In modern design fields, it’s no longer acceptable to be average. That’s not to say it was ever acceptable in the first place but doing so now can have much more significant consequences on your business and clients. You see, companies today need to stand out and be bold. One of the best ways to do that is through striking visual themes or styles — which comes out in the design elements graphic artists or web developers employ.
If you want to be noticed, you have to crank the volume up to eleven. At the same time, you must be mindful of design guidelines and requirements. That way, visual elements — flashy or not — do not detract from the overall user experience. Thus, we have the eternal struggle of a designer, whether that be in web design, graphic design or some other form of visual creativity.
In light of that, it’s essential to keep up with bleeding edge design trends — or even stay ahead of everyone else. Here are six emerging graphic design trends for the coming year that you would do well to honor.
1. Light or Dark? Why Not Both?
One trend we’re seeing right now is using contrasting light and dark color schemes or styles. Primary color variations might include blue and grey, black and white, or similar contrasting hues.
Why not take that a step further and offer both options to potential audiences? People browse most websites, apps and portals using mobile devices, and it’s always great to have that light and dark choice depending on your preferences. A lot of apps actually employ something called “night mode,” where users can activate a theme that is dark and easy on the eyes in low-light conditions.
Developing multiple versions of a design in varying palettes also affords you — the designer — a lot more freedom to express personality and creativity. Clients and customers will love it, and so will you. It’s a win-win for everyone.
2. Expansive Minimalism
The idea of a more expansive minimalist style may seem a bit contradictory, but in the past, minimal designs have largely employed muted or neutral colors with a lot of white space. Lately, we’ve seen the rise of a new form of minimalism that uses greater color and contrast. Designs are still pared down and efficient with minimal distractions, but the colors used are more vivid, as is the scenery and visual elements of the layout.
Colors might pop more. Backgrounds might include a little more going on with a texture-based element. Navigation buttons and attention points might be a little brighter. These all contribute to a more innovative yet equally beautiful minimalist style.
3. Kinetic Typography
There’s nothing more important in design than the typography you choose. Including the wrong font in a design even once will show you exactly why this is. You want text content to stand out, but you also want it to jive with other visual components, and it must be readable to boot.
Kinetic typography — or moving, dynamic typography — is a relatively new trend that is taking hold everywhere. Why? Because you’re essentially using the same fonts and styles you always have, but simply injecting a little more activity into its presentation. It involves graphic animation techniques to present moving typography. Letters might dance, strobe or even bounce around. Accents might shiver to accentuate a point. Colors and styles might also shift, briefly or over a longer period.
Funny enough, the practice is not actually new — it has been around since the 1950s, originating with Alfred Hitchcock and his 1959 film North by Northwest. More recently, it’s gained popularity and is making something of a comeback that could even be part of a dynamic type movement.
4. Vivid Colors and Imagery
Giving a design or visual element “pop” is what truly makes it stand out to people. It’s always been possible to do this by injecting vivid colors and imagery, but mainstream designs generally opted for easier palettes — not anymore. In fact, many designers and graphic artists are taking it upon themselves to experiment with incredibly bright and eye-catching colors, whether that be lighter hues that are much more intense than the norm, or super bright neons that just seem to flash on the page.
This trend specifically calls for stepping outside of the norm, shedding away conventional color and visual styles.
5. Futuristic-Retro Feel
We’re in this strange state of mind currently where so many designs are using a mix of futuristic and retro-style themes. Think cyberpunk, but with a more functional approach. Elements like geometric shapes, abstract patterns and bright neon colors are starting to bleed their way into popular designs.
It can effectively be described as a mainstream yet futuristic influence, albeit one steeped in class. If you can find a way to adopt these visual elements, while still adhering to minimal practices yet with captivating results, you’ve won. From the outside, this concept can seem incredibly nuanced and complex, but once you have a working design in place, it’s evident a futuristic influence can really kick up some dirt.
6. Authentic Photos
Professional, sterile and faux stock photos have never really been appealing, especially when you’re dealing with humanized or forward-facing portals. Audiences often look at professional stock photos and feel distanced or segregated in a way. There’s this hidden sense of impossibility to them. In the real world, you could never hope to look like the people in these photos, nor experience what they purportedly are.
Not to mention, photo devices and quick-snap technology have advanced considerably. Most people carry around an excellent point-and-shoot with them everywhere they go — embedded within their mobile device. Perhaps that explains why it’s acceptable to include photos in a design that look like a personal camera or smartphone took them. People love the emotions that genuine pictures elicit, and it really brings a natural, welcoming feel to modern designs.
Get Ahead of — Not With — the Program
In the end, if you’re interested in standing out and coming up with some remarkable designs, following these tips and potential trends will undoubtedly get you there. Web design is one market where being ahead of the curve helps you considerably. In other industries, people may not be ready for change, or big players may be more resilient to innovation. That’s certainly not the case with modern design, so be sure to let your creativity and expressive nature flow.