HOME DIY FUN - ETCHED ARCADIA WALLPAPER MURAL

It's finally here -- my Etched Arcadia Mural. 

Anyone who knows me will have heard of this mural. I have been eyeing this thing for YEARS. It reminds me of old literature etched images, and though it is botanical it is not especially feminine, it's quite masculine, in fact, so I thought it would round out some of the more feminine and colourful things in our house.  Well, now that we've settled in our new(ish) home, I finally let myself order this. That was last Black Friday (2016), during a 30% off sale at Anthropologie aka the only time I've ever seen it on sale. After ordering, there proceeded to be six months worth of shenanigans, resulting in 1) me giving up shipping this thing to Canada and 2) me giving up expecting Anthropologie to honour their word re: 30% off they promised* In the end this shipped to family in US, who brought this up to me in Canada. Thanks guys! 

The point of this story is that I've waited a LONG time for this mural, and so I had to try really hard not to get my expectations up too high. And then, once I had it, we had some serious anxiety about putting it up and screwing up. We are not wallpapering experts. In fact, this was my first time ever wallpapering. It went really well, all thanks to my S.O. AND this blog:

http://www.redhousewest.com/meras-house/wallpaper/

Some pics below!

 

OUR INSTALLATION

We didn't need a scraper, we just used our hands. That and a bin of water (we put the bin in our bathtub) and a smaller bucket with a bunch of rags nearby to get off the glue splooges. If you're doing this at home and you've already read the above blog, my only tip to add is just to really follow their recommended timing. 30 seconds in the water was perfect, not longer. We followed the instructions on the package which suggested to let it sit for 5 minutes after, so we pulled it out of our bucket on the bathtub, bookended it and let it rest on the bathroom floor. Here again, 5 minutes was the perfect time for us, 4 minutes was not as good. Caveat: this was on a moderately warm summer day in the Pacific Northwest, your weather might make this work differently, I have no idea. 

Also as mentioned in the above blog, we went through a lot of exacto blades. More than one per panel. Probably more like 1.5 per panel. 

We were also surprised that the mural had some give. It's 9 feet tall by 12 feet but one the wall it was actually more like 12 feet  and 1 1/2 inches. This worked out great for us because our wall was annoyingly just a little larger than 12 feet.   Our wall is only 8 feet tall so I trimmed the top of the mural before installing, I chose to cut off from the top because I prefer the forest part of mural and, realistically, the bottom is more likely to be obscured by furniture than the top. I trimmed the top before wetting so that it would be easier to use the top bits for something else if I want to (project ideas, anyone?) One random thing I learned is that this wallpaper is erasable if you're light with your pencil, at least, I was surprised with how well I could erase my light pencil marks. Not perfectly, but better than I expected. 

ABOUT THE DESIGN

In real life this mural looks quite different from the image on the anthropologie site, so I'm glad I looked around on the internet for other examples of it first. It looks grey on the site, and should be navy in my mind, but it's actually a dark grey. 

 

*In the end they told me I should expect the 30% off to show up in my bank account, only 10% off showed up, and when I told their online support this they stopped responding to me. Thanks Anthropologie! You've worn me down.

 

 

 

2017 DESIGN TREND: GREENIFY

Pantone colour of the year

“Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront - it is an omnipresent hue around the world. A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.” PANTONE, 2017

 

IN FASHION:

INTERIOR DESIGN  

TEXTILES & BACKGROUNDS

 

 

 

MATERIAL DESIGN: 

INCORPORATING PLANTS MORE INTO OUR INDOOR LIVES BECOMES A GROWING TREND 

“2017 will see a rise in manipulating the natural world to bring it into the urban home – plants in concrete structures, botanic wallpaper and harvesting waste to produce furniture.” Digital Arts Online, 2017

 

ON THE DIGITAL FRONT: WEB & PRINT 

Last year grand images become sprinkled this year with more enclosed, green-filled images. Stock photo trends show a shift in focus towards green backgrounds rather than vistas. 

“The photos taken behind people in front of stunning landscapes are slowly going by the wayside. Images of people with plants create a similar natural aesthetic. Dark, leafy greens are a perfect backdrop for individuals.” Stock Photography Trends, Web Acsender, 2017

In line with Pantone's colour of the year, hints of green plants & green tones continue to appear across web sites. 

