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Design Trends for 2018

by Lindsey Winsemius 10 months ago

Web Design Trends 2018

We made it y’all! Fidget spinners are leaving, new visual elements are quickly incoming, and for once, design is not not following Apple and Google.

Some of these are ongoing trends vs net-new trends, which is something you may consider calling out. As a designer seeing things like “design systems are a trend” popping up 7 years in a row makes me crazy.

In the current state of marketing, graphic design trends can disappear as quickly as they came into the fold. Expect to see last years “modern and flat” designs begin to quickly look entirely outdated in 2018.

I’m sad too, dear reader, but I can assure you that we’re going to make it through this, together.

While some trends have, and will continue to stand the test of time, others have vanished in the blink of an eye only to make room for new modern looks. Fear not, chunky black fonts are not going to go anywhere anytime soon. This post will focus on the “new styles” and compositions that will throw everything else aside in the coming year.

The flat material based design trends that have recently saturated the UX and branding market, are facing the end of their respective shelf life. This is THE YEAR for crazy designs, experiments and wild imagination-and as a designer-this is where we throw on our fancy cargo shorts and favorite novelty socks.

This list is a summary of the styles I’m personally watching and beginning to incorporate into our clients' branding needs. While you may find some of these a huge surprise, you might have seen others coming. Spoiler alert - like my Dad’s uncanny superhuman ability to wear ‘Hammer pants’ about 6 years after anyone should have legally been allowed to - the 80’s love for bright colors are back. (No mullet required)

Popular design trends in 2018 will be based on what international companies and artists are doing that will be sparking interest in people. While the surroundings of modern society have gone to a more minimalist style, such as the white walls and natural colors of an Apple store, a designer needs to ensure that the client's message is not lost in all that white space.

UX and marketing have shifted consistently toward cleanliness, and as such the market is saturated with white backgrounds and simple text-based messages and logos. This is what makes 2018 setup for an exciting year in design. It’s time for us to throw a gallon of color at the current space and make things stand out among the myriad of faceless cookie-cutter marketing that's gotten so comfortable lately.

Color -

“You’re turning violet, Violet!” Man, I love that movie.

Blues and Purples are taking back their respective spots at the bar, and they've brought their loud friends.

Color usage in design has and likely will always follow the current mental feeling shared across the world. 2016 & 2017 shared a dark, chaotic space, it would not be unrealistic for someone, when asked what color will represent 2018, to look around and guess, say, black. Or maybe deep, bloody burgundy. Wartime red? Fake-tan orange? At the very least, soot gray.

Any of these would easily match different shades of the general mood. Instead we’re stepping back to a ‘simpler time’ that Prince would have found delightful.

No, really.

Do we still say artist formerly known as Prince, or what? Let me know in the comments, I draw stuff, I am not entirely sure how to designate the man even though I can belt out Purple Rain at any given moment.

Anyhow…to the utmost delight in my choice of using Morris Day and the Time in my editing playlist of choice for the last few months, we designers will be using as many vibrant tones as possible in the upcoming year.

Wondering who makes these choices? Pantone sent approximately 10 people to blanket the globe for weeks at a time last year, searching for color signals in food, cars, cosmetics, clothes and housewares. They reconvened, pooled their findings, did their analysis and declared the color of 2018 to be … Ultra Violet and it’s quickly becoming the fastest accepted color transition in marketing that's ever been recorded. Designers just entirely dropped the natural hues you've grown so accustomed to seeing, well, everywhere...and it's about time that a vivid and bold color takes charge of the situation. I’ve also been looking for an excuse to channel my inner Frank Lloyd Wright and wear a purple cape when I am trying to be it’s a win-win!

Logo Design -

That’s a great logo! And like everything my color theory professor taught me not to do in school, I’m going to now see how it looks when we crank the color saturation completely.

As a designer, we’ve had it “easy” for the last few years thanks to the explosion of simple text based logos and ad work. Apple pushed forward with a simplified design communication and the entire world followed suite. 2018 will usher in a vast and exciting change from this ideal set.

Welcome to the age of simplified line work and well thought out saturated coloration.

Logos that are more interesting to the eye by creating a visual spark while remaining simple, are going to assist pushing their branding efforts forward this year. Interesting usage of typography and the utilization of vector based graphics that no longer “animate” the brand but assist its overall simplicity will usher in a whole new gorgeous world. By using more vivid colors (see instagram and youtube and spotify) increasing the brightness to take advantage of the wider color range capabilities of both mobile devices and also to grab more attention. And my favorite part, no more pastels. REJOICE!

We’re also going to see a surprising return in using gradients to accent depth! The death of the flat design interface in order to cast actual dimension that is more objective to the brand, this will be seen more especially in social media.

Expect shadows. Expect gradient overlays on interesting typography choices. Expect...the 80’s? Your brand needs to be unique, and your logo needs to grab the attention of the end user before the competition does.

Print/Digital Design -

Who’s laughing at my Miami Vice box set collection now!?

