talk about glassmorphism, understand its features and give advice on using the visual effect in the interfaces of information and commercial products.

On this page

What is Glassmorphism

Advantages of Glassmorphism

Tips for Working With Glassmorphism

Glassmorphism

What is Glassmorphism

The "glass effect" began to spread actively at the end of last year. Designers who monitor community activity have noticed that concepts with "glass" elements are rapidly appearing on sites.

It became clear that over time, the trend will gain momentum and very soon will begin to be used everywhere. The forecast was fully justified - glassmorphism took root in UI design and became an integral component of creative interfaces.

Glassmorphism is the effect of "frosted glass", which is created due to the bright substrate and stylization of the area. Blurring the background makes it less noticeable, so there is no strong shift of focus towards the background. The users' attention is formed on the central area.

The basis of glassmorphism is volumetricness. The objects look big and meaningful. They seem to lie on the "glass", and thanks to the transparency it seems that the background is a continuation of the block containing important objects.

Layer hierarchy is not a new practice, but in this execution it differs from everything that has happened before. If it is possible to establish harmony between the "glass" area and the substrate, the user's attention will be focused in the right direction.

What is Glassmorphism

The frosted glass effect was used in older versions of Windows, but it was different from glassmorphism. Apple made a great contribution to the development of glassmorphism. It is from the macOS interfaces that the designers borrowed the idea of ​​"floating" elements.

In 2021, Apple released a new version of the macOS Big Sur operating system, which makes widespread use of "glass" areas with bright substrates. As you know, the "apple corporation" sets trends, and this practice has been repeated once again.

If we compare glassmorphism with neumorphism, then the first style is more universal. It can be used for any task, and neumorphism is not suitable for all projects. It is often used when the task is to surprise users and stand out from the competition. See: Neumorphism in Interface Design: What it is and how to use it correctly for more information.

There are already opponents of glassmorphism who argue that the conceptual style is not suitable for serious projects due to the high risk of shifting the focus away from important details.

Balance problems often arise when the designer has no experience with frosted glass. It is necessary to make the layers self-sufficient, but one of them must "lie" on the other. If there is a lack of balance and the focus shifts towards the substrate, the user experience may suffer.

Take a look at the concept of a digital agency interface and try to find the flaws. Obviously, there are no critical flaws. The effect of glassmorphism is muted in this case. It can be clearly seen in the reviews, which are displayed in the block on the right side.

Glassmorphism

The "glass" slider with comments partially overlaps the silhouette of a person in the background, but if you look closely at the area, you can see the hand. At the same time, the text is easy to read and the transparency effect does not reduce the ease of perception.

In the lower left corner, you can see the bright background of the matte, which is a little confusing. It may seem that the central area is also made with the effect of "frosted glass", but without viewing the entire image, you cannot be sure of this.

The concept of the interface of a digital agency clearly shows that glassmorphism can be used point-wise. You don't have to work at large scale and spend a lot of time experimenting with transparency. Even the smallest element in the form of testimonials grabs attention and allows you to focus attention on the right objects.

In this case, the colorful background is not used. The review block was superimposed on top of a photo with a transparent background. The "glass" effect looks standard. There are no problems with interaction either, the text is easy to read and understand what is at stake.

Now imagine that the block backing would not be "glass", but completely overlap the silhouette. The slider cuts off part of the background and the hand disappears. Such a slight change, and the appearance becomes completely different. I no longer want to peer into the details, because nothing will be visible anyway.

Glassmorphism Design

Glassmorphism is harmoniously combined with minimalistic design due to the light effect. "Glass" objects seem to float in the air and attract attention.

"Frosted glass" gives objects depth and builds a clear hierarchy. Users see that one layer is located on top of another and without unnecessary prompts understand which one is the main one.

There are not so many full-fledged digital products using glassmorphism. The concepts on Dribbble and other sites only show what an interface might look like. On the screen of a smartphone or tablet, it will look completely different.

The result of using glassmorphism largely depends on the professionalism of the developer. If he can completely recreate the designer's idea in the layout and there will be no big differences between the concept and the “live” product, then the designer wasted his time on the project for a reason.

