Digital Design Trends to Watch for in 2018

Image credited to: Adobe Stock/zapp2photo

by The Creative Cloud Team

posted on 01-18-2018

2018 promises to deliver incredible new developments in the way designers approach user experiences. Improvements in artificial intelligence and updates in design platforms will allow content creators to understand their customers better than ever. The future is full of exciting opportunities for creators and consumers, and you don’t want to get left behind.

Whether you’re an independent designer, a designer employed at a large company, or a communications or marketing professional, prepare your business for the new year by paying attention to the digital design trends that will soon be making an appearance. Adobe designer Nick Babich, compiled a list of the top trends he expects to see next year, and in this article, we zoom out and look at the overarching changes in the industry. Each trend in this article is gaining popularity because it makes things easier for either you, your customer, or both. Take advantage of the new technology and knowledge coming your way by considering how to incorporate these trends into your own design strategies.

Technology that fades into the background

It may seem counterintuitive, but the most successful technology goes unnoticed. It makes lives easier because it doesn’t need much maintenance or user input. The trend going forward is to introduce this feature into more devices customers use in their everyday lives.

The best example of improvements in background technology is voice-activated assistants. Brands like Google and Amazon are focusing the advertising of their Home and Echo devices on the ease of communicating with the voice assistants. Instead of going through a series of steps to get the end result, you say what you want out loud and the voice assistant makes it happen. The key is to make the computer think like humans think. People don’t always think in clear details, so digital assistants need to be able to adapt to their users’ needs. As digital assistants become more responsive and intuitive, designers are able to focus less on the tools and details and more on the creative process itself because the tech itself fades into the background.

Image credited to: Aaron Ulysses.

Much emphasis will be placed in the coming year on incorporating artificial intelligence more for both the creator and the user. If a company can rely on a program to gather and analyze data effectively, the employees can spend less time worrying about the validity of the report and more time focusing on strategies and solutions. Taking the burden of data analysis off employees promotes creativity and efficiency on a company-wide level.

Another way technology is becoming easier to navigate is through time-saving updates to apps and design platforms. More intelligent software and website design can guide the user easily through processes, lessening frustration with unfamiliar practices, and allowing easy adaptation. Updates to platforms designers used to create content will reduce time spent on development, allowing back-end processes to become more efficient, as well.

The less effort users and creators have to put into making technology work for them, the more time can be dedicated to essential creative tasks.

More accessible and streamlined content

A user’s opinion of a website, app, or program has a major effect on his or her overall opinion of the company. Consumers respond positively to products that satisfy their needs, and content creators are continuing to work on how to make that happen. They also want products that allow them to carry their design across multiple platforms.

Smarter technology, as mentioned above, is one way to meet a user’s needs. Voice-activated technology allows a consumer to take care of business while working on other tasks or in a situation that prohibits manually using a device. Biometric authorization keeps users from having to constantly log into their various accounts and devices, simplifying the experience.

Minimalist content also serves to meet the user’s needs, since they no longer have to dig through unimportant information to access the necessary tools. Content that is easy to read, simple to understand, and intuitive to navigate makes the user feel more in control of the process.

Image credited to: Theme Vol.

Personalization is becoming more popular, especially as improved data-gathering techniques allow companies to know more about their customers. Friendly, inviting communication shows the customer that the company cares about their needs. Offering information based on past behavior shows that you pay attention to what your user needs, which promotes loyalty. It also allows you to offer a consistent experience across all platforms, keeping the user from noticing a massive quality shift as they move from mobile devices to a computer.

Understanding the customer has already led to positive change for some companies, such as MasterCard. By using Adobe Experience Manager, the company was able to consolidate their website and make it much easier to both access and to build. By reducing the number of pages on the site and developing templates, MasterCard enabled users to easily navigate the sites across various platforms, while maintaining a consistent experience. Similarly, Nedbank, the fourth-largest bank in South Africa, used Adobe Analytics to better understand what their customers wanted from the site. In one case, the data showed that scrolling through credit cards alphabetically took too much time, so the developers organized the cards by popularity instead, which led to more applications completed. When the company responded to user needs and made their products easier use, customers responded positively.

Above all, remember that users highly value safety and privacy. As you create personalized experiences, make sure to let users know you are safeguarding their information and providing trustworthy, secure service.

Increased immersive experiences

New technology is allowing designers to present content in an entirely new perspective. Virtual reality is growing in popularity and accessibility, which both content creators and users can use to their advantage. Advances in design platforms, such as the ability to edit content directly from a VR headset, improves the work produced and makes the production easier. Experiencing content in VR or augmented reality lets your user see the world in an entirely new way, which keeps your products relevant.

Image credited to: Leonard Dupond.

Augmented reality allows users to blend the real world with the digital world in a way that enhances both. They can use their mobile devices to interact with the world around them, which has both personal and professional benefits. This interaction is possible because mobile devices keep improving by gaining better cameras, faster processors, and higher-quality displays. As everyday technology keeps improving, the options for immersive experiences multiply.

Other experiences like 360-degree images or bird’s-eye views with camera-mounted drones will let consumers see perspectives they wouldn’t see otherwise, which can add new life to images that have become commonplace. Upcoming Adobe projects, like SonicScape — which makes adding audio to 360 degree video easier — and Project Sidewinder — which brings more viewing angles to traditional VR — will extend a designer’s scope even further.

In the coming year, look for ways to depict your content that incorporate the newest technology and give users an experience that will recapture their interest.

For more information on the upcoming trends, read 10 UX Design Predictions For 2018.

Topics: Creativity, Design

Products: Creative Cloud