Design Trends for 2016

It’s that time – time for me to pull out the crystal ball and predict what will be the big trends that are going to hit the design world next year. 2015 was quite a year, and as we all know, the pace of change only accelerates. So here is my forecast for what we will see, design-wise, in 2016:

Mobile First

2016_trendsTraditionally, given that we are predominantly a web design agency, the very first thing we design is the homepage desktop view. The responsive and mobile user interface (UI) was something that usually came towards the end, after we had addressed the desktop experience. This has been how the industry as a whole has always done business, even though all of us have been talking “mobile first” for some time now.

But lately, we’ve been receiving projects where our clients are getting in on the trend and want us to consider the mobile experience first. Based on analytics analysis, we are seeing an exponential growth in mobile traffic, even from what we could consider a more conservative, office-bound audience. So now we have the data and the mandate, we need to switch gears as an agency and carefully consider the needs of our customers in a mobile context and design accordingly.

More Video Content

After the redesign of our company website, we again took a look at our analytics to see what people were clicking on. What we learned is that people love our Matrix Minute videos more than our static content by a pretty big margin.  We also learned that video content does not have to mean slick, well-produced motion reels, but rather, small, intimate, focused clips. The rise of video usage on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, etc., certainly points to an audience that would rather watch a video than read five paragraphs of text.

So for our clients, rather than thinking of all the copy you will need to write for your next website or blog post, think instead of what video you will shoot.

Wearables Are Here

The wearables market has been around a few years, with early adopters being Pebble, Fitbit, Nike and others. But now that Apple jumped into the wearables market with their Apple Watch, a lot more attention has been paid to what is still a fairly untapped, undeveloped space. What does this mean for our clients?

In the same way that smartphones have changed the way in which customers interact with brands and services, wearables will soon have a similar impact. The way in which your content is constructed will have to change and adapt to this new, and very intimate, platform.

Micro-Interactions

Somewhat related to the wearables trend, there will be an even greater focus on micro-transactions. We do micro-interactions all the time, when we “like” something on Facebook or even turn off the alarm on our phone. Apps, and now wearables, are designed for multiple “touches”, where we:

  • Communicate a status
  • Give feedback
  • Manipulate anything to trigger an action

While we tend to do these actions somewhat automatically or even unconsciously, they are important interactions with your services and brand.

So, rather than thinking of a user engagement as a long, involved session that lasts for hours, think of these micro-interactions as “touching base” with a user on a constant, consistent basis.  We need to plan for, and design, these “touches” with care, and integrate them into an overall engagement strategy.

Natural Motion Interactions

We have lived with the keyboard and mouse for decades now, and we have suffered the consequences: carpal-tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injuries, and the like. Hopefully for not much longer! With VR headsets like Oculus Rift, hologram-based systems like Hololens, and gesture-based controllers like Leapmotion finally getting ready to go mainstream, we hope we can finally toss our keyboards into the recycling bin.

What this means is that now we have to take into account and design for new ways that customers will interact with content. From full, 3D, immersive environments to speech and natural gesture based systems (think Iron Man and Jarvis!), our user interfaces will be even richer, more complex, and engaging.

Animation to Strengthen Brands

Animation is going to become ingrained in more and more brands and their respective style guides. Many major brands like Google, Microsoft, and IBM already have strong animation rules in place – IBM’s animation library is a great example. We’re going to start seeing these practices trickle down to a wider range of companies now that they’re more accessible and easier to develop.

Adding simple animation transitions is a great way to add more personality to an already established brand, strengthening the message you’re trying to convey. Say you want your site to feel friendly and welcoming; you might want to add a subtle bounce effect onto page elements as they load. Or, if you want a calming, tranquil vibe, perhaps you’ll have images slowly fade in and drop down. At Matrix Group, we’ve been making heavy use of animate.css on our client sites and can’t wait to take things even further in 2016.

What design trends do you think will take center stage in 2016?

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Alex Pineda

About Alex Pineda

Alex is the Creative Director at Matrix Group. He manages the design team and collaborates with clients to turn their ideas into visual realities. He is a Gemini who enjoys travel and World of Warcraft, to which he considers himself completely addicted.

Andi Witmer

About Andi Witmer

Andi Witmer is an interactive designer at Matrix Group. Andi brings great talent and experience, which helps make our clients' sites look simply stunning. She has a BFA from James Madison University, and brings to Matrix Group seven years of experience, including two years of interior design.

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