Design Trends 2019

The year is coming to an end, time to wrap up what happened and think about what to expect next year. My last “Design Trends” post is already seven years old, what a great time to publish a new one. All of the following trends in design reflect my personal observations, and of course a little my hopes for the industry development next year. Let’s get started with the obvious ones:

All time favourites

Minimalism: Ever since I can remember, Design Trend forecasts have predicted Minimalism, because why not. So let’s look forward to a more minimalist 2019.

Big Pictures and big video are still going strong in the trends.

Typography - who doesn’t like a nice-shaped letter? What we’ll definitely see is a much more diverse and tonal typography next year. Typefaces that reflect the brands moods rather than only being readable.

Universal Design Systems

In January 2018, Web Designer’s Depot asked: “Should the Web have a Universal Design System?” Big players like Airbnb, Facebook and Github have been building, updating and also publishing their very own design systems for years now, allowing all sub-brands and products within their domain to adapt a consistent look and feel - making it easy to brand each product.

A few years ago, Google started doing the same with Material Design: They published principles, design ideas, a concept for “Material”, of which each visual element within the system is built. They went even a bit further and added a broad color scheme, icons sets and development frameworks, making the Design System usable and very adaptable for non-Google brands - and thus a relevant design trend for the upcoming years.

Real Data

Two weeks ago a friend asked me to review his design portfolio. The app and web designs looked great, fresh and creative - yet it said things like “This is a headline” all over the place.

Placeholder copy has always been a symbol for the helplessness of designers when it comes to actual product knowledge or data access. “Content First” is a mantra from designers who want to design actual products instead theming “empty buckets” for content editors to fill with content later. Tools like Craft have taken on that challenge and enable designers to use real data within their favourite design tools - making it a design trend for 2019.

Death to Lorem Ipsum!

AI & Human Experiences

A while ago, a new startup promised websites, completely designed by artificial intelligence. The initial results were, let’s put it mildly, less than impressive. Yet the idea of machine-learning designed interactions have stuck and will become an important trend in the upcoming year.

One significant transition has happened already: Alexa, Google Assistent and Siri have become household items, replacing graphical interfaces for many tasks - making it more important for UX designers to look into. Why not start with watching Google’s lovely “Home Alone”-Ad?

Digital-Physical Connection

DriveNow, Lyft, Airbnb, Lime, Mobike - the rise of the sharing economy has forced us to think more about the physical impact of our digital designs. Carrying over the essence of the digital brand to it’s analogue embodiment is a challenge for a lot of designers in 2019.

Think about the last time you rented a car online: Maybe you chose a big brand name, had the companies logo everywhere in the process: on the website, in the email confirmation, on the printed out voucher – until you reached your destinations airport. Instead of being welcomed by the brand and experience you had online, you faced a local car rental partner company that you never heard of before – all was correct, yet it left you confused.

Our challenge as designers is to avoid these pitfalls and make the transition from digital to physical as seamless as possible, starting with correct branding, physical experience design, expectation management beforehand and holistic tonality definition. What a great time to be a designer!


Screenshot: Headspace App

Coming from meditation and a Buddhist tradition, the concept of mindfulness had quite a run in the last years. Guided meditation apps like Headspace have made the topic popular - outside the esoteric or religious movement. More important: the process of bringing your attention to what is happening right now, in this very moment, can result in much more focussed work and thus much higher quality work - making it a Design Work Trend for 2019. My two favourite mindfulness tools: The beginners mindset and deep listening.

Adopting the “beginner’s mindset”, you will drop all your biased and knowledge, assuming to know nothing about the current topic. This will bring you in an open mode, making your receptive to all kinds of creative solutions. When you “Listen deeply”, you will give others, for example users during a research, your undivided, judgement-free attention. By loosing judgement and bias, you will build empathy skills much faster and elevate the voices of the people you are designing for.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness in design, there is a great article by the guys at IDEO:

Design Process

Going away from the Creative Hustle, designers have started to embrace more structured processes like the design cycle and agile design. Design processes have grown up from helping photoshop pixel pushers to integrate with their developer team members to real innovation tools. Thanks to Design Thinking, we have a whole set of tools and methods to understand user, identify problems and quickly generate creative ideas. Google Venture’s “Design Sprint” process has made these accessible to a broader audience, making rapid innovation an integral part of our everyday work - and an important trend for 2019. If you want to learn more about design processes, check out my post: Design Process Battle.

What else?

What are your design trends for 2019? I want to know! Hit me up on Twitter and or Designer News and let me know! Happy Holidays and a happy new 2019!

Johannes Ippen
About the Author

Johannes Ippen is a designer from Berlin, passionate about French punk rock, really strong espresso and writing about design. Follow him on Twitter for more of design-related essays. Full bio →