With the accelerating evolution of digital technology and social media, design trends have been evolving at a faster pace than ever. What is the best way to keep up? How can you keep your work fresh and current, yet still maintain originality?
Designers tend to have an uneasy relationship with trends. On one hand, we want to be unique and have our way of standing out from one other; we never want to blindly follow a crowd. On the other hand, it is imperative for us to be aware of what is being received well by the design community and in the market. In a way, trends are a reflection of the changing values of society. Knowing what is trending can help us stay in touch with consumer needs and the current cultural movement.
To begin analyzing 2019 trends, let’s first consider fading trends. The best way to predict the future is by observing the past, so these will likely give us a hint at what is coming to the design world next.
Fading Trend: Hand-Lettering
To some, seeing this listed as a dying trend will hurt to read. Since hand-lettering is exploding in places like Instagram, Pinterest, and craft fairs, why would we list it as a fading trend? The answer is because it is becoming over-saturated and too accessible. Individuals without design experience are beginning to make lettering social media accounts, children do it in art classes, and stores are starting to sell hand lettering kits to the public. The craft is becoming less niche to designers and thus, less progressive and unique.
While hand-lettering makes a great hobby and beautiful art, you shouldn’t use it if you are trying to have the most state-of-the-art and contemporary designs.
Emerging Trend: Animated Typography
In general, animation is exploding as an upcoming design trend. Applying this trend to typography seems like a logical next step. It is eye-catching, possibly interactive, and can enhance the overall message or tone of the design. It also can heighten the focus of any design element you want to emphasize.
Here’s an example of an animated logo or icon.
In this example, Google collaborated with Jessica Flores to design American Sign Language stickers.
Fading Trend: Generic Stock Imagery
Because of budget and time constraints, stock images will never completely die. However, the nature of using them will change. Consumers are starting to notice stock photos that are overused and see them as less unique. For the most contemporary and cutting-edge approach, designers should look into more personalized and custom imagery options.
For example, stock photography is flooded with women laughing with their salads. This trend needs to finally die in 2019. For your entertainment, see this site as proof.
Emerging Trend: Custom Illustration
Trailblazing companies such as Google, Samsung, Apple, Uber, and many others are increasingly using custom illustrations in their marketing.
Illustration is powerful because it can unify a design and completely alter the entire look and feel of the rest of the design piece. Compared to photography, illustration can make a brand stand out in a more distinct way because it is much less commonly used.
In regard to styling, quirky, unrealistic, and minimalist character illustration is growing. Large limbs, small heads, and omitted facial features are particularly popular. Additionally, bright colors and gradients are everywhere and do not appear to be leaving anytime soon.
For example, the New York Times and Netflix use illustrations by Leo Natsume.
Fading Trend: Website Carousels or Sliders
In web design, carousels, or sliders, are beginning to look like cookie-cutter layouts since they have been readily available in templates and have been so overused. They are quickly becoming cliché and make sites look dated. Not only that, but they also have low click-rates, poor load times, and studies show that they are ineffective when it comes to usability.
Emerging Trend: Homepage Compositions
With the increasing popularity of templates, many designers are diverting from traditional web design layouts. Many of the most progressive sites place the heaviest emphasis on large, stunning imagery and expressive typography to capture the user’s attention. There seems to be a departure even from the classic grid and an embrace of open compositions and more variability from site to site. Unexpected web design components such as artistic illustrations, asymmetrical layouts, geometric shapes, bold background colors, and videos are starting to be used by the most innovatively designed sites. These pages look more like artistic compositions instead of standard web layouts.
The website in this example is breathtaking and encompasses everything listed above. The page is interactive with moving imagery, color changing backgrounds, videos, and an interactive logo. Visit the website to get a clear picture of the layout.
Fading Trend: Meaningless Content
Since social media and blogs require constant updating in order to keep user attention, companies are posting as often as possible. The problem with this is the quality of the content is diminishing. Most of the posts are just recycled design or written content that authority sites, such as Forbes, already wrote about. Consumers are starting to recognize this and tune companies that do this out.
Emerging Trend: Purposeful Content
In order to keep the target audience engaged, brands need to focus on quality instead of quantity when it comes to their posts. Storytelling, activism, strong values, and deep emotional connections are what will keep consumers interested in brands in 2019. In order to stand out from the seemingly endless distractions and other brands fighting for attention, designers need to create work on social media content that deeply resonates with consumers.
Dove’s social media uses content and design related to a higher purpose than just selling their products; Dove positions itself as a force that empowers young women to be confident and feel beautiful, regardless of unrealistic beauty standards.
Gillette’s latest campaign places a heavy focus on empowering men to be more accountable and respectful.
In conclusion, designers need to be aware of trends in order to keep their work relevant to their audience and the market. Trends are often a reflection of society and say a lot about our current cultural moment. Designers do not necessarily need to follow all of them or embrace them wholeheartedly. However, having an awareness of them means the designer has a better understands of the needs of consumers.
If you want to embrace a trend, study it and incorporate appropriate pieces of it into your existing design style. Integrating the trend into existing work allows you to protect your identity while also trying something new and evolving with the values of society.