It has become almost customary at this time of year for the web design and development community to look at how design and tech has changed over the last year and what might shape the future.
2016 saw many shifts in web design, from an explosion in image-led design to the acceptance and dominance of scrolling - and technology continues to develop at warp speed. So what will 2017 bring?
Thomas Rumbold - Head of Operations
FinTech in the last 24 months has evolved from an industry buzz-phrase to a burgeoning industry of small, agile organisations - looking to leverage innovative, high-performing technologies to take a slice of the enormous financial industry. Apps like Monzo, Moneybox, and established services like Nutmeg are putting consumers at the heart of the banking and investment space, and we’ll continue to see brave new innovation in the sector, much to the dismay of the large corporate banks.
Virtual Reality was one of 2016's huge technology movements, and the evolution of the space from a niche technology to mainstream, consumer-focused represents a broader shift that we’re yet to see. We’ll see further applications of VR in gaming, training, military and industrial capacities - as well as tight integration with other disciplines like artificial intelligence.
James Dellar - Creative Director
AR is the amalgamation of digital data or UI components overlaid in the real word by interacting with a mobile device or headset. While you may not have heard about AR this year, you would’ve heard of Pokemon GO. Players downloaded this game millions of times and have collectively walked around the Earth more than 200,000 times trying to catch imaginary animals. Whilst VR has taken the media by storm this year, AR has been lurking in the shadows building the foundation of what is going to be commonplace over the next few years.
The concept has come a long way since Google Glass and I believe that in certain scenarios this will be used in common work practice. We can already see how much investment platforms like Magic leap have received ($1.39B in 3 Rounds from 15 Investors ) - and they don’t even have a product out yet! This video of a prototype of their work shows one potential application.
Over the next few years this technology will be part of everyday lives and smart devices/PCs will purely power visual tools to enable you to see the new digital world. Microsoft have positioned themselves well in this market with Hololens - yes, it’s expensive for early adopters, but then so were the first first cars and TVs...
George Hadfield - Senior Designer
Use of colour
User interfaces are getting increasingly vibrant with very rich colour tones. 2016 saw web designers experimenting with gradients, bright hues and oversaturated colours. Expect to see more of it next year as screens and monitors are becoming more advanced and able to reproduce more vibrant colours.
Typography has always set the tone and style of websites, helping add character and personality. The tail of 2016 saw designers experiment with big and bold typefaces, which marries well with the introduction of more vibrant colours.
Chiara Mensa - Designer
Diversity in design
2017 will be all about individuality, identity and diversity – and no, I’m not talking about world politics or social dynamics. There’s been a lot of talk in the last few years about how web design appears to have lost its soul because of the wide array of very similar websites going live everyday. With this in mind, I think 2017 is going to be the time when the industry will try to break this ‘spell’ and we will see a bigger push towards making designs stand out and feel unique by focusing the attention to the primary building blocks. Designers will shy away more decisively from stock photography and video, favouring bespoke imagery and carefully-crafted illustrations.
Moreover, a stronger effort will be placed in using more unique and original typefaces and trying not to always go for the easy options (I’m looking at you Google Fonts).
Robert Korodi - Junior Designer
More creative use of code-based user interactions
Because people have devices with better performance the definition of accessible technology for a given target audience is changing constantly. Code-based (WebGL) animations and parallax image scrolling are running smoother and smoother on our current laptops and tablets so there’s a huge potential to introduce these features to sectors that didn’t have a chance to use them before. If these features are combined with thoughtful design they can transform the users’ experience. When it’s done well there’s a simple reason why they work so well: when an object on a seemingly static site is reactive to the user’s mouse movements people react back to it instinctively. These techniques are not a necessity to create a great website but when you look at them as additional tools for enabling creativity in web-design, these relatively new opportunities are definitely good way to go.
Daniel Samuels - Lead Developer
The meteroic rise of Slack will likely be soon followed by a tapering off, and perhaps a decline, in usage of the popular business communication app. With many workers feeling overwhelmed by the volume of real-time conversation happening and a sense that if they don't read and respond immediately then their chance to contribute is missed, it makes sense that organisations might begin to look back to traditional communication tools such as email or Basecamp. With some key features still missing from Slack (such as threaded messaging) there will likely be a tipping point where companies begin to reconsider their use of real-time communications.
With an ever-increasing amount of our private data being collected by Silicon Valley startups and figureheads alike, public opinion will surely begin to shift as people begin to realise the cost of over-sharing. Ephemeral media shared on apps such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories has seen a large rise in usage over the last few years as people to consider the long term effects of their digital personas. With a number of recent controversies / developments in government-level access to data (with Donald Trump taking control of the NSA and the Snooper's Charter being passed in the UK), it's likely that people will be more cautious with the amount of information placed into the public realm. We may also see a shift in the data retention policies by websites themselves, to try and limit the data which can be requested by authorities.
2017 will likely see the release of the second generation home VR kits (Rift, Vive, OSVR, etc) with perhaps wireless display data. At the moment there's a snake of cables you have attached to the user, so wireless technology would vastly improve this. I think we're also going to see VR on the web, there's a proposed API called WebVR which is likely to become available in the stable release channels of Chrome and Firefox next year, so we'll see a lot of cool stuff coming out of that.)
Lewis Collard - Developer
2017 will see the rise of ubiquitous HTTP encryption. First, global political uncertainties are causing many more people to question the wisdom of state surveillance. People who may have previously thought of it as a necessary evil are seeing that machinery, predictably, fall into the hands of people who they have good reason to fear. And the tightening ratchet of surveillance, in which the British state granting everyone from MI6 to the Food Standards Agency access to your browsing history will neither be the last nor most egregious example, is rendering the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' crowd increasingly thin. (How's your browsing history looking?)
Secondly, the team behind Google Chrome has already announced their intention to prominently call out non-encrypted HTTP communications as insecure. It is reasonable to expect Firefox to follow suit. Website operators are going to come under pressure to encrypt connections just to avoid the scary warnings.
These trends coincide with driving down the overhead of obtaining and maintaining SSL certificates to, practically, zero. By the end of the year, it is not unreasonable to expect the overwhelming majority of top-1000 sites to be using encrypted HTTP connections.
Think we've missed something? Leave your predictions in the comments below.