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, especially with digital design trends, they’re often created by changes in technology so there’s a good reason why designers should all start doing the same thing at once. Furthermore, digital design trends often grow up around what users become comfortable with and expert at using – therefore following the trend does automatically increase utility.
Whether it’s full screen video on the homepage, cinemagraphs, GIFs or animated type (more on this later), your website isn’t a magazine – it can, and in most cases, should MOVE.
Animation serves functions in everything from UI (it can make a page more visually appealing) to UX (it allows for the communication of information quickly and with minimal effort from the user).
However, the difference in those who live or die by this trend will be whether or not they use animation for animation’s sake. If animation is used to truly communicate information in a concise or appealing manner, in a way that is consistent with the brand, and in a fashion that will appeal to their target market, then this will be successful. If animation is simply used because it can be used, or because someone in the design team heard that animation was in, then it will fail.
A great example of animation used well is Wonderland, where 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).
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, simple linear navigations which meant users could pick up the process easily.
However, the fundamental that all these nav trends share is that they all 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 recognition 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, however they do require significant linguistic capabilities to parse individual elements of a command and combine them correctly to produce the required results. 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 essentially defining what UX is.
UX isn’t the only area which will be significantly impacted by these changes. You can read about the impact of voice searching on digital marketing here.
In the early days of the internet, websites were often little more than lines of text storing and communicating information. As development languages became more sophisticated and allowed for greater UI/UX experimentation, websites exploded with colour, sound and imagery, before settling back down to a neutral aesthetic which let the content and functionality shine through.
However, in much the same way as vinyl has returned to fashion, both as a reaction against the homogenisation of music and because the sound quality is higher, so web designers are now returning to these more original typography focused layouts. Bold use of typography will definitely become one of the stand-out web design trends for 2017 and beyond.
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.
Colour, when used well, is an incredible tool in the designer’s arsenal, fulfilling multiple functions – including separating sections or information, communicating meta-information, and directing a user to the desired area of the screen at any given point, among others.
However, bold use of colour is definitely one of the design trends set to dominate this year. While for some time, web and app design has focused on using neutral, monochromatic, and even bland, colour palettes in order to foreground content, often user created. Think, for example, of Twitter and Facebook’s unintrusive blues, greys and white, or even Instagram’s very bold black and white app. Well, that’s been done now and has begun to look very, 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 example below comes from The Outline’s website which is a single page scroller featuring two of the trends discussed in this article. It combines bold colour with overlaid, prominent typography to create an aesthetic in which the content and background compete for space – at first creating huge impact and then inviting closer inspection.
So, there are our predictions for the digital design trends in both UI and UX design that we’ll see taking over in the remainder of 2017 and into 2018. Will we be right? Comment or drop us an e-mail and let us know your thoughts.