2016 Design Trends


January 1, 2016 | Amanda Ruzin
2016 design trends blog image

Design is an ever-changing landscape and this year proves to be no exception! In anticipation of what’s in store, we’ve taken the time to evaluate and synthesize today’s top design trends so you don’t have to!

Typography on the web

We expect to see a continued emergence of beautiful typography on the web. This includes big, bold typefaces, simple lettering concepts, and pairing of a fancy display font with a highly readable font. Although this versatility in design can help clients stand out against the sea of sameness, designers must be careful: With great power comes great responsibility! When we push typography design, we must consider dynamic text and how those extremes in content ultimately impact the design.

Usability testing

Usability testing isn’t a new idea, but it’s becoming more common as a required step during human-centered design. In-house and lean teams are prioritizing usability testing as part of their process. Luckily, there is a growing pack of budget-friendly tools that can be used. As a result of their popularity, some of the remote, un-moderated usability testing tools are changing their pricing models to reflect the added value they provide.

Cinemagraphs, tiny animations, microinteractions

Judicious use of motion can be used in place of static images to draw the attention of the user and to help bridge moments within an experience. This has the effect of bringing the interaction to life and can help make processes seem more seamless, faster, and fun. But, remember! It’s important to be purposeful when using motion—when not used well, they can also be extremely distracting!

Designing around time and context    

Great designers and marketers alike know that it’s no longer just about designing pages, or even patterns—it’s about designing for the current context. We should be challenging ourselves to create experiences that give users just the information that they need at the moment they need it. Few companies are doing this well. The first step toward building anticipatory experiences requires that designers intimately understand the business and their users.

Touch-first design

It’s not just mobile phones anymore! More and more laptops and displays are touch devices, which means that all of our designs need to be ready for touch on all sized devices. We expect “mobile first” conversations to change to “touch first” in 2016.

Touch-free design

On the other side of the spectrum, designing interfaces that are controlled by voice are something that will continue to take off this year. But, designers beware! Voice interfaces have unique usability problems, regardless of whether there’s an associated visual interface.

Prior trends with growing adoption

Although the following have been on trend lists for several years, we predict that we will continue to see more of the following:

  • Long-form pages that tell a story;
  • Parallax;
  • Material design;
  • Hamburger buttons as a universal symbol for menu;
  • Card layouts in feeds of information;
  • Full-bleed images and video;
  • Responsive design.

Trends we hope disappear

Just because we’re excited about so many of the 2016 trends doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few we’d like to see disappear:

  • Carousels used to prevent making content hierarchy and prioritization choices;
  • Hard-to-read white text over poorly chosen full-bleed images;
  • Meaningless iconography, infographics and chart junk that don’t transmit information;
  • Generic corporate stock images;
  • Newsletter signup and coupon overlays that appear as soon as you arrive on a site.