Welcome to our annual guessing game about what the next twelve months will hold.
As ever, the designed world is not isolated from the world in which it exists, so when events shape our lives, they influence our work, the work that clients request, and the work that inspires us. According to Collins Dictionary, the word of the year for 2022 was permacrisis. And frankly, 2023 doesn’t look so tumultuous, with some good things and some bad things already on the horizon.
Russia seems determined to return to Crimea and claim that its objectives in Ukraine have been achieved; Ukraine may not accept that territory, but it is likely that the lifting of sanctions against Russia will be enough, which will have a significant impact on the economy around the world. Brazil may have been forced to watch Argentina lift the FIFA World Cup, but it has a new (old) president and new hope for the survival of the Amazon rainforest. Crypto has weathered a series of storms (though there may be more to come), and historical precedence suggests that the bear market has run its course; Stagnation will be evident in 2023, with an upward trend towards the end of the year. The former Pope has died, potentially paving the way for the current Pope to step down and a new Pope to be elected, bringing renewed liberalism or renewed conservatism to the world’s largest religion . Oh, and the IMF thinks a third of the world will be in recession at some point in 2023; the UK and Russia already are, and US policymakers look nervous.
And that’s just the obvious. Of course, there will also be surprises, because there always are.
Against this background, designers not only have to deal with a problematic job market but also have to produce designs that respond to the needs and desires of their clients’ users.
How Did I Do in 2022?
Before we dive into this year’s predictions, let’s take a look at how I thought 2022 would go.
I predicted that 2022 would be the year of blockchain, and that decentralized data storage would take over. Well, I got the decentralization part right, but the blockchain aspect not so much (feel free to tell me I’m wrong on Mastodon because I’m not checking Twitter anymore). I’ll call that a half point.
I said that design would be positive, fun and accessible. I think the design arose from his obsession with corporate minimalism, but positive and fun? Unfortunately, I’m calling that a miss.
I said everything would be green. Again, that’s a miss. If there was a color for 2022, it was a pink-purple gradient.
I predicted that hero text would replace hero images, and in the third quarter of 2022, that’s exactly the trend we saw; tick.
Finally, I suggested that the illustration take on a grainy texture. Well, some designers did, but it was hardly a dominant trend, so I’ll have to give that a miss.
So for my 2022 prediction, I scored 30%. Much worse than last year’s clean sweep. Let’s see if we can’t beat that in 2023…
1. We’ll Stop Freaking Out Over AI
By now, you have probably tried AI, freaked out, and Googled how to start a small holding in the mountains.
The truth is that AI is just a tool. And a good one at that. AI is very good at derivative work. But he is completely incapable of improvising, holding opinions, having an agenda, or thinking outside the box.
AI will not replace your job – unless your job is erasing the background from photos, in which case it already is. When did Stephen King get replaced by a spell checker?
If you haven’t tried an AI tool yet, I’d recommend giving it a try. He does the small repetitive tasks well.
2. Let’s Accept the Real World
One of the reasons AI can’t be creative is that it doesn’t have the same number of input sensors that we do. We can smell, hear, feel, and experience the world in many different ways.
Most of us spent a year locked in working remotely. Then rushed back to the office, only to find that our teamwork did not really improve. With the economic outlook deteriorating, large companies are trying to budget, and the simplest way to reduce costs is to ask staff to work remotely.
When your commute is a five-second walk to the spare bedroom, you have more free time. Sure, you could probably learn Python, but wouldn’t you be happier learning with a pad program?
As we open up new experiences for ourselves, our design work will certainly become more diverse and natural.
3. We will reject Brutalism
It had a good run, but Brutalism is not a good fit for most UI projects. The 2021–22 trend will end as quickly and unexpectedly as it arrived.
4. We will reject Darkmode
It ran well, and dark mode is perfectly suited for most UI projects. But we are all sick of it.
I hope I’m wrong about this one; not only is dark mode really better for your eyes and the environment, but the rich, warm black is the perfect antidote for sterile white corpo-minimalism.
Dark mode options are built into our OS, so it’s doubtful that it will go away anytime soon. However, dark mode as a design trend in its own right is probably on the weak side.
Trends usually come and go in symmetrical waves. Dark mode has been a dominant trend for years, so it shouldn’t take long to completely go away.
5. We will take Personal Retro
Every year we get the daunting job of figuring out which decade will be the zeitgeist. Will 2023 be the year of ’80s retro, ’90s retro, ’00s retro, or maybe (someone let me down) ’10s retro?
The retro trends we’ve seen in recent years are bad trends from years gone by. If the ’90s inspired the retro of last year, it was in the ’90s someone else lived.
In 2023 we will move beyond someone else’s thoughts of the past, to a personal vision of what came before. One where the sun-bleached colors of eternal Summer in the suburbs dominate.
6. We Fall To Borecore
We’re all guilty of designing with our egos from time to time, and there’s a tendency to hit users between the eyes with the biggest type, the loudest gradient, and the brightest animation.
If you really want to impress users in 2023, stop pop-ups, ads, cookie ads, and other extraneous detritus that keeps them from doing whatever they came to your site for. Impressing users in 2023 means clean typography, minimally distracting art direction, and helpful content. Boring design isn’t as boring as it used to be.
In 2023, the best thing designers can do for their users is to get out of the way.
Happy New Year! Let’s hope it’s a good one.
Image by myriammira on Freepik