Top Ten Web Design Trends for 2017

Graphic Elements:

The Visual:

#1 Authentic Photography

#2 Greenify

#3 New ways to catch attention: VR & 360degree Video, Gifs & cinematography

#4 Experimental composition

#5 Unique brand illustrations

#6 Bold typography

#7 Vivid color

The Functional

#8 UI applied to forms & functionality

#9 Microinteractions

#10 Bots & conversational interfaces

 

TREND #1: Authentic Photography (OUT WITH TRADITIONAL STOCK PHOTOS!)

Our brains are trained to pay more attention to new information, and less attention to old information. After 20 years of driving the same route to work, our brain no longer sees the path, as it becomes rote memory.  This is how you can accidentally find yourself driving to your old house, when you haven’t lived there in years. This is an energy saving mechanism on the part of our bodies.

As users spend more and more time on the internet, the internet increasingly becomes a place where we are bombarded for attention from all sides. What we begin to do as a coping mechanism is, in the same way, to “not see things” anymore. Studies show, we begin to literally see past typical advertisements. We simply don’t look at the right side panel of certain websites, where ads are typically displayed.

Eye tracking studies show that in the same way, our brains are learning to see past ‘filler images’. Filler images, like typical istock images used all over the internet, are highly valued by companies as a relatively cheap and easy way to have professionally looking images on their websites. But take a quick look at this eye tracking study below:

How long did the user look at the image? Did they even spend half a second absorbing it? One could argue whether it did its job if only as a mood setting device. But what about brands and businesses that want more attention for their buck? That’s the thought that’s leading the trends towards authentic photography. Partly influenced by the evolution of social media, these are not your typical istock photos, their intention is to look more ‘genuine’, 'candid', ‘authentic’ or we could even say ‘human’. The caveat is that they still need to be high quality, to ensure professionalism. 

 

#2 GREENIFY:

When Pantone announced it's colour of the year for 2017, it came as a surprise to some, but if you really open up your eyes to the world around you, it's easy to see the green trend. This trend applies not only to web design, but graphic design, interior & product design, photography, event design -- everything. We're not just talking about the colour green, it's also the appearance of plants in everything from feature images, to botanical wallpapers to ways to literally bring more green (I'm talking plants, people!) into your life. 

“Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally." Pantone, 2017.

Interested? Read a bit more about the green trend in my separate article

 

This article is in progress. Check back later this week for more on #3-#10.

BEST SOCIAL MEDIA MEMES & IMAGES

Want a quick social media guide expressed purely in visuals? (But not really?) Here are some of my favourite images/memes to educate you. Serious ones first. 

TOP SIX

SELF-EXPRESSION

 

Less serious... 

FACEBOOK vs. TWITTER

FACEBOOK vs. TUMBLR

 

FACEBOOK vs. INSTAGRAM

SNAPCHAT VS INSTAGRAM

LINKEDIN

Hoping for a real article about the ins & outs of different social media platforms? Let me know! 

 

 

 

Top FIVE Social Media Trends for 2017

Over the past few years, social media has changed as technology has become more attached to every aspect of our daily lives. The line between internet users and social network users is now blurred, with most internet users now using social networks. The fact that many of us are glued to a phone (or more than one phone!) is reflected in the impact mobile is having on the social media environment.  Mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic, with 77% of adults owning smartphones. This year, facebook has completed its transformation to mobile.

Over the last year, large social media companies are seeking to absorb other successful social startups, creating a trend of merging social media (thank goodness!). Facebook bought Instagram, What’s App, and Oculus Rift. Twitter acquired Periscope. This reflects the desire of big companies to bring to their audience new ways to interact with each other.

Social media trends to watch for in 2017 reflect these trends as well as the inevitable requirement of profit in social media, and the oh-so-devastating implications of fake news this year.

Social isn’t just for ‘millennials’ anymore.  (In fact, millienial social media use may start to decline.)

Can you get too much of a good thing? Yes!

Platforms are being taken over by older demographics, mainly thanks for Facebook, where most users are now older than 35. On Twitter, 45% are older than 35. But not surprisingly to some, millienial social media usage may actually start to decline, thanks to social media burnout. Anyone who has ever felt a budget crunch while watching their acquaintances on facebook share photos of exotic vacations knows that particular feeling – the facebook effect. For some, facebook can be a chronic source of unhappiness. Social media can feel dominated by questionable news and "friends" facades of perfection, causing us to long for breaks from the never ending updates. So althought 90% of millennials currently use social media, that number may decline, or users may take ‘social media vacations’ or ‘black outs’ where they just log out completely for several weeks or months.

