Looking into our mystic ball, we’re predicting that 2018 is going to be filled with a bundle of exciting trends and new developments in the world of design! Since the new year is right on the horizon, we put our heads together here at DesignRush HQ to figure out what’s hot and what’s not heading in the next 12 months, and what you should keep an eye out for when planning new projects.
While 2017 was an amazing year for design (check back next week for even MORE on that...), without further ado, here’s what we reckon will hit the front pages in the web design world in the next year.
One the most important things to look out for in 2018 is the changes in regulation regarding web design. The release of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 in mid-2018 is set to have an impact on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). What does this mean for you as a designer or your design company?
Well, the aim is to “expand accessibility for a wider variety of people with disabilities, such as people with low vision, learning disabilities, speech disabilities and multiple disabilities, all of whom potentially have more opportunities online than ever, thanks to advanced technology,” according to the group working on the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
The guidelines are also intended to enhance accessibility on small screens, touch screens and other features common to mobile devices and tablets. What’s more, with the expected increase in usage of more and more web-connected technologies, such as driverless cars and cashless payments, WCAG 2.1 also ensures that these technologies are designed for people with disabilities in mind.
While the saying might go that a picture is worth a thousand words, it could be argued that typography is worth a whole lot more. A trend that we’d expect to see come to fruition in 2018 is the compelling use of expressive typography. The combination of art and design to create headlines that not only make a statement, but also look great, is what we expect to see regularly throughout the coming year, and into the future.
Ok, you could certainly make that argument that illustrations are already an emerging trend, but we’re doubling down on their prominence in 2018. Whether they’re for playful reasons or serious matters, illustrations add an extra dimension to web design that copy and images often fail to achieve.
The skilled web designer will be licking their lips with ideas of how they can integrate custom illustrations into projects - the potential for some amazing creative designs is vast.
Illustrations are also an excellent way to include a company’s brand or tone within graphics through web designs, which is normally quite difficult to achieve. Casper is an excellent example of smart and sparing custom illustrations that maintain a trendy, friendly brand identity.
The popularity around gradients within web design has been growing, and 2018 is set to showcase some of the best use of gradient design yet. The core principles of gradients relate the use of two-tone, rarely three-tone, gradient, plus graphic elements, usually in a flat style. With that in mind, they’re not a difficult design to miss, and if used effectively they achieve a smooth, clean design.
Negative space, also referred to as “white space,” is the area of a design or page that isn’t occupied by anything. You can think of it as breathing room for the fundamental components of a webpage or design.
It’s not a fresh, new strategy that web designers are expected to start using, rather it is a user-driven requirement. By that, we simply mean that the reading and usage habits of users on websites, mainly caused by the increase of mobile browsing, has prompted designers to increase the amount of space on pages.
The consequence is a more open-page layout than previously considered optimal. The scanning approach to browsing websites that are now commonly used by website visitors means that without an increase in negative space they’ll often feel overwhelmed.
Don’t worry, if you’re unsure about chatbots, we’ve put together a guide for designers on this emerging technology. They’re changing the way in which we engage with websites, and it’s important that web designers take note of what the best practices are when designing a chatbot as we expect the demand to surge in 2018.
In short, the focus on conversational design is where UX and web designers will come into play in 2018. Chatbots are improving every day, and it’s mainly to do with the way in which they engage with human users - through more relevant, engaging conversation.
Of course, there’s more to conversational design than adding in a range of emojis and GIFs. We’re expecting to see chatbots set the pace for innovation and development within web design this coming year.
There are two main concerns in relation to the use of bright colors and the type of font you select. Firstly, in regards to the impending ADA regulation updates, you might want to tone down the use of incredibly bright backgrounds with white fonts - they’re quite difficult to read at times, and with 2018 being the year of accessibility, this isn’t a road you want to drive down.
Secondly, small fonts have been gradually on the way out for years now, but 2018 could well be the final nail in the coffin for small fonts in web design. As mentioned earlier in our list, the attention spans of your typical users are short, and the content scanning techniques that many users opt for means that your tiny text will be skipped.
While bright colors were popular in 2017, we’d air caution to where and when you use them in 2018.
Much like chatbots, virtual reality (VR) has been a true buzzword over the last 1-2 years, particularly in the tech and design world. Now, with the increase in uptake of VR equipment and compatibility, we’re going to say that VR video is set to take center stage (quite literally) in the next year.
There are some industries in particular where you’ll probably notice the use of VR video more prominently than others. One that springs to mind is real estate or property. Giving VR video tours of houses or flats online can save time, costs and ultimately make the entire rental market process much smoother.
Matterport is largely considered the industry leaders in terms of delivering high-quality VR video solutions for the housing industry. The results are pretty impressive, to say the least… we’re sold!
The use of voice has boomed in recent times with the launch of Alexa, Siri, Cortado, Google Assistant and probably a range of other uniquely named devices! Joking aside, this technology isn’t going anywhere, and it offers an important medium through which users can access online content. The implications of not integrating voice-activated navigation, for example, could soon infringe on the aforementioned ADA regulations, so keep an eye out for how VUI develops in 2018.
Not only are VUIs extremely good at saving time, they’re also a great interface for drivers, as well as the visually impaired. The future of excellent UX may be in the strategically placed and well thought of VUI elements.
There’s now an expectation from users that they’re going to interact with their digital products, in the same way, they would with another person (think Apple's iPhone X feature "animoji"). In 2018, designers will be faced with addressing this challenge even further and will be required to prepare digital products to deliver on those expectations.
There’s a direct link between the trend of humanizing digital experiences and human emotions. The way in which users choose to interact with a product heavily determines whether they’ll use it in the future, or on a long-term basis. By focusing on the emotional impact of interaction, designers can influence users into choosing products over others.
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