- On April 7, 2017
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As we look forward to 2017 — a year that hopefully won’t be plagued by the passing of so many of the world’s greatest artists and performers — the big question on every designer’s mind has to be: what will define design in 2017?
1.Layouts that let content shine:
The last few years have seen a sea change in how people view design’s role in business. Design has shifted from a late-in-the-process “optimization” stage where designers swooped in to sprinkle on some “pretty” like mystical fairy dust to a real competitive advantage.
And a fascinating element of that evolution has been the shift back toward a focus on content: the meat on the bones of the web. Designers worldwide have realized that people visit websites for their content — whether it’s raging tweetstorms, thoughtful long-reads, or the latest “user-generated” meme — and that design’s ultimate role is to present content in an intuitive, efficient, and “delightful” way.
2.Better collaboration between designers, and between designers and developers:
As design has taken a greater and more influential role in shaping businesses, more and more attention has been paid to designers’ collaboration with both their fellow designers, and their developer colleagues.
The emphasis on designer collaboration has arisen in part from the massiveness of the web and mobile apps we’re building these days. Gigantic platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn require not only huge design teams working on disparate aspects of the platform, but also better ways for designers to stay on the same page — and that means more collaboration, and better communication.
3. Improved design-to-development workflows:
As design and prototyping tools for the web gain maturity and sophistication, the traditional handoff deliverable has transformed from the aforementioned static files to more dynamic visualizations that range from animated Keynote files to fully functional websites. These more dynamic deliverables shorten the feedback loop, simultaneously improving design and dev team agility and lowering frustration. They also facilitate better communication with clients. In fact, for many users of Webflow, client meetings have become actual live working sessions, where designers are able to quickly bring ideas to life so everyone can experience them almost immediately.
4. Big, bold type:
As the design world comes to the consensus that our focus should be on content, more and more websites feature lines of resonant, inspiring copy set in type that’s just as big and bold as the statement itself.
As you’ll have noticed from the sample screenshots, “big” and “bold” doesn’t necessarily refer to the weight of the font! Rather, it’s about dedicating significant screen real estate to a single, simple yet all-encompassing statement about the product or service. And, refreshingly, a lot of these statements seem clear and to-the-point, free of the bloviated claims to disruption and greatness we’ve seen a lot of lately. (Okay, “design the impossible” might be bloviated, granted.)
5. Complex layouts rooted in graphic design principles:
If we want to predict the evolution of web design (at least in visual terms), we should refer to the evolution of graphic design.
For the past few years, web design layout has been constrained by CSS’s limitations, but new tools like flexbox and CSS grid will allow for much more expressive layouts on the web.
6. More SVGs:
SVGs (scalable vector graphics) present web designers and developers with a lot of advantages over more traditional image formats like JPG, PNG, and GIF.
SVGs also rock because they don’t require any HTTP requests. And if you’ve ever run a page-speed test on one of your websites, you’ve probably noticed that those HTTP requests can really slow down your site. Not so with SVGs!
7. Constraint-based design tools:
Responsive design has completely transformed how we browse and build for the web.
Hence a new wave of design tools (such as Figma) that use the idea of constraints to lessen the amount of repeated work designers have to do when building cross-device layouts. These tools focus on the spatial relationships between elements and strive to preserve them as composite elements are resized by devices and users.
8. More and brighter color:
As movements like minimalism and brutalism came to the fore in 2016, designers sought ways to infuse more personality into their design work that still worked within those stripped-down aesthetics.
As you can see, it’s not just about bright, enthusiastic color either. Gradients also came back in a big way, blending and blurring those exuberant hues into spectra reminiscent of a noonday sky or a splashy sunset.
There’s a sort of synthesized naturalism to this reemergence of bright hues and bold gradients, and I personally look forward to seeing more of it in 2017.
9. More focus on animation:
Animation has long played a key role in our digital interfaces, and there’s no reason to think that’ll abate in 2017. In fact, as designers get more and more visual tools to help them build engaging and smile-sparking animations, we’re sure to see them become both more prominent and more refined.
The latter characteristic will become particularly important as it becomes easier to create animations. At 2016’s Design & Content Conference, animation guru Val Head stressed that designers should look to their brand voice and tone documentation when building animations to ensure that they reinforce the tone content creators are aiming for. This helps ensure that animations perform meaningful, on-brand functions for users, instead of just inspiring migraines.
10. Unique layouts:
The year 2016 — much like the last several years preceding it — featured an ongoing debate about web design either dying, or losing its soul.
Overdramatic as the web-design-is-dead argument may be, you can’t blame any creative for seeking innovative ways to present content to readers. And one of the most enticing methods for breaking out of the box-centric layouts many blame responsive design for is the broken grid.
This approach seeks a way out of the meticulously aligned and “boxy” layouts we’ve been seeing a lot of lately with a variety of what might seem like visually jarring techniques.