With the first few months of 2019 behind us, it looks like the old adage is true: the only constant is change.
For creatives, that’s good news. As organizations look to navigate new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, they are increasingly relying on the help of those who can think creatively, innovate and adapt.
Hoping to get a pulse on where things are headed, we asked a handful of seasoned digital creatives across a variety of disciplines to help marketers, designers, and other creatives spot opportunities this year. And we got what we hoped for—completely different perspectives that all hold equal merit in our consideration of the current landscape.
1. A shift to work that’s less slick, but more impactful
Charlie Weisman, associate director of business development, Big Spaceship
“Looks aren’t everything. A couple of years ago an agency could get by simply making good-looking work. Today every design detail big and small needs to derive from data-driven insights. A proper agency still needs to be able to make beautiful creative, but leading with an understanding of the audience’s culture and behaviors will yield the most effective results. In some cases, this might even mean intentionally trading polish for authenticity.”
2. A concerted effort to break through the ‘sea of sameness’
Rina Miele, creative director and designer, Honey Design
“The biggest change in 2019 is focus, projects used to be all about aesthetics & things were more linear. Lately I feel pushed in other directions, including the use of a multitude of new tools beyond just visual design and the oversimplification of look-and-feel itself. Both are in service of a better user experience, but I feel design is losing its essence, it’s soul. Design is less about art direction than it used to be. This is a new challenge — keeping projects looking different in a sea of sameness. We must stay vigilant in maintaining a brand’s personality and perspective when most products look, feel and interact similarly. It is much more difficult to find that ‘je ne sais quoi.'”
3. A wave of totally new immersive experiences
Bryan Le, group director of design, Huge
“5G [high-speed wireless network technology] will make us consider the mobile experience and the range of application is going to change design significantly.
“5G will be leveraged with artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an evolution of personalized, dynamic content. Speed and bandwidth will change how we capture data and provide experiences. I can imagine applications in retail, critical situations for emergency responders, improvements in logistics and in supply chain operations. Cities will become smarter and communicate directly to people. Design can now fully utilize the environment and the space a person is in, in ways that were only ‘blue sky’ concepts before.”
4. The return of playful, emotionally-driven visual storytelling
David Navarro, executive creative director, Ueno
“We should stop talking about the label ‘digital.’ We’re working in a digital world where technology is part of daily life. The medium matters, but the principles of design scale across different touchpoints. Designers needs to think holistically, medium agnostic, and then apply the specifics to each execution.
“A change I am already seeing this year is intention beyond the systems, where visual storytelling is coming back. With type, editorial layouts, use of sound and motion, micro-interactions create rich experiences. A few years back everything went systematic and templatized. That transformation from chaos to systems was great for the maturity of the industry, we had to catch up to make digital design a real business-oriented medium. Now it’s time to bring the feels back!
“Experiences are at the service of the businesses, but also understand that, as humans, design can be emotional and stimulate the playful brain.
“Let’s bring change. Let’s ‘play’ again.”
5. The end of ‘take all we can get’ data collection
Tina Glengary Cordes, owner and strategist, Ambeti
“We need to get smarter about privacy. Society is creeped out by big tech and big data. That data is rarely used for the users’ good, this data is generally used to benefit the company not the user. Companies using our data isn’t going anywhere, but let’s make sure we get something out of the equation.”
6. A more diverse, inclusive workforce
Mike Ramirez, senior integrated producer, Phenomenon
“The biggest change in digital design in 2019 will be the makeup of the people doing the actual design work. Because of inclusion and diversity initiatives, we will see work across the spectrum that is more informed, accessible, and delightful due to the changing face of the modern designer bringing new perspectives to the work.
“Additionally, brands have a huge opportunity to define the ‘aural identity’ of products and services. The proliferation of podcasts and voice interfaces create an opportunity for brand consistency across existing and emerging consumer touch points.”