We weren’t sure about whether to create this list. Digital design should never just be about following trends, it should be always be about improving utility. That said, digital design trends often created by changes in technology so there are good reasons why designers should all act as one.
Furthermore, digital design trends often grow up around what users become comfortable with and expert at using. So following the trend does, to an extent, increase utility. Well, it looks like we’re doing it then: here’s our list of the biggest UI/UX trends for 2018.
Your website isn’t a magazine – it can, and in most cases, should MOVE. Whether it’s full screen video on the homepage, cinemagraphs, GIFs or animated type – give it some life!
Animation can impact UI (by making a page more visually appealing) and UX (by communicating information without much effort from the user).
You shouldn’t use animation for animation’s sake, though. Animation should be used to communicate information in a concise or appealing manner. It should be consistent with the brand – both in terms of the style of animation and where and why it’s used. If animation won’t appeal to your target market – be wary of using it. If you use animation just because you can, or because you heard it was in, then it won’t work.
A great example of animation used well is Wonderland. Here the business name and mission statement are perfectly complemented by the world-building animation. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really translate in a screenshot but you can click through to check out the full site (and I recommend that you do!)
We wrote this in mid-2017. Animation has definitely had its time in the sun, and still does today. But the future actually looks a lot more brutalist. For the rest of 2018 and 2019, we’re likely to see animations being replaced by brutalist block colour and harsh text, albeit slowly.
Verdict: Sort of.
Making navigation simpler should be the goal of all designers, and indeed has been for some time. Simple navigation means, or at least used to mean, sticky navs and linear navigations.
However, all these nav trends share a focus on a world in which navigation is primarily achieved by physical contact, whether this is a click, a tap or a swipe. The increasing prevalence of voice control technology, especially with the rise of Amazon’s Alexa, means that the fundamental way we think about digital navigation will have to change.
Voice commands don’t require menus. What they do require is significant linguistic capabilities to parse individual elements of a command and then combine them correctly. Voice commands or questions don’t require ‘send’ buttons but they do require the ability to recognise when a command has ended. UX designers will essentially have to map out an entire second layer for voice interactions, which may well eventually supersede the layer we now think of as ‘UX’ and user flows.
UX isn’t the only area which will be significantly impacted by these changes. You can read about the impact of voice search on digital marketing here.
We were probably slightly early on this one – at least as far as the mainstream goes. But it’s definitely coming, in 2019 or beyond. Alexa has begun to grow hugely in popularity, and eventually Alexa skills will cross over and become integrated into traditional websites. The winner of Tech Crunch’s Disrupt San Francisco Hackathon was an Alexa Shop Assist. Expect to see much more for the rest of 2018 and in to 2019.
Verdict: We will be right.
In the early days of the internet, websites were often little more than lines of text. As development languages became more sophisticated and allowed for greater UI/UX experimentation, websites exploded with colour, sound and imagery. Eventually, they settled back down to a neutral aesthetic which let the content and functionality shine through.
However, look at the way vinyl has returned to fashion, as a reaction against the ease of digital music and because the sound quality is higher. Web design too is returning to these more original typography focused layouts. Bold use of typography will definitely become one of the stand-out UI/UX design trends for 2018..
From a UI perspective, these layouts really stand out (especially when combined with animation), and from a UX perspective, they also allow for a great deal of information to be communicated on one screen – making it ideal for home pages. For example, below is the home page for Wolff Olins, which uses strong animated typography to introduce their work, their blogs, and other information in a very strong, vibrant, different way – the photo links through to their website so you can see it in its full animated glory.
Yes! We definitely got this one right. As part of the trend to more brutalist layouts (as we mentioned earlier), type has made a big comeback.
Verdict: Like an octopus predicting the World Cup – 100%.
Colour, when used well, is an incredible tool in the designer’s arsenal. It can fulfil multiple functions – including separating out sections, communicating information, and directing a user to a desired area of the screen.
Bold use of colour is definitely one of the UI/UX design trends set to dominate in 2018. For some time, web and app design has focused on using neutral colour palettes in order to foreground content. Think, for example, of Twitter and Facebook’s unintrusive blues, greys and white, or even Instagram’s black and white app that contrasts sharply with it’s high saturation imagery.
Initially, Instagram’s app was a bold choice, giving power to user’s content over the platform. But that’s been done now and has begun to look very safe and corporate. Designers wishing to make their digital platforms stand out in the future will be much bolder with their use of colour.
The Outline’s website is a single page scroller which features two of the trends discussed in this article. It combines bold colour with prominent typography to create an aesthetic in which the content and background compete for space. This creates initial impact and then invites closer inspection.
We were right about bold colour, but we didn’t foresee the whole story. There have been a lot of very colourful websites. Instagram have also bought gradients back – so they’re everywhere too!
As well as a flood of colour drenched websites, there’s also been a return to the early days of the internet with colour as well as type. There’s been a definite rise in default or web-safe colour on the internet. Look, for example, at Bloomberg’s new website which uses default blue, lots of white, and also an Instagram ready gradient – all in one!
Verdict: We were right to say bold colour would be back. Maybe we didn’t quite hit the nail on the head though.
So, there are our predictions for the digital design trends in both UI and UX design for 2018 (we wrote this in 2017 and have already given an update on what we’ve seen so far.)
Comment or drop us an e-mail and let us know your thoughts.
If you’re interested in UI/UX trends for 2018, you might also want to check out our predictions for the hottest trends in mobile apps for next year.