2017 Design Inspiration (8 Trending Examples)

What's up with design trends anyway?

Let’s start with novelty. It turns out, we're wired to seek out new experiences. A chemical reaction takes place in the brain when it encounters something new. The brain releases dopamine, which prompts us to seek more new experiences. Thus, novelty is not only pleasurable, but actually pushes us to learn and grow.

On the flip side, we also tend to follow trends for less sincere reasons. For some, the need to keep up with the "Joneses" (or at least appear to be keeping with the times) is paramount. And like it or not, we’re also motivated by the need to fit in and conform to the group.

So what does this mean for design trends? Are they making our brains grow, or just appeasing our pride? Probably both. Advances in technology, the predominance of mobile and a voracious appetite for content have pushed design to change and grow. And there are a couple of possible reactions. Ride the waves of trend, keep it traditional and solid, or innovate. At the end of the day, a designer who understands the needs of her client will get it right.

1. Material Design

Although not a trend itself, Material Design cannot be ignored in a discussion of design trends. Pioneered by Google as a visual language, Material Design uses graphics and motion to cue viewer responses.

The basic idea is that visuals and motion should have predictable behavior that is based on reality. Material Design employs deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography and intentional white space. It also plays heavily with grid, and employs "cards" to serve as entry points to larger groups of information. And where Google leads, everyone follows.

2. Semi Flat

Skeuomorphism: a digital object that demonstrates the attributes of it's real world counterpart. Drop shadows! Gradients! Textures! Everyone loved it.

Then everyone hated it. And designers reacted by introducing flat design. Flat design took the world by storm. No more shading or gradients or textures. It felt more...authentic.

Skip ahead. Flat Design became Flat 2.0, then Semi Flat. Don't get me wrong, it is still flat design, the goal is not to create illustrations that appear to be photographs. But for the sake of dimension and movement, a bit of light has been added back in, as well as subtle shadows. Even gradients are sneaking back in, along with subtle complexity (think pattern and print).

And yes, Google Material Design has the full set of "rules".

3. Bold Colors

Color trends are being affected primarily by two factors. The first is the move to mobile. We're interacting with technology in every environment now, and designs on those screens need to pop. This is leading to a rise in brighter, bolder colors. You probably wore it in the '80s and '90s. So look out for vibrant duotones and color transitions everywhere.

Secondly, we're all facing technology burnout. The more we surround and immerse ourselves in technology, the more we want to pull away. Pantone nailed it when they named the 2017 color of the year: Greenery.

4. Geometric Shapes, Patterns, and Lines

Oh the '80s. Squiggly lines, geometric patterns, and shape confetti. A resurgence of this trend started in 2016 and looks to continue.

5. Dramatic Typography

At this point, it should be no surprise that bold typography is also on the rise. In a realm that is increasingly saturated with graphic input, any small advantage is sought. Daring type treatments can be achieved through size, color, texture and arrangement. With small screens and even smaller attention spans, viewers have come to depend on bold fonts in high-contrast bold colors.

And while the strictly hand-lettered trend has probably peaked, we'll still be seeing traces of organic influence on type.

6. Custom illustration

Brands are no longer just looking to have their own fonts and colors, but their own illustrative style. And the less corporate, the better. We're seeing organic and hand-drawn custom illustration everywhere as companies try to make themselves appear fun and make their products more accessible.

7. Original Narrative Photos

As consumers encounter the constant barrage of new content, our desire for truth increases. And photos that appear candid, unfiltered, spontaneous and gritty feel more original and genuine. Anything viewed as stock has come to represent what is wrong with the corporate world.

The perception is that anyone with an iPhone can take a great shot. Viewers are looking for cues like simplicity, movement, flash to convey reality, raw emotion and the ordinary. So while professional photography will not be going away, we will seeing a more subtle use of post-production tools.

8. Integrated Motion

We'll be seeing motion everywhere: paralax scrolling, animation, looped video headers, cinemagraphs and a predominance of GIFs.

