With the New Year in full swing, the Peaches have been making some predictions about what’ll be big in digital for 2016…

Design

The Burger and off­screen menus – Because of the increase in app usage, people understand the iconology and UX themes coming from apps, so these are being replicated in web experiences.

Usability and speed – We’ve seen an increase in people talking about performance, making performance budgets shave off unnecessary kilobytes here and there for increased performance. This is almost a kind of backlash from the heavily animated sites using a lot of Javascript that drain bandwidth. Of course, mobile usage is still increasing.

Flat design is still going strong and is now considered to be in its ‘2.0’ stage. Skeuomorphism is long gone. Heavy detailed images have been replaced by clean, minimal design that is also less heavy on file size. However, ‘material’ design has brought back some elements, such as diffused shadows on hover, and lots of rich user experience animation, which can be coded in CSS and is much lighter on bandwidth.

Modular and grid-based layouts – We’ve seen this tile­like approach grow over the past year and it’s still going strong. It’s popular and effective because it offers a clear way to display information and, specifically, a lot of different information in one go. A more recent development of this is overlapping elements or ‘grid offsetting’. This comprises of text overlapping images, images overlapping each other or breaking the grid.

A couple of image trends are ‘blending modes’. For example, images are saturated in a colour (potentially a development of the colour overlay trend from last year). ‘Image masking’/‘double exposure’ is another trend, where a designer plays around with the layers and merges one image into the shape of another.

This Spotify site includes modular design, grid offsetting, blending modes, off­screen burger menu, richer interactions and it’s also responsive.

The Pantone colour of the year for 2016 is a softer take on colour, the blending of the two shades – Rose Quartz and Serenity. Rose Quartz is described as a warm light pink that is ‘persuasive yet gentle’ and conveys feelings of composure and compassion. Serenity, a lilac blue shade, inspires feelings of relaxation, weightlessness and respite, according to Pantone.

Development

After the cyber attacks in 2015, IT security and authentication methods are going to be key for 2016, as companies will want to ensure they have a reliable and secure website. Website loading speed will be important as quick-loading websites perform better on every front. They produce higher search ranking, offer superior user experience and encourage better user engagement. Most importantly, fast­loading websites deliver higher conversions and higher revenue.

In 2016, we will see a turning point in the field of user experience, as more and more businesses discover the value of customisation. The customer is now becoming a crucial part of the process and delivering a personalised experience will be an essential part of business strategy.

Mobile app development will continue to find new frontiers in 2016, with more standalone apps and wearable technology coming to market.

Video

Virtual reality is going to start moving. It’s going to take a while, but things will start happening, even if it’s just in gaming. By the end of 2016, about half, or more, of smartphone users under 30 will have a mobile VR headset.

When it comes to 360 video, it’s a bit more hit and miss. It’s got a place, but it will occupy a niche. So, will it be big? The simple answer is: no – people won’t suddenly start shooting and uploading 360 selfies. But will it be more pronounced? Maybe. More 360 cameras will appear on the market, removing the need to cable tie GoPros together, but it’s just a new fad. Facebook introduced support for it, which has increased its profile. However, it’s notable that the only people to have used it are big names, implying that it’s not easy to use.

4K will finally get prime time. It’s been a long time coming but Sky and Virgin are toying with 4K broadcast properly. More content is getting 4K, YouTube supports it and, with TVs having matured, there are lots of 4/5K computer displays to edit on. However, Apple TV still doesn’t support it, but we reckon they’ll release a new one soon that does. (Controversial…)

Social media

Buy Buttons – In 2015, we saw social platforms experiment with ‘buy’ buttons. Facebook and Pinterest are just two of the platforms that gained attention last year by introducing new ‘buy’ features for their advertisers and users. Mobile users of Facebook and Pinterest who see a product they like in a sponsored post can now use a buy button to purchase it, without even leaving the app. By the end of 2016, most social media brands will feature some kind of buy button naturally as an element of their advertising campaigns.

User privacy concerns will hit an all­time high. Snapchat’s explosive popularity is, in part, due to user demand for more private, secure methods of communication and engagement. Facebook is introducing more privacy awareness tools for its users.

Live streaming social video is going to be big in 2016. With the launch of so many live video­streaming platforms in 2015, such as  Meerkat, Periscope, Blab and Facebook Mentions, it’s clear that this is ready for primetime.