Remember when we all said that we were glad the over-the-top styling of 80’s verbiage was gone? Not only is it making a return, it’s also brought it’s friends. Typography based creative elements using creative elements to step aside from the 2012-2017 type usage is going away faster than it came. Expect to see a wide usage fonts in irregular orientations within visual compositions to spark a visual interest in marketing campaigns.

Dripping Text, Brush Stroke effects, Serif type fonts with sections missing, and creative variations of colorations and manipulation of familiar fonts will be used to market products toward consumers by speaking directly towards the interest in being unique. While Helvetica will always live on in our collective hearts, it’s about to get chopped, stretched and warped more than a hot rod barn find.

And this doesn't stop at just the usage of fonts. Expect to see a gigantic increase in the usage of “unstable coloration” to create imagery that catches attention. The return of double exposure styled imagery to create an emphasis for interest in marketing products will be the first step. You’ve likely already seen this style of imagery being used, however the situation will further progress with the incoming popularity of vivid colorations using color channel tricks in the editing process as well in the same usage. This is going to result in seeing an image in ‘doubles’. I also fully expect this theme to continue in to marketing video production. Why? Because it's cool, and yet remains classy at the same time. It builds value in a campaign with the artwork and imagery. In a world where a digital product is expected to “feel like” a product you can take out of a box, this is paramount for your business’ success. More on this after the glorious visual stimuli.

People still want to hold a purchase in their hand. Come on, everyone is doing it.

So, all the rage lately is about the experience of unboxing a product you’ve purchased. Using every sense to generate a response. The feel of recycled cardboard as you open that box. The unmistakable smell of a brand new apple product. No really, there’s even a market for that fragrance!

So, how do we build that emotional attachment to a digital product? How do I, as a designer, properly encompass the value of your product when your end users are limited to only their vision?

The answer? More 3d mockups of realistic products. More mentally engaging marketing campaigns. More focus on you team to generate blog and product description content that engages the end user. Shameless-plug: We at Apogee can do all of this for you.

Now, this isn't anything to new. But, expect to see a dramatic change from the normal “hero shot” we’ve all come to love over the last few years, and an unmistakable change to bright vivid and almost unrealistic compositions of the product as a tangible item, rather than a digital purchase.

Who wants to take me to the Guggenheim? Road trip? Anyone?

Negative space keeps the user focused on the information being presented and de-clutters the viewable field. What’s new with this though right? Last year we saw so much usage of white space that one of my most used sentences in communication to our development team was “Hey, double the padding and margins here”.

While its amazing in how it makes a design more clinical and clean, expect to see that space filled with the light usage of geometric shapes and patterns as a call to interest. More so, expect to see negative space being filled with polygons and splashes of color dynamics to show simplicity and playfulness at the same time.

Have no worries however friend, remember I’m here for you, and negative space isn't going anywhere. It is however going to be used in a more functionally dynamic way. Expect to see it used to separate a message in typography from a background image.

Slapping really shiny gold on everything worked for the Pharaohs, who am I to disagree with that?

Remember how Apple came out with Rose Gold everything, and people HAD to have it? Did you notice that its pretty much gone?

These dull metallic hues are (thankfully) gone. Let’s be real here though: Metal hues aren't going anywhere. They will be far more visually enhancing that previously used however. It was a great run, throwing dull aluminum in as a background element. But, like myself when passing a car dealership, people get super excited to see bright and shiny metallic colors. Expect this to be used in favor of bringing attention to an image that may otherwise be overlooked.

Keep in mind, we’re finding ourselves in a very real modern ‘wild west’ of crypto currencies which has generated a whole new demographic of 19-45 year old that all have gold fever. The idea of extravagance and luxury is making a rise very quickly within this demographic.

Illustration -

So the ‘Blue’s Clues’ generation is your target demographic now? I’m surprised too...but that puppy was adorable, am I right?

Papercut illustrations were WIDELY used between 10-20 years ago. Everything from the pre-mentioned children's television series, to games and everything in between used this style of art. Why does this matter now? Because it generates an element of trust and security in the very demographic that you’re trying to speak to in order to market your company. Your end user will see the style of artwork and immediately attach an emotion from their childhood (again, building emotion in a digital marketplace). It remains playful, while being able to speak in a professional matter visually. If Elon Musk was a design trend, he’d be a paper-cut animation wrapped in a gold foil vest.

Hey, that $99 Apple pencil is really useful...and super easy to lose...

Hand drawn illustrations over photos. Love them or hate them, they’re “in” and only ramping up in popularity.

This technique boosts the effect of the photo and brings the entire composition forward in the end users frame of sight with an edgy updated but laid-back look. It’s a throwback style to those binders everyone scribbled crude drawing on, and once again speaks to an end user directly from their childhood. Adding an ounce of fun to an image that would normally fall into the back of your head like every other instagram post you loved last year. For the brands which find generic Shutterstock style photos way too boring, this is the right trend!

Site Design -

The styles of the 80’s may be making a comeback, but people still mock my ‘Saved by the Bell’ bedroom wall posters. Go figure.

