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7 Graphic Design Trends You Need to Know in 2017

09 February 2017
Industry News

7 Graphic Design Trends You Need to Know in 2017

We are now fully into the swing of 2017. Resolutions have been broken and the January blues are out of the way. So how have we seen the Graphic Design industry take its first steps in the New Year? We may only be a month in, but exciting waves are coursing through the world of design and we’re excited to see how they build. Some trends have resurfaced from decades before, some are continuing to increase in popularity from 2016 and some are completely new to 2017! These predictions have been drawn from design leaders such a Pantone and Adobe, our in-house Graphic Design experts and influencers in the industry.

1) UX in design 

Designers will have to start thinking more and more about the customer. User experience is completely paving the way in how companies think about design and businesses have started to brand themselves in a more approachable way. This is becoming more and more prominent in briefs that designers are receiving and possibly may restrict how experimental designers can be in their work.

With the decline in brands using non-responsive websites and the rise of designing mobile first up to desktop, there’s going to be continued focus on the end user and how their experience affects design. There’s going to be continued development of mobile sites including new ways of getting around that hamburger icon which is a sore point for some designers. 

Shana Dressler from design school 30 Weeks takes the relationship between designers and business one step further and believes the entire distinction between the two will be blurred. She believes that the more designers can understand business mechanisms, the more valued they’ll become. “Designers who understand a company’s value proposition and mission can help them thrive and grow” she states; “they just need to learn the language that someone who is running a company actually speaks.”

2) Stock Photography is in Decline (Finally)

The “corporate zombie” stock photo has been shown the door and we can guarantee, no one will be sorry for its exit. Designers are looking more at alternative stock websites to find more interesting, “real” looking photography that stands out in the marketplace. The rise of StockSnap, Unsplash and Splitshare demonstrate that designers have had enough of ugly photography. The stock photo revolution has finally begun!

In an era when customers are becoming more and more apprehensive and distrustful of business, brands don’t want their imagery to look staged. This new, natural photography helps brands appear humanised and approachable to customers. This again relates directly back to the user experience and designing with the customer firmly in mind.


3) Minimalism 

Minimalism isn’t new to 2017. Yet we are still in the ‘flat design’ era and nothing revolutionary has really come in to knock this off the top pedestal. There is still a heavy focus on using negative space and giving designs a clean, fresh image. Web Design Ledger notes the link between the demand for clean, minimalistic design and the growing “Health & Wellness”. Realistic imagery with “lots of green, simple lines that put the truth on display” will reflect consumer’s desire for environmentally conscious, clean living. This has already been showcased in Pantone’s Colour of the Year; the pursuit of reinvigoration simply from nature will continue to be the driving force in Minimalism.


The link between Interior Minimalism and graphic art was strengthened further by Airbnb and Pantone’s recent collaboration to create a house themed with the colour. People are increasingly recognising that design is an integral part of everyday life and something they must engage with to help get their message across.


This will be a refreshing take on the Minimalism that has pervaded the last few years of design. Designers will try to disassociate Minimalism with plain black and white and harsh, uninviting landscapes in the name of modernism. Colour will be reinjected into the minimalist’s palette and it is a very welcome homecoming indeed.

4) Vintage Icons, Logos & Shapes 

The grungy, vintage style that dominated branding in 2016 doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. We’ll see more label styles, stamps and iconography flourish as nostalgia grips firmly onto our minds. “Designers, in general, are slightly guilty of romanticising design from the 60s and 70s” claims Stephen Gilmore from agency North, who were behind Co-op’s recent rebrand which harks back to the original logo. He blames the lack of technology and knowledge around Graphic Design as the reason why such enduring logos were created around then and hence why designers today look back with such a fondness.


5) Animations and GIFs 

The popularity of animations and gifs has stretched beyond use on Social Media. It has been proven that customers respond more to video and movement, with animated Gifs receiving three times as much engagement as photos alone. They have become the cornerstone of online interaction and designers will have to adhere to the dynamism they require.  

We will see the demand for GIFs increase in popularity and be used more on websites, for example on homepage banners. Lisa Hassell from Creative Bloq believes a limited colour palette and an appreciation that there is such a thing as too much animation will be the key things designers should keep in mind. Rollovers to avoid slowdown and keeping the animation playing at the speed they were intended to are essential when employing this graphic design trend on your client’s website.

Again, customer experience will be at the heart of designing for motion. Designers will have to be conscious of overusing animation if it affects the user’s experience and journey through the website.  

6) Designs with Shapes

Geometric shapes have been on and off the last few years. Now there is a real trend for small, clean geometric shapes using lots of negative space to give it a fresh feel and appealing to customers. Natalie Boyd from How Design notices how there are increasing uses of circles in Geometric design which are helping in the division, order and structure of patterns. This method of design is claimed to have originated in Historic Mosques around the world, taking a centre stage in 2017.


7) Telling Stories

With attention spans dropping as the wealth of content increases, designers have to work harder to get their message across in a smaller space. Adobe says in their blog that “the narrative of a single image of a 6-second video has the same need to tell a story as long-form content”. The combination of photography with design must strive to convey meaning quickly. The angle and placement of the subject can be shown in an unusual setting to help grab the viewer’s attention, so contrasting colours and patterns can help designers achieve this.  Adobe continues that the power of short video will be indispensable to designers to try and create these stories and resonate with their client’s customers. 



In a Nutshell

Simplicity, honesty and functionality are the clear graphic design trends that the experts predict will reign supreme in 2017. A desire for truth and sheer boredom of distrust in business leaves a massive space for designers to fill with clean work that will be refreshing to see! Customer experience will also be at the heart of design, with easy to navigate websites paving the way in both web and graphics.

Of course, although following the trends might be a good thing in some designers’ eyes, it’s as important as ever to choose the right style for the right situation. There’s no point trying to put a vintage icon on a corporate-style branding or forcing your brand to fit into a mould that doesn’t truly represent your company! What Graphic Design trends do you predict to emerge in 2017?



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