Looking at what to expect for 2017, it’s not so much this uncanny prediction or Magic 8 Ball foretelling (reply hazy, try again), as it is a natural progression of the design trends we have seen in the past 2-3 years. Combine that with current technological advances and you will find what will likely inspire future web design.
A prime example of our industry following technological trends is flat design. Its ability to accommodate the growing mobile responsive trend that hit us years ago has shaped current design direction. Flat design has grown and evolved and companies like Apple and Microsoft have followed suit. Boasting white-space and pixel-perfect edges, it introduced an interesting minimalist look that had usability across all platforms and screen resolution sizes. Since it focused on two-dimensional design, it lacked the need for any real depth allowing the design and content to fit within a predefined grid, often resulting in very rectangular or “boxy” layouts.
With that in mind, what we expect for 2017 is the emergence of a non-minimalistic approach to flat design. Think of it as flat design 2.0.
1. Unique Grid Use
We expect to see large, overlapping typographical and graphical elements. Images stacked on top of each other and images overlapping text, for example. Increased use of the z-index will be utilized, with items moving to the foreground as they are interacted with. Most of all, we will notice a larger focus on content where content is no longer the filler, but the primary focus. And for those that understand typography, leading, kerning and tracking will increase in 2017 allowing for clear spaced typography and easy to read content.
2. Bright Vibrant Colors
Flat design introduced the world to an array of color, but more on the muted side. Bolder and brighter colors are now being introduced. We got a taste of it with Microsoft’s metro design, but likely the amount of contrasting colors will be more limited and not as extreme. How the color is used will be important, too, blurring gradients and hues to model natural phenomena like an afternoon sunset. And I don’t see the duotone images, with their colorful appeal, going away anytime soon, either.
Whether it be animated GIFs or SVGs, expect more of these in the coming year. Parallax design was the emergence of on screen animation dictated by user interaction. In much the same way, GIFs enable you to provide a richer product experience, explain a workflow, or simply provide a how to guide for your users. In addition to this, be ready for more background videos- what some are calling cinemagraph hero images- a combination of still photography and call to action layered on top of a background video.
4. Death to Stock Photography
Authenticity is a big keyword in today’s marketing world. Having been oversaturated with gimmicks and sales pitches, authenticity is what is standing out from all the noise. Creating value, building relationships, and being genuine in today’s market is key. This translates to real photos of the company, its employees, and its nature. Say goodbye to an abundant (or sole) use of stock imagery as businesses attempt to become more relatable and true to who they are.
5. A New Generation of Responsive Design
The landscape of design has continued to change and progress over the years as newer handheld devices have emerged with screen sizes of all kinds. People viewing your site expect that it will display and function properly no matter the platform in which it is being viewed (i.e. laptop, tablet, smartphone). This ability to respond to any platform is known as responsive design. It is essentially an approach to building a website using CSS media queries (break points) and flexible grid/layouts to create a single, dynamic site which adjusts and functions on any sized platform. Responsive design is not new in the sense that cars are not new, but that the way we go about designing and building them are- faster, sleeker and built for any condition.
In fact, in April 2016 Google changed its ranking algorithm to give better rankings to websites which have optimized their content. Translation: unresponsive design will equate to dropped rankings, ouch.
The bottom line as we delve into the new year is to stay current. Be aware of what is (and has been) inspiring design and take note of how technology is molding the latests trends. Be prepared to progress with it and flexible enough to try something new. So will 2017 be an exciting period of design growth and ingenuity? Signs point to yes.