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Design Trends 2022 (and beyond)

by Liviana Popa
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Future designers need to learn, un-learn and reskill in order to keep up with the ever evolving tech industry. Here are some 2022 trends that might help.

There are many great things to look forward to in the future. For this article, I focused on various subjects and areas of personal interest — learning and growth, health, behavior design, visual design, sustainability. If there’s anything interesting I might have left out, please write about it in the comments — I’m curious what you think will be this year’s hit.
Let’s dive into it!

Learning

The only constant is change: workers of the future will need to continuously learn, un-learn and reskill to adapt to the ever evolving tech industry (and between you and me, to the job market, too). The disruption of classical Higher Education is happening, slowly but surely.

Demystifying UX

The past 2 years have forced a lot of people to re-skill in order to still be relevant on the COVID-19 stricken job market. But the demand for UX designers is growing. So our ways of learning have to keep up too:

  • switching from in person classes to online ones for just about every kind of student
  • mentorship platforms (like Adplist),
  • more affordable education alternatives ( even Google has a Foundations in UX course on Coursera),
  • bootcamps,
  • experts who put out comprehensive books and courses

All these alternative ways of getting educated about UX, are creating a new wave of professionals. The level of expertise one gains depends a lot on each individual’s autodidact spirit and learning abilities, as well as financial and time restrictions, but the gates are certainly opening up for more people to come in.

Striking Simplicity

Minimalism isn’t going anywhere. It’s only getting better.

Everyone with a smartphone has grown accustomed to a certain standard of UX and ease of use. And some UX/UI patterns have become best practices — which means designers are less focused on reinventing the digital wheel. That’s wonderful because it frees up mental space for professionals to think about other things. On to tackle new challenges!

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond).Striking Simplicity
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Striking Simplicity
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond).Striking Simplicity. Revolut, Apple (Watch), Meta
Revolut, Apple (Watch), Meta

Colorful IMPACT!

Information Simplicity is getting Paired with Gen Z’s appreciation for surprising color combinations (Long Live Neon), brutalism, flat design, crazy gradients and out of this world 3d art.

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Colorful IMPACT!
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Colorful IMPACT!
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Colorful IMPACT!. Nelson Heineman portfolio, Ashnikko’s (singer) website, Grimes’s (singer) shop
Nelson Heineman portfolio, Ashnikko’s (singer) website, Grimes’s (singer) shop

3D

To Blender or not to Blender, that is the question.

I’ve never seen as much 3D art as I have in the past couple of years. From typography and lettering to sci-fi worlds, avatars to off the scale creativity. With everyone talking about web 3.0, the Metaverse, AR/VR and NFTs, I am sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of this 3D magic in the years to come.

NFTs

If you’re a designer and you haven’t heard about NFTs, you must be living under a rock. NFTs are here to stay and I am curious to see how this environment evolves. When talking about NFTs though, people like to point out the minuses — probably because the downsides are easier to grasp, while the potential/future is too abstract?

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). NFTs. Kanye West’s Instagram post about NFTs
Kanye West’s Instagram post about NFTs

What I am sure about is this: NFTs aren’t going anywhere and they’re paving the way for new and exciting UX design opportunities too: digital galleries (*cough cough metaverse*), marketplaces (Nifty GatewayOpenSeaFoundation), new social media platforms, bidding wars, gamification at its finest and new realms of creativity unlocked.

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). NFTs
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Left: Nifty gateway, right: Foundation.. NFT's
Left: Nifty gateway, right: Foundation.

AR/VR/ Phygital Tech

There is a lot to discuss here so I’ll just leave you with 2 examples instead.

If you’ve ever thought about learning to play the piano, you already know it’s hard. But AR makes it look fun and…doable?

Dominik Hackl, demo of my app Magic Keys — Piano Learning with Augmented Reality.

Phygital

Phygital is the concept of using technology to bridge the digital world with the physical world with the purpose of providing a unique interactive experience for the user (remember Pokemon Go?).

Anyway. We all know fashion is one of the TOP 5 polluting industries. So it’s kind of refreshing to see digital clothes and collections being promoted. All of the glam, none of the rags to be disposed of in third world countries.

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Phygital.
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Phygital.
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Phygital. Left/right: https://dressx.com/ , a “digital closet” website. In the middle: Youtuber Safiya Nygaard wearing digital clothes.
Left/right: https://dressx.com/ , a “digital closet” website. In the middle: Youtuber Safiya Nygaard wearing digital clothes.

This one seems more targeted towards influencers and haul-loving vloggers, but I think this kind of digital approach to fashion will also have an impact on retail. From shopping ecosystems in the metaverse to innovative digital displays and cashier-less shopping, you can clearly see why there is a growing demand for UX designers.

Designers have the gift of making abstract ideas more tangible — and in today’s world, where the future feels abstract, that’s kind of like having the ability to transform a rock into gold.

The internet pays you back

For some people, content creation for The Internet has become a full time job. Designers included. So it comes as no surprise that social media platforms are rolling out a new feature for creators: subscriptions.

