It’s 2020. A new decade; a new era of visual expression. How will artists and designers of our generation shape the visual culture of the new 20’s?

GMD’s design team is looking ahead in an attempt to forecast trends that will take hold in our profession. Here are our top 5 design trends:

1. Animated logos
Animated logos have long existed in TV and Film. With video and motion graphics seeing a wider resurgence on social media, this movement towards animated logos is becoming more appealing for brands operating in all industries. Today, designers are crafting logo animations that can be meaningful or useful in different contexts. Brands are becoming more like media channels if they can invest in keeping their feeds updated non-stop with new content. It certainly warrants that animated logo treatment.

2. Typography as shapes and imagery
Typographers usually focus on creating typefaces that are easy to read, which helps us take in information. Using typefaces meaningfully, designers work to enhance meaning and add conceptual nuances with how we design that viewing experience. With that said, the use of typography as shapes could be a significant trend this year. We’ll see typography used as 3D elements, background patterns or visual containers, creating a more immersive experience.

At GMD, we have been on a roll with bold use of typography. Pushing design projects further with creative use of typography is something we will continue to explore.

3. Dark UI
You may have noticed that more and more of our favourite apps and platforms now have a dark interface option. From Twitter to iOS to Instagram, this is now becoming a standard viewing choice for users, and it’s starting to be backed by ethnographic studies and lab research as to why it matters.

For starters, it’s no secret that we use devices while in dark environments. We have all been in dark settings like movie theatres, where we notice someone’s bright screen light up in the audience (perhaps, it’s been your screen). Yes, it’s annoying. For the user, the contrast of their dark environment and their bright UI screen can be jarring. Until recently, consumers have accepted it as a necessary evil.

Among other reasons, dark UI considers screen brightness, contrast, hue and saturation in its overall aesthetic, all for the sake of screen readability. While studies are still very sparse at this stage, it’s safe to assume that big tech has garnered enough user preference data to warrant investment in deploying their platform versions with dark UI. As a result, we are already seeing it becoming a trend in the design world at large. 


4. Mixed media collage design styles
In our modern times, everyone is a multi-hyphenated pro of some sort. Designer-developer, photographer-baker, skater-lawyer. Designers have been taking this effect and transferring it into their creative processes. Don’t be surprised to see mash-ups of different styles in one piece of work. Paint strokes overlaid onto photography add new dimensions and visual interest that neither one could achieve on its own.

5. UI Animation and Micro-animations
Flash websites and digital experiences were previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content. It empowered content creators to offer highly engaging interactivity with their brand touch points.

Unfortunately, 2010 marked the beginnings of its decline due to its inherent security flaws and poor performance on mobile devices – it drained battery life and caused slow loading times. However, the spirit of Flash lives on today with an increasing trend towards interactive content and rich-media experiences. 

As animated user interfaces gain traction across the digital world again, designers will approach it more mindfully than their early 2000’s cohort. One of the biggest differences between 2010 and 2020 is that the industry has established UX and UI best practices now. We think and talk about User Experience differently today, so it will be interested to see how this trend will evolve.

It will start with small moments of delight – maybe a little animated illustration on your website at first. Then, once it really takes hold, we’ll see a whole new landscape of user interaction and experiences on our devices.


6. Custom Typography
The 2019 design trend of typography-heavy design has paved way to a new year of appreciation for type. As designers start to adopt typography as a defining element of a brand, companies are starting to adopt custom typefaces to differentiate their brand voice in a saturated industry, while also opening a gateway to financial sustainability and inclusivity.

To give a few examples, Netflix claims to be saving “millions of dollars” a year over licensing fees from having their own typeface; while AirBnB created their own typeface to “support seven non-Latin based languages, and are looking to internationalize far beyond that” ranging from Chinese to Hebrew, to build a consistent brand voice that reaches beyond global borders. It turns out, typefaces are much more than just a tool for communication. They can be a powerful asset in shaping brand personality and influencing user behavior, and we look forward to welcoming new and conceptual typefaces into the decade.

Isn’t it interesting how each decade eventually becomes defined by specific visual trends and motifs? The trends in this blog post may come and go, but isn’t that always the case? The 50’s and 70’s eras probably had hundreds of trends coming and going during their decade. It’s only in retrospect that the dominant visual trends emerge to represent its zeitgeist.