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A Look At The Potential Design Trends of 2018

18th January 2018, By Finn | Design

The Start of a New Year. The Start of New Design?

We’ve had Bauhaus. We’ve had Minimalism. We’ve had Pop Art. Art and design trends shape movements. Are we in the middle of such movement at the moment? Definitely not. Every artist and designer has their own style and we choose to draw on previous trends and movements for inspiration, the only difference is now, everything is digital. As the Australian songwriter Peter Allen once said, “Everything Old Is New Again”, just not necessarily in the same format. Can we predict what trends will resurface in 2018? Guesstimates are probably the best we can do in January. Once an established company has a rebrand or takes a risk with a new style, trends will start to take shape. Plain and boring designs and content are going stale. Riskier ideas can thrive and set trends, not just for a year, but in the long term too. Here I’ll be predicting and considering the graphic and web design trends to look out for this year.

Colour Schemes & Gradients

Colour remains an ever key feature in design. In 2017, Pantone named Greenery 15-0343 as their colour of the year. Barely two weeks into 2018, and Ultra Violet 18-3838 has been named colour of the year. Even the name sounds futuristic and out of the ordinary. Colours are starting to change. This could potentially have a significant impact on branding. We saw glimpses of it in 2017, and I genuinely believe it is for the better that brands adopt a vast library of colour schemes. You might not need to use a logo in lots of different colours, but having them available and recognisable will give your brand greater capability and potential. It is important to keep design consistent, but why stick to one colour scheme? Be unique and vibrant.

I’m looking at colour schemes as I have a sneaky suspicion that block fills are going to slowly become a thing of the past. Colour gradients are making a comeback. You might consider them retro or an old trend, but if you get the colours right, say you use Ultra Violet 18-3838, you can get your website or branding looking slick and modern.

Oh, and one more thing on gradients, more of a personal preference, don’t go horizontal or vertical with your linear gradients. If this pops up as a trend, I’ll be as happy as Larry.

Patterns

Vectorized patterns have slowly, but surely become popular features in web design, and in branding. They have so many capabilities, whether it be as a background on a website, or one side of a business card. Patterns are all part of a company’s branding, and I’m making the prediction that they are going to become a lot popular this year, and we’ll see more well-known companies adding them to their branding guides.

I don’t see a reason why patterns won’t take off and become a huge part of graphics and web design. They can be aesthetically pleasing, and provide your marketers with another branding tool.

Responsive Logos & Sticky Menus

Now, these two can go hand in hand. Responsive websites are becoming more and more vital, especially with Google punishing those who aren’t mobile friendly. It’s become part of the package really. You should expect to find sites that have been designed and developed for mobile, potentially even following the ‘mobile first’ route. Where a whole website can adapt and respond to suit a screen, it’s also important that a logo should be able to do the same. Scalable or responsive logos should become the norm. Take a look at http://www.responsivelogos.co.uk/

Here we see the primary logo for Coca-Cola, followed by the same logo, scaled down, potentially just for mobile viewing.

In previous years we have seen a few companies use responsive logos for print work and scaling. However, this year, I believe responsive web-based logos will really kick on. You can retain your branding while also keep your designs clean. That primary Coca-Cola logo isn’t suited to mobile viewing due to its size and additional components, that aren’t needed on mobile. You still recognise the brand in the smaller logo, don’t you?

By adopting this approach you will be able to fine-tune your website for mobile viewing, saving space, and pushing key content and links into view. In more ways than one, on your mobile site, your content is so much more important than your logo. You can still retain your branding, but it doesn’t get in the way.

A responsive logo will work a dream on a sticky menu.

We recently launched Elequra’s website. The image above shows it with the standard logo in the static desktop header and the sticky menu after a little bit of scrolling. The logo has been replaced with the symbol version, which you’ll notice features heavily on their products. This logo is a lot smaller and allows the sticky menu to be narrow than the default header. A sticky menu also has lots of advantages, such as giving the user the ability to access links quickly without having to scroll back up. Consider this: your customers are lazy.

Custom graphics & imagery

Yep, I’m calling it. Or at least, I’d like to hope so! Generic stock imagery and illustrations look to be on their way out. Imagery needs to be ‘on brand’ and authentic. I want to believe that when I’m looking at your website, that photo of the office is your office, not that one from Pexels I’ve seen on ten other sites. Illustrators and photographers are going to be popular folks in 2018 if a trend that started last year continues to rise.

Check out the Firewatch website (http://www.firewatchgame.com/). They’ve used custom illustrations that you won’t find elsewhere, they are unique to them, and also have a defined and consistent style, and some pretty sexy parallax scrolling. Parallax, a trend in 2018? It’s a nice to have and looks modern. As a fan of parallax, I’d encourage more sites to have it, but at the end of the day, static content can look just as good, if done right.

Illustrations might not be best suited to your brand. In which case, photography is vital. Users are starting to recognise stock imagery, and this can give off the impression you’re not that bothered by how your company is perceived. Users want to see your real personality, and thankfully, businesses are starting to add real content to their websites. It’s not an empty office overlooking New York, but a refreshing barn converted into an office, with a happy workforce. Will we also see n end to staged photos? If you’re taking a photo of your team working in the office, don’t stage it, let it be natural. As I’ve said, real-life photographs allow you to convey personalist, and can also let your customers connect with your brand on another level.  

An increase in the use of sans fonts?

Serif fonts are often considered old fashioned, and there is no denying that is the case. The year is 2018, I’ll be ruthless, we’re only really using them to give a traditional look, provide some contrast or paint a brand in a certain way. I’m sounding negative, but I’ve got nothing against them, it’s just a perception. Sans fonts do seem to have replaced serif fonts as the norm. When I was at school, I’d type everything in Times New Roman, the default serif. Now, every article on the web seems to be in a sans font. They’re a lot easier to read and do have a modern feel. I say modern, and I believe the rise of sans fonts can be linked to technology businesses, Apple and Windows in particular. If you take a step back and analysis their fonts, you’ll notice the typography is slowly becoming more rounded.

Could this potential end signal an end for serif fonts? I don’t think it is the end as such, but I’d expect them to take back seat in a design in the near future.

Ready to design in 2018?

All these potential trends are on the horizon, who knows, all of my predictions could come true, or the complete opposite, it is hard to predict. A global brand like Apple or Ferrari could have a complete rebrand and change the design style of their website. If they take a risk, try something new, or even revisit an older trend, you can bet your life others will follow suit.

18th January 2018, By Finn | Design

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