Whether subtle or complex, they not only capture interest, but quickly convey emotion. And they help tell stories.

Pantone Announces 2016 Color of the Year

For those of you who like to track design trends, Pantone has announced Rose Quartz & Serenity as the blended color of the year.
“Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
According to Pantone, these soothing colors could be an antidote to modern day stresses.
Suggested possible pairings include:

While the colors are soothing to be sure, we’ll be interested to see how far the business world will go in adapting them.
Can you see any organizations you know using these colors?

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Read our 2017 Color Guide to Neutrals next:

Five Consumer Holiday Shopping Trends That Will Affect Your Business in 2016

Consider Google’s recent insights on shopping for the holidays:

  • More decisions are made in micro-moments throughout the day—like when waiting, walking or commuting.
  • More decisions are made on the phone—up to 30%, according to Think With Google. In fact, shopping-related searches have grown more than 120% in the last year. And 82% of smartphone users will consult with their phone while they are in the store.
  • 32% of shoppers plan to use video for holiday purchases.
  • 64% of smartphone viewers would rather watch a video to answer questions than pick up a phone or read a manual.
  • Sundays are the biggest shopping days. And yet, the day when more businesses have shorter hours or are closed altogether.

Perhaps the biggest shift is that we have gone from focusing on a given task to splintering tasks into hundreds of bite size moments, according to Lis Gevelber, VP Marketing at Google.

Gevelber says these moments “are increasingly where hearts, minds and dollars are being won and lost…. And companies that measure and respond to micro-moments are gaining a very big edge on the competition. Mobile is the new from door to your brand and your stores. Are you at the door, ready to help?”*
So what does this mean for your business—even if you aren’t in retail? Often, the service industry will lag retail trends, but retail trends are a harbinger of consumer behaviors that will come your way. Here’s what you can do right now to respond to these:

  • While mobile must be a central part of any marketing strategy, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough. The content that your customers most crave must be available and easy to use on mobile.
  • Attention spans are shorter, so content you want to convey has to be delivered as snackables—short messages that fit between a myriad of other tasks.
  • Consumers want content in video form—and frequently will choose it over “reading”.
  • Can your customers find what they want on weekends and evenings—when they have discretionary time?

Now’s a good time to think about how these trends will affect your business, and to ask what your competitors are doing better than you are in each of these categories.

* Source: Micro-Moments and the Shopper Journey

Design Trends: The Return of Hand-lettering

If you’re noticing a resurgence of hand-lettering, it’s for good cause. The design world is embracing this old technique and applying it to everything from ads to book titles.
Hand-lettering can signal all kinds of moods—from whimsical to elegant, according to Denise Bosler, and may be a response to modern digital design trends that are often sleek and business-like.
Need some inspiration? Check out her list of 25 stunning hand-lettering projects.

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Pantone Makes Spring Color Forecast

We love color and enjoy watching the seasonal color changes—much like the leaves of fall—which are often a reflection of our societal moods. The color experts at Pantone have made their prediction for spring colors, and you may not find them surprising.
Spring colors are predicted to take on softer colors that reflect “quiet zones” and create an oasis to counterbalance our high-speed, technology-saturated culture. These soothing colors create visual sanctuaries for the eye.
What colors in this new spectrum have strongest appeal to you?

2015 Cultural Trends Business People Should Know About

If you’re in the business of communicating or marketing, then you’ll want to know about cultural trends.  
Here’s a quick little slide show that can give you a snapshot of trends—from lifelogging and cardboard products to The Alternet and moodgeisting (technologies that read emotion). While many of these may not take off, some will. So strap yourself in and take a glimpse into the year ahead.
Do you see any trends here that suggest business opportunities in your industry?

