10 Key Design Trends For 2016 (And How To Make The Most Of Them)

Ida Jensen

Fast Company: The global design firm Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive) delves into the major ideas shaping markets next year.

Apps as we know them will disappear. Luxury will trickle down to the masses. VR will go mainstream. These are just a few of the major design and technology trends shaping the world in 2016. The trends we’ve identified focus on issues we—a firm with over 600 designers and developers—expect to tackle in the coming year. They reflect what clients are asking for, our experiences as citizens and users, and our well-informed guesses (we hope!) on the impact of emergent technology.


Today, someone is always listening. We have listening devices strapped to our wrists that encourage us to run farther or put down that extra slice of cake. Devices in our homes listen and respond. Listening technology allows us to act on any impulse whenever, which has broken down the customer journey into a plethora of real-time, intent-driven micromoments. It follows a very predictable pattern—immediate need, relevant reply, repeat—but in an unpredictable sequence. It’s changing the way we consume. People go online more often, but don’t spend as much time per visit.

Each micromoment is an opportunity for brands to shape our habits. And being able to detect exactly how and when consumers decide to reorder a recurring product could prove priceless. AI is key. IBM’s Watson, which uses cognitive technology in a variety of applications from oncology to cooking, is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.” This type of cognitive technology is the start of the next wave of digital disruption.


Be first or be non-existent. Early movers will have the ultimate advantage. Imagine a scenario where you ask Alexa for more yogurt, and she orders a brand you preselected. Instantly, every other brand is edged out with a single command. Not every brand should develop its own wearable, nearable or connected environment. Consider whom to partner with to distribute your service.

Listen and learn. Brands must be able to listen to the messages they are being sent, either explicitly or implicitly. At a minimum, design to show you have heard.


Collecting personal data is nothing new. However, in the post-Snowden era, the public has developed an Orwellian sense of mistrust. Businesses can turn that anxiety into an opportunity by implementing services with manners. The concept of “privacy by design” is key here. Privacy by design is the notion that you embed privacy into technology and the product design process from the get-go. Companies like Microsoft have already implemented strong privacy programs, and the EU’s impending General Data Protection Regulation includes privacy by design standards, will mark the first time they have been incorporated into law.


Act it out. Act out interactions as if they were a conversation on stage. Make your experience a human one. Imagine you were asking a stranger on the street for private information. How would you go about it in a way that would make him or her feel comfortable? Empathetic design changes the camera angle and puts you in other people’s shoes.

Be real. Be explicit. But also be nice. Make sure the intent of a data exchange is upfront, friendly and clear. Find etiquette allies.

Seams matter. Yes, seamless experiences are the goal, but be transparent about transition states. People want to know when they’re getting locked into something.

Hire a Chief Security Officer. Beef up resources dedicated to data privacy and security. On a systems level, invest in new platforms and technologies equipped to handle data responsibly through the supply chain.

Read the full article on Fast Company here and check out the full Fjord Trends report on Slideshare

Ida Jensen

More Stories from Fjord