Meanwhile, millennials continue to love Instagram and Snapchat. These social mediaplatforms are still domainated by the young. Snapchat skews especially young at 82% of users under the age of 35. We may see these platforms getting older and users age, and new platforms TBD grow favour with the next generation. A trend with these platforms in particular is expiring or ‘ephemeral’ content, i.e. images or video that expire after a certain amount of time. This started with snapchat and videos that expire after viewing, and has expanded to Instagram with their ‘Instagram stories’ feature.

 

#5 Video as present and future king

As processing power improves, video becomes king. This is true across web design trends as well as social media. This year there is a definite trends towards ‘authentic content’ or live videos, through Periscope (twitter) and Facebook ‘Live’ Instagram ‘Stories’.

Many businesses are increasingly using twitter, facebook and Instagram to stream live events that customers and clients would otherwise not be able to attend due to geographic limitations. These events might be large scale concerts, to small scale Q & A or live makeup tutorials. Some social media platforms are really expanding on this, Facebook, for example, is introducing its 360 degree feature, which could really be a cool way to show crowds, or design spaces.

 

 

#4 Augmented reality

Though the concept of augmented reality itself is not new, platforms like Snapchat started the trend of augmented reality video. Believe it or not, augmented reality & virtual reality is here, and it’s a trend that’s actually growing.  AI Lenses such as Snapchat’s facial features, make the platform interactive, engaging and unique. 

The gaming industry has succeeded at pushing augmented reality to the mainstream through games like Pokemon Go. With Facebook’s recent purchase of Oculus Rift, it seems like the application of AR/VR with social media is inevitable. I suspect the change will occur gradually rather than be widespread this time next year.

 

#3 Harder acquisition of organic social traffic  

Current changes in the need for social media profitability is resulting in the greater difficulty for businesses and organizations to acquire social media traffic organically. Currently, if you want to be seen, you need to spend $$.

The upside is, current SM ads can be highly targeted, are easily shareable and it’s easy to track your purchase in terms of views/clicks. More platforms are expanding their advertising offerings, such as Snapchat, which is inserting ads between Stories.

Though the truth of the matter is that some organizations or businesses aren’t get ready to invest serious money into their reach, so they’re reaching out to something they already have – employees. The current trend of employee advocacy programs asks employees to share their posts of their own personal social media profile, which can result in hundreds or thousands of new followers. People don’t trust companies, they trust other people, and using employee advocacy can help circumvent algorithm problems. The downside, of course, is that advocacy can’t be forced, and only works for certain kinds of posts. Asking your employees to share a straight pitch or something they don’t believe in is a bad move and will come off as disingenuous.

A related trend is the growing importance of social media ‘influencers’. With 47% of users now using Ad Blockers, those with substantial social media backings become more and more important to advertisers. 

#2 Conversational Commerce – The rise of Social Messaging & Chatbots?

2017 will further the trend of social media as a means of increasing customer care. Customers now seek customer service on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, and they expect to get a response quickly.

 

This trend is further accelerated by the use of chatbots.

When I asked my husband his thoughts on chatbots, his reply was: “Are those still a thing?” He built one in college (many years ago!).

For those who don’t know a chatbot is a virtual assistant living in Facebook Messenger, or another platform. Or a “chat” “robot”. They can reply to a client in natural, conversational formats, therefore tricking people into thinking they are chatting with a real person while booking a flight, rather than an AI. Though so far, this is a controversial idea, as chatbots aren’t performing quite as well as hoped . It will definitely be something to watch for.  

#1 FAKE NEWS *Sigh*

In case you've been living under a rock in 2016, fake news is a huge problem on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, and is having global consequences. The response (and/or lack of responses) from social media CEOs will have a significant impact on the shape of social media in the near future. 

Just very recently, Facebook and Google announced their response to fake news, read more here, including admitting that governments have used them to spread propaganda.

 

More resources on fake news:

https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf

https://fbnewsroomus.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/facebook-and-information-operations-v1.pdf

Snopes: Best website for telling what's real and what's fake. 

 

Got any trends you think I've missed? Let me know!

Check out my next post, Top Design Trends for 2017 & 2018, coming soon. 

