I asked Adriano (one of the many talented designers here at Glacier Media Digital) what he was most looking forward to seeing in digital design. His answer was pretty immediate. Having seen many trends come and go in his many years as a designer Adriano was quick to say, “Design trends are cyclical. We’ll get sick of something and stop using it only to have it reappear in later years…”

And this concludes my post.

Just kidding! There is more to say!

Adriano continued, “However, I am looking forward to seeing typography put to use as a stronger graphic element in digital.” At that moment, he stopped walking and pointed at a sign he liked. It hung outside of an adorable bakery. Playfully arranged, large, vertical, peachy letters filled up the entirety of the sign, while a more meaningful message displayed overtop in stark contrast. “See, the peach letters are being treated almost as if they were an image. It’s almost not meant to be read. It’s creating an energy and giving that sign personality,” he explained. “I think we will see more of this in digital.”

I often see this treatment  in conceptual phases and design specific websites. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

1. Bold Typographic Treatment

Unusually large letters for a website take up the first quarter of this web page. But it somehow doesn’t overwhelm the viewer – Why is that? The main common trait for the use of such bold typographic treatment involves a degree of blending into the background or adhering to thematic rules you create as you design. That can look like the use of a similar colour palette, patterning or even a slight opacity but even then,  it all depends on the tone or perhaps shock factor you’re trying to create. Maybe you do want to overwhelm the user – at least initially.

2. Semi-flat Design

I’ve tried to create a sense of depth and layers to the form in the mockup above. This depth, use of shadows and the illusion of light playing on the button (a painters trick), is what separates completely flat design from semi-flat design.  The background looks like frosted glass, hinting at something more behind it, while the button is highlighted by a soft ambient shadow – an effect that makes the button seem delightfully squishy. As a UI designer, I think imitating real life in the digital space can help create a richer experience for the user. And when I say “imitating real life” I’m talking about how light moves across objects to create shadows, giving us a sense of depth perception and overall understanding of the relationships between objects. Purely flat design, though it makes information easier to understand, quickly runs the risk of being too simplistic and subsequently a bit boring. And though it’s important that our work is legible, we also want to capture our users’ imagination and attention.

3. Responsive Logos

Responsive logos are self explanatory but they can be a challenge. When we’re creating logos, there are a lot of factors to consider thanks to the fact that everyone is going to look at your website or your logo through a different viewport height and width. Be that on a Mac, PC, Android, iPhone or in print on a billboard or magazine – is your logo recognizable on different types of mediums? If not, it may be time to refresh your logo with the help of a designer.

4. Micro-Animations

You probably don’t even notice we’ve added micro-animations to your website. It is after all supposed to be seamless. And as you can see from the example above, a small amount of animation can not only be more visually delighting but it can also serve the user by giving visual feedback and displaying changes more clearly. Micro-Animations give the user the idea that they are directly manipulating the interface and helps them understand what action they have or could taken.

5. “Authentic” Photography

Well maybe it’s staged, but a photograph  should look like a real world experience that tells a story. This is the type of treatment we at GMD find ourselves looking for as we flip through our supply of stock photos. Our eyes are irresistibly drawn to human faces and on a subconscious level we look at what the people in the photograph are looking at.

Did your eyes go straight to reading “Restaurant & Bar” just then? And all because the guy in the photo was looking down at it, eh? Or maybe you read “#BeaverTrailLife”, but again,  the guy in the photograph could be looking down at that too (“#BeaverTrailLife” is also probably the only thing that doesn’t make you squint at this unfortunately sized mockup.) Moving on – my point still stands! Unbounce is one of the applications we often use to build our landing pages and if you don’t believe me about the importance of human faces on a web page, their research validates my point. “When in doubt, use a human’s face. Research studies have shown, time and time again, that images of human faces can increase the trust and overall first impression a visitor has on a site.” Let’s examine this photo more closely.

There are some neat things happening in this photo. The photo looks very slightly tilted which adds  a sense of movement and effortlessness. Nobody is actually looking at the camera – it’s like we’re happening in on the middle of a story unfolding. And the fact that nobody is looking at the camera is  also a good thing to look out for when you’re adding type to an image. If there were eyes looking back at you, you’d hardly look at the potential type I later overlayed across this image. There’s also a kind of grain texturizing on this image (maybe having to do with the photographer overcompensating on the ISO due to a dark setting) yet it works and has its part to play in contributing to the idea of “realness” or “authenticity.” A lively, hilarious nightlife scene is clearly ensuing here and you might want to join in the fun.

What are your thoughts on these design trends? What are you hoping to see in digital design? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For the full Beaver Trail Resort website design experience, click this link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/71120111/Beaver-Trail-Resort-Website-Design