This year we’ve singled out some of the major design trends to watch:

1. Credibility becomes paramount

Website visitors have become weary of much of the information they come across on the web. It’s critical to establish your credibility with your audience with all the tools at your disposal. One important tool is the use of web design techniques that respect your audience and craft the perception of your business or organisation as a reputable one, worthy of their trust. An example of this would be the avoidance of the use of pop ups and distracting superfluous design elements, instead focusing on clear content and avenues through which the user can accomplish their goals on your site.

2. Content is emphasised

Content is king. It’s what your website is all about. The goal of a website is to build a beautiful framework for delivering your content. In 2017, design and content will interplay unlike they ever have before, enhancing the manner in which you reach your audience with your message or products. Distractions in the form of sidebar ads, unnecessary calls to action, pop ups, sign up boxes, social media buttons will be eliminated in favour of real estate reserved for clean content.

3. Interfaces become conversational

Conversational interfaces graphic.

Conversational interfaces started to take off last year ushering in a new and exciting medium for designing. Microsoft’s first chatbot, Xiaoice, already has 40 million users with their CEO saying “conversation as a platform” is the future of the company. In many ways, the promise of conversational interfaces lies in its ability to make it easier to accomplish things with computers. The onus for figuring out how to do these things moves from the user to the software. We expect to see the momentum started with this movement carry forward into 2017. The technology behind conversational interfaces is complex and early in its development, but we expect it to continue to attract considerable attention, growing into a more and more useful tool with an increasing number of applications.

4. High-quality authentic photography selected over stock photography

Last year saw the use of regular stock photography on the decline with designers finding that their users weren’t responding well to contrived depiction of people. Further, it has been proven to reduce trust, often being completely ignored. A new wave of “authentic photography” is gaining ground and we expect to see this trend continue to grow. An authentic photograph tries to capture an authentic moment and minimises the manipulation of that moment. The subjects in the photographs are being true to themselves and they are behaving in a way that fits their environment.

5. Continue to see more bespoke brand-themed illustrations

Branded imagery example

Bespoke brand-themed illustrations serve as powerful extensions of your brand, extending your visual language in new ways and strongly communicating your message and tone to your audience. In concert with your logo, iconography, and the visual design of your user interface, you will speak to your audience in tangible and meaningful ways.

6. GIFs, SVG, CSS animations and cinematography inform and set the tone

When you include animated elements like GIFs or SVGs to your website you do more than simply spice it up. An animation may serve to inform a user how to use a new feature or reveal important content. It may reassure them they have successfully submitted a form or it may be used at the final part of a sequence of tasks to signify completion and a job well done. Cinematography, which can look like a short looping video, can set the scene and add dramatic effect to your website. If done well, these are often responded to better than static photographs.

7. VR leaves its mark

Virtual Reality is here with the advent of VR headsets developed by numerous manufacturers. While VR on the web is still in its infancy, the popular web in the form that we know it today, and likely for 2017, will likely not be able to help but borrow from what is coming on the VR horizon. Expect to see the third dimension more and more, even if it’s only being manipulated to appear 3D (and not rendered in WebVR or a 3D engine), making its way into web design this year.

8. Style grows to include geometric shapes, lines, and patterns

Stylistically, expect 2017 to continue to see the evolution of and an experimentation with geometric shapes, lines and patterns. No longer are we restricted to designing strictly within the grids and forming collections of rectangles. Diagonal lines, irregular shapes, and more will be explored by creative designers the world over.

9. Duotone gradient imagery brightens our experience

Instagram duotone logo.

Gradients are making a comeback in a real way with duotone gradients and duotone gradient imagery. It may be used with type, shapes, or images, using 2 colours or sometimes more. The new Instagram logo is a fine example of this effect. Look to see this brightening effect all over the web, adding life to what were before flatter and less dynamic design elements.