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Claymorphism UI: A Guide To Mastering This Design Trend

Brian Bojan Dordevic
About The Author

Brian Decoded

President at Alpha Efficiency

Join me at the forefront of web design and digital marketing innovation. I am obsessed with web design, business philosophy and marketing performance.
I write Conversion Insider newsletter.

Claymorphism UI has been creating quite a buzz. You’ve probably heard about it and wondered, “Is this something I should dive into?” It looks cool, sure, with its tactile feel and depth, but will it last?

More importantly, how do you create claymorphism designs that aren’t just pretty but also practical for users?

At my Los Angeles web design company, we love to keep our designs fresh and innovative. We started playing around with claymorphism in our projects a while back. I won’t lie – it was a bit of a rollercoaster at first.

While the style caught our eye, figuring out how to use it effectively was a challenge. It seemed like we weren’t the only ones hesitant to fully commit to it. Many designers appreciate its look but struggle to make it user-friendly.

In this article, I’m excited to share everything we’ve learned about claymorphism UI. It’s not just about what claymorphism is. It’s also about why it might be a good fit for your next project and how to use it in a way that really works for users.

I’ll help you understand the main characteristics of claymorphism and the benefits of using this style and then give you tips for designing claymorphism UI so you end up creating aesthetically pleasing, high-converting digital environments.

You’ll learn how to eliminate accessibility issues often associated with claymorphism designs and make your user interfaces irresistible with subtle techniques.

Table of Contents:
Claymorphism UI

What Is Claymorphism Trend In Web Design?

Claymorphism has become one of the main web design trends in 2024. But what exactly is it? As the name suggests, claymorphism brings a soft, almost tangible feel to digital interfaces, making elements look as if they’re crafted from clay. The main goal is to give UI elements a more touchable appearance.

Claymorphism started gaining traction in the web design community around late 2020 and early 2021. It emerged as an evolution of neumorphism, which itself was a response to the flat design trend that dominated the previous decade.

As the trend continues to evolve, we’re seeing a broader range of applications, from mobile apps to full-scale websites, embracing claymorphism. It’s becoming a hallmark for brands looking to convey innovation, approachability, and a user-centric design philosophy.

Benefits: Why Did Claymorphism Become a Popular Choice For User Interfaces?

Claymorphism effects aren’t growing in popularity by accident. The benefits of using this style address both aesthetic desires and functional needs. My digital marketing agency has used claymorphism in several projects for our clients – here are the benefits of claymorphism that caught my eye:

Improves user engagement:

The tactile essence of claymorphism, with its soft shadows and depth effects, naturally draws users in. Analyzing the performance of client websites for which we’ve used claymorphism web design, I found that users spent more time engaging with content. Its unique aesthetic creates a playful environment that encourages exploration and interaction, so you can use it to complement your efforts in gamifying a website.

Differentiates brand identity:

Most brands use flat surfaces designs and a minimalist approach. By crafting claymorphism UI, you can differentiate your brand from competitors and appear innovative and forward-thinking. This can make a crucial difference in competitive markets.

Improves usability:

By mimicking physical objects and materials, the claymorphism design concept can make user interfaces feel more intuitive. The use of depth, shadow, and texture aids in distinguishing interactive elements from static ones, guiding users through a more natural interaction pattern.

Creates an approachable atmosphere:

Claymorphism design can make your user interfaces look less intimidating and more accessible, especially to tech-novice audiences. The soft, rounded edges and gentle textures contribute to a friendly and welcoming digital environment.

It is versatile and allows designers to experiment:

Despite its distinctive look, claymorphism is surprisingly versatile. You can adapt it to various design themes and color schemes, from vibrant and energetic maximalist color palettes to soft and serene.

Claymorphism also gives you the opportunity to experiment with textures, shadows, and shapes in innovative ways.

Once you master this style, you’ll be able to use it for a wide range of projects.

Main Characteristics Of Claymorphism – It Takes Neumorphism To The Next Level

Neumorphism vs Claymorphism

builds upon and extends the principles of neumorphism – another design trend known for its subtle protrusions and indentations, mimicking physical buttons and switches.

Claymorphism goes a step further by incorporating more pronounced depth effects, softer edges, and a more organic feel.

