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Communication Design in 2018: In omnia paratus
I read through roughly one million websites which prophesised about tech, app, UX/UI, web development, and type trends for 2018.
There were some cases — e.g. the future of the use of Cards on websites — where different sources completely contradicted each other. I have left these themes out because it all gets too confusing.
As you can imagine, there is no way I can fit everything in this one article without dumping a 20,000-word piece in your mailbox, so there will be a comprehensive list of sites at the end for you to visit if you’re pumped to find out more detail.
Long Form Content and scrollable interfaces
With the increasing demand for more written content, long form content long-scrolls are enjoying an increasing dominance in the UI design universe, even if that means designing for content below the fold. Why? Flexibility is why. Quick access to all content in an unbroken motion without any redirections or interruptions. Plus, scrollable single interfaces work well across multiple platforms and devices, and, better facilitate SEO.
Vivid Colours vs. Flatness
I found loads of references to increased use of vivid colours in UI in 2018, in opposition to the trend of flatness of 2017, but I’m going to take this with a grain of salt as colour trends are there to be broken/ignored in many instances, and this forecast seems like a pretty broad brush stroke.
Blurred lines between the real and the unreal
Pokémon Go, what the hell have you done? Blurred the lines between the digital world and the real world is what. With this now a possibility, how we interact with our screens is now even more critical.
A tech company based in Cupertino that makes phones and other iElectronic things launched what seemed like their 73rd smart phone iteration in the space of ten years to much fanfare in 2017. This newest iPhone (X) utilises innovations which introduce measurable upgrades to the overall UI design world: colours, fonts, imagery, videos, and animations. The importance of these upgrades will become clearer as we move forward in this article.
Immersive Images to take over
Full-screen website images look amazing across all screen sizes and tells your story in a brief, clear, and engaging way.
Full-Screen Videos will Gain Ground
If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many words does a video speak? More, apparently.
Full-screen images are great. Full-screen videos are also great — they’re dynamic and engaging, and suit the aforementioned scrollable single-page-interface websites perfectly.
Borderless Display Redefines the Rigid Grid
Graphic Designers! All together now: “A grid offers consistency, balance, and order. It provides a sense of familiarity to users, allowing them to click through a site smoothly.”
But will this be the case forever? Grids can be annoyingly restrictive on creative possibilities. Many UI designers are experimenting with layout by ditching the grid, thanks in part to borderless displays on an increasing number of devices, allowing for the creation of unique interfaces by adding a pinch of layering, motion, and depth.
Bold Typography is back, baby!
In 2018 and beyond, UI will continue to transition from traditional graphic design practices to a more creative and experimental landscape. What you can expect to see is bold and intricate fonts instead of the done-to-death system fonts. Whether sites lean toward long-form content or start with full-page pictures or videos, typography is set to take centre stage in 2018. Stephen Perry, designer at Amazon.com, envisioned a 2017 dominated by bold typography. The evolution of type into 2018 will likely be anything but minimalistic.
Cinemagraphs are amazing
Cinemagraphs — still photos with minor or repeating movement of secondary elements — give the image and the entire website a real-life look: think the photos in the Harry Potter films. With cinemagraphs, you get a tiny part of that world on your websites.
Using cinemagraphs as a background or complementary feature can make a website interactive and inconspicuous at the same time. Developers won’t just create cinemagraphs for the sake of flair; rather, they’ll be used to draw attention to critical points on the page. It’s time to burn the trivial gif images and aggressive video backgrounds and embrace the inherent majicks of cinemagraphs.
Mood for interface
Can modern gadgets read your mood? Nope. Not yet. However, human mood used for the interface design is an intriguing area of study and practice in web design. Due to this web design trend for 2018, software and mobile apps are becoming ever more personal — or if you’re a sceptic, more intrusive.
Location based services to seep into the mainstream: say goodbye to your privacy
Location-based services hit the headlines in 2017, and their functionality and use are set to grow in 2018. What’s next? Real-time location-based offers and advertisements is next, that’s what. So don’t be surprised if, while wandering around the CBD, you get a real-time notification from FB suggesting you buy something from the bricks and mortar shop that you’re standing right in front of. Location-specific portals, navigation, and indoor mapping sectors will contribute to some intuitive, if ethically questionable, apps. Don’t worry, though — you can choose whether or not you reveal your location based on the service you subscribe to… allegedly.
Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence to become the norm
The use of AI in day-to-day applications is already happening. Best get used to it.
Websites which incorporate the idea of an image that can change its characteristics based on your mood or preferences? Applications could potentially modify the content shown to the user based on their choices. We may not have long to wait. Hoi-Jun Yoo — an esteemed professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the director of the System Design Innovation and Application Research Center — recently suggested that “competition for AI chips is so intense globally that we will be able to see AI chip-equipped smartphones in the second half of next year.”
Lazy loading in 2018
Images that take forever to load can prevent the user from opening the entire article. And as you know, this increases bounce rate and drops conversion rate. So, to circumvent this problem, some forward-thinking tech gurus implemented lazy loading, wherein the images only load when their turn on the page comes.
Motion User Interface
An example of tech that is beyond my understanding. If you’re interested in, or understand, the following sentence, come back here and check out the link to the article. “Some examples of motion would be easing in, overlay, cloning, obscuration, parallax, parenting, dimensionality and offset-delay.”
Flash to HTML5
In 2010 Steve Jobs published his thoughts on Flash and its future.
Don’t get all sentimental about your old Flash website, because Flash is a bit rubbish with mobile devices, and this rubbishness leads to an enormous amount of traffic being lost by want of adequate technology. The best alternative is the well-known HTML5. HTML5-based videos and games will reach a wider audience. In 2018, HTML5 will likely become the universal format for all types of digital content.
Looking ahead with digital design
The rise of design-driven innovation is here, wherein the focus is not to push new technology, but to push new meaning. Design-driven innovation is interesting as it’s based on the conception that the utility and desirability of a product is determined by whether people experience it as a valuable addition to their lives, not so much about how sophisticated its tech is.
Successful design-driven innovators have the potential to create and change their markets, driving those markets rather than reacting to them. This capability stems from a powerful ability to detect, attract, and interact with clients. This can be observed most spectacularly when technological breakthroughs merge with design-driven innovation.
Haptic Feedback à Synesthetic Feedback
Most of you will be familiar with haptic feedback (especially those who currently use wearable tech). Haptic feedback refers to a sense of physical touch across a digital interface, like a smart watch whose body provides a specific series of pulses to communicate information like ‘turn left at the next exit on the right’. These feedbacks and tactile cues subtly modify the behaviour of users. But that’s just the beginning. Next stop: Synesthetic Feedback.
As interfaces extend their scope to accommodate multi-sensory experiences, we are seeing the rise of Synesthetic Feedback. Synaesthesia refers to the perceptual condition of blended sensations: a stimulus in one sensory modality, like hearing, elicits a sensation or experience in another sensory modality, like vision. For example, a person with a particular form of synaesthesia might hear the musical note middle C and all of a sudden see or feel the colour yellow, or vice versa.
Tech designers are tapping into this rare neurological condition, implementing synesthetic feedback into their products and allowing users to experience widely and reap the UX rewards.
Facebook’s Building 8 Research Lab is already designing synesthetic feedback into their platform, converting language into vibrations:
“Through a series of electrodes, the company hopes its neural technology can reduce language to vibrations that can be read by a user’s skin,” saystech writer Graham Templeton for Inverse Replicant in the article At F8, Facebook Debuts a New Platform: The Human Brain. So far, this ability to ‘hear’ with patterns of stimulation on the skin also seems much closer to a real consumer technology.”
Design Thinking vs. Design Feeling
This is something that will cause immeasurable confusion and probably many angry groans from designers and proponents of design thinking. How about this quote from Chase Buckley from Medium: “Design is not a process. It’s an art.”
What do you think? Is Design art? I would suggest no, but let’s give Mr Buckley a chance to explain himself.
“In an exclusive interview I had with Tim Brown, IDEO’s CEO famous for bringing design-thinking to the masses, Tim confessed that Design-Thinking has led to the hideous state of design that we are burdened with today,” says Buckley from Medium in The Future is Immanent.
