Digital design trends to look out for in 2018

Published by Simon Brooks

2017 has been quite a year for trends. From a lifestyle point of view, it’s brought us unicorns in abundance, relaxation with the Danish ideology of Hygge and a glimpse into the future with AI greatly influencing daily life, both personal and professional, with the Amazon Echo (dare we say the name ‘Alexa’ out loud ever again?). In the digital world gifs have stolen the emoji crown and have fast become the acceptable weapon of choice to convey emotions. And with the year drawing to a close we await 2018’s influences with anticipation and look forward to another year of innovative digital design.

So, let’s take a closer look at the predictions for growing trends across the digital landscape for the next 12 months:

Graphic design

Creative typography has been popular throughout 2017 and looks set to stay for the year ahead. There’s a focus on cropped typography – where parts of the letters are erased, and chaotic typography where the rules of alignment are rebelliously ignored in favour of more unconventional order of words and letters. Typography as real-life objects is set to storm retail campaigns with the potential for product placement and negative space typography, where elements from the background take centre stage through wording, could also compete in future compositions.

Colours and imagery

Metallic elements and bright colours are making a bold statement in the world of graphic design. Combined with 3D compositions and creative typography, metallic will be on the money for the ‘wow’ factor for 2018.

Another graphic design trend gaining speed is papercut illustration. Inspired by physical paper cutting art, papercut illustrations employ the same techniques of layering to recreate compositions made entirely of different levels of paper.

Businesses looking for an edgy look or those bored with photography will welcome a new trend that combines photos with digital drawing: illustrations over photos to boost the effect of the image and add a new dimension.

Website trends

Since 2015 there’s been a considerable increase in mobile browsing. Tablets and smartphones have replaced laptops and desktops as the leading vehicles to the web. So, it won’t be a surprise to learn that any websites without a responsive web design will most probably need an upgrade in 2018. A ‘mobile first approach’ will be commonplace within web design – with the functionality of the site on the mobile device being paramount over a more traditional build.

From a site design perspective, strong photographic content remains relevant, particularly for ecommerce. Hero images will still dominate as over 60% of users believe using unique images is a key influencer when purchasing online.

However, one thing definitely set to develop in 2018 is the use of geometric shapes, mixed forms, circles and patterns on a page to demand attention. Flat design combined with decorative elements and bold colour will be the style of choice across web pages. And on the subject of bold colour, we’re confident the colour transition trend of 2017 will remain throughout 2018, predominantly used with logos and buttons that demand a new style. Instagram was the first to move from flat colours to multi-colour gradients and they’ve made quite the impression.

Professional social media networks

Social media will still be a dominant force in 2018, with Behance and Dribbble predicted to take a more powerful and authoritative role. Businesses using social as a marketing channel, and those displaying their company logos and artwork will continue to enjoy increased recognition. Social design trends look set to follow more traditional paths, just as they have in 2017.

Photography

2018 is fast becoming tipped as being the year that corrupted images rule the design world – across all channels. The days of perfect photography are gone and the ‘glitch’ effect looks ready to dominate. Known as ‘the art of destruction’, this ‘ruined’ effect includes anything linked to splashing, breaking, scratching, duplicating and ripping off the aesthetics of a composition.

Illusional effects will also take the limelight, such as experimenting with colour channels to influence the audience. Effects such as lenticulars, holograms, hallucinations and anything that creates a sense of a distorted reality through photographic manipulation.

A hybrid trend that mixes double exposure with duotone is set to create an ‘ahead of its time’ effect for designers next year. Achieved by doubling an image or overlapping two different images in monochrome is predicted to be a popular effect in adland. Close on its heels is ‘double light’, an effect achieved by colour channel splitting or manipulating two individual light sources.

Animation

This year has seen an increase in the use of animations across both B2B and B2C landscapes, they’re everywhere – across apps, websites, digital ads and emails. High quality videos and gifs add drama and movement to pages – they bring copy to life and tell stories that engage and entertain an audience – and this looks set to remain a trend for a long time still to come. Animation retains traffic on a page, encourages it to return and to share content.

Email content/e-newsletters

While GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) won’t affect the B2B sector immediately, smart brands and businesses will apply B2C rules as best practice anyway. GDPR is sure to affect email trends after 25th May next year as businesses tighten the controls around their data and the way they contact their customers, suppliers and prospects. Businesses will only use GDPR compliant marketing software (such as Mailchimp) for their e-newsletters and trends will focus around creative ways to add ‘the right to opt-out’ buttons to emails. The content itself will become a trend as re-engagement emails (with the sole objective of re-gaining consent for contact) will inevitably fill inboxes at a rapid pace.

Content marketing itself will form a popular trend in 2018 as businesses are taking it more seriously and using it as a strategic resource. They’re integrating it into the customer journey (both B2B and B2C) using content mapping with personas to tailor content for a specific audience.

Personalisation is another trend gaining traction for 2018. Businesses recognise the value of personalisation more now than they did three years ago – particularly with emails. Two-thirds expect a 6% increase in annual revenue from personalisation alone, and in specific sectors such as financial services, technology and apparel a 10% increase is anticipated. Email recipients now expect personalisation as well as automation based on their interests, demographic and behaviour.

Social messaging apps are another trend with anticipated growth for 2018 as businesses are keen to integrate them into their communications following the success of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Pizza Hut and Ikea are early adopters of messaging apps, using them for booking tables and conducting customer research but in the B2B sector the same technology looks set to grow in popularity through applications like LinkedIn Messaging.

 

Stay on trend in 2018

Keep your business communications on trend in 2018. Get in touch with the team on 01763 877110.

 

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