Picture this: universal design trends in image selection

29th April 2014

How do you make a website cool and engaging? Big blocks of text are pretty boring so you need to add some attractiveness with graphic elements and cool imagery. But what makes one image cool and another one dated?

For the past three years Shutterstock, the global online image library, has summarised the patterns in its 350 million downloads to reveal the trends in image selection for designers. For 2014, this is what they reckon is hot when it comes to online imagery:

Filtered images: You know all those people posting stylised photos of their Sunday dinner on Instagram? As irritating and banal as they may get (even though Mary Berry would have applauded the baking skills) they’re cottoning onto a real trend towards retro images taken with a filter for a grainy, blurry or under/over saturated look. Searches on Shutterstock for filtered images increased by 661% last year.

Flat design: we wrote a blog on this in September last year – I’m sure it’s ingrained in your memories. The trend towards User Interface-inspired design which looks deliberately as two dimensional as possible continues, driven by mobile app and software design. Downloads of flat design assets were up by 200%.

Authentic imagery: People are getting really turned off those corny, posed scenarios, you know like the ‘team meeting’ scene where handsome people in suits high five each other and look excited to be at work? It’s fake and meaningless. These days people want images they can believe in – subtle, raw, candid moments caught on film. Searches for real-life images were up by 347%.

The search terms that increased most from the previous year were ‘Gatsby’ up 625%, ‘3D printing’ up 581% and ‘Make-up set’ up 503% - with each of them being searched for at least 1000 times each in 2013.

With websites becoming more interactive and less static, the need for high definition video was also markedly increased. Top rises in video searches were for Education – up 98%, Transportation – up 97%, and Cityscapes – up 94%.

When it comes to Typography (following on nicely from our last blog about Fonts), the key trends are for Geometric fonts – letters made up of shapes and blocks (up 75%) and Signage inspired writing – like the signs you find on chalk boards, retro café menus or vintage advertising boards (up 36%).

When it comes to social media, the images that are most shared are Landscapes, those with Vibrant Colours, images with great Depth of Field, Typographic quotes (they’re all over Facebook and the like) and strikingly Simple images.

Having your finger on the design pulse is good for business. It shows that your brand is in touch, relevant and forward thinking. If you want to ensure your design is fit for 2014 and beyond – talk to us. We’re nice chaps, we make good tea and we love a design challenge that results in better business for our clients.