Many factors influence the latest digital design trends; from new design instruments and software, to new design approaches. It’s tough keeping up with the Joneses’. We have compiled a list of design observations to make it easy for you to stay on trend in 2017.
Bring these trends into your email campaigns, website design, or digital advertisements for a modern and ‘oh-so-2017’ look!
1. Photos & Illustrations
It can be a challenge to pull off, but the line between photography and illustration has been blurred for the better. Mixing hand-drawn elements with photography can add a whimsical feeling to a campaign that’s both fun, and visually intriguing.
Optimize this trend with engaging content. The online audience has an attention span shorter than a goldfish. Use illustrations for icons, buttons, and backgrounds elements, then layer in photography for a visual impact as seen in this COACH example.
2. Interactive Elements
|Email Acid recently released an Interactive Email Guide, in which they identified that the most used interactive elements are hotspots, content highlighting, responsive rollover images, image carousels, and fall-back strategies (to accommodate users whose ESP does not support these advancements). We love that email is continuously moving forward and are excited about the capabilities provided by interactive HTML coding.
One feature that didn’t make the report, are email share buttons. Whether it be a blog post, website or online versions of your email, you can now easily share the content sent to your inbox with a click of a button. Something we’ve seen more frequently, is the placement of share buttons next to body copy. Why not captivate your audience and let them help spread the word while you have their attention?
3. Cards/Tile Layouts
The popularity of the card design can be attributed to the rise of image and media-rich social platforms such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter. But card design, or sometimes called ‘tiling’ is nothing new – it has been around since the early 2000’s. The great thing about this symmetrical layout is that it is built mostly from geometrical shapes. This makes it easy for email and websites to adapt responsively to multiple screen sizes, resolutions and platforms.
This layout is best used when sending e-commerce emails; the click-through from email image to landing page has the potential to increase conversions by promising the user corresponding information to what they see in the email.
4. Breaking the Grid
If you’re a designer, you’ve heard it before: the grid is the "Holy Grail". It’s the first level of layout design – like a skeleton that keeps the body upright, the grid keeps the rhythm and structure to websites and email layouts alike. To make a layout more flexible and attractive, add in unique accents and interactive animations or effects through layering.
Before you go breaking the “golden ratio” – as it’s used by design geeks – you need to understand how your website and email layouts will react. Don’t just break the grid because it’s trendy, keep your email engagement the top priority.
Check out these six design-friendly sites that are breaking the grid but keeping an organized look: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/design-grid/
5. Data-Driven Analytics
Data is King. Everything comes back to the numbers – open rates, click-through rates, website traffic, and conversions. Making data-driven design decisions related to specific business functions (i.e. sales) will make your customer journey more relevant. The customer experience becomes more tailored as you understand the customer, the content, and the context. Make smarter design decisions with data – and your customers will thank you!
6. Extended Typography
With a combination of elements, a font and typography composition can add visual value to any project. With the rise of web fonts (i.e. Google fonts) and Retina displays, web typography has become an important trend and a part of modern email design. Make a statement with a synthesis of different fonts and typefaces. Free yourself from using only system fonts and expand your creativity with new online tools.
Need more of a reason to use extended typography? Include XL taglines and layered imagery to advance the severity of the CTA. The potential to create urgency can increase your click-through rate and conversions. Be sure to include fall-back fonts for emails, in case specific email clients use an ESP that does not supports them.
7. Scrolling through Storytelling
One-column emails with long-read layouts are great for product and service presentations. Why push your customer to click-through to a blog post when you can tell the story right in their inbox. Users will spend the time reading through benefit focused stories.
For web; try long-tail animated pages. Whether it be a landing page or your own website, experiment with the customer experience using the parallax effect or interactive content.
For email; infuse emails with images, videos, and quotes that the user can easily share or bookmark.
Don’t forget that behind the visually appealing one-column email or website, there needs to be a purpose. You want the reader to be engaged the entire time so you don’t lose them to “viewers fatigue”; you also want them to share, buy, or reply. Make the call-to-action or offer prominent.
While some design trends may seem to be going back to the traditional layouts (i.e. one-column emails), make sure you consider our observations when optimizing for user engagement.
A focus on trends that give you the greatest ROI are most important. Understand your customer and target your audience with data-driven design decisions.
Lindsay brings 8+ years of industry experience to Inbox Marketer as our Senior Graphic Designer and Brand Ambassador. She is always looking for the “next big idea” to generate results for colleagues and clients. Her main objective is to add value by communicating the benefits that design can offer to every stage of a project.
Lindsay Chomitz, Senior Graphic Designer
Looking for assistance? Contact us to get started on your next design project.