graphic design trends for 2016

The realm of graphic design is ever evolving and 2016 will be no different. In 2015, we saw a lot of emphasis on responsive & flat design. Be it flat icons, flat UI or responsive templates, last year was all about having a design which is responsive.

Lot of new trends that come up in graphic & web design are greatly influenced by factors beyond just the aesthetics. For instance, the responsiveness I mentioned above was prominently underlined by Google’s announcement on mobile friendly update. Whatever may be the underlying cause, it’s extremely important for designers to keep up with the latest trend and adapt their design.

It’s interesting to note that the trends are not necessarily driven by new ideas alone. Sometimes, the ideas of the past suddenly come to limelight. Minimalist design is the perfect example of this. Back in the days, the design elements were centred on Minimalism. Now again, designers realized the significance of Minimalist design and the kind of impact it has on User Experience.

Undeniably, User Experience (UX) is the most important deciding factor when it comes to emerging of a trend in graphic & web design. In this article, we look at some of the predictions on graphic design trends for 2016 by top designers & industry experts.

Graphic design trends 2016

1. Stock Imagery will fade

graphic design trend 2016

Stock Imagery has faded in popularity in recent years. Traditionally there has been an overuse of stock photography in web design. As a result there are tons of similar looking sites with the signature stock image in the background. This kind of design has got rotten over time and will fade away.

2. Rise of Motion Graphics & Custom Illustrations


Usage of Motion Graphics has seen a big jump lately. Animation has always been a popular trend but after pitfalls in Flash, it had taken a step back. But now with the advent of Adobe Flex, motion graphics is back to the forefront of design. More & more sites are now turning towards having Motion graphics as their site background. Biggest examples of this trend would be Adsense & Paypal. Motion Graphics have a high visual impact and immediately draws the attention in contrast to stale stock imagery. Clearly, Motion Graphics may be one of the top graphic design trends 2016.

Today, creating a unique design matters a lot in order to beat the competition. Custom Illustrations facilitate in creating a design that tells your story in a unique way.

3. Hand-drawn typography

Hand drawn typography

Earlier, designers were restricted to use default set of fonts with limited options. After google fonts came to fore, it opened doors to creativity. Now, literally there’s a new font published every day on popular design sites like Behance or Dribbble. Especially, people love to see artistic fonts, the once that have been handcrafted.

4. Rich Base Colours

graphic design trends 2016

Switch from traditional colour combinations to rich colours seems likely. The old colour pallets are being fast replaced by Pantone ones. A good design is deemed to have one or two base colours and other supporting colours. This graphic design trend won’t necessarily be different in 2016, although we should see a more bold/rich usage of base colours.

5. Layered Design

Layered Design

Flat design is evolving into a more sophisticated layered design approach. With the help of Parallax scrolling, a flat design can be quickly adapted to a layered one while still maintaining the essence of flat UI.

6. Components Vs Interfaces

graphic design trends 2016

Gone are the days when UI designers used to design the complete interface right at the start. That approach doesn’t work anymore. Now the design needs to be flexible & scalable. Hence component based approach is preferred nowadays. UI components are cleverly designed with the sole purpose of reusability. You can read more about this approach here: CodeAcademy

7. User Interactivity

User Interactivity

Smartphones & Tablets continue to march forward in gaining more user base. Therefore, user interactivity is becoming more important than ever. Gestures like Swipe, Touch need to be addressed in the best way possible to give users a seamless experience. Custom plugins are being built for this purpose. Dragend is one such plugin to capture the swipe & touch events on touchscreen interfaces.

8. Lazy Loading by infinite scrolling

graphic design trend 2016

Pinterest was the earliest adopter of this trend. Advantage of this design is that the user experience is not interrupted. User can scroll to see below the fold contain and it will be lazy loaded without navigating to any other page. No doubt, this web design trend should only increase in popularity in 2016.

9. Powerful Logos

Powerful Logo

Text based logos are being replaced with powerful brand logos with custom shapes & images. Logos are now more expressive than before.

10. BootStrap V4


Bootstrap can be safely considered as most popular frontend framework focused on mobile-first design. Bootstrap offers bunch of in-built components from responsive grid to JQuery plugins. With Version 4 set to release, BootStrap is certain to take the design world by storm.

11. Smart Navigation

graphic design trends for 2016

Traditional menus are often clumsy and take up crucial above the fold space. With focus on mobile friendliness, smart navigation menus are the need of the day. In fact, menus are now being designed purely using CSS3 taking responsiveness into account.

12. Infographics


Infographics have been extensively used as a visual storytelling tool. In 2016, the demand for Infographics may increase even more considering the success stories after using them. Designing a good infographic is the key and it should be a perfect balance of presentation & data.

13. Retro Buzz


Retro design is back. In last couple of years, retro design was used in logos, templates and many other aspects of graphic design. This design trend is set to continue in 2016 with emphasis on the flashy 80’s & 90’s style.

14. Finally – Content centric design

Content Centric design

Many designers try to clutter too many unnecessary components into the design. Not only does this create a bad user experience but also leads to loss of main content message. Users get confused with too many distractions and can’t get to the real content. Focus on content centric design should increase this year.