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Digital and design trends for 2017

by Sam Maguinness

2017 is a big year for digital

A number of influences will culminate to have a major impact on the future of digital. Not because these trends are new, but because these methods have existed within niche pockets of the design industry for decades and are now entering the mainstream.

Today, these once niche methods are having an upward impact on most of the digital world and shouldn’t be ignored.

Let’s take a look.

The rise of brutalist design 

Ugly is back in. But not in the way you’d imagine. Inspired by Brutalist architecture, brutalist design is a new term that stands for fast, cheap, cocky and careless.

We don’t agree with its entire philosophy, as it doesn’t consider device usability or well developed code, but there is something about this trend that feels part of our times.

The world is restless; it wants to unshackle from the establishment in every way. Brutalist design fits right in with this feeling of resistance we’re experiencing now. 

While it might be irreverent and careless, the trend has a clever and artistic approach to visual aesthetic. It won’t suit every client but it’s worthwhile considering its unique approach for some projects.

Every Interface will be a conversation

Much like Uber has been doing for a while now, every interface will become a conversation with users. Starting with a ‘hello’, users will be able to respond to Artificial Intelligence (i.e. chatbots) with individual personalities that will ultimately make digital experiences feel more human.

Human-centred design is a must, not a nice to have

If you’re building a product this year and you haven’t researched the humans it’s intended for beforehand, you’re crazy.

Experience is the new black. If your products and services are not usable, useful or beautiful, you’re wasting your time and money.

Human Centred Design is a process that starts with the people you're designing for and ends with new solutions tailor made to suit their needs.

Designers must stop making assumptions when designing platforms, because when they do it can have severe consequences on the project’s outcome and effectiveness.

The year of interfaces

Obviously, we will continue designing for screens.

But 2017 is the year that the interface grows into more than just desktop and mobile.

The concept of an interface is changing. For the last 20 years we have almost exclusively interacted with screen when engaging in a digital experience. 2017 will see us interfacing with products and objects in ways we never imagined.

We’ll begin to design for voice activated systems (think Alexa or Google Home), and create digital interfaces that are projected onto walls and objects around our homes. We’ll be creating interfaces that exist within the VR experience and that bring to life worlds, scenarios and moments most of us have never experienced firsthand.

Use third party platforms to build at scale

No longer will we have to spend four weeks of development creating our own chat bots.

Facebook, Slack and Instagram are investing huge amounts into VR, chat and AI, which means we will no longer need to build these experiences from scratch. Instead we will utilise tried and tested frameworks that allows us to deliver these experiences with speed and scale.

Responsive 2.0

I recently read Adobe made responsive design their trend of 2017. Really, Adobe?

Responsive design – allowing designs to adapt to different devices – has been around for years. The next trend isn’t responsive design, it’s responsive 2.0.

By accessing data, designs will be able to respond to the type of user you are, and adjust, morph and change to suit your needs. For instance, if a user has a vision impairment, web interfaces will adapt to accommodate their needs and deliver the best possible experience for them.

Exciting times ahead.

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