I'm not sure when everyone became a psychic, but over the last few weeks, we've come across search results overflowing with lists and lists...and lists...of 2017 digital trend predictions in all things social, tech, and internet. This makes sense when every year, more and more of our household devices start talking to us and ordering our groceries. We decided to brew 8 batches of coffee and read all of them to find trends in the trends and compile, well, a list. But, this is a list with a twist (I’m working on my random rhyming issue).
We decipher, review, and green-light ten digital trends that have been predicted for 2017, in three industries that we—humblebrag—are experts in: social media, web design, and graphic design.
Live Video Engagement
Yes, yes, we all know that live video was huge in 2016. And 2015 for that matter. We all watched Chewbacca Mom (and if you didn't, please dust yourself off from that rock you were living under and check it out because it was the top viewed Facebook Live video of 2016).
Twitter’s Periscope was the first to experiment with live video, wayyyyy back in the golden age of 2015 (and now it's directly embedded in the Twitter app), but Meerkat (RIP), Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Instagram Live were not far behind.
A live video pro is that the engagement rates are astronomically high, topping any other content format, and Facebook shared that its users watched live videos more often and for longer periods of time than non-live videos. These videos make individuals and brands more relatable, authentic, and sometimes hysterical because they’re "off the cuff" and have to be adapted live. There's no redoing that word flub or an accidental trip across the camera.
One of the problems that users have found with using live video, via Facebook Live and Periscope, is that the audio quality is not as high as a pre-filmed video that they might release since it's filmed directly from a cell phone. Our suggestion is that you invest in a separate microphone before you broadcast. Users are far more likely to watch and engage with a video that has high-quality audio than one that doesn't.
Another current even in the live video trend is Facebook's undying wish to attract more viewers that Youtube. The global social platform giant recently released news that it's aiming for longer videos (think five minutes or longer) placed in your news feed. The problem? Facebookers generally skim their news feed, and don't hang around long enough to absorb even two minutes of video.
Daily Augmented Reality
By New Year’s Eve 2017, augmented reality will have taken over social media. So, "what the *BLEEP* is augmented reality and isn't it the same *BLEEPIN* thing as virtual reality?" you ask.
Virtual Reality Defined: "Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation." It's very "Tron".
Augmented Reality Defined: Virtual reality elements coupled into real life experiences. It's very "Snapchat puppy filter" that your friend/sibling/boss is obsessed with.
These filters will not simply be styaing within Snapchat. Facebook has been experimenting with their own form of augmented reality. The world even wore out their Toms and Nikes trying to catch AR versions of Pokemon this past summer.
The future of AR is an even mixture of exciting and freaky. Mark Zuckerberg (who I guess he knows something about digital trends) says that soon we'll be leaving our phones in our pockets and putting in contact lenses to experience augmented reality. Now, I don't know about you but that seems to be to be a little more Jetsons-esque than I'm ready for.
Social Shopping & Instant Purchases
75% of consumers say that they have made purchases because they saw the product on social media first. Honestly, I’m a clothing/accessories Instagram browser myself. I'm not sure if it's due to the bloggers' "flat lays" or because the styling is so much better than on a run of the mill e-commerce site, but Instagram makes products look so much more appealing. Instagram already has instant purchases, and this year instant purchases will expand across the social platforms.
So, Social Selling is great for business, but what does it mean for customer security? Social selling gives customers another opportunity to have their cyber security compromised (and plenty of opportunities to over-spend). Be careful if you're willing to give your credit card information to an app because you can't un-give it. Starbucks made headlines when hackers stole credit card information from customers through their app. Currently, the latest version of Chrome is warning customers if they are about to log into an area that is not secure. Be aware of how you can tell the site/app/pocket shop you are using is secure before sharing anything at all.
Tip: If you're nervous about giving up your information, but still want to be able to use the social shopping apps, then try using a pre-paid credit card, or use a PayPal account instead of your direct bank account.
Customer Service Chatbots
It has finally happened: robots are taking over in 2017. Well, chatbots will be taking over customer service interactions in 2017. Sorry if you just headed into your robot takeover bunker. You can come out, but it's going to be difficult to avoid this trend if you're a consumer. In theory, these chatbots will support customers and their specific needs, but we all know that it's much easier for a person to understand your shipping plight than a robot with lightning fast typing speed.
