2018 web trends: the hot list for luxury brands

2018 WEB TRENDS

As we push forward into 2018, the digital focus is set firmly on creating a richer user experience.

Get ready for cleaner designs, enhanced personalisation and an explosion of sensory technology.

Here’s everything you need to know.

The personal touch

For the curated lifestyle, personalisation is a must-have. High net-worth customers want exclusivity, a unique experience that speaks to them directly. While many websites already feature user-responsive design, prepare to see much more in 2018. From targeted content, to adapting colours, typography and graphics to an individual’s tastes, this type of personalisation creates more effective connection and engagement.

Last year, Burberry became the first luxury brand to offer a personalised experience on Pinterest, allowing users to create customised make-up boards in order to promote its new beauty product. And its long-running ‘Burberry Bespoke’ enables users to customise their own trench online, ready to purchase or share on social media.

Enhanced UX: the power of flat design

While it may sound uninspiring, flat design can do wonders for your website analytics. As well as being mobile friendly, this type of design combines minimalism and usability to refine the content of your site – and it’s set to be all the rage in 2018. Expect to see crisp edges, open spaces, bright colours and easy-on-the-eye sans serif fonts.

One of the best examples of flat design is Mulberry’s website. Without diluting its heritage feel, the iconic luxury brand has kept its website perfectly on-point by using plenty of white, open space, fewer drop-down options and minimal text. The result is simply a better user experience. This minimalist approach ensures the focus is on the products, giving the user as much of an ‘in-store’ experience as possible.

Stirring the senses: emotional branding

In a world dominated by digital noise, luxury brands are recognising the need to look beyond visual and audio to create more powerful engagement. When you climb into a brand new Rolls-Royce, the reassuring scent of mahogany and leather is not accidental — it’s designed to capture the feeling of historic car models, evoking a sense of heritage, comfort and nostalgia.

Similarly, Eton Shirts, the luxury Swedish shirtmaker, ensures every item smells of freshly laundered cotton. By going beyond simply seeing and hearing, consumers don’t just use a product, they experience it, ultimately leading to a deeper and more emotional connection with your brand.

2018 will see more harnessing of the power of ‘synaesthesia’ (a combination of senses). Expect to see colours that evoke scents, appetite-whetting animated steam rising from food images and sounds that can physically make you shiver.

Cinemagraphs

While cinemagraphs are not a new concept, they’re tipped to be a growing web trend in 2018. An Instagram ad for Stuart Weitzman shoes, perfectly captures how adding motion to elements can highlight a particular product feature. The effect is powerful and instant; transcending the reach of a still image and entering the realm of storytelling.

For luxury brands, cinemagraphs can enhance the lustre and beauty of an image; the shimmer of a satin dress, the sparkle of a diamond — something difficult to achieve with a still photograph.

Mood as interface (MAI)

Although still a relatively niche trend, the concept of using mood as interface (MAI) is expected to be an exciting area of web innovation in 2018. MAI uses brainwave biometrics, facial expressions and heart rate to create customised interfaces, shaped by a user’s emotions or moods.

In the luxury sector, this intuitive technology has the potential to translate into a highly personalised, unique experience. By adapting to an individual’s moods, anything from the design and content of a site to adverts, and even purchase suggestions, can be perfectly tailored.

The power of mobile: progressive web apps

Did you know that apps like TakeOff360 can be used to charter a private jet? Or that jetsetters in Cancun can use the Uber-inspired Quiero Taxi Exótico app to hire a fleet of Ferraris or a vintage Rolls-Royce? According to TrendWatching’s Future of Luxury report, mobile connectivity has contributed to an “epic shift towards more varied, complex, individualised and meaningful forms of luxury consumption’’.

With 89% of time spent on mobile devices devoted to applications, rather than online, 2018 is certain to be the year more brands get app-savvy. In the luxury and heritage sector, customers expect the level of elegance and ease that they would experience in a store – anything less and you run the risk of diminishing your brand reputation. With this in mind, 2018 is likely to see a significant move towards creating more beautiful, responsive, glitch-free apps that mirror the vision and identity of the brand.


Niki Webb & Tom Haluch