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Fidget spinners. Man buns. Big glasses that belong in the ’80s. Trends come and go. Some last for months, others for years, and some even come back after a hiatus. Those trends that stick around become part of culture, like denim pants, hairstyles, and using your cell phone as your central communication device rather than a landline. Many trends have the potential to persist, so it can’t hurt to be aware of and consider embracing current digital media trends.
Compared to other facets of marketing, digital media is still a growing channel. That leaves plenty of room for experimentation and progress. Current digital media trends are those experiments in action. Who knows how long they’ll stick around, but some of them may come to benefit your own digital marketing strategy. Here are five digital media trends that we’ve started seeing in 2017, and that we expect to continue.
Image via Flickr by tarale
Bold typography use has been trendy for some time now, albeit in different manifestations. Even though it changes slightly, typography remains a continuing trend because of the power it has in digital design. Typography can control space and guide the eye, directing users around a webpage. It catches and holds attention often before anything else has the chance. It can also become a significant part of a brand. All I have to say is “Coca-Cola” and you can probably visualize the sweeping font printed on Coke cans and bottles.
This year, brands are continuing to get bold with typography, from increasing size and broadening the stroke, to experimenting with original fonts. And those decisions aren’t just affecting the brand’s title, but everything about website design. Typography isn’t just letters, it’s an art form, and it can make or break designs.
Think of how often you use your smart device to access the Internet compared to how often you use a computer to do so. Mobile devices have revolutionized the way we access the web. Want to settle a debate and learn som obscure fact? Ask Siri. Google it. It takes seconds to pull out your phone and make a search. That’s not to say that desktops and laptops are obsolete, but the increasing use of mobile devices has a significant impact on digital media trends.
As a result of growing smart device usage, many companies are already optimizing websites for mobile use. We expect that trend to continue, especially since mobile design has more restrictions than designing for a desktop website. It just makes sense to prioritize design for mobile usage. Not only do such designs make sites more accessible for everyone, a mobile-optimized website will often earn a higher SEO rank.
The best media doesn’t just describe or inform, it communicates through a story. Storytelling through media connects users to brands and shows users that companies are relatable, that they understand the issues facing the everyday consumer. Great strides have already been made in digital storytelling, but technological advancements have greatly improved the interactivity of websites.
Videos, for example, are continuously increasing in use since they’ve proven that they’re so effective at telling stories. Visual media is quick to absorb and makes it easier for users to connect to the media since they don’t have to bring words to life by reading paragraphs of text. Visitors on the web just don’t have time for that anymore. Since people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter (likely a result of such frequent Internet use and such easy access to solutions), more companies are relying heavier on storytelling through videos. Some are deep and touching. Others are cheeky and humorous.
Improving website development is also leading to increased physical interactivity with brands. This year, developers have been experimenting with integrating chatbots into sites so users can instantly seek solutions, whether or not an actual representative is on the other side.
This year, website designs have become more intuitive and interactive in the layout and response of actual pages. Developers are using design to tell a story, and they’re making it easier for users to be a part of that story through animations connected to page response.
Last year, Instagram traded its characteristic, old-school camera logo for a more modern neon gradient with a thin, white, camera symbol. While Internet trolls went at Instagram for the change, it’s turning out that they were actually ahead of the curve, since brands like Spotify and others are following close behind. Unique neon gradients create unity across brands and add depth to what’s previously been a popular trend of flat design.
In addition to neon gradients, we’re starting to see heavier use of retro pastels: the pinks, lilacs, and baby blues of earlier designs. When these colors were previously used, they were most often associated with women and girls, but now that they’ve become more unisex, their use in design is spreading. Both the retro pastels and neon gradients present much more energetic design than the traditional, earthy, and metallic color schemes.
Many trends are just reboots of elements that have worked in the past, but with so many websites becoming more similar to one another over the years, we’re seeing many brands trying to move away from what’s previously been done. Sites are moving away from stock images, videos, and icons, and instead using high-quality, personalized photography and unique design.
As mentioned previously, typography is moving away from tradition and attempting to really capture brand personality, often through turning to hand-drawn typography rather than stock fonts. Illustrations are also becoming lighter and more playful, crafted custom for the specific website. More illustrations are giving way to more animations. This year, it’s all about bringing your own, special flavor to the table.
Some of the trends we’ve explored are simply an evolution of previous trends, some are bringing back what’s been successful before, and others are venturing into unknown territory. While many of the trends, such as neon gradients and aspects of interactive storytelling, are still gaining traction, we don’t expect these trends to stretch beyond 2017. Will your brand embrace any of these trends? Or will you set a new bar by establishing your own trend? The possibilities are endless.