Interesting Ways to Use Shadows and Blur Effects in UI Design

Excellent functionality is the base of successful interactive designs. At least, this seems to be the trend in recent years. Besides the designs functional aspects, visual details, and aesthetics also matter significantly. This is especially in view of improvement to functional elements.


Shadows and User Interface Discoverability

Graphical User Interface (GUI) designers tend to incorporate shadows and for good reasons too. It helps to create the needed visual cues related to the interface. This will help the brain recognize those visual elements effectively.


Right from the earliest times, screens contain shadows to facilitate the knowledge of interface usability. Elements that contain shadows and images tend to pop up from pages. Subsequently, with these elements, the users can easily interact. Visual cues are different according to each application. Users need to rely upon certain assumptions.

  • Elements with raised appearance are for pressing down. You can tap them with fingers or click with the mouse. For buttons this work as visual signifiers.


  • Sunken appearance of elements means that you have to fill them. For the input fields this work as visual signifier.


Modern interfaces tend to have layers. This means that you have to take the full z-axis advantage. For the users, object positioning vis-a-vis z-axis work as crucial cues. Shadows indicate element hierarchy through differentiation between the two objects. With the help of the shadows, users might also identify the position of one object over another. Why do you have to visualize element positions in three-dimensional spaces? It depends upon physics laws. Everything occupying physical world has dimensions.


In this three-dimensional space, different elements will interact with one another. It is possible to affix or stack them but they will not pass through one another.


Objects reflect light and cast shadows. Such interactions form the graphical interface basis. Use of principles and consistent metaphors from physics facilitate user understanding of interfaces. They can interpret the visual hierarchies via context.


The shadows work in relation to elevation. This indicates distance or relative depth between surfaces lying on z-axis. Elements elevation measurement from front portion of one surface right to another signifies the shadow depth and inter-surface distance. As distance between ground and object increases, shadow becomes blurrier and bigger.


Buttons contain dynamic elevation. This means, the elevation changes in keeping with the user inputs. It can be pressed, focused, or normal. Shadows offer useful clues regarding movement direction of objects. This is irrespective of the increasing, decreasing surface distances. Users have to get immediate reassurance to know whether something is tappable or clickable. Elevation provides this via visual cues.

Blur Effects in the Layered Interface

Apple’s iOS8 raised the app design bar especially in relation to the on-screen effects. Blur throughout was the significant change. This was most notably for the Control Centre. When the users reveal Control Centre by swiping up from screen bottom edge, the background becomes blurry. This occurs in


This occurs in interactive fashion. The total control lies in the finger movement of the user. The latest iOS version from Apple is a step further in forward direction. It uses Flashlight 3-D touch, timer items, camera, and the calculator. Blur real-time effects happen, when users press hard upon these icons.

Make User Flow Obvious

The blur effects facilitate interface hierarchy and playing between the layers. This is especially for the mobile apps. For the layered UI, this works as


For the layered UI, this works as highly efficient solution. It is easy to understand the user flow of the mobile app.

Direct the User’s Attention

It is basic human nature to concentrate only upon in focus objects. We tend to ignore those out of focus. Termed as the accommodation reflex, this is the basic working of human eye. Unimportant blurry items onscreen are a good tactic in use by app designers. This way it is possible to get user attention where it should be. With barely recognized backgrounds,


This way it is possible to get user attention where it should be. With barely recognized backgrounds, focus is now upon account information and the CTO buttons.

Make Overlaid Text Legible

Establish app-user clear connect with effective app text. Users will be able to accomplish the required goals this way. Typography has crucial role within the overall process. Reading becomes effortless with good typography. Similarly, low qualities will turn off your users.


Create proper background and text contrast to maximize readability. Designers use blur to make the overlaying text legible. Simply blur underlying image parts


Provide the needed visual cues with blurs and shadows. This promotes understanding among the users. Using these elements, designers can inform users regarding objects and related interactions. Improve the overall UI/UX design services aspects through careful application of such elements.

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