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2020 Trends in Digital Design Software

February 28, 2020

This post is one part of G2's 2020 digital trends series. Read more about G2’s approach to digital transformation trends in an introduction from Michael Fauscette, G2's chief research officer.

Design trends 2020 

Design is a growing industry that includes a plethora of diverse creators. Artists, UX designers, illustrators, and other design professionals embark on design journeys while leveraging physical and digital tools on a daily basis. Consumer and creator needs evolve and change how designs are built. This year’s trends revolve around design accessibility, catering to a growing digital workforce while improving the way UX designers ideate and harness growing interest in AR/VR.

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This article provides a high-level overview of G2’s top 2020 design trends. In-depth analysis of each trend will be published in the near future. 

Design accessibility trends

PREDICTION:

In 2020, UX software will release more accessibility-focused features in their products.

More UX professionals are including digital accessibility in their considerations as the need for accessible websites becomes more apparent. About half a billion people have some kind of visual impairment and benefit from accessible web design. When web designers consider conditions such as color blindness, individuals with the condition are no longer gated from the website. 

According to the World Health Organization, about half a billion people have some kind of visual impairment and benefit from accessible web design.

For example, someone that is color blind cannot differentiate between two buttons that are green and red because those two colors look similar to them. Color-coded interface interactions can be confusing for individuals with this condition, alienating them from the web page. Changing the color of a button within an interface is relatively simple; using an inclusive color palette is a small—yet significant—change to the already lengthy development process of building a website. 

Major brands are implementing accessibility strategies; in 2020, we will see an increased push for website accessibility. Increased awareness leads to more features within UX design software, making it easier for designers to create accessible web pages. UX design tools will include more built-in options and templates geared towards accessibility. Preview modes will include an accessibility option to test whether or not the interface is truly accessible for a variety of disability types.

PREDICTION:

In 2020, AR/VR software will include more capabilities for those with accessibility needs.

UX designers won’t be the only ones seeing an increase in accessibility awareness. AR/VR tools will increase accessibility features in 2020. To reach the widest possible audience, developers and AR/VR professionals need to keep this population in mind and provide inclusive options. A study found that 20% of gamers have a disability, making it more pressing to create accessible VR environments for consumers with a disability. While Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are visual tools, they don’t necessarily require good eyesight to use. Features such as voice-overs and narration can describe a consumer’s surroundings to make VR possible for consumers with blindness as well. 

For example, Microsoft is currently developing a peripheral device for the HTC Vive headset which lets users scan a virtual reality environment through physical resistance, vibrotactile feedback, and spatial 3D auditory feedback. Plus, Google prototyped a spatial audio plugin that assists the visually impaired. This plugin helps perceive distance and location of objects in VR. Both these advancements are in their beginning stages and could be available to consumers in 2020. With Microsoft and Google on board with accessibility in AR and VR, a call to action is inevitable for software vendors to provide efficient ways to help developers create accessible environments in both VR and AR.

Design workforce trends

PREDICTION:

Digital designers will be responsible for an increase in cloud collaboration tool implementation in 2020.

The number of remote workers has grown exponentially in the last decade. According to MarketWatch, 50% of all employees will work remotely in some way by 2020. As this comes to fruition, the need for businesses to adapt becomes more important. Video conferencing and internal communications platforms have been a staple for offices with a large remote workforce over the last few years, however, designers require more hands-on collaboration in the early ideation stages of creative development, especially when an entire team is involved in a single project.

Due to the consistent growth of the remote workforce, there will be an increase in design collaboration tool usage that specifically caters to design and UX teams. Collaborative whiteboards will help unify the growing remote workforce in the design industry and help solve remote collaboration issues. Design industries are starting to understand the positive impact collaborative whiteboards provide for remote development sessions. Developers can share ideas, discuss wireframes, and provide feedback at the same time. Instant collaboration speeds up development time and allows designers to contribute to a project on a global scale.

In addition to collaborative whiteboards, cloud-based wireframing tools will see an increase in implementation among businesses with remote design, product, or development workforce. Wireframing allows designers to hand off ideations to teams that handle prototyping and coding of the proposed design. All of this is shared seamlessly without the need for last-minute video calls. This makes wireframing an ideal way to sketch and ideate designs in their early stages without traditional in person sessions.

