By Michelle Barnett
  1. Home
  2. Insights
  3. Article

Trends of 2017

It’s this type of the year again, a new year comes with new design trends!

Design trends

Material Design

Back in the day we had skeuomorphism – the idea that digital elements should look like their real world counterparts. This is the reason why, for example, the Save icon in all programmes everywhere still looks like a tiny floppy disk, even though half of you won’t know one of those actually is any more. Then we skewed away from skeouing and went very minimal. So minimal, in fact, that digital elements stopped looking like anything at all, they were so abstract. Now we’re swerving ever so slightly back towards the centre line with Material Design, or as Google likes to call it, ‘Quantum Paper’. What this means, among other things, is that we get to keep those clean, minimal shapes we love, but ground them a bit by including some suggestions of depth and movement with subtle layers and shading.

Material design - a new type of flat design.

Customised functionality

The functionality of websites and apps has been going the same way as visual design – getting simpler and more streamlined, but now we’re at a point where we can start building it back up again. Apps are so proficient at collecting data on their users that some really advanced analysis of how the two interact have been produced. This next phase basically involves your route through a website getting a bit less linear. Instead of being given an a-b-c path to follow, we’re probably going to see a few more side routes we can explore, customising the journey for each person. Not enough to get confusing, but just enough to keep things interesting.

Irregular module grids

Responsive design and irregular grids are still on trend, and in fact this has been built into the Material Design concept too. As more platforms open up and user interaction develops and shifts, design needs to be increasingly flexible. Responsive web design isn’t going away anytime soon and adaptable grids that can reshape themselves equally well to mobile, tablets, and laptops with ease are going to remain essential. Expect to see a lot of modules grouping and regrouping like the world’s classiest game of Tetris.

Popping colours

Things are getting brighter, at least in the world of colour. Candy coloured pop-art tones are making a resurgence to the point where softened versions of them are taking the place of the traditional de-saturated neutrals. The emphasis is on carefully chosen colour combinations that make each other stand out. Bright, but still gentle, and never straying into the over-vibrant primary colours. Of course, design trends don’t suit everyone – don’t look for big serious corporations to be picking up of this one – but apparently after a long 2016 a little bit of cheerful whimsy and nostalgia is just what the doctor ordered.

Design trends of 2017, including popping colours.
design trends of 2017 including the gif, a mini animation.

Gifs, clips, and cinemagraphs

In the battle to grab viewer’s attention in an increasingly fast online world, moving images are the new frontier, and interestingly less is proving to be more. I actually blogged about this quite recently, but the best way to avoid looking gimmicky with your moving images is to go subtle. Cinemagraphs (a specifically photo-based version of the gif) are distinctive for just have one or two small moving elements, as though the photograph was alive, and tend to have quite high frame rate to ensure a smooth movement. Their artistic feel means that they will probably be most prominent in lifestyle and fashion publications.


Images from Transform EXP and Giphy.

So what is Material Design?

Material design sits in between Speuomorphic and flat design and looks to take hold this year! Jo Wdowiak looks into this new design trend.

Jo Wdowiak - 02/01/2015
Animation in Design

Video is on the rise. Partly as it works well for ranking in Google, and partly as storytelling works well to extend a brand.

Michelle Barnett - 07/12/2016
Rise of the Gif: the mini-animation

What are gifs? And how do you use them for your brand - utilised on social media, email and websites - they are rising in popularity.

Michelle Barnett - 28/11/2016
What are responsive websites?

Websites need to work on phones. We are all used to using our phones as one of the main sources of Googling, checking emails and social media. You want your site to work for your customers.

Chris Pymm - 01/07/2014