 

References:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/under30network/2016/11/29/5-ways-millennial-social-media-habits-will-change-in-2017/#7c40f4c53219

http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21696477-market-apps-maturing-now-one-text-based-services-or-chatbots-looks-poised?fsrc=rss

http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

https://buildfire.com/social-media-trends-2017/

https://chatbotsmagazine.com/the-complete-beginner-s-guide-to-chatbots-8280b7b906ca

https://chatbotsmagazine.com/an-illustrated-guide-to-facebook-messenger-destination-ads-dd543d2659d0

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimmyrohampton/2017/01/03/5-social-media-trends-that-will-dominate-2017/2/#6c3ece91126c  (fake news, social messaging, authentic content, augmented reality, chatbots)

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/social-media-predictions-2017#sm.000aredxqrxvf3110za1xdsn4ytgw

https://contently.com/strategist/2017/04/19/social-media-trends-2017/

https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-trends-2017/

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/top-8-social-media-marketing-trends-2017-infographic-01772758#LkuiGiLti0wzp5qV.97

http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/future-social-media-marketing/

https://disruptive.asia/2017-ai-iot-chatbots-telenor/

https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-demographics/

http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

TOP TEN DESIGN TRENDS For 2016

Last year's design trends generated a lot of interest, so by popular demand, here are the Top Ten Design Trends for 2016! 

THE Natural Hero 

Previous years have seen trends go towards hand-drawn headers, animation, textures, architectural elements, and many more. But this year is the celebration of natural beauty, in the trend towards beautiful high-quality nature-theme photography headers. 

It certainly makes sense, as I mention later, User Experience (UX) is essential this year, and nothing instills a positive mood better than nature. They appeal to our us in an essential way, and studies have proven that just a few minutes in nature improves our blood-pressure and our sense of wellbeing. In our increasingly artificial world, many of us are a little nature-deprived, thus making natural images all the more potent. 

Airbnb

Airbnb

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 9.56.55 PM.png

 

HERO IMAGES 

Hero images* are nothing new, they've been climbing in prominence since last year's list. 

A hero image is a large banner image, prominently placed on a website, front and centre.[1][2]It is usually the first visual a visitor encounters on a website, and showcases the most important info. 

But a wider access to high quality photography and ever-improving technology such as bandwidth speeds and compression) will only make them more prevalent. Now users can be treated with high quality images (and video!) without suffering.

"People are tired of cheesy looking stock photos and stock photo disruptors like Unlash, Stocksy and Death to the Stock Photo and Offset are providing a solution - natural looking stock photos that connect with people on a whole different emotional level. In 2016, we'll be seeing more amazing photos implemented in websites."(7)
 

#3 VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO

Video made my list last year, but I'm still surprised at the extent to which it seems to be popping up everywhere. Companies are really deciding to rely on high-internet speeds. When you think of the internet even just 15 years ago, a move to video as a website background is a BOLD move. Almost unbelievable. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.18.52 PM.png

#4 COLOR

One bold move in hand with another: colors are back more than ever. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.17.28 PM.png

Color is highly influential, communicating emotional energy and effecting how we perceive objects. 

Color forecasts for spring trend distinctly bold: 

instyleparis

instyleparis

 "Color works because it’s straightforward and powerful."

Medium

Medium

 

We’re seeing more and more use of RGB color. RGB provides a much more saturated, rich way of presenting color that brands are really having fun with.

Connie Birdsall(5)

Spotify

Spotify

I think the biggest shift will be in the use of the color, where we’ll see more of a departure from the 60s era color palettes and evolve into the richer colors used in the last two decades of the 20th century.Joel Kreutzer, head of design at Archrival(5)
 

#5 METALLICS

Metallics are spreading across design and fashion, and, this year, digital landscapes.  

The breakout star of 2016 is going to be metallics, and — given their ability to instantly bring a sophisticated and glamorous touch to any space — it’s not hard to see why. Whether adding a sleek touch with silver or chrome or warming a room with gold, rose gold or copper, every school of design can benefit from this trend.” (10)

Harpar's Bazaar

Metal does seem like an odd trend, because recreating them digitally is not as easily accomplished as other types of colour and texture trends. On the graphic end, it's hard to achieve a metal look well and very easy to go overboard and look tacky. 

I predict you'll see metal twinkle in websites through photography and products and very slight touches of metallic illustration.

Apple.com - showcasing a mix of product photography and metallic illustrated elements. 

Apple.com - showcasing a mix of product photography and metallic illustrated elements. 

What is unique about metals in late 2015 and 2016 is the mix: you'll see a variety of metals mixed together.

