Experience Design

Five design trends for 2017

Will Burroughs

It’s that time of year again when we start to reflect on what has been and what will be in 2017.

As a designer at Ridgeway, an important aspect of my role is to keep an eye on current trends to ensure the websites we design for our clients meet and exceed their expectations, whilst remaining relevant and maximising the site’s lifecycle. So, read on to see some of the trends we think will continue into 2017.

Frying pan

Broken grid layouts

Broken grids have been everywhere in 2016 and we think this will continue well into 2017. The broken grid, if used in the right situation, can create visually engaging layouts which add to the storytelling of your products or services by utilising space and appearing to ignore the traditional rigid column structure of old. The broken grid approach allows elements to be highlighted and woven together, creating an ebb and flow as you scroll down the page. An example can be seen below from 100%, where they mix up structured and broken grid layouts together in a way that never feels over the top.

Screen shot from 100% website

Duotones and gradients

Styles constantly fall in and out of fashion, usually reappearing when someone is able to put a fresh twist on it. This is definitely the case with duotones and gradients, which came back into vogue when Spotify unveiled its new identity, utilising striking duotone imagery. Since then, duotones and gradients have been making a strong comeback and can be utilised in a myriad of different ways from backgrounds to image overlays, textures to borders, to typography. This approach works great for hero images where it adds visual interest without overpowering the message and avoiding legibility issues.

Spotify website

Less is still definitely more

In 2016, minimal design has been more popular than ever since it works beautifully for responsive design where you not only want consistency across all devices but also fast mobile load times.

Minimal design is a universal design practice, whether we are talking in the context of digital or print. Minimal design is all about the less is more approach, removing the superfluous and instead utilising white space, balance, and symmetry to craft clean, sharp, and timeless designs. This approach works especially well if your site is photographically focused, with fashion being a good example of where HD images are required to showcase products. In 2016, minimal design has been more popular than ever since it works beautifully for responsive design where you not only want consistency across all devices but also fast mobile load times. This has been enabled in part due to the advancements in technologies such as 4G, fibre, and platforms such as Kentico that perform automatic image optimisation, allowing HD images to be supported and downloaded. And with mobile usage now surpassing desktop, 2017 could be the most minimalist year yet.

Example of photographic design

Typography speaks louder than images

It was not so long ago that the web was limited to only a handful of system fonts. Thankfully in 2016, the web is our oyster and designers are able to push the potential of what typography can add to messaging further than ever before. Expect to see the continuation of expressive typography grow in 2017 with type taking centre stage in all its forms, becoming imagery in its own right.

Examples of different types of typography

Custom icons and illustrations

The right icon or illustration can speak a thousand words. Well, maybe not, but having custom icons or illustrations ensures you avoid the perils of the homogeneous web. Choosing to create custom icons or illustrations which explicitly convey your messaging, as opposed to a stock library approach, will not only aid your users’ understanding but will also add value to your online language, giving your site greater distinction. We have seen more and more clients in 2016 understanding the value in this, and Ridgeway was recently commissioned to produce a suite of icons for one of our clients and we expect much more of this in 2017.

Examples of icons and illustrations

As with all trends, some come and go and some are game changers. When it comes to your website at Ridgeway, we always treat the sensitivity of translating your brand into the digital environment as the priority.

Whilst trends have a bearing on how we approach this, they have to add real value to your story and not be just another flash in the pan.