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Graphic Design Trends 2016


Keeping with the basics

This coming year we will be seeing a lot of refined versions of things that started to become popular in 2015. Mainly simplistic flat design. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE this trend. Clean and basic design in my book will always make a stronger impact and be more memorable that complicated busy layout. I liken it to a melody vs. a busy street. Too much noise and it becomes hard to pick out any one sound. Like taking your date to a busy restaurant with a band playing. Good luck getting to know each other.

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Illustration over Photography

This is partially due to the popularity of illustrated infographics. Why stop at infographics when you can utilize this trendy style on your banners, backgrounds, advertisements, wherever. There is so much flexibility here which makes this niche really fun. No 2 people sketch alike so we are all bound to see some really interesting outcomes here. You don’t even have to be GOOD. Some of the best sketch based design I’ve seen used simple non Michelangelo skill sets.

This design is one we did for  our client – Potter Wines. They have given us feedback that this charming fellow gets quite the reaction from customers. Who could resist that face?


Shapes as Logos

This is nothing NEW per se, but I do think it is becoming more prevalent. This also goes hand in hand with with the first point of simplistic design. This is especially true for LOGO DESIGN. Focus is going away from wordy complicated logos, to basic, quickly identifiable shapes. Whenever I start a logo project, I always encourage the client to consider putting most of the focus on a symbol, and then designing the text to fit the look.


This is one of the most basic logos we’ve done, but it’s also by far one of our favorites. The full logo is here – Coldfront_logoBut the basic shape remains the same. It’s simple, easily recognized, and you can print the logo given just about any printer limitation. If space is limited, drop the text completely. Going forward, logo’s will rely less and less on the text on more on the imagery.

I was employed once by a company that had TEN words in their name. TEN WORDS. We didn’t have a logo as much as we had a decorative paragraph. There was so much branding potential lost because working with text can be very limiting. Is your company a ONE word identity with only 5 letters? Great, that’s doable and you can get creative with limited characters. Much more than that and people are reading instead of identifying.


This is a fun one. Print is obviously 2D so creating a 3D design takes some creativity. It’s a cleverly placed shadow, a perspective angled two-tone, or skillful use of blurring.

Here’s an awesome example from Emily Balsley on Pinterest

3d shapes

There are only two flat colors in this design, but a definite 3D feel.

Here is a design I did with a technique called stickering.


This allows you to have a fun and busy logo, but still maintain that recognizable shape when you need to simplify. I applied some of those techniques to the Cold Front logo above as well. You can take any 2 tone logo and apply this effect to give it that 3D realism look with a side of pizzaz. Easy Peasy.

This trend does take a little more forethought and skill then say a basic silhouette shape, so be aware that it will take your designer a bit more time to complete.



Everything moves now. It can get a little annoying so I recommend keeping this one to a bare minimum, (same goes for content pop-ups. They are the bane of my existence, no one likes them. Don’t do it).

Subtlety is impressive, overload is tacky. But it IS a trend that you will see more of so here are some ideas of how to utilize it in a classy way.

Have your logo animate onto the screen and then remain static. A looping logo that goes on and on and on and on gets repetitive. I LOVE LOVE LOVE animating logos so call us ANYTIME if you want me to animate yours.

Animate steps to a side bar or screen. When someone ends up on your landing page, evolve some content with a simple one-two-three transition, then remain static. Simple, but effective. HERE a great example of a simple landing page animated screen –

Click this image to watch it MOVE


Mobile Friendly

Its been a steady decline of the reigning desktop view. Everyone carries around a computer in their pocket or bag which means more and more content will be viewed on a mobile device. That means your online presence had better be mobile friendly. Mobile has been the #1 way people have viewed the web since 2014, but now design is starting to lead with that intent, and desktop viewing second, with tablets beginning to lead the pack.

Breaking the Rules

With the ease and usability of common CMS platforms (content management systems), most websites have all looked sort of the same for the last several years. It’s easy to pick out the WordPress, Joomla, or even Drupal look.

You can always opt to  hire a devleoper to custom code your entire website, that is, if you have lots of money and LOTS of time to spare, (not to mention follow-up cash and time for custom updates and changes as browsers and SEO rules are constantly changing), but that is just not realistic in most cases. What I’m starting to see in the CMS world, is themes and plugins allowing more customization of layout and content. You will no longer have to fit everything into the same boxes that everyone else is using. Know how to do some code? GREAT! Accessing code editors and implementing your own design rules is becoming easier and more accessible.

No great artist who ever stood out followed the rules and colored within the lines.


Typography has ALWAYS been important but now it’s more flexible. Thank you Google Fonts. But PLEASE be aware, just because you have a lot of options does NOT mean you need to utilize them all. Especially in the same place. Options are nice but like everything else, clean and crisp text looks more polished and professional all day. There are exceptions of course! Kids brands, a cupcake shop, pet supply store. Bottom line – make sure that font is appropriate to your message and your goals, I’m looking at you Comic Sans abusers.

Parallax Backgrounds

Long story short this is different parts of backgrounds that move at different speeds or directions. THIS is a site we did for Mekong Fresh that uses this sweet sweet parallax. With more and more people having daily access to high internet speeds, designers can get a little more adventurous with movement on a page.

The moral of this story is to keep-it-simple while incorporating some trixy new technologies. A bit of an oxymoron I know, but it’s the future baby! Keep the actual design elements clean and crisp, but embrace advancements is content placement and loading effects.


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