Looking Ahead: Design Trends To Keep An Eye On


Now that we’re one quarter into the new year and the team here at Myplanet has hit 2017 running, we wanted to take a moment to canvas our intrepid design team to get their thoughts on what 2017 has and will continue to have in store for us in the Product Design community. Specifically, there has been a tremendous shift in the last few years when it comes to how we interact with our digital surroundings.

Visual design itself has been continually evolving to deliver experiences that more and more often require fewer and fewer visuals (such as conversational UIs, gesture based controls, and the like). For this reason — and given some of our currently engaged, awesome-yet-secret projects that are aligned to this — we thought it would be a great opportunity to see what our design team thinks about:
1 — Their discipline and how it has had to evolve in the last few years
2 — What exciting opportunities they see within this trend of more ‘experiential’ design that often necessitates a lesser focus on visual design?
3 — If they had a UX genie that could grant them one ‘design wish’ for 2017, what would that wish be?

Andrew Semuschak, Associate Director, Visual Interface Design Practices:

1. I’ve noticed that my interactions with our customers have seen a significant shift in focus: It used to be the focus was placed on high-fidelity visuals, whereas now the focus is placed on the recommendations behind the high-fidelity visuals (ie. interaction patterns, animations and motion and gestures) to a much greater extent.

2. I think the best opportunity I see here with the more “experiential design” trend is that with “visual design” being quite a mature part of the product design ecosystem, now our focus can start turning. We can begin to find ways of enhancing the visual experience through non-visual applications (and learning a ton of new stuff in the process).

3. My one wish would be for Sketch to stop glitching out on me.

 

Svetlana Iagodina, Designer:

1. I think over the last 2–3 years design has become very user-centric. It’s all about great user experience now. And it requires more knowledge, research, and usability testing in order to provide high quality products to customers.

2. Experiential design is far more interactive than traditional media. With video installations, immersive environments, virtual and augmented reality it is changing the way people experience places and products. Experiential design benefits businesses (travel industry, airlines, etc.) and offers ways to engage better with customers.

3. To be a part of a VR project and learn about the best UI and UX practices in this area.

 

Yvonne Ho, Designer:

1. I’ve noticed three areas of this discipline that have evolved over the last few years. One: a greater focus on strategy (acting more like content & experience consultants as a complement to our design expertise). Two: less of a focus on pixel perfection, because data driven design means the design is in constant flux, which has required a huge shift in emphasis to flexible layouts that can accommodate multiple devices and easy-to-update content. And three: more emphasis on micro-interactions to act as wayfinding sign posts and brand differentiators, especially since there’s been an increase of homogeneity in website layout.

2. For me, the shift to experiential has meant a shift to thinking beyond the screen. It has offered up more opportunities to consider physical objects that interact with digital, so experiences are becoming more intuitive. Ideally, that will bring us to a point where there is no “learning curve” to use a product because it already speaks a familiar language. To get there, we would need to understand how to conduct or choreograph an entire system of environments that aren’t necessarily centralized in one place (e.g. a screen) — context really will be key.

3. If I had just one wish… I wish the learning curve for designing for newer technologies like VR and IBM Watson wasn’t so high. I would love to experiment with them, but there’s a lot of tools to pick up in order to begin. I want a clear starting point!

 

Jacques Ramphal, Designer:

1. I’ve noticed that there’s less focus on perfection of pixels, more focus on the experience, storytelling, and creating meaningful connections.

2. This shift to experiential design has opened things up, I think. Now there’s more of a freedom to do things differently, and more interest in unexpected and unorthodox design.

3. My one wish? Allow us as a community to embrace and carry forward all the best things we’ve learnt together, while enabling us to move on from the “best practices” or trends that at times hold us back. Grant us the wisdom to create without bias or restraint.

 

Amit Jakhu, Visual Interface Designer:

1. Since my primary discipline is Visual Interface Design, I would say it’s changed in a few ways in the past 2–3 years.

One: it’s less focused on creating brand new revolutionary UI concepts, due to the massive overuse of the same patterns that have been tried and tested on many platforms by many users. This is partly due to time constraints and having less time to experiment, so I do understand why it’s happened. I do really believe it takes dedicated time to create new UI concepts since there’s so much repetition of patterns, but the shift has happened regardless of the reason.

And two: I would say the way my discipline has changed most is in really trying to think about how everything within an interface is connected, how it all moves and interacts cohesively. So incorporating a lot of motion design and IA together to present a more cohesive message/story has been a big shift in ViD.

2. I’m really excited about how our digital experiences are becoming more intuitive, where things just happen at the right time, when you need it. Rather than interfacing through one singular website, it’s more like you sign up on a website, that account is now connected to your mobile app and depending on where you walk or what you are listening to, that particular service offers you a more real-time interaction at the moment where you may need it (i.e. Foursquare, offering you tips on what to order when you are in the vicinity of a restaurant).

3. My design wish for 2017 would probably be for everyone to experiment more with user interfaces. Really try to do something that breaks outside of the normal everyday patterns that we tend to see. Perhaps, set aside some time in your schedule to really come up with some concepts on something you feel passionate about. You never know, it may seep into your project work or simply just get your creative juices flowing. Creating new and better ways to do things we’re already so comfortable with gets me really excited to see what else we haven’t explored.

Bianca Manga, Visual Interface Designer:

1. There’s less focus on presenting pixel-perfect designs, but instead designing with a multi-faceted approach that includes marketing research (customer satisfaction, loyalty, etc.), strategy, and content. Telling a story and making it engaging to guide a smooth and immersive experience (combining visual interface, motions, interactions, animations etc.) is becoming increasingly important.

2. Experiential design has provided an opportunity for expanding an experience across unconventional touch points. It encourages innovative thinking.

3. One wish? For conventions and patterns to not stifle the practice. Less drive for automation and more experimentation and ideation. The heart of design isn’t found in a codified expectation of attractive. It’s in uncovering, innovating, exploring, and trying new things.

What do you think? How is experiential design going to reshape design in general? Or how has it done it already? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Andrew Semuschak

Andrew Semuschak

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