Here are the main characteristics that set claymorphism apart:

  • Soft, Organic Shapes: At the heart of claymorphism lies its emphasis on softness and organic form. Unlike the strict geometric shapes often found in other design styles, claymorphism favors rounded corners, fluid shapes, and gentle curves.
  • Depth and Dimension: Claymorphism leverages shadows and highlights to create a sense of depth, making digital elements appear as though they’re crafted from soft, malleable materials like clay. This three-dimensionality enhances the user’s perception of interactivity, as elements seem to pop out from the background, inviting touch and exploration.
  • Clay-Like Textures: Texture plays a crucial role in claymorphism, adding a layer of realism to the design. Subtle textural details can mimic the feel of clay, giving users a pseudo-physical experience.
  • Soft Shadows and Light Effects: Shadows in claymorphism are soft and diffused, contrasting with the sharp, defined shadows of neumorphism. You can also use light effects to highlight interactive areas and guide the user’s focus.

6 Tips For Designing Better Claymorphism User Interfaces

When my agency first started experimenting with claymorphism web design, I wasn’t fully satisfied with end results. It took me several attempts to find a balance between aesthetics and usability.

Here are six tips I’ve prepared to help you cut the learning curve and avoid common mistakes with claymorphism UI design:

1. Use Round Shapes And Soft Corners To Mimic Clay

Using round shapes in your user interface.

Round shapes and soft corners set the foundation for claymorphism.

Claymorphism design often begins with a simple geometric shape, like a rectangle or a square. The magic, however, lies in the transformation of these basic forms into something more organic and inviting.

When crafting claymorphism buttons or other interactive elements, start with your basic shape and then round the corners. Aim for a roundness that exceeds 50%, which softens the design and introduces that signature clay-like feel.

To further refine the rounded square and enhance the claymorphism effect, you can employ the path tool. Add additional points at the midpoint of each side of your shape. Then, adjust these points to mirror-style handles and gently pull them outward. This subtle manipulation curves the edges of your shape, lending it a more natural, less rigid appearance.

2. Find A Color Palette That Will Enhance The Tactile Feel Of Your Claymorphism Design

The colors you choose can either elevate the sensory experience or detract from the style’s distinctive softness and depth.

Minimalist color palettes that evoke an organic feel usually work best for claymorphism UI. For me, leaning towards pastel or muted color schemes proved to be the safest choice. These palettes evoke a sense of softness and warmth, essential for mimicking the subtle and malleable characteristics of clay.

When integrating these colors, consider the background color as the foundation of your palette. It sets the stage, ensuring that your design feels cohesive and inviting. Accent colors, then, are the highlights that draw attention to key elements. These should provide just enough contrast to stand out against your base colors without disrupting the serene aesthetic claymorphism is known for.

Moreover, you can use soft color shadows to add depth and dimension, reinforcing the tactile quality of your design without sacrificing its inherent softness.

3. Add Subtle Gradients To Enhance the 3D Feel

Adding gradients

Mastering gradient graphic design is crucial before diving into claymorphism UI projects.

Gradients can help you add depth and a more three-dimensional feel to your designs. They can make your design elements look less flat and more engaging. It’s all about mimicking how light naturally interacts with objects in the real world.

Start by selecting a light source direction and applying a gradient that subtly shifts from light to slightly darker shades. The goal is to create the illusion that the light is hitting the surface of your elements, giving them volume and making them appear more tactile.

The transition between colors should be smooth, without any harsh lines or abrupt changes. Think of how a soft light would gently play across the surface of the clay, highlighting some areas and casting others in slight shadows.

4. Don’t Get Too Carried Away: Balance Aesthetics With Usability In Claymorphism UI

One of the main issues I notice in claymorphism UI designs is that usability is sacrificed in the name of aesthetics. Don’t fall into the trap of adding a clay-like feel to every element on your site.

Remember, the primary goal of any design, claymorphism included, should be to effectively meet user requirements for a website design.

