Where Next for Digital Design? The Future Trends and Tools to Jump on Right Now

Where Next for Digital Design? The Future Trends and Tools to Jump on Right Now

This post is the first in a two-part special on the blog this week as part of our Future of Digital focus. Below we discuss the future of digital design, while our team is also attending Thinking Digital to share best of breed ideas around where we are heading next. Watch out for that post also, coming later this week. Where Next for Digital Design? The Future Trends and Tools to Jump on Right Now.

Trends are well-known changes that happen in all creative fields, and web design is no different. Born of experimentation and innovation, trends are the driving factors for change, which (for the most part) push an industry forward for the better.

The web is a unique environment which is constantly changing and evolving, and with that in mind, we run down what we believe are 10 of the most important trends to be looking towards over the next 12 months.

More brands adopt a mobile-first approach

As the name suggests, mobile-first design is the process of designing for mobile (or smallest screened devices) first, then working up to the bigger ones.

The mobile-first approach to design isn’t new to 2017 and has been around for a few years now, but with mobile-phones now officially named as the primary devices used for browsing the web, especially here in the UK, more companies are realising the importance of having a site that effectively delivers content on a smaller screen, and are rushing to get onboard.

Content is designed to fit on mobile and smaller screened devices first, then you work up towards the larger-screened devices.

Where Next for Digital Design? The Future Trends and Tools to Jump on Right Now

Design and visuals aside, the mobile-first model and the restrictions it brings is a useful way for brands to really consider what their core content and message is that they want to communicate.

Smartphones (for the most part) come with significantly smaller screens than tablets and desktops, which limit the amount of content a user can easily view at once. This forces brands to do-away with any information or content which isn’t 100% necessary, allowing them to add it in, along with the additional visual bells and whistles for users as they switch up to larger screened devices.

Our prediction: Mobile-first isn’t a concept new for 2017, but we anticipate seeing more sites over the coming year which take a more thoughtful approach in delivering their content to smaller screens, rather mobile design being a tacked-off after-thought to the desktop build.

Wider implementation of responsive design

We know what you’re thinking – first mobile first, and now responsive design? Neither of these are new for 2017!

Although responsive design is also something which has been around for a few years, what we predict to see over the coming year is an even bigger uptake in the number of brands, both big and small, who are building responsive-based sites.

For those who may not know what responsive design is, it’s essentially an approach to building a site using CSS media queries and flexible grids/layouts to create a single, dynamic site which adjusts and re-jigs it’s content to best display itself on various sized devices. It works hand-in-hand with mobile first, as mobile first designs the experience and the look, and responsive implements it.

One of the bonuses of responsive design is that it allows businesses to pay for just a single site build which effectively delivers content on mobile and tablet, all the way to laptops to big-screened desktops.

Cost-effectiveness aside, the reason we anticipate even more brand’s employing this is because of an update to Google’s ranking algorithm which dropped in April last year. To sum it up, Google’s update now boosts the rankings of sites which optimises it’s content (and thus user experience, a la the mobile first principle) to mobile devices and users. Any site which isn’t optimised for mobile is set to see a major shake up in where it ranks online. See more from Google here.

If you’re looking to see whether your site is ‘mobile-friendly’ under Google’s update, be sure to test it with this handy tool.