4 trends designers need to know for 2022

Words by Stephanie Darling and Lori Alcala and Liz Steelman  •  Dec 9, 2021
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For many, 2021 was a test on whether the once-in-a-generation shifts in work and life would stick around, or whether we’d return to the status quo. The answer revealed itself to be a mix of both: While some emerged from their home offices to resume their daily commutes, others invested in another new pair of sweatpants. Rather than work and life operating separately, we’re entering a future that integrates both company and employee wants, needs, habits, offerings, practices, and tools.

For InVision’s 2022 trend report, we decided to paint a picture of this new hybrid world, poring over our most read, discussed, and shared ideas, and asking not only experts from places like monday.com, Teladoc Healthcare, Uber and Unveil.Social, but also 1,483 readers in more than 12 different job roles, across 20+ industries.

Unlike in the years before, the report looks at holistic trends and how they affect employees of a modern organization. Here, we’re sharing an excerpt of the report, plus how each trend will affect designers.

(Not a designer? Get the full, free report for a more in-depth look to see how these trends affect you!)

Inside 2022: Trends that will define the year ahead

Dive into the four key themes that emerged in 2021, and what they mean for your team in the coming year. Plus, gain access to best company practices in 2022, informed by survey data and industry experts.

Access the free report!

1. Out with adapting to workplaces – in with workplaces that adapt

The gist

After two years of an all- remote workplace, many organizations are dealing with a fluid workforce. As the pandemic becomes endemic, and with more workers wanting the flexibility to work in a way that suits them best, organizations will spend 2022 building digital and in-person workspaces that fulfill the needs of both employer and employee.

The highlight reel

According to our 2022 reader survey, nearly 90% of respondents were either hybrid or fully remote during 2021. While many companies try to bring their workforces back into the office, their employees don’t want to give up their new found freedom.

Nearly 70% of InVision survey respondents said they adjusted how they worked to accommodate work schedules and/or flexible time off.

Rather than employees adapting to their employer’s will, 2022 brings a wave of companies having to “glad-apt,” or implement changes to make their employees happier, not only in location or hours, but in salaries and work-life balance, too.

What it means for you

Designers gained some quiet time working from home, but those gains have come at the cost of feedback.

2022 will bring more opportunities for designers to improve their portfolio the way they’d like to, without having to sacrifice personal free time.

In a survey by Nielsen Norman Group, designers cited “receiving feedback” as one of their top three concerns while working remotely. Respondents listed “unsatisfactory tools for gathering feedback, delayed feedback, too much formality in the process of gathering feedback, and lower confidence due to working in isolation” as their top reasons for being unable to get the feedback they need.

Online whiteboarding tools such as Freehand allow designers to tell the story of their designs in a single place — mood board, run quick and dirty research sessions, and hold design reviews to get useful feedback and improve your craft without disrupting other workflows.

2. Out with making do — in with breaking through

The gist

After shouldering the burdens that came from integrating work and life, employees will continue to pressure their employers to adjust culture, policies, and processes. If not, employees will leave for greener pastures. Those who stay will continue to advocate for work-life balance, mental health and wellbeing, flexible workplaces, and more purposeful, meaningful work.

The highlight reel

In the “Great Resignation” people transitioning jobs increased by 54% year over year globally, according to LinkedIn, with Gen Z increasing by 80%.

Those employees who stayed have largely shouldered the burden: A Society of Human Resource Management survey found that 52% of those who stayed at their jobs reported taking on more work.

58% of InVision survey respondents said they felt their work in 2021 required a new component of resilience and adaptability in the face of uncertainty that they didn’t have in previous years.

What it means for you

As some design team members left for new jobs, their colleagues spent last year making do — picking up half-complete work and taking time to train their replacements. Project deadlines were delayed, feedback loops left open, and user research completed haphazardly.

Every day, designers looked for opportunities to reconnect with their craft — but there simply wasn’t enough time.

2022 brings a formal return to creativity as design teams iterate on their workflows.

From remote exercises like icebreakers to put the human back in human-centered design, to creating a space where design work can be shared whenever the mood strikes (and feedback shared whenever a colleague has a spare moment), designers will creatively accommodate both the art and science of design in a way that hasn’t been possible in recent history.

3. Out with the duct tape–in with the Swiss Army Knife

The gist

After nearly two years haphazardly adjusting to remote work, the most successful businesses will adopt “universatile” tools in 2022, or those that streamline cross-functional work across different work types: synchronous and asynchronous, or remote, hybrid, or co-located.

The highlight reel

85% of InVision respondents said they experimented with new tools or technologies in the workspace, and nearly three- fourths of them said these were in hopes of better communicating with other teams.

However, only 20% of respondents felt that the length of time it took for them to complete work tasks decreased — in fact, nearly 30% said it increased.

In 2022, expect companies to replace single-use tools with those that can be used across the organization.

What it means for you

For many design teams, stakeholders want visibility, but creating a centralized source of truth for cross- functional collaboration and feedback can be challenging.

In 2022, design teams will lean into gathering and organizing what was once disparate, cross-functional feedback.

Asynchronous tools can help bring teams seamless communication. Try recording a Loom video with a review template for a design walkthrough.

4. Out with the indifference — in with making a difference

The gist

The events of 2020 and 2021 prompted employees to reevaluate how their work could positively affect larger movements. In 2022, employees will expect employers to not only take a stand, but orient their internal and external work to make a meaningful impact in the world.

The highlight reel

Today’s employees don’t want to work for a “buzzness”—a business that only makes a buzz and doesn’t deliver on its promises. Instead, they want employers with a proven track record on important issues like equity and inclusion.

53% of InVision survey respondents felt like their company had renewed interest in accessibility and inclusivity throughout the year.

The conversation is moving beyond compliance and instead, orienting towards inclusivity, giving people from all backgrounds the opportunity to contribute their ideas and make their voices heard.

What it means for you

Design tools are notoriously challenging for non- designers to work with, yet many cross-functional teams use them to provide feedback on design files, especially if they shifted to remote or hybrid workspaces.

Designers want a tool that optimizes inclusive design reviews and does not require non-designers to be in the design file, so collaboration is painless and productive for all teams.

In 2022, expect designers to reassess the tools they use and consider alternatives that foster cross-functional partnerships.

Designers will not only rely on the design thinking process for product creation, but also to influence the way they collaborate.

Illustrations by Christina Pedos.