Any trend in interface design gradually goes beyond the conceptual direction and turns into a tool for the struggle for the attention of users. A similar situation arose with glassmorphism. Dozens of concepts appear on specialized sites, but not all of them will turn into digital products.

Large corporations have paid attention to glassmorphism and, most likely, interfaces in this style will appear in the near future. For example, Samsung recently updated its operating system and One UI v3.0 has a large number of glass elements.

Glassmorphism looks best in macOS Big Sur, which delighted all Apple computer owners. Users tirelessly praise the design for its futuristic, bold solutions and maximum convenience.

macOS Big Sur

The frosted glass effect in this case has a positive effect on the user experience, because the appearance heightens the interest of the users. Even those who actively use Mac in their work, look at the UI in a new way and with renewed confidence in a creative product.

Advantages of Glassmorphism

One of the advantages of glassmorphism is that it is easy to create. You don't have to spend hundreds of hours looking for perfect proportions to do this. Draw a shape, add a fill, experiment with opacity values ​​and you're done.

But, of course, not everything is as simple as it may seem. If the hierarchy between the layers is weakly expressed, users may incorrectly prioritize. Similar problems will arise if the background is too bright.

The search for balance sometimes takes several hours, but this is an important job that must be done. If the central content is too blurry, users will have to stare at it for a long time and waste extra time.

Advantages of Glassmorphism

How the effect is created:

  1. Choosing a shape. The first step is to create a space that will later become glass. It can be either a small icon or a work area in which the content is displayed.
  2. Adding a background. You can use a gradient fill or add a background in the form of a picture. In most cases, a bright background with geometric shapes is used to create frosted glass.
  3. Blur setting. The glass surface appears by blurring the background. The bottom matte then looks like a smudge, and the content is viewed through the layer.
  4. Adding a border. If you don't use a path stroke, the selection will be too thin. Without volume, the work will not be complete.
    Shadow creation. A light shadow draws the border between the layers. They are related, but the priority is different.
  5. Filling content. It remains to add content to the central area, which will "lie" on the surface.

These steps are enough to create a glassmorphism. You can go a step further and add a cooler visual effect with texture. To do this, you need another layer with noise and a small percentage of opacity.

Glassmorphism can be used with photographs, illustrations, and any interface element. The result of the work depends on the imagination of the designer and work experience.

Glass icons look especially cool. If the designer can strike a visual balance between the background and the rest of the elements, users will want to click on a button or navigate to a specific menu item.

The picture below shows the concept of glassmorphic icons. Notice that the color matte is showing through the foreground layer. Icons look very attractive on a black background. Combined with the Dark Theme, icons help create an atmosphere of mystery.

glassmorphism icons

The distinctive features of glass morphism are easy to notice even with a superficial analysis. Let's highlight them so that any designer or customer can decompose the layout into components and see how good the final result is:

  • transparent elements;
  • thin border;
  • bright backing;
  • texture with noise;
  • multi-layered objects;
  • elements floating in space.

You don't have to use all the recognizable details to make the icon glass or add transparency to the main content. Although each attribute affects the overall picture and brings the block's appearance closer to the ideal result.

The frosted glass effect can both refresh the interface and reduce the usability. It all depends on the approach to work and the skills of the one who will design the structure.

If a product or theme for a digital product in the style of glassmorphism is created to show new brand characteristics, then this is justified. Chasing trends, on the other hand, usually doesn't work well. Users understand that the company just wants to adapt to fashion trends.

Related: Flat Design: Features and Best Examples for Inspiration

Tips for Working With Glassmorphism

We have collected useful tips to help you use the visual style correctly and protect you from common mistakes. Analyze them and use them to improve the quality of glass objects.

Tips are not hard-and-fast rules, but guidelines that help out when working with visual style. You can forget about some tips if the interface becomes more harmonious from this or there is no need to bring the result to the ideal.

Find the perfect transparency value

An incorrect layer transparency ratio can completely cross out the work. The bottom mat should be visible, but not so much that it overlaps the main content.

