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Digital Design trend predictions for 2018

Time again for my annual design predictions of what we can expect next year, in 2018! As per my last year’s post, this is not necessarily backed-up on any special research for an accurate prediction, but mainly what I personally expect will become bigger and what I would love to see trending during 2018… or at least from the BLEND design team!

 
WebGL
This is not something new but in 2017 I have seen some amazing innovative online work and experiments done with the use of WebGL technologies using a combination of 2D and 3D graphics as well as advanced animations and interactivity. I find some work done by big agencies very impressive, knowing it is not that easy to use these technologies to produce flowless animation and interactivity without some really good coding knowledge and a really good collaboration between designers and programmers; something that not every agency can handle well. Needless to say, this will become bigger and better as the years pass by, and hopefully easier to learn and apply.



Cinemagraphs
On my 2016 trends prediction I predicted the increased usage of animated gifs, and especially of Cinemagraphs. Two years later the usage and demand on Cinemagraph images has increased and recently started to become more popular, especially from clients. Cinemagraphs are high-quality still photos that have a subtle movement playing in a loop, making them living photos and distributed as animated gifs or videos. These are not the most cost-effective work to invest on, especially if you are aiming for bulk production to use across your social media channels often, however, Cinemagraphs can make your brand appear more elegant with quality attention to detail. And we are happy enough to be producing a variety of custom Cinemagraphs for such brands, which are also fun work to do. So, I’m sure this will become even more popular in 2018, but, as most trends, I predict that it will not be too long before it becomes another popular overused trend that will lose it statue and appeal.
 
MP4 to replace GIF
So, on my last year’s trends prediction post I’m talking about how GIFs have become really popular across chat apps and social media channels. Websites and apps have incorporated build-in GIF search engines for instant daily use. However, one of the big issue of GIFs is having a good image quality in a low compressed file size. However, MP4 can accomplish that even better, especially now with the latest video compression codec h.265 that can lower the file size and keep the quality high. As this becomes more popular across devices / users I believe the replacement of GIF images with MP4 h.265 videos are to be expected. Instagram for example only allows the posting of animations as MP4 videos, and I expect more websites and apps will start embracing this. I find that videos can also stream and load significantly faster than GIFs due to the compressed file size and due to certain server technologies, that help for fast online streaming. That’s a big plus towards video usage. At BLEND we already found ourselves replacing GIF images with video due to the reasons mentioned above, and so I expect to see this switch happening more often.
 


Innovative Interaction / Reaction
This approach has been around for a few years now, but I feel it will become more innovative for any online experience by next year, and the years to come. The idea is that users need to undertake some form of unorthodox and clever interaction before there is any reactive progress through the app or website experience. An example can be a website offering a linear journey to visitors where they must click & drag horizontally before moving onto the next scene. Another more common example is when visitors are invited to scroll to receive scroll-based animations or content appearing as they browse through the website. We can see these examples more often and already constitute a trend, however what I expect to see (or at least hope) are a lot more innovative approaches and unique mechanisms to the same principle, such as playful gestures via touch or interacting with 3D space via webGL.




 
Breaking the rules
Again, another previous prediction of mine where I’m talking about escaping the grid for more unique and creative layouts. These have been happening a lot, but not only, all the rules and best practises we know in web design I tend to see many creative and unique approaches that break those rules and escape the norm without affecting the user experience in a bad way. We can see playful and unorthodox typography used, lots of design elements all over layouts for no reason, a mixture of colours, videos, images and lots of small details to notice… all balancing well and enhancing the overall experience delivering a unique and creative product that stands out from the crowd. Designers used to abide to the web design rules and restrictions we ‘have’ to follow, but technology and web standards have improved so much that we must no longer feel restricted. We take advantage of technology to come up with creative designs that still run smoothly, load fast, are animated, are engaging and remain responsive on every device and browser. It’s been happening, and it will be happening even more. 2018 will shine with creativity on user experiences…I am sure of it!

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Loris Stavrinides
Loris Stavrinides

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