Around this time each year, we like to look back at marketing and design trends that shaped the previous year, as well as what changes we can expect in the future.
The year 2017 brought us millennial pink, virtual reality, GIFs, and a step closer towards the possible end of the stock photo. What can we expect for the New Year on the horizon? Like its predecessor, 2018 will likely be full of mash-ups and changes. Here are a few emerging trends to keep your eye on, as they will probably become more popular in 2018.
1. Bold Colors
In the past couple of years, “millennial pink” has dominated fashion, style, culture, and design. Pantone named its 2016 colour of the year “rose quartz,” and people waited in line for hours for a rose gold cell phone. From cosmetics to clothing, millennial pink embodied retro kitsch that Millennials prized for its innocence. However, like all trends, flamingos and blush-coloured athleisure collections appear to be coming to an end.
In 2018, pastel hues will step aside for bold alternatives like lime green and hot red. Say goodbye to understated visuals that will be swapped for contrasts that create intensity and power. The coming year will not be retro or nostalgic, but forward-thinking and audacious – at least when it comes to colour.
2. Geometric Patterns
Bold colour and geometric design seem like natural partners. Geometric designs give the illusion of movement, add intensity to portraiture, and can lend eye-pleasing symmetry to design. While geometric patterns will continue to play an essential role in graphic design practices in 2018, they will take on a different role. While current trends are more angular, emerging designs will evoke movement through wave design. Waves are softer and will work symbiotically with bold colours to evoke strong feelings in a viewer without overdoing it.
3. The Digital Paintbrush
If you look at the latest in tablets, smartphones, Phablets, and all-in-ones, you will see a familiar pattern – that manufacturers are dedicated to providing more creative outlets. Look at the Surface Pro and iPad Pro, which emphasise drawing apps and easy styling. Other significant players followed suit with Paper, Photoshop Sketch, and Procreate. As a result, we are beginning to see the “digital paintbrush” more in graphic design. Designers can produce effortless yet beautiful designs that meld reality with artistic lettering. Digital paintbrush technique can lend an urban flair or a sense of nostalgia, depending on how you leverage it.
4. Minimalism to the Extreme
Just how far can we push the minimalism trend? In 2018, we will find out. Minimalism has been a dominant player in the graphic design world for a few years, in part because science supports the theory. Our brains do not like cognitive overload, and people are more likely to take action when they have a distinct and simple choice in front of them. When users feel comfortable, they are more likely to use the product. In the coming year, however, we will push minimalism to the next level, eliminating content menus (is this finally the year the hamburger menu dies?) and stripping design down to its most basic elements.
5. Typography Will Play a (Literal) Larger Role
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but 2018 will work to eliminate that perception. People are confronted by information online, and designers need to find a way to stand out amongst the noise. One of the techniques will be with typography. Previously, we used photography to evoke emotion and communicate a message effectively, but big and bold fonts will dominate 2018. Handwritten and geometric fonts will take the spotlight, and we can expect Google fonts to become more popular. Responsive, larger-than-life typography will trend big in 2018.
6. Animation Will Bring Design to Life
Our eye favours movement over static images. Just consider the proliferation of GIFs and animation over recent years. Thanks to Snapchat and Instagram movies, animations are more accessible and have hit the mainstream. Animations will play a more significant role in web design in 2018 for a simple reason: people respond to them. The rise of mobile software that allows animation will drive the trend.
7. Customized Graphics
2018 will bring us one step closer to complete customisation. A one-size-fits-all approach is no longer a viable option in the era of personalisation and big data. There is no sense in being generic, and using personalised photography is just one way to stand out in 2018. Those who are both innovative and cash-strapped (i.e. entrepreneurs and small businesses) will rely on user-generated content and photos – after all, what is more personalised than using pictures from your own personal user base?
Technology is reaching the point where we can rely less on mass-produced stock photos. Mobile devices come with the capability to produce stunning photos, and apps can provide the touch-ups and filters to make your visual content artistic and share-worthy.
8. Rethink Your Layout
There is much noise in the digital space, so designers will have to think outside of the box to make their content stand out. Symmetry has always been the gold standard for design, but 2018 dares to think differently. Asymmetrical designs that innovatively utilise space will lend visual interest and make users think twice about what they are seeing. Asymmetric designs work because they are so different from the norm, but use this trend with caution. You want to pique interest, not affront the viewer. While this is a trend that will gain steam in 2018, it requires a thoughtful approach.
9. Color Transitions
Instagram popularised the idea of colour transitions, and it is making its way across major brands, tech and otherwise. This is a simple trend to utilise since it is easy to do, and it lends visual interest without the high cost or a ton of effort. Combining them with bold colours may be the best way to capture a user’s attention in 2018.
Lastly, we are beginning to see an evolution in cropping. There are plenty of established best practices about cropping, foreground, horizons, and more. However, 2018 may challenge these perceptions. An emerging trend we are noticing in text is cropping so that parts of letters may be missing, but users can still read what the design says. This echoes the feeling of minimalism, yet adds an unexpected twist to your design. This is another trend that will be popular but should be used judiciously.
Design is not a discipline for the lazy or unmotivated. Part of the key to using these trends is incorporating them in a thoughtful, well-executed manner. This requires both skill and hard work.
Start with the most basic elements and work to incorporate them in a meaningful way. As you become more adept, you can experiment with form, colour, and transition, as well as combining elements together to create something new and innovative. Your visuals should stand out, but they also should not affront the user.
Test different formulations until you end up with a design both you and your users will love and, more importantly, help users perform the tasks they expect to do when using your site or app. Do not be afraid to be different with your design, but keep the fundamentals in mind as you use these emerging design trends for 2018.
Want to learn more?
Are you interested in the intersection between UX and UI Design? The online courses on UI Design Patterns for Successful Software and Design Thinking: The Beginner’s Guide can teach you skills you need. If you take a course, you will earn an industry-recognized course certificate to advance your career. On the other hand, if you want to brush up on the basics of UX and Usability, try the online course on User Experience (or another design topic). Good luck on your learning journey!
(Lead image: Depositphotos – affiliate link)