Squarespace.com, using video as a background with metallic objects.

Squarespace.com, using video as a background with metallic objects.

 

#6 Rise of UX

UX is key to website success. Yet most of those in management roles have still never heard of UX. This year UX will make a leap, as the need for good UX is becoming clear across all types of websites. 

"Startups and big business alike now view strong UX as a key differentiator. In 2016 expect to see increased demand for UX design from government and social services. While this complex work might be seen as less glamorous, the need is essential and the impact will be substantial. (8)"

 If you've ever tried to navigate a government website, you'll be excited about this trend. 

One type of UX we'll see more of is 'micro interactions':

"We' be seeing more of micro user experience (UX) in action. This trend will be disrupting industries where websites are not that fun to use like airlines, banks, health care, finances and more. Think of funny images, expressions, hidden functionality, smart personalized data and more.(7)" 

At the same time, while UX finally travels into no-mans land, the nature of UX will be changing in 2016. No longer focused on playing with pixels, UX design will focus on more abstract elements:

Robust and comprehensive interaction design pattern libraries are gradually letting us focus our time on what really matters for the user: getting things done in an easy and familiar way. (14)

 

#7 Hamburger menus

Hamburger menus, you'll see these little guys in the upper corner of websites, usually paired with a hero image. They're all little bit of a wallflower, and as long as they become ubiquitous enough that a user knows to seek them out, they're generally a good idea. However, bring up hamburger menus and watch designers brawl. 

Some warnings:

  • If your site isn't designed well, then hamburger menus become a problem.(12)  and
  • There is a definitely age gap. Many in the generations before Millenials and Generation Y will have a hard time adapting to these. 
  • There are rumblings that the hamburger menu may become replaced by Apple's investment in 3D Touch (9b)
See the tiny three lines in the upper right corner?

See the tiny three lines in the upper right corner?

 

#8 GEOMETRICS 

The current trend in geometry is a natural balance to the #1 trend, Natural photography.  Recent trends in geometry have spilled into all forms of art and fashion. 

"When it comes to adding visual interest to a room, there’s no easier way to make an impact than by adding a few geometric shapes. The recent interest in these shapely designs is a continuation of the ’70s-inspired trend that has been turning heads."(11)

Geometry in websites have been trending since 2013 (9) and this year, with geometry infiltrating fashion, we'll only see it more in websites looking to gain attention. (6)

 

 

#9 & #10 Minimalism & Ghost buttons (continued)

With advances in technology happening all the time, it can be an easy trap to try to fit every possible advancement all into one page. But it's the good designers job to pull a client a step or two back towards minimalism. As some fight for attention through a myriad of attention-grabbing methods, minimalism will continue to be the everlasting trend to balance out those urges. Minimalism is always in style, never tacky. 

"Minimalism inspired a raft of sites that are clean, fast and easy-to-use." Minimalism will stick around as long as efficient, cost-effective websites are valued. 

Minimalism also brings much needed breathing space to a website, known as "White space". White space is a key element in any design project, whether digital and traditional, and these days it's in short supply. 



Ghost buttons return from last year as they continue to be trendy among websites with dark themes.  This Haruki Murakami site is especially well-suited to using the Ghost Button.

 

In summary, the above are a list of ten design trends of 2016, but they are by no means exhaustive. There were many more topics that I couldn't cover, such as long scrolling, updates in responsive design and the other more technical aspects of web design, which I may cover in a another post. 

So what do you think of this year's list? What trends do you think will dominate 2016?

 

Jessica Champagne is a graphic & web designer, author and communications expert who lives in beautiful Sooke, BC, Canada. 

References

(1) Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature.Psychological Science, 19(12), 1207-1212.

(2) Bowler, D. E., Buyung-Ali, L. M., Knight, T. M., & Pullin, A. S. (2010). A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health, 10, 456.