Here are potential use cases for claymorphism effects:

  • Main CTAs: CTA buttons are perfect for claymorphism because their tactile appearance encourages clicks and taps. The style’s depth and texture make these elements pop, guiding users towards taking action.
  • Images: Applying claymorphism to images can also add depth to your design, making visuals more interesting and dynamic without sacrificing usability.
  • Charts: By applying subtle textures and shadows, you can give charts a three-dimensional look that not only catches the eye but also makes data visualization more interesting. This approach can help demystify complex information, making it more accessible and engaging for users.
  • Cards and containers: These elements often serve as focal points within a layout, containing important information or interactive options. Applying claymorphism here can elevate the visual hierarchy, making these elements stand out through subtle depth and texture. From my experience, claymorphism also combines well with bento box design.

On the flip side, certain areas of your design should maintain simplicity to ensure a great user experience. Avoid implementing claymorphism effects to the following elements:

  • Navigation Elements and Text: It’s generally best to keep navigation elements and text clean and straightforward. Over-styling with claymorphism can make it difficult for users to quickly identify navigational cues.
  • Informational Content: For sections of your site dedicated to conveying information, simplicity is key. Avoid using claymorphism in a way that might distract from or obscure the content you’re presenting.

5. Try Adding Subtle Animations To Make Your Claymorphism UI Feel Alive

Have you ever added the claymorphism effect to your elements, only to find that something feels a bit off or unnatural? Perhaps the design looks great statically, but it lacks that spark of life when interacted with. If this sounds familiar, introducing subtle UI animations might just be the game-changer you need.

Think about the gentle “squish” of a clay button as it’s pressed. This simple animation can mimic the real-world behavior of clay, providing satisfying tactile feedback that static designs simply can’t match.

When it comes to animations in claymorphism, the trick is in the smoothness and fluidity. Your animations should feel as natural as clay being molded under pressure and then slowly returning to its original form.

Beyond making your UI look good, these subtle animations serve a practical purpose. They offer clear, visual feedback during interactions, letting users know their actions have been recognized.

However, be careful not to overwhelm visitors with animations that are too distracting.

6. You Can Also Use Claymorphism In Dark Mode – But Pay Attention To This…

Claymorphism in dark mode

The ongoing debate between light mode vs dark mode has designers weighing the pros and cons of each. While browsing through claymorphism examples, you might notice a trend: most are showcased in light mode. This preference isn’t surprising given claymorphism’s reliance on subtle shadows and textures to create depth and dimensionality.

However, claymorphism web design can look and function equally well in dark mode.

If you’re daring to explore claymorphism in dark mode, there’s a crucial aspect you need to consider: the color of your shapes. Opting for a completely black color scheme might seem like a natural choice for dark mode, but it comes with its challenges. In a dark setting, if your shapes are entirely black, these crucial details may vanish against the background, diminishing the claymorphism effect.

So, choose shape colors that are slightly lighter than pure black. This subtle difference in shading allows the inner shadows and highlights to stand out, preserving the tactile essence that makes claymorphism so appealing.

Will Claymorphism Be Popular In The Future?

Are you wondering if you’re late to the claymorphism design party?

This concern is particularly reasonable given the investment of time and effort required to master the nuances of claymorphism. The question of whether this style will remain popular in the future or fade away as a fleeting trend is one that many designers and developers grapple with.

Claymorphism, with its unique blend of tactile depth and playful aesthetics, has carved out a distinct niche in the design world. It represents a departure from the flat design that dominated the previous decade, offering a fresh perspective that appeals to users seeking more engaging and interactive digital experiences.

However, the future of claymorphism, like any design trend, will likely be shaped by a combination of user feedback, technological advancements, and the broader evolution of design principles. As user preferences shift towards more immersive and interactive experiences, claymorphism’s emphasis on depth and texture positions it well to meet these evolving expectations.

That said, the key to claymorphism’s enduring popularity will be its adaptability. Design trends are not static; they evolve in response to cultural shifts, technological progress, and user needs. For claymorphism to remain relevant, it will need to adapt to new contexts and applications, potentially integrating with other design trends and technologies.

So, it’s not too late to start mastering claymorphism UI. However, as claymorphism evolves, you will need to keep refining your skills and finding new ways to implement this style in your designs.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re considering integrating claymorphism into your next project or simply curious about its application, it’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of web design innovation.

If you’re intrigued by the possibilities of claymorphism but unsure where to start, or if you need help strategizing how to incorporate this style into your web design effectively, I’m here to help.

Schedule a call with me, and together, we can explore various web design trends for 2024 that might suit your website.

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