Twenty-sixteen brought a ton of buzz about artificial intelligence and virtual reality, a massive push toward responsive design and mobile-first thinking, and a move toward agile marketing. Looking ahead, what trends and new ideas will shape design in 2017?
I asked two of the sharpest designers I know, UX pro Sarah Doody (if you don’t read her UX Notebook email newsletter, sign up — it’s one of the best emails I get) and designer Kelsey Gallagher. I asked them: What developments in the design and UX world will you be watching in 2017?
Here’s what they shared. Are these the trends on your list?
The Internet of Things: Moving Beyond the Screen
Doody says she’s interested in seeing what happens with connected devices like smart speakers (Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Google Home). “I’m curious about how experiences we have can be improved through these smart speakers,” she says. “I don’t have any of these devices yet, but at my physical therapist’s office they have Echo Dots in the room so you can choose your music, or listen to news or play games.”
She says she will be looking for how marketers and designers use new devices to improve the customer experience. “I see these devices as stepping stones to building trust and getting people more comfortable with engaging with technology by moving beyond the screen,” she says.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
“We all know that barely anyone goes to your home page to see what’s new in news or content. People need the news to come to them,” Doody says. In her user research, she says, she has seen a clear movement toward Facebook and Twitter as information hubs.
“Facebook is no longer about poking friends and pictures of animals and birthday parties. Facebook is becoming the first place people turn to for information,” she says.
More Flexible Design Software
Gallagher says she’s looking forward to “the continued evolution of design software,” including alternative digital design tools like Sketch, Affinity and inVision that are bringing designers more affordability and new capabilities and features. These tools represent a big change in the industry, since Adobe “paved the way for modern design software, and for a long time, they had an exclusive hold on the industry,” she says.
You’re probably hearing about “fake news” often these days, and it’s affecting design too. Both Doody and Gallagher say they have an eye on the fake-news phenomenon that came into focus after the 2016 election, and they’re looking for ways to combat misinformation and deliver helpful news through smart, straightforward design.
“It’s our job as designers and marketers to deliver content in a way that brings a ‘win’ home for both the client and the end user,” Gallagher says.
Pushing Back on Best Practices
Doody says she hopes more designers will question every decision in 2017. “Get out of the habit of doing something just because another company did it,” she says. “Just because say Google says you should do forms a certain way, don’t just do it their way. How do you know it works? How do you know it fits the context of your product and your content? How do you know that the persona of who will use your product will understand that design pattern? In 2017, stop copying and start thinking critically and justifying all your design decisions.”
Gallagher says she’s hopeful that 2017 will bring more authenticity in design, including new ideas and design layouts. “In recent years, web design has homogenized,” she says. “Many website layouts are beginning to follow a predictable formula and are starting to look the same. I challenge myself and fellow designers: Let’s make some new stuff in 2017.”