(3)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_image

(3b)http://line25.com/articles/30-web-designs-that-fully-embrace-the-hero-image

(4)http://www.awwwards.com/6-web-design-trends-you-must-know-for-2015-2016.html

(5) http://www.howdesign.com/resources-education/graphic-design-trends-2016/#sthash.omcroDKv.dpuf

(6)https://www.pinterest.com/annwu0114/geometric-trend-2016/

(7) http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomaslaurinavicius/2015/12/28/web-design-trends-2016/

(8) http://www.howdesign.com/resources-education/graphic-design-trends-2016/#sthash.omcroDKv.dpuf

(9) http://www.awwwards.com/50-awesome-websites-with-extraordinary-geometry-elements.html

(9b)http://thenextweb.com/opinion/2015/09/14/apples-plan-to-kill-the-hamburger-menu/

(10/11)freshome.com/2016-design-trends/

12)www.awwwards.com/be-careful-about-these-6-web-design-trends-in-2016.html

(13) http://www.howdesign.com/resources-education/graphic-design-trends-2016/#sthash.omcroDKv.dpuf

(14) http://uxdesign.cc/ux-trends-2015-2016/

TOP TEN DESIGN TRENDS FOR 2015 & 2016

 

Design trends evolve around a push and pull between what's new and interesting versus classic and essential.  How to grab attention in a novel way, how to scale back and what's unnecessary. How to reward users with the type of stimulus they crave. Nothing demonstrates this more than the recent trends in design. Here are my top ten, in no particular order.

TREND #1 & #2: BIG & SHOWY  
(i.e. HUGE BACKGROUND IMAGES & VIDEO)

Beautiful image background as a still shot... 

For this first group of trends, we're talking about a couple different things: Photography / huge images / SVG & video backgrounds.

Trend #1: Huge Background images. SVG. 

The increasing of pixel density per screen has been happening gradually, year by year. With the  launch of Apple’s retina iMac, scalability of the image has become a major concern for the designers globally. Some designers are turning their attentions towards SVG and other types of vector images, which are all attractive, light, and scalable. In this vector format, your assets look crisp and nicely adapt to any screen size. In addition to that, SVG elements can be beautifully animated and make your site feel alive.

SVG Pros

•   SVG graphics do NOT lose any quality if they are zoomed or resized

•   Every element and every attribute in SVG files can be animated

•   SVG is a W3C recommendation

•   SVG images can be printed with high quality at any resolution

SVG Cons

•   If your design must be rendered in IE8, you need another vector fallback or not use vector at all, and instead rely on responsively sized images.

(pros & cons credit:insight180)

Warning about SVG: Do not make designs so heavy that it takes too much time to load!

 

This trend in print....

Already a huge trend in web, large image design has bled into print. High-quality photography and illustrations add excitement to print design. Unlike web design, there's no technological or practical reason why this trend has become adopted, other than to follow the lead of the web (and, honestly, what print designer hasn't wanted an excuse to use a really beautiful image?)

Large image design (notice a version of a web design trend, ghost buttons, exemplified here)

 

#2 Video BACKGROUNDS

Looking to kick it up past high quality images with something really showy? Look to GIF and videos (and soon, the implications of 3D videos). "Balancing the intricacies of three-dimensional graphics will play an important part in the evolution of web design. You can also expect to see fully responsive HD-quality video backgrounds on many websites this year."* 

This trend can work well in some sectors/applications – in others its gimmicky, so tread carefully. Below are examples of videos that have worked well and maybe not so well...

 

The good:

A look back at the Maaemo site, the background video is beautiful, non-distracting, elegant, on brand. (Below is a rough GIF of the site video, click the through link to visit the actual Maaemo site.) 

 

Another good example would be: vine.co, which cycles videos in it's header and the format makes sense, given that video sharing is the essence of the site. The videos aren't high quality, but they are to the point.

 

The bad:

 

The background video had good intentions, but was not well executed.

This is subtle at first, but anyone who sits on this site for more than 10 seconds soon realizes how awkward these background videos are. They are clearly models doing awkward expressions, better suited to a satirical website. It's safer, if you're using people in your background video, don't have them face the screen, aim for a casual, semi-profile shot where they're doing an activity.  For one, you can avoid the awkwardness here. Secondly, you can avoid the creep-out factor of a faux person looking directly at you. Thirdly, title text cutting across a face is never a good look.

A summary word of warning: be very VERY careful about how and what you choose to use as a background video. A distracting video can break the charade of an entire branding message.

 

TRENDS 3, 4 & 5: TYPOGRAPHY & BIG BLOCKS OF TEXT

For this big trend we're talking about Typography in general, as applied to the web, a typography sub-trend, and typography layout.

Typography is the language of the brand message and recently it has been gaining extra attention and importance.

Trend #3: WEBFONTS

Increasing democracy of typography in terms of improvement of webfonts such as Typekit and Google Fonts. They will replace/replicate the classics like Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and similar others. The result: beautifully designed and highly improved sites.