“After providing Tim with one-on-one lessons on the virtues of design-feeling, he confessed to me, ‘so much of my life has been wasted prostrating myself before the false idol of design-thinking…I should have been thinking so much less, and feeling so much more. Design Feeling is already being used by the world’s most bleeding edge game changers, and soon enough, if you want to keep your job, you’ll be using it too.’”
OK. But utilising your feelings to help solve a design problem does not then make design art, it just means that you’re using a broader set of your mental faculties to solve a problem — The Problem, which is one of the three core details that make design, design: a problem (manifested in a brief), a client, and a fee. Art does not necessarily require any of these to exist.
2018 may just be the year of crazy designs, experimentalism, and wild imagination.
The corrupted image — the glitch effect — is gaining in popularity. Apparently, glitches aren’t annoying anymore, they’re desirable. Who knew?
Horror movie fans have been familiar with this one for years (see The Ring — the original Japanese version). 2018 is the year when corrupted images take over graphic design world, too, but without the demonic possession bit.
Ruining imagery for the good of the project
Graphic designers like to break things; to destroy perfectly good images for the sake of clearer communication of an idea or a feeling. Splashing, scratching, ripping, breaking, or any other form of ruining the aesthetics of a composition will be considered contemporary in 2018.
Cropped typography was everywhere in 2017 and it isn’t set to go away any time soon. Difficult to execute well, it requires a specific skillset to create something that works across all platforms, but there are some of you out there who can do it, and do it well.
Single-Colour 3D Design
More and more product presentations have been popping up using the same background colour as the product presented. The product image pops due to the volume created by the 3D techniques.
Hand-Drawn Illustrations + Papercut Illustrations + Photo/Illustration Combos
Papercut illustrations and hand-drawn illustrations bring a unique character to the environment in which they are deployed. In 2018 illustrations will be presented in combination with other graphic trends like negative space, and 3D structures. Combining photos with digital illustrations is a technique which boosts the effect of the photo and gives the composition more punch; if that’s what you’re looking for.
Get ready for a year of digital graphic craziness: mesmerizing, engaging, left-field designs will be everywhere.
The implementation of web-based scroll-triggered animation has been on the rise lately. It doesn’t require huge amounts of data to download to your device and smooth transitions are getting easier to achieve.
This type of animation, when correctly thought out, coded, and applied to the design of your website can help your brand by projecting a professional and modern face to your clients as well as incentivising them to scroll to contact forms and other lead-generating elements on your site.
UX Design — looking backward to move forward
While looking for trends toward the future of UX design, I stumbled upon a detail which seems counterintuitive: UX design as a discipline seems to be backward-looking. Even if it’s just the very recent past, UX designers often look back for insights about how to move forward. They want to provide users with the familiar as often as possible; the known, to inform the new experiences they create. Chatbots, conversational interfaces, artificial intelligence, all to create personalised, contextual, age-responsive design.
These are all valid trends gaining momentum as we head toward 2018, but they are all techniques — specific applications of technology. Looking at these through a wider lens, one that takes into view the entire customer experience, we can identify a macro trend: user-responsive design. Expect to see the user experience itself becoming more transparent in 2018.
An Experience in Continuity
“If we look at the cross-channel journey itself as a narrative, channels become the edits in a customer experience,” suggests Casey Tourangeau from the Website Magazine article UX Trends to Look for in 2018.
“While tactical UX trends are about addressing user needs on a micro level (age-responsive design, for example, addresses one specific need), the real trend is using emerging technologies and techniques to create a seamless narrative flow, defined by your brand.”
“As UX designers, we can again look to the past to inform the future. Our goal is to reduce friction for users by building on the familiar. The cross-channel/cross-platform journey is trending toward a traditional model of continuity editing—cross-channel storytelling with no visible transitions. In order to keep up with the expectations of next year’s consumers; developers, designers and marketers need to prepare and be prepared for the next wave of user-responsive content. Let your brand value guide the narrative, and work to create a seamless experience for your customers with every interaction possible.”
If you really want to dive deep into what’s projected for 2018, check out the list of reference pages below.
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