Web 3.0

“Lets start from the beginning:

  • Web 1.0 refers roughly to the period from 1991 to 2004, where most websites were static webpages, and the vast majority of users were consumers of content, not producers.
  • Web 2.0 began around 2004 and continues to the current day. It is based around the idea of “the web as platform“ and centers on user-created content uploaded to social media and networking services, blogs, and wikis, among other services. The big players provides plattforms: Airbnb, Uber, Amazon, Alibaba, Spotify, Netflix, Twitter
  • What makes web3 so special that everyone is talking about it? It’s pretty simple. Although specific visions for Web3 differ, the concept for web3 revolve around the idea of decentralization and often incorporate blockchain technologies, such as various cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This means that tokens are integrated into almost anything you do online.” (excerpt taken from from Patricia Reiner’s IG post about web3. Patricia is an innovation designer, doing UX/UI for AR).
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Web 3.0

Remote Working

I bet some of you can’t even imagine a world without remote working anymore, am I right? Thankfully, it isn’t going anywhere.

While some offices and co-working spaces are leveling up to lure people back in, drawing inspiration from hospitality to provide ​employees with nice experiences and quality, in-person interactions (switching from productivity to authentic connections), a shift towards remote working has been made.

The human connection factor weighs in a lot, as well as the fact that not everyone has a quiet, productive working space at home — but when you take into consideration the lack of commute, the chance to organize your own schedule and many other advantages, you can see why remote working just works better for a lot of people.

“Talent flows where flexibility reigns

52% of remote workers noted that they would consider leaving their co-located company for a remote role — particularly significant given the global job market volatility. If remote work was suddenly no longer an option, 1 in 3 respondents would quit their job.” https://about.gitlab.com/remote-work-report/

Behavioral Design

The pandemic has (once again) brought to public attention another subject: mental health. Good habits, walking, hiking, working out, socializing — all these things that contribute to our wellbeing, have abruptly been taken away from us. No matter how impacted we have personally been by COVID-19, we are all adjusting one way or another to a new way of living. And so new consumer behaviors are born.

And for designers (and not only), understanding why and how people do things is more important than ever, beyond buzz words like gamification. The field of UX Design is moving from User Centered to Human Centered products, bringing to the table a much needed reminder: we’re creating products for people, with people.

“Behavioural design is a sub-category of design, which is concerned with how design can shape, or be used to influence human behaviour. All approaches of design for behaviour change acknowledge that artifacts have an important influence on human behaviour and/or behavioural decisions…Areas in which design for behaviour change has been most commonly applied include health and wellbeing, sustainability, safety and social context, as well as crime prevention.” Wikipedia

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Behavioral Design
https://hpi.de/neurodesign/home.html

Neurodesign

With emerging fields like Neuro Design adding an extra scientific layer to the field of design, designers of the future will also have to be trained in Ethics and Morals.

Sustainability

Good business is human centric. And human centric should mean planet centric. The events of the 2020s have highlighted the weak links in the systems we’ve built, with the pandemic impacting many production and distribution links.

In the next few year, technology will drive the reinvention of every industry. AI, machine learning, IoT, robotics — will bring changes in manufacturing, production, distribution and innovation across all sectors. Tech companies will create next generation experiences and products, bearing in mind the need to protect nature, to create better and more efficient global systems.

“Climate breakdown will drive two key approaches within tech — to regenerate, through a circular economy that encourages repair and long-term use of products, and to survive, with climate adaptation (…)

The enduring effects of the pandemic will give rise to a YOLO economy that sees consumers indulging in reactive hedonism and escapism, but they will also drive a more responsible attitude to sustainability, focusing on regeneration and social equity, as the need for systemic change becomes increasingly urgent.” ” (WGSN: The Future of Consumer Tech 2030)

Sustainability is going to become more than a niche buzzword. Even countries’ rules and regulations are changing to adapt to these blurry times we’re living and to deter companies from greenwashing their initiatives , instead of taking real action: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/world-leading-environment-act-becomes-law.

When it comes to design, a new set of best practices, rules, ideas and innovation are going to make their way into designers’ default work process. We’re all used to seeing beautiful photos and enticing products, but how many of us stop to wonder about the resources this kind of website consumes?

For example

Organic Basics, a Danish underwear, activewear & essentials brand, has come up with a solution — both for reducing their carbon footprint and for teaching people about low impact websites.

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Sustainability. Eco-friendly underwear.
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Sustainability. Shop women, shop men.
Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Sustainability. Shop women, shop men. Bras
Left: normal website. Middle/right side: low impact website — photos have been replaced with icons/simple illustrations.

Health Tech

The pandemic has highlighted a need for better healthcare and has left us with a “focus on wellness — in mind, body and soul —that will accelerate consumer adoption of health-tech, including personalised wellbeing and the rising field of death care and the digital afterlife.” (WGSN: The Future of Consumer Tech 2030).

For example

ADA is a health companion, let’s say. It doesn’t replace a visit to the doctor though, but it helps you learn more about your health.

It’s an AI powered medical journey app that helps you get a quick preliminary diagnostic. It helps people understand, manage, and get care for their symptoms with trusted medical expertise in minutes.

Design Trends 2022 (and beyond). Heath Tech. Powered by Ada.
https://ada.com/
post authorLiviana Popa

Liviana Popa, UX designer on Oracle's Xlab team, NAA. I am curious by nature and my favorite question is "Why?". I like to be involved in all the phases of the design process so I can always keep an eye on the bigger picture. I focus on delivering business relevant, human centered digital products.

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Ideas In Brief
  • Future designers will need to continuously learn, un-learn and reskill to adapt to the ever evolving tech industry
  • Things to expect from design in 2022:
    • Demystifying UX
    • Striking Simplicity
    • Colorful impact!
    • 3D
    • NFTs
    • AR/VR/ Phygital Tech
    • Web 3.0
    • Remote Working
    • Behavioral Design
    • Neurodesign
    • Sustainability

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