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Jan 2019

Top trends for 2019: taking influence from all corners of the design industry

Blog posts

Liz Smith

Liz Smith

Lead Solutions Designer at Kineo

The worlds of web and graphic design have been hijacked by learning designers for inspiration for many years. But what about our design comrades working in different industries, such as fashion, interior design or products. This article will look at some key trends predicted across a range of industries in 2019 and investigate how we can draw from these influences to create great learning experiences.

1. UX – Make it personal

User experience design has changed significantly since it was first coined in the early 1990s by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist for Apple. Agile user experience is now the trend and things in 2019 will get more leaner and developed. Each day UX is becoming more personalised, through voice-based interfaces and biometric identifications, which will only become more prolific in the market.

"In 2019, designers need to be focusing on journeys and mindsets more than a series of static screens that will never be how the user actually experiences their product."

UX Trends

The old mental models we’ve been using as a metaphor for the digital world need to evolve beyond a wireframe or storyboard. If you are envisaging a game UI for example how do you show all the actions possible without moving away from that screen, or for interactive video how do you map out the different possible routes, much of which the learner will never see?

This brings to the forefront how important storytelling is, synced with UX design, as a key way to improve the learner experience. The human brain is wired to remember compelling narratives and we want to use our technology in the best way possible to achieve this. This ties back to finding out what the user wants. We need to research and gather data to find out what motivates specific audiences so that we can build close human connections, empathy and in-depth comprehension through the stories we tell.

2. AI – Embrace the bots

Within the world of Artificial Intelligence we are advancing extremely rapidly in perfecting deep learning algorithms. Technology is leading the way in the advancement of AI, but design will play a critical role in the advancement and adoption of AI. 

AI will also allow data to become far more accessible by the individual. We already have some access to remote physical spaces, think of how you can track cars or delivery drivers through apps, right up until they ring your doorbell. All of this has to be thought through from a design perspective and once again, it’s important to consider how to represent this to your end client at the planning stage. Early prototyping is key to bringing the idea to life and sharing it with others.

A chatbot on

But we also need to consider how we use AI to represent data that we’ve captured from our learners and present this back in a meaningful way. For example, this could be comparing their own decision with poll data or engaging with a chatbot to reflect on their understanding of a subject. The power of design is being able to engage people and not to blind them with statistics and data. For example, we worked with an online booking company to consider how to engage their staff to create the best customer experience, using a virtual hotel experience.

3. Representation and inclusivity

Modern living requires that we take a more comprehensive look at the human experience. We don’t all have the same abilities or needs but the way products and services are designed often assumes that we do. We need to be able to provide an experience that works for everyone. Closed captions and screenreader accessible pages are part of the norm in e-learning but other industries are thinking about what true representation and inclusivity looks like to their audiences.

A mannequin in a shop window wearing a wedding dress sitting in a wheelchair

Tech-based industries such as Microsoft, Apple and Google are proving their commitment to accessibility and retailers such as Target and Tommy Hilfiger are expanding to making clothing or good that suit people of different abilities. Representation has become a key watchword in the media, with all areas of TV, film, journalism etc being challenged to have a diverse cast of faces, and the success of films such as Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians demonstrating that audiences respond positively to this.

As in every industry, fashion designers considering Spring/Summer trends were expected to offer solutions and reactions to our times. The key trends that emerged from this were; escapism, pragmatism, expressionism and body-positivity. We can think about how this is represented through the visual or conceptual presentation of our courses but also the overall message of inclusivity.

Some of the key trends for the year inspired our desire to explore the world (Chloe), the celebration of the craftsmanship of hand-made items (Loewe), a non-conformity of existing gender roles with unisex styles (Louis Vuitton) and a diverse palette of flesh tones (Burberry).

As Vogue commented,

“maybe it’s commentary on oversharing on social media, a reflection of the ways we conceal and reveal who we are underneath our clothes?”.

Another change for us to consider how personalisation plays a role in creating a space that feels all-encompassing.


Runway model for Chloe.
Runway model for Loewe.
Runway model for Louis Vuitton.
Runway model for Fendi.

4. Ethics – Take responsibility

In recent times, there has been more of a consideration of not just what technology should be used for, but the negative influence it can have on our society. You only have to look at the Silicon Valley tech wizards sending their children to Steiner schoolswhich ban technology and advocate an individual-centred curriculum, to see how those with the most know-how are aware of the downfalls.

In order to design technology that improves lives, we need to look beyond measuring technology’s success as adoption, usability and efficiency. Ryan Wynia, a Chicago-based design leader, believes that design methods and frameworks need to be more robust and more sensitive to the contexts in which people use the products we design for. According to Wynia,

“more awareness around slow-changing interactions, those supporting behavioural and attitudinal changes that are initiated and sustained over time, will continue to grow”.

Based on what we know about how people learn, these slow-change interactions are vital to ensuring that something discovered in a training environment is transformed into a measurable output in the workplace. What change occurs will be based on the type of learning, e.g. compliance, soft skills, technical skills etc and the industry these are being used in, e.g. retail, pharmaceutical, financial etc. It’s fair to say that a successful learning method for one audience group will not necessarily work for another and need to carefully interpret the data we gain to lead to user-generated design that is specific for that audience group.


It’s become clear throughout this article that we are living in a world of contradictions, where it isn’t always easy to a clear path to the other side. Technology is developing constantly, but so are our fears about its influence and how it’s used in our society. Designers in all industries are trying to represent the world we’re in but also look ahead to predict what’s coming next.

Our previous design principles have been based around engagement – getting people into a course, working through it and returning back to it. But as technology becomes more and more prolific our attention is being pulled in a million different directions constantly. We need to design now with healthier, sustainable behaviours in mind.

Rather than measuring how long someone spends on our learning, it’s about what they get out of it. Did it have a recognisable effect on their behaviour? Did it lead to not only increased sales and customer satisfaction but also developed the learner’s personal achievement? 

We need to consider the individual, the learner, as ever and not only think about how we can make their life easier, in the simplest way possible, but also more meaningful. It is this value which people will be looking for in 2019.

If you enjoyed reading this blog post, why not sign up for the webinar recording where we discuss these topics in more detail.

Liz Smith

Liz Smith

Lead Solutions Designer at Kineo

Liz is a Lead Solutions Designer, working with our solutions consultants to create innovative designs for our proposal offerings. She has worked at Kineo for over six years and has a background in creative writing.