 

 

 

 

Trend #4: HANDDRAWN ELEMENTS & TYPOGRAPHY

Hand drawn elements rebel against digital perfectionism. What better way to humanize a brand or company than through hand-drawn type?

 

"People seem to be more and more drawn back to what is real... exploring other cultures or our own family histories, or reconnecting with stories from mythology or our childhoods... By bringing back what is human-made, we gain a sense of control over the digital tide that threatens to overtake us.* (Bill Gardner)

 

Don't confuse the rebellious nature of hand-drawn as being strictly anti-commercial, as it's been applied to many corporate marketing strategies to imply "hip-ness" as well.

 

 

LAYOUT TREND #5: BIG BLOCKS OF TEXT

Using text as a visual element has been around forever, but utilizing font choices and size to create clean, simple, and elegant visual hierarchy that reads as information and eye-candy has emerged more fully during this generation of designs less is more aesthetic.

 

 

BIG TREND #6 & #7: MINIMALISM 
Minimalism AND EVOLVED RESPONSIVE DESIGN

The point of minimalism is to leave only what is needed to convey what you need to convey, or to make an impression.  Ideally impactful but sparse information, often paired with showy photographic, video or illustrative elements. (See Maaemo example above.)

 

TREND #6: MINIMALISM ACROSS PRINT AND WEB

It is suggested that 2015/2016 will see designers slashing and rebuilding their sites.
Both websites and printed pieces will focus more on how to regain their free space, put impressive images, and utilize their robust typography.

Above: Minimalism in design.

 

TREND #7: EVOLVED RESPONSIVE DESIGN

I consider responsive design to be related to minimalism in that the end product tends to be able to scale something larger and often cluttered, down to it's most essential form at it's smallest. 

Responsive design has been the #1 trend of the last few years, as highly advanced mobile phones and this new thing called iPads came into prominence. 

This year, we speak of “Evolved” Responsive web design and card-based design.

Creative director Haraldur Thorleifsson says card-based design will be big:
"Content needs to fit on different types and sizes of screen, and cards are the easiest way to make that work across platforms." This can be a challenge because cards can be dull, "but we're seeing fun, clever takes on this from companies like Google."

 

"We are currently witnessing a re-architecture of the web, away from pages... towards completely personalised experiences built on an aggregation of many individual pieces of content. Content being broken down into individual components and re-aggregated as the result of the rise of mobile technologies... and unprecedented access to data from all kinds of sources ... This is driving the web away from many pages of content linked together, towards individual pieces of content aggregated together into one experience." Intercom

See link for more info on card-based design.

Responsive design will have to go further, not only to remain interesting, but to scale and change to adapt to new devices such as wearable devices like watches. Providing a seamless experiences across all channels becomes very important.

 

 

 

 

BIG TREND #8: FLAT DESIGN

AKA ILLUSTRATION STYLE WARS: FLAT DESIGN vs. REALISM 

When I went to write this article, I decided to, for once, talk to real people around me, to get a sense of what other people actually thought. So what happened when I asked one web developer, and one teenage niece, exactly what they thought were current trends in design? They had one answer: Flat, flat, flat. Yes, that rebellion against the detailed, the shaded, the shiny...  also known as flat design.

Yes, it's true, flat design is trending right now. While flat design draws its influence from various styles of art including: swiss style, minimalism and the styles emerging from Bauhaus, it can be said that it was Apple’s 2013 release of IOS 7 that really made flat design “mainstream” * 

Currently it can be seen in Windows 10, IOS8, Android M. What does it look like? Flat colors, simple object graphics. Simplistic. It's the anti-glossy buttons.  Why? Some like the look better. Others will cite that it's scalable, manageable, practical. Made with functionality in mind.

It can, however, be interpreted in different ways such as subtle gradients, textures and photos.


 

http://www.flatvsrealism.com

TREND #9:
GHOSTLY DESIGN  GHOST BUTTONS

Made mainstream by IOS 7, “ghosty” design is something seen regularly in Hollywood and across mediums. It's minimal and futuristic, with a light touch. It marries especially well with moody photography. 

 

Ghost titles and buttons are an element that pairs perfectly with an interesting SVG or video background, ghost buttons float above the focus and add elegance.

Tips: In terms of web applications, some argue ghost buttons especially are against basic marketing techniques because they are not bold enough and they may be overlooked by a user.  Their usage is highly dependent on design & application... Ghost buttons work especially well when the only action required is the one that the button offers (see example below).

