Prepare to Be Inspired: The Hottest Creative Trends in 2016

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Take a look at global customer download and search behavior for images, videos and music and found four key trends.

We live in a multi-media world where people want fast information and fast response rates. About 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, probably because we process images and visual cues about 60,000 times faster than words.

With millions of users on sites such as Pinterest and Twitter, and Facebook with over a billion active users, the use of visuals becomes even more important. Visuals perform well on social media. Posts with a photo get about 120 percent more engagement on Facebook.

In January, Shutterstock released The Creative Trends Report for 2016. The site took a look at global customer download and search behavior for images, videos and music and found four key trends.

Related Article:Get With the Times: How to Implement Responsive Web Design

Trend 1: Flat Lay

Flat lay is simply top down imagery. For example, items are laid out flat on a table, and the photographer stands on a ladder directly over the items and takes a photo from a bird’s-eye view.

According to the report, search for flat-lay images increased by 160 percent in 2015. You’ve probably seen these images on Instagram and on food blogs and not even realized it.

Flay Lay Imagery design example with computer and clothing

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can implement flat-lay images for your online brand. Product images are the obvious choice for implementing this creative trend.

You can place the items on a tabletop or against a wall. The key with flat-lay images, particularly groupings of items, is to keep the background as simple as possible so the items pop. 

Related Article:Informative and Visually Appealing: 5 Important Website Design Considerations

Trend 2: Boho

You’ve probably noticed boho style on the fashion runways and on Instagram. This is a softer palette of florals, muted patterns and paisley. In 2015, searches for Boho increased by 153 percent, according to Shutterstock.

Boho Style example

You could easily implement the boho design trend in both online and offline promotions. For example, add a banner with a paisley background or create a feather flag for a trade show with a boho theme.

Trend 3: Sacred Geometry

Sacred geometry pulls in elements from geometry and nature, creating a design that has interesting lines but isn’t so bold it is overwhelming. You’ll see this type of design on Coldplay’s album cover, as one example. You’ll also see these images used in religious designs.

People are interested in this creative trend. Searches for “sacred geometry” increased by 92 percent in 2015, Shutterstock says.

Sacred Geometry Example

One of the best places to use this type of design is in a background image for a website design or a brochure. Because the design is a bit muted but has interesting lines, it can set the stage for bold, vibrant text. Keeping in line with the simplicity and natural beauty of these designs, keep the colors muted and limit yourself to one or two.

Related Article:Goals First: 5 Things To Consider Before Implementing A Web Design Trend

Trend 4: Metallics

Another top trend, according to the report, is metallic. This is either an industrial look that is bold and masculine, or a more futuristic and glamorous look. It can feature deep gray, silver, gold, yellows or a rose gold. You’ve seen these colors more recently in Apple products and on the red carpet. Last year, there was an 89 percent increase in people searching for “metallic,” says Shutterstock.

The great thing about metallics is just how versatile they are. You can use these colors in a wide variety of ways in your designs, such as:

  • Borders as an accent color
  • Lettering to create a beautiful and bold header
  • Products to increase interest in that item
  • Background colors

Other Trends

In addition to design trends, there are some other trends that show up for 2016 that you’ll want to be aware of. For example, one cultural trend noted in the report is that people want to be always connected, so searches for things like "smartwatch" increased by 900 percent while searches for "mobile payments" increased 220 percent. People want to be connected, so figure out ways they can connect more easily with your brand.

From wanting happier music to the sudden popularity of adult coloring books, people want to be connected, happy and have life be easy and simple. Keep these things in mind for marketing and design elements related to your business.

Adding Your Own Creative Twist

One thing you could do is to use more than one of these trends to really increase interest. You might create a geometric pattern and use a deep gray metallic color set on a white background.

Or you could use a boho background with a retro glamorous font in metallic rose gold. Try out some different combinations and see what works best for your image and product line.

The report also breaks the trends down by different countries. If you know your target demographic, you should be able to further customize content you put out there and make an even bigger impact. The key is understanding what your customers like and then adding touches that show you understand the trends.

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