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Digital Design Trends and Predictions for 2017

Published: December 29, 2016

Author: Anjali Gajera

2016 was a rollercoaster of a year. With just a few days left, I wanted to share with you my predictions for what will be big in the coming year. 2017 will be a year of efficiency, personalization, and innovation. Your users know what they want, and they want to get there fast. If you want to keep up, you’ll need to evolve with them.
Let’s go out there and make it count by capitalizing on these great upcoming trends. 2017 will be your year!

#1 Visual storytelling

We’re all getting inundated by more and more content everyday. Attention spans are getting shorter; people don’t have the time to read long stories. Over the last year, we’ve seen people gravitating towards content that is a good balance of visual and text. Let’s face it, a lot of people, especially younger generations, prefer watching over reading. In 2017, I predict a huge increase in visual storytelling.

With everyone going mobile, and such small real estate in terms of screen size, visual is the best option. The popularity of apps like Snapchat and Instagram are a huge indicator of this; companies are increasingly utilizing short, snappy imagery to get their message across. This is something we’ll see more and more of in the coming year.

#2 Mobile UX

I know what you’re thinking: are we talking about trends for 2017 or 2010? And yes, if your mobile strategy is the same today as it was then, you’re going to run into some problems. As mobile traffic continues to grow and become entrenched in our culture, consumer expectations continue to raise the bar for what is considered a minimally viable user experience. Efficiency is the name of the game, and I predict that to keep up, your experience is going to need to be faster, more simplified, and more streamlined.
One great example of the direction of this trend is Facebook Canvas, which is an extension that Facebook businesses can use to incorporate video and images to strengthen their story. It is clear that Facebook believes simple and well presented experiences are what users want. Over the next year, you’ll see more and more mobile experiences changing to reflect this.

#3 Age-responsive design / personalised content

As we find better ways to address our users and their needs, we must also cater our content to their specific segment. Where responsive design caters content to the size of a user’s screen or device, age-responsive design caters to the age of a user. Personalised content continues to pick up steam, and with it we’ll see a rise of age-responsive design.
For most companies, designing for just one ideal user is not enough. We must make our designs adapt better to help the user meet their needs, whatever those may be and whatever stage they may be at. In 2017 and beyond, designers will increasingly take a page from online advertisers, to employ user profiles and demographics to give the viewer an experience that is much more targeted and personalized.
Netflix’s homepage for adults vs. that for kids

#4 Apple is overtaken as a trend-setter

For the last 5 years, Apple has set the standard for design. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard “Make it sleek and simple like Apple,” more than a few times. Apple design aesthetics have had an impressive run, but I predict that in 2017, Apple will no longer be the main trend setter. Apple’s steady loss of market share has been an indication that people haven’t been happy with Apple’s lack of new and innovative launches.
User-centric design is increasingly becoming central to product creation, and with more and more companies focusing on innovation, Apple will not be able to hold its position as the design standard. Truly innovative design can come from anywhere, and I predict we’ll find it bubbling up from some unexpected places. Who knows where the next great design innovation will come from? It’s exciting to think about because it could be anyone – why not you? We are in the era of innovation; let’s do something original.

#5 Gradients are coming back

It’s no surprise that design trends ebb and flow. Over the past two years, minimalism rose up and took the design world by storm. Flat design came in, replacing deep and complex with shallow and simple. However, like all trends, flat design is once again on its way out. As this occurs, I predict the return of gradients to bring depth back into design. However, the transition will not be drastic. The influence of flat design will still be present, thus the use of gradients will be subtler than we’ve seen in the past.  
Gradients can be incorporated in a variety of ways. As you can see from the images below, they can be found in the background of a homepage or in the display of products themselves, or they can bring depth into icons.
Homepage: Built By Buffalo vs. Qards

Product display: Hard Graft vs. Nike

Icons: Treehouse vs. LSQ Funding

Now that flat design is so prominent,  the use of gradients bring a subtle uniqueness that we’ll start to see more and more.
That completes our predictions for this year –  we’re excited to see what else the new year brings in! Stay tuned.

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