Note: If color contrast are not complementary and the button itself is not big enough to catch the eyes then ghost buttons can make a problem with conversion optimization.

 

 

BIG TREND #10: SCROLLING DEFEATS CLICKING

With the increase in use of mobile devices to surf the web, users have become accustomed to scrolling & side-swiping. Many would say that scrolling has won over clicking. The reason for this change is that an online audience wants to get a preview of all you have to offer right on the first page.

In recent web design trends, home pages grow longer (usually 'below the fold') in order to create a dynamic interaction between the website and the viewer. 

 

Tips: Scrolling is not a pure winner. Scrolling can quickly get confusing and disorienting for websites with important text. (Think government sites.)

 

BONUS Mini-TREND: GEOMETRIC STYLING

A continued trend from the past few years is the embracing of geometric often contrasted with the organic. In a way, geometry is the design marriage of "rebellion" and "minimalism". Flashy without rebelling too much. There's something comforting and orderly about geometry (obviously) that is appealing, especially to brands that want to intuit order, responsibility, knowledge, wisdom, and technology. Geometry can be also be fun vehicle for playing with color.

How long will this trend stick around? It's hard to say. Some sites and brands that were playing with geometry last year have either moved on a parallel trend or a simpler layout (tiling), yet some brands are just beginning to play with geometry. I suspect, as noted above, that brands where it makes obvious sense to play with geometry in their design will continue to use geometric designs for a longer period than brands who just want to try something new and then move on.

 

There are many more trends to discuss, but they are best left for another post. 

WEB: Tiling, Mashup, Javascript/CSS. Digital Branding. Designer automation.  PRINT: Intricate designs like Knit, Movement lines and waves, Use of color and more on hand drawn type.

 

Thanks for reading!

 



Plunging back into GIFs + Animated GIF tutorial.

Slate's recent article on GIFs as Fine Art reminded me that I wanted to start a post on gifs (or, more specifically, 'animated gifs'). Remember these? Here's what animated gifs were like when they first came around!

These days, many people think of animated gifs as a means to express emotions or humour online, though they can actually be quite beautiful or subtle, depending on the intent. 

Find below some examples of my favourite modern gifs, as well as a tutorial for creating animated gifs and my very own first attempt at an animated gif! 

Above is a beautiful GIF by artist Sam Cannon. (As an aside: there are many examples of modern / retro technology applied as fine art. See here, and here, for two pulled off the top of my head.) 

 

Some of my favourite GIF artists below.

Rebecca Mock

 

 

Cyndi Pop  .

 

 

Here's my first attempt at a (not-so-simple) animated gif, using video captured on an iPhone at the University of Victoria (Victoria, BC) during the spring. I added the "Spring" text in photoshop. The font is Jellyka Princess. 

A sample tutorial for How to Make an Animated Gif 

 

 

Next goal: a cinema graph, which is, in essence, an animated gif whereby most of the image is still and only a portion moves, sometimes producing an effect which can be quite creepy! (Tutorial here.) The Rebecca Mock one above might technically be a cinegraph. 

 

Mad Men in today's social media / brand integration / hashtag world

I've finally lifted my random-internet-surfing moratorium because I've just finished watching the Mad Men finale, and to my delight I stumbled across this great tumblr: What if Mad Men were going on today? Here are some of my favourite posts from a tumblr entitled madmenintegrated.

 

 

Hashtags, how I #love and #loathe you #sorrynotsorry #blessed #justsayin #nofilter  

madmendigitalinvention.gif

Yesssss....

madmenyouth.gif

I'm still hip, right? riiigghhhttt?

madmenvine.gif

Ah, vines. The most elusive of them all... 

New Books to add to my list!

After much feedback from friends and my Facebook fam, I'm adding these to my list:

 

The long meow (This one is thanks to this Slate review)

The End of the Alphabet by C.S. Richardson.

from Dr. Jess "I love the way it is written, it's the only book I have been able to read to the end lately, and it's not too long so it will make room for the other books on your list :)"

"Also, if you haven't read Bud, Not Buddy or The Watsons go to Birmingham...you should add those." (sister)

"Perfidia for a crime novel. Solomon Gursky Was Here. Notes From a Dead House out in March." (Writer friend)

" Stephen Frey: John Sandford: Micheal Connelly"

"Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)" (psych friend)

Also a few more from my bibliophile father in law, will update again.

 

Thanks!