Graphic Design Trends for 2016

2015 was a great year for design, with new styles evolving and inspiring from outside the box. 2015 looks set to be no different! There’ll be a mix of exciting and interactive elements to engage your viewers, as well as clean flat design interfaces to keep things minimal. There’ll be a nod to retro graphics while the envelope is pushed, especially with more and more emerging typefaces. Read on and get inspired!

Why flat design is here to stay

It’s simple, clean, and here to stay in 2016. Since Apple’s launch of iOS7 in 2013, flat design has really taken off. Less is more in the world of flat design, especially when it comes to creating user-friendly interfaces. 2016 will see a more layered approach and the addition of solid shapes to flat design. This gives impact while still keeping a design raw and clean.

The data overlord

Design is now more and more informed by data. There are programs that measure how users and viewers engage with your graphic design. By using data and patterns, you can figure out what your users feel when they engage with your web design. This will inform graphic design more and more, and eventually overrule what a designer may believe to be best practice. It may be frustrating to see your vision have to change, but it will be incredibly interesting to see what people really want!

Keep it custom

Originality is all important. In order to set your brand and designs apart from the rest, you have to take a step away from stock photography, stick figures, and build-your-own website packages. It’s never been more crucial for brands to engage with images that stand out. It’s up to you how you do this, but some trends will go down a more organic path created with watercolours and inks. The trend of incredibly crisp photography may be put to rest for awhile – illustrations are officially taking over from stock photography in 2016.

GIFS, glorious GIFs

Who doesn’t love a good GIF? Those wonderful little graphics that capture so much of humanity in all its minutiae are incredibly popular these days. Some 23 million GIFs are posted to Tumblr every single day. Facebook finally caught up and started supporting the sending of GIF images in 2015, so you know it’s what people want to see. Up your GIF game, it’s so much fun!

Typography knows no bounds

2016 will see the continuation of custom fonts in graphic design. Typography is a great tool to represent a brand, whether you’re making subtle adjustments to an existing font, or creating a hand-drawn masterpiece. If you don’t have the skill set to create your own yet, Google Fonts has given designers a wide range of web fonts at their fingertips.

While there are more and more typefaces to choose from these days, the trend still seems to be about keeping it simple. Minimalist typefaces will always be a great way to convey your message with no muss and no fuss. 2016 will see a steady use of simplistic typefaces. You can’t argue with a classic, after all!

Colour trends

Judging by the world of interior design, colour trends for 2016 are heading back towards the 80s. Bold and brash colours will make a comeback this year, so don’t be afraid to go for a rich colour palette. To back up this prediction we cite Pantone’s 2015 Colour of the Year, Marsala, that keeps in line with the lush, intoxicating hues of the 80s.


The design tenets of the 80s and early 90s will influence areas further than just colour. Think pixelation, waves of light, and intergalactic steeze in more and more aspects of design. While 2015 was a big year for the 90s, 2016 will see the clock tick slightly backwards to a more 80s interpretation of the future.

Shape shifting

Logos will embrace simple and memorable shapes. Iconic images will look more and more shapely, as it’s increasingly recognised that this is a key way to make memorable iconography for your organisation. Shapes will bring design to life in a lot of ways, whether in backgrounds, logos, icons, and more.

Tell us a story!

Everyone’s attention spans are rapidly descending to goldfish level. Hey, I’m impressed you even made it this far down the page! In order to grab interest from competing apps and a scroll-happy customer, your design should make people want to know what comes next. Visual storytelling in the form of panels and comic-style layout can be a dynamic way to steal attention. Animation and appeals to your viewers empathy are also good ways to generate interest. If you can put your user in the shoes of your design’s central protagonist, you’re onto a winner.

It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed or that you might be falling behind with the latest design trends. That’s why it’s important that you have a team of experts on your side. Dark Horse are industry specialists and just who you need to lift your graphic design capabilities, contact the friendly team today.

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