2014’s digital design trends

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A digital presence isn’t just a necessity for brands today – it's a core competency.

Keeping up to date with trends is one thing, but the real digital leaders peek ahead.

So what will drive the digital space in 2014? What we can expect to see from trendsetters?

1. Mobile maturity

Mobile-first design is no longer the preserve of sizzling-hot startups. Big brands are joining the responsive bandwagon with larger, more focused content working across all devices. Think long scrolling sites, fewer sidebars, and larger content and typography.

2. Print is back

Well, sort of. Web-safe fonts are now stories for your grandchildren; online support for all kinds of typefaces is now ubiquitous. The effects will reach the broader market in 2014 as big brands incorporate typography into their digital branding. Sites will increasingly resemble the print poster design we’ve grown to love (or hate) over the past few decades, using an infinite array of typefaces and layouts.

3. Design/tech convergence

Browser technologies are giving designers much more flexibility. The mildly interesting showcases using CSS3, HTML5 canvas and WebGL are giving way to more masterful creations. Expect to see some brands launching bold designs and interactive sites using the latest tech in innovative ways. Design limitations in digital are no more, especially for the uprising design/tech hybrid talent we're all endlessly hunting for.

4. From flat to focus

Flat design was all the rage in 2013 with iOS 7 truly solidifying the trend and propelling it far beyond responsible levels. Although we’ll see this fad continue into 2014, the cool kids will take a more balanced approach between overly detailed skeuomorphism and design-so-flat-there’s-nothing-there. Inspired by the beautiful simplicity of flat worlds, design will retain a clean approach but be proudly accented with fine details and animation; small surgical doses where it matters. Beautiful, large illustrations and photography will persist and, increasingly, full-browser videos will grace the hero sections of home pages.

5. Micro-signatures

As user experience design continues to dominate the digital limelight, apps and services will trend towards simpler interactions and overall design language. Brands will increasingly utilise unique micro-interactions and brand signatures (for example the Nike+ neon gradient) to differentiate themselves, establish digital brand identities while still following best practices. Consistent end-to-end experiences are becoming an expectation, featuring themed micro-signatures throughout. The best design teams will be those able to balance their focus between the micro and the macro: full-spectrum design.

Aleks Witko is a senior UX designer at 99designs. 

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