In a time of expected instant gratification (Amazon can deliver packages in under an hour now), 51% of customers believe that customer service support should be available 24/7, and 49.4 percent would rather contact a business through messaging than the phone (millennials are deathly afraid of the phone).
Google AMP will be a movement that cannot be ignored by web designers in 2017. AMP stands for "Accelerated Mobile Pages." Still confused? AMP is a fancy way to make websites load extremely fast and look less cluttered on mobile. This all happened last year, but like any project from Google, it takes a minute for the world to catch on.
Activity time! Take a second a get out your smartphone, or, if you’re on your phone now, head to a fresh Google browser window. Search a current event like "global warming." The "Top Stories" that you'll see will have "AMP" with a lightning bolt next to it. This means that the content is basically already loaded so the page opening speed once you click on the link is instant.
The main benefit of using AMP is to improve the user experience. The majority of people now use mobile to make searches, so it makes sense that this should be a priority for designers to make sure that their websites are optimized in this way. 71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business, so AMP is a great way to optimize mobile viewing on websites. AMP started within news sites and has the majority of news sites utilizing the framework to give users instant access to articles, but in 2017 it will expand to e-commerce sites and beyond.
During 2016 it became easier to create animations on websites, so there is no doubt that the use of animation will expand in 2017. Just because animations are normally associated with cartoons, it doesn't mean that they can't be sophisticated and unique to a brand. Not only can animations be tailored to a personality and voice, but they can provide an improved user experience.
The GIF craze (if you pronounce it like the peanut butter—you are totally wrong) is still running strong and can be sent within messaging on just about any platform now.
One of our FAVORITE uses of animations on a website of last year was the Bank of England. You may not associate the Bank of England with creativity and design, but they’re killing it on their interactive website that explains what the Bank of England actually does. AND they have the animations optimized for mobile use. Two for you Bank of England...and none for Gretchen Weiners.
Let me guess...you skipped a couple of items on this list and started reading this one because it stood out? Admit it. Don't feel put on the spot, because that's exactly why bigger is better in 2017 typography. Type within websites is going to continue to get bigger and bolder during this year. In simple terms, this type of font is attention-grabbing. Bigger and bolder fonts also give an extreme contrast to whatever is going on in the background. It's not news that as attention spans are getting smaller, we have to work hard to keep people focused on our amazing content. The large size font is an easy and clean way to be "in your face", and grab the little attention that viewers are willing to give. Observe the websites of The Verge, Hubspot, and Kate Spade, and tell us now, how do they make you feel?
In the graphic design industry, one of trend that is forecasted to show up across many different mediums is modern-retro designs. This theme started being used within logos, but this year it will move into other dimensions of graphic and web design. Modern-retro designs are designs made for 2017 that are drawn from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Many of the themes across these decades draw from arcade games, pixel art, space, and other aspects of “geek” culture (and we say "geek" with the warmest regards). The 1980s brings a color palette to modern-retro that is unlike any other decade. The great thing about modern-retro design is that it creates an automatic connection between the viewer and the design because it reminds them of childhood. It’s a blast from the past that has just the right amount of nostalgia, but be aware when you see these designs because your parents are bound you start a story with "this reminds me of...".
Going along with the throwback theme of modern-retro, another trend that is going to be making a strong, inviting statement in 2017 are hand-drawn illustrations. This trend shows authenticity, personalization, credibility, and quirkiness in your brand. It can be difficult to give off those vibes with a design that looks like it was made strictly with a computer, so designers will use hand draw their illustrations to make that connection.
A company who continues to do this well is Chipotle. They don't go completely hand-drawn, but the hand-drawn messages on their to-go bags and cups are warm and give them a sense of authenticity which improves their brand message. I know I've actually sat and read my cup while eating because I was interested in what it said. It kind of felt like a personal message to me even though there are literally millions of them made. I can guarantee you that I would not have read that message if it looked like it was typed on a computer—unless I was really bored.