Decluttering and mid-process small scale redesign isn’t even an option anymore. Remember how excited you were with an existing site design one year ago? So were your clients. Now, they’ve grown used to it. Keeping them means making strides to continuously update and fine tune elements of your site. As a general rule of thumb, every 6-8 months is great for some light cleaning of your site content. A new layout review at 24 months. Think evolution, not revolution.

Removing visual clutter and improving comprehension is a popular goal today. Designers remove irrelevant information (noise) and prioritize relevant information (signal) by putting content first and elaborating clear visual language. If every inch of that screen real estate isn't selling your product, then its wrong. In addition, new devices are introduced everyday, keeping a steady evolution of your website enables the most up to date practices and code to be implied in order to ensure that you end user has a great experience, on any device.

A “Go directly to Boardwalk” card for your end users.

A linear design experience is UX with a specific beginning, middle, and end that allows users to complete one action with each step.

Linear user flow is good for users because it allows to estimate how much time it’s required to complete a task, while enabling the confidence of an end user knowing where to go next.

51.3 percent of worldwide internet usage was from mobile devices. I’m pretty sure that my kids account for at least half of that.

Mobile First responsive design is now a necessity not a choice. Your site needs to be engrossing a user's interest on a device that fits in their hand, while they are surrounded by the attention grabbing dynamics of the world around them.With the release of Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X, frameless design became a trend. It’s up to us to make sure that your message is clearly spoken on a $1000 device that gets dropped. More screen space is now available for users and they expect to have full-screen experiences. If your site doesn't fit the bill, they'll remember the competitor whose site does.

Want to frustrate someone? Load Amazon on a dial up connection. Or, be like me and just mimic the modem-era noises really loudly while shopping with my girlfriend... Boop boop boop boop...CREEEEE ERRRRRR TIC TIC TIC TSHHHHHHHHHHH...she totally loves it.

HD Images and Videos are so commonplace now that they’re pushing device specs as mentioned above. Not only the fact that your site or app should provide full-screen experience is important, the quality of assets will have a direct impact on user expectations about your brand and product. Images should not appear pixelated on a mobile screen. This is all great and beautiful until you realize you’ve got to load these elements as fast as possible.

Everyone expects your site to load as fast as an app they've got on their device locally. Measurements in milliseconds can be the difference of a sale. Now unfortunately, we can't fine tune every device to your site - I tried and it didn't go well at all. Also note, being maced actually hurts SUPER bad.

So how do we work with this so that I’m not getting beat up by little old ladies in the mall? We can fine tune your elements to grab and hold the user's attention. Studies are showing that surprisingly: People are willing to wait if it means more engaging and higher quality content is on its way. In 2018, expect the load times to raise slightly, and offer more engaging elements in visual assets to compensate users for the wait.

Marketing -

“Video killed the radio star” was the first music video played on MTV in 1981. That was the very day your trusty narrator was born. Coincidence? I think not...

Welcome to the dominance of video: 2017 saw a MASSIVE surge in the popularity of video as a content marketing format. According to Hubspot, 78% of people watch videos online every week, and 55% watch videos online every day. While the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, to eight seconds in 2015.

Oh look, something wrapped in shiny gold!


A video I posted on social media, accidentally, featured yours truly staring in anticipation at a taco-truck menu for 53 long dialogue...just my excitement shown in facial changes… That video got 63 shares.

New ways of content delivery appear as a result of adapting to the change. Formats like 360-degree videos and Facebook Live were created as a result of this. In 2018 expect to see users and business using this format to deliver important and timely information. Do not however expect to see your favorite designer dressing like David Bowie in Labyrinth while being featured in Marketing videos for Apogee. The boss says its not going to generate as much emphasis for your product as my time spent actually working. Also, for sale: Slightly used Labyrinth costume and wig...only wore to company functions and Wal Mart trips about 14 times...

I laugh when I see my Father changing the orientation on his phone for video. I might also be a terrible son.

Adapting Video For Portrait Orientation: According to Luke W, 94% of the time mobile phones are used in portrait orientation. This means that all content you share online (including video) should be adapted for this orientation. Sure we’ve all been there - rotating our device 37 times in a minute to figure out how to make it fit properly to utilize the screen best - and none of us enjoyed it. Wonder how the orientation can make a difference? Notice the orientation of the images used in this blog post...ahhhh gotchya!

Excited to see how these newer design changes can help your business identity?

Need someone to translate all this into your brands sales?

Contact us directly.

Did I skip over something you've noticed changing?

What are your thoughts on the migration to more vivid coloration?

Want to join in the conversation by sharing your most beloved 80’s design themes inherent return?

Sound off in the comments.

Andrew Frey, ApogeeINVENT Creative DirectorAndrew Frey is the Creative Director and company comedian for ApogeeINVENT. When he's not designing fabulous websites, logos, book covers and anything else requested by our clients, he mines bitcoin while listening to Prince and watching Saved by the Bell.