Pantone Chooses Marsala as 2015 Color of the Year

The 2015 color of the year is Marsala, a rich red-brown that exudes a sophisticated earthiness and works well on its own, as an accent or even as a hearty neutral.
The tone was selected for several reasons:

  • Liked by men and women
  • Flattering against many skin tones
  • Brings warmth and drama
  • Is versatile for interiors, fashion, beauty products and graphic design

For tips on pairing Marsala with other colors, check out the pantone color pairing guide.

We see the versatility and sophistication in this color, which will make an interesting addition to color options for 2015. What do you see in Marsala?

When to Use An Infographic

An infographic depicts information using graphics and text. If you search for “infographic” you’ll get more than 15 million results—some that are very effective and some that are explosions of bad ideas. So when should you use an infographic?

  • When your message can be illustrated (visuals and words) better than described (words only)
  • When you need to show relationships or flow of information
  • When there’s data to explain that is meaningful to your viewer
  • When you need to make something simple
  • When you have a short time to deliver a complicated message

Like any communication tool, the key to making an infographic work is clarity, great design and spare but effective use of words. In this example we produced, the infographic provides an easy instruction for a new process. It lets the viewers decide how deep to go and where to start. Do they want to know why? What? Or just how?

Have you seen any infographics that you think worked well?

Is Your Hero Photo Really a Hero?

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Your website home page is your new front door. For many organizations, it’s the first impression of your brand, and for some online businesses, it’s the only impression.

So stop by your own home page and ask yourself whether your main photo is doing its heroic work of presenting the brand attributes your company lives by.

If your organization is one of those who feels that pictures are a luxury—rather than one of the most critical online Web brand assets—then invite your budget decision-makers to cruise through this site that shows hero photos living up to their names.

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How to Get Your News Release Picked Up

Want to increase the chances of your news release being used? Add images, graphics and video—which will not only make hungry journalists happy, but can help increase views by as much as 77 percent.

This infographic also shows that what PR professionals think journalists want and what journalists actually want aren’t always the same thing. For example, while 75 percent of journalists want access to video, only 43 percent of PR professionals think they’re important to journalists.

As the need for video grows, start making the case now for resources to produce them—and see your news coverage and Web activity grow.

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2013 Web Trend Inspiration

Web trends are always evolving, but here are a few we liked that were highlighted by

White space and minimalism

White space has always evoked focus, dignity and calm. Perhaps that’s why people are drawn to it. The restraint required to pare back content to just a few focused messages allows those messages greater impact than when the viewer has to sort through a onslaught of text and images. It’s like entering an oasis of calm in a world of visual clutter. Here are some examples.

Big photography

A picture is worth 1,000 words—especially for products that are visually arresting. We see this technique often used for designers, restaurants, architecture, fashion and photography. Imagine the words it would take to depict the images shown on this site? But don’t try this unless your photos are really worthy.

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Infinite scrolling

We’re seeing more of this effect that Pinterest has made so popular. We'd be interested to know what you think about this.

Detailed illustrations

Illustrations can be used to bring about different moods in your website. Look around the Internet, and you’ll find different website galleries and showcases using digital illustrations ranging from whimsical to serious. For more inspiration, click here.

Big typography

Typography can be high impact, if it’s done properly. In these examples, you can see typography taking the lead role on the home page—in place of a photo.

Circular Design Elements

The use of circles within website layouts is gaining popularity. Designers like circles because they are clean, neat and fit into any layout—and they offer a fresh break from the typical rectangular grid we’re used to seeing. For more inspiration on this trend, click here.

Which trends do you like best?

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A Simple Way to Increase Your Facebook Impressions by 50 Percent

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Jeff Bullas cites a study by that evaluated 10,000 Facebook and Twitter posts by 8,000 small businesses across 50 industries and found the following content drives engagement the most:

  1. Photo posts. They received 50 percent more impressions than any other type of content.

  2. Quotes. These provided 22 percent more interactions compared with other types of posts.

  3. Questions. They generated nearly twice as many comments as any other post type.

The report also showed that links were 87 percent more likely to be shared than any other type of post.

What pages do you frequently visit that do this well?