The Future is Imminent: 9 Design Trends for 2018

Chase Buckley
Jun 7, 2017 · 16 min read

Good evening. I’m Chase Buckley, UX Unicorn, and these are my predictions for the biggest design trends of 2018. Enjoy.


1. Synesthetic Feedback

Carlsen Games, a company out of Denmark, has invented a game named “140” which induced synesthesia in users by leveraging rhythmic awareness
The Feelies, a group out of London, are designing multi-sensory virtual reality experiences to induce experiential empathy in subjects.
Eric Parren, a technology pioneer, is designing Synesthesia Glasses as a sensory manipulation tool to allow the wearer engage in hallucinatory experiences.
Zachary Howard, an aerospace engineer, is creating a mask that mimics the effects of synesthesia using a color sensor, microprocessor, and essential oils. By linking a sensor worn on the finger to an Intel Edison chip on the armband, Howard’s device breaks any object’s color scheme down into the three primary colors that correspond to three scent reservoirs.

Look around you. The future is here. Can you smell it?

2. Progress Spectrums

“Progress is a spectrum, not a bar.” — Chase Buckley

Popularized by uninspired design teams at SalesForce, Oracle, and other Spreadsheet-As-A-Service companies, stepped progress bars like the one above do the user an extreme disservice by representing fluid processes in rigid, incremented parts, which do not accurately reflect the true, multi-faceted user experience.
A progress spectrum reflects the true experience of the user, one in which progress is experienced along a broad, continuous spectrum, where one event seamlessly flows into the next.

When we shop for groceries, we don’t rely on progress bars to tell us how many steps away we are from checkout.

When we’re at the bank we don’t look to progress bars on the ceiling to tell us how we’re doing.

And when we’re walking our dogs, drinking Soylent or giving talks on thought-leadership, we most certainly don’t think about what “step” we’re on towards completion.

The designers at LinkedIn are doing a stellar job at incorporating the “progress spectrum” into their profile strength gauges; one can never be truly complete, nor truly empty — rather, all profiles exist on an infinite spectrum — there is always some task left to complete.

Keep your eyes peeled for progress spectrums this 2018.

3. Disinformation Architecture

“The role of information architecture is to make this complex world we live in that much easier to navigate.” — Chase Buckley

Information Architecture it refers to the practice of organizing and arranging information so that people can better understand their surroundings
Popularized by the Russians, a common Disinformation Architecture Strategy is to spread as many conflicting messages as possible, in order to persuade the user that there are so many versions of events that it is impossible to find the truth.
Buzzfeed leverages Disinformation Architecture to mask the complexities of the digital world.
By hiding cancellation information altogether, Stamps.com is able to leverage disinformation architecture to ensure the most streamlined service imaginable. Kudos!
To mitigate the likelihood that users get overwhelmed and accidentally cancel their subscriptions, the service makes it exceedingly difficult to get out of

4. Neurotic Networks

This next generation of neural networks, truly modeled on the human brain, will not just mirror the architecture of our synapses, but will mirror our feelings and emotions, too.
Facebook utilized neurotic networks in a series of psychological experiments on 689,003 users.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” — The Dalai Lama

5. Mood As Interface (MAI)

Find exactly what you’re craving by allowing your Mood to navigate the GrubHub interface for you.

All of a sudden the personal computer has become a whole lot more personal. How are you feeling?

6. Bowling Bumpers

By using bumpers, your user is sure to bowl a perfect 300!

From user onboarding to to e-commerce checkout, there is virtually no element of the digital experience that is immune to failure. But with the introduction of bowling bumpers, failure is no longer an option.

7. Design Feeling

Design Thinkers at work.
Design Thinking has led us to a world of depressing homogeneity.
Design Thinking is responsible for the extraordinary “sameness” of every single web design.
Everything has become templatized. What we end up with is a world full of generic forms, lifeless products, and soulless “innovations”.

“Design is not a process. Its an art.” — Chase Buckley

8. Rumble Strips

A rumble strip is applied along the direction of travel following an edgeline or centerline, to alert drivers when they drift from their lane.

A.) Rumble Strips as Alerts:

Building on the role of pop-ups like the one shown above, rumble strips will be able to alert users to malicious software and other unsavory content.

B.) Rumble Strips as Remedies to Fatigue:

By sprinkling rumble strips throughout their digital products, UX Designers will be able to send intermittent haptic cues to users to “wake” them up and help them better engage their social medias.

9. Rogue Personas

Rogue Persona A:

Rogue Persona B:

Whether it is to prevent abuse, fool-proof our user flows, simplify our interfaces, or streamline our instructions, developing rogue personas to address non-ideal users will be a key task for the UX designer of 2018.

Chase Buckley

Written by

UX Unicorn / Design Evangelist / Future-Forward Code-Ninja / Usability Prophet — Director of User Experience at BART