Now that 2013 is behind us, it’s time to start looking at some trends in the interactive space we can expect to see in 2014. As some of you might notice, many of these trends popped up in 2013. However, trends tend to stick around for a few years. That being said, below are three trends in the world of interactive design that you can expect and will continue to see in 2014.
Flat design was one of the leading trends to emerge in 2013 and its influence continues to grow. Flat design is a simple, graphic style common in user interface (UI), software and Web design. The flat style contrasts with skeuomorphism, a design approach that seeks to bring real-world effects to the items that are represented. Microsoft, with its Windows 8 design, was at the forefront of this type of user interface. Windows 8 descended from Microsoft’s Metro design language, which values typography over graphics, and helps the user understand what type of content they are reading. However, the most influential company when it comes to flat design is Apple. While under the direction of Steve Jobs, Apple was known for its wide usage of skeuomorphic designs in various applications. Jobs’ believed that the use of visual cues and extra details allowed for an easy transition from keyboard devices to the touch interface design of the iPhone. However, Jobs’ death led Apple designer Jonathan Ive to move the company away from the skeuomorphic design and towards this new “flat design”. At this point, people now understood the touch interface, eliminating the need for the skeuomorphic design language. Because of this, Apple was able to get rid of anything they found non-essential and keep design features to a bare minimum. In 2013, Apple launched their iOS7 with an extremely flat design, stripping down their design elements until they were almost non-existent, thus beginning the “death of skeuomorphism”. Once Apple implemented this design, many other companies quickly followed suit trying to emulate what Apple was doing. The main advantage that designers see in flat design is simplicity. Designers do not want to add extraneous details to an interface that doesn’t support functionality. Designers against flat design have argued that it does not give the user any visual cues and it is often times perceived as “sterile and boring.” However, this has not stopped organizations from implementing it at an incredible rate. Because of this, you can expect to see the trend of flat design continuing into 2014.
Heavier focus on mobile
Smartphone and tablet usage has skyrocketed in recent years and is overtaking desktop traffic for many websites. Because of this, marketers and designers need a way to provide a consistent experience across multiple screens. Because of this, responsive web design was another big trend in 2013 and now 2014 is seeing websites designed expressly for mobile use. Responsive web design is a HTML coding method that scales a page to the dimensions of the display, and is aimed at easy reading and navigation with minimum resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices. This allows companies to create one site that can be accessed across multiple devices. The need to adapt to a growing mobile-centric drives design and marketing innovation within organizations. Now that responsive web design is becoming more commonplace, we are starting to see websites dig deeper into our mobile lifestyles. Even though many companies realize the importance of mobile accessibility, most firms still place it on the backburner as compared to other priorities. However, the firms that embrace responsive web design are seeing first hand just how beneficial it can be.
Long scrolling sites
As any UX/UI specialist will tell you, allowing prospective clients or customers to get through a website quickly and efficiently is now one of the most important features organizations are looking for when it comes to building a website. With long scrolling websites trending, this is now possible. These are not your content-cluttered long scrolling pages of the past, new design techniques allow the content to be impeccably organized and formatted in a way that’s simple to read and digest. These long-scrolling sites are not boring either because the layout changes up throughout, and for most users, they don’t realize how far they are actually scrolling. This is incredibly beneficial to marketers and advertisers because they are able to keep the consumer on one page longer than ever before. Parallax scrolling (a special scrolling technique wherein background images move by the camera slower than foreground images, creating the illusion of depth), horizontal scrolling, column-based scrolling and infinite scrolling are all things that we’ll probably see more of in 2014 and beyond.
What does this mean?
These three major trends will have immediate and potentially lasting implications for not only the design world, but for the everyday user as well. For instance, Apple’s adoption of flat design in their iOS7 launch is pushing most popular third-party applications to follow their same design guidelines so that the apps feel more native and natural to the device. With the growing use of responsive web design, however, applications may eventually be a thing of the past as an application’s utility could start to be integrated into a mobile version of a website that could fit any screen. Additionally, as long scrolling sites become more commonplace and are adopted by sites with heavy traffic, will display ads have to adjust in how often they change, or will a premium be paid for such a long exposure time? These questions are unanswered for now, but if the trends continue, we can look forward to them being answered in the future.
As mentioned above, trends tend to stick around for a while because they are given traction by top minds in the industry. What ensues is companies trying to play catch up in an ever-evolving design world. Because of this, we can be certain that new trends will continue to arise in the future.
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