Find the Highest-Rated Wireframing Software on the market →

Between impromptu whiteboarding sessions, design edits, and delivering the final product design to a development team, collaboration happens every step of the way. Businesses that embrace the cloud and unify their remote workforce will see improved collaboration, leading to better designs, better project management, and happier employees.

UX design trends

Whether you’re painting or building an interactive interface for a mobile app, rough drafts, simple sketches, and basic mockups are all fundamental parts of the creation process. UX designers can gain lots of insight when they approach a design slowly and thoughtfully.

UX designers typically spend 50% of their time reworking builds. The cost of fixing errors after the development stages can be 100 times more than during the beginning stages. This is a huge risk for businesses, and can be avoided with the right management processes.

Prototyping tools improve the design process and give designers ways to test and improve their projects. Projects that prototype have clearer communication throughout, faster reviews, and more solid progression—leading to increased ROI. Prototyping avoids the negative impact caused by bad user experience. 

Read reviews on Prototyping Software, HERE →

UX designers gain little when they avoid the prototyping stage besides hitting an unrealistic deadline. The cost of development rework and the high risk for late development stage bugs makes prototyping software implementation an obvious path.

Automation has slowly crept its way into many manual processes making tedious, manual tasks much simpler in a variety of ways. 

Airbnb for example, has combined the power of AI and prototyping. They created a way to quickly prototype by producing low fidelity mockups that instantly turn into high fidelity mockups using automation. In other words, a sketch turns into a detailed design with no extra effort. This significantly speeds up the prototyping process.

AR/VR design trends

Currently, the concept of creating an AR experience seems out of reach for casual users. In 2020 and beyond, this will no longer be the case as AR/VR editors will be readily available on mobile devices. AR editing will be quicker, easier, and portable. 

The catalyst to this trend is Adobe’s unveiling of Adobe Aero, a one of a kind mobile AR WYSIWYG tool. Adobe Aero is free to use, making the tool approachable to consumers. The price, or lack thereof, isn’t the only thing that’s making the tool approachable to casual uses. The mobile app requires no coding or intensive tutorials to understand. We are approaching an age where anyone, anywhere can create interactive AR experiences, opening a new opportunity for competitor tools to rollout in 2020.

Mobile, approachable AR tools could cater to a magnitude of industries. For example, marketers could use shareable AR creations as an advertising opportunity. Additionally, B2C vendors of all types have the chance to create fun, interactive experiences for the world to see in a way that is new, fresh, and creative. Additionally, retail vendors can create AR experiences for products that are immersive and digitally blended into a real-world environment, such as a consumer’s own living room. The possibilities are endless, and 2020 will see an abundance of interest and competitors in the space.

AR is beginning to make its presence known during live events such as televised performances, concerts, and festivals. For example, during the 2019 Video Music Awards, the first performance included AR projections in the form of colorful bubble letters. The end of 2019 saw more instances of televised AR projections, indicating elevated interest in the effects. In 2020, AR projections will become more present in live performances. These projections add a new layer of interesting visuals for viewers watching at home and opens up opportunities for marketing teams to implement AR special effects into broadcasted advertisements for added interest.

Television isn’t the only entertainment outlet seeing an increase in AR special effects. Musician and actor Donald Glover teamed up with Unity to create an immersive mobile AR concert experience in 2016 using a virtual dome. While this was the first of its kind in 2016, more creators have embraced the visual addition in their live events over the last few years, indicating growing interest.

It’s clear that 2020 will be a big year for increased usage of AR during events, whether they are televised or in-person. As usage grows, more consumers will be exposed to AR visualizations in a variety of formats. 2020 could see AR effects being embedded in conferences, allowing attendees to visit booths and galleries with added AR effects to boost interest. In addition, AR could find itself implemented in museums, retail stores and other public places, coinciding with the increase in mobile AR tools discussed earlier. Consumers will have the ability to view immersive AR experiences with their own mobile devices, making in-person AR interest growth more likely.

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