Find the perfect transparency value

If the balance is shifted in favor of a secondary block, the attention of users will switch to it and it will no longer be possible to manage it. You can notice the problem at the stage of collecting feedback. Show the interface to the target audience and analyze the feedback.

The transparency should be such that text or media content in the center of the glass area is clearly visible regardless of the screen resolution. If it remains readable on computers and turns into a blot on smartphones, the user experience will suffer.

Choose the right background

The background is one of the most important elements to create a “glassy” effect. If it is too dim or too bright, the magic of the visual style will completely disappear.

The background must be combined with the main content. You cannot take any picture with bright objects. In some cases, a muted background works well, as in the example below.

Choose the right background

The central area is clearly visible, but the frosted glass effect is also immediately noticeable. The background stands out especially well in the lower left part of the interface, where 3 bright stripes are visible.

Be sure to add an outline

The path draws clear boundaries and prioritizes layers. The background influences the overall concept, but the central area, where the important content is concentrated, plays the main role.

If we go back to the previous example, then without the stroke, the transition would be imperceptible. Users' attention would switch to different layers in search of clues. If there is an outline, the visual border turns into a "bridge" connecting the two layers.

The outline does not have to be bold. A thin line will work as well, if you choose the right color and the accent will not be shifted towards the secondary block. The designer needs to find a balance and experiment with several color schemes.

Focus on accessibility

Visual effects of any kind turn into problems if they make it difficult for users to interact with the content. Glassmorphism is useless if done without diving into the specifics of the digital product.

Take a look at the interface concept below and try to find flaws. Obviously, there are no critical errors in it. The central area is worked out to the smallest detail, so there are no problems when getting to know the content.

Focus on accessibility

The bright substrate does not distract attention from the main layer, but harmoniously complements it. Note that the outline is not visible in all corners. It is not in the upper right part of the block. It ends in the center and the border smoothly passes into the substrate.

This is the perfect example of glass morphism that focuses on the benefits for the target audience. The color scheme is thought out to the smallest detail, so only positive emotions remain at the first meeting.

Please note that the numbers near the menu items are clearly visible even when you hover the mouse over the block. The color changes, but the structure remains the same and the user experience does not diminish.

Use custom effects

Any visual style does not force designers into rigid frames. It is not necessary to exactly repeat the concepts that are in the public domain. No one forbids experiments if they have a positive effect on the appearance of the interface.

Glassmorphism is based on hierarchy, but in some cases it is possible to deviate from the standard rules. This is exactly what the designer did, who created the interface of the Wallet payment system.

Use custom effects

In the foreground, two plastic cards are displayed, which attract attention. Part of the left map is overlaid with a bright circle with a gradient fill. The shape is superimposed on top, and does not act as a substrate.

The map on the right is framed according to a standard template. There is also a colored circle, but it is under the map and can be seen as through "glass".

There is noise across the entire surface of the right side of the interface, which creates a nice texture and highlights the main content. The designer paid special attention to the elaboration of a light beam that spreads from top to bottom.

This concept is a great example of creativity that goes beyond any limits. The designer was able to find a new approach to glassmorphism and showed that the result depends solely on the quality of the idea.

Combine styles

Any design trend leads to the fact that the number of works is growing exponentially. If a fashion trend is picked up by large companies, it instantly becomes a global trend and designers will have to quickly adapt to changes.

The new styles go well with visual tools that have stood the test of time. For example, in the interface below, the designer was able to find harmony between glassmorphism and 3D elements.

Combine styles

Without geometric shapes, the UI would look dull. They grab attention, but they don't move the focus away from the main content. Please note that buttons and other CTA elements have been made voluminous. Proper prioritization helps direct users' attention.

Glassmorphism is actively developing, so the trend will last for at least several years. This means that the demand for visual style from commercial companies will increase.

Each company makes its own choice. Either adjust to fashion trends or prioritize user needs. The second path is chosen by entrepreneurs who care about their customers and try to make their lives better.

Related: Material Design - What is it for and why it is so popular
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