No matter what industry you're in, design is essential to your success. Whether it's physical product design, website design or the design of your various marketing assets, every business leader needs to pay attention to the visual aesthetics of their brand.

Good design matters because the way you present your company and its offerings, both online and in person, creates a lasting impression on customers. If you want to wow your audience and increase engagement, it's important to understand the latest design trends and how customers are responding to them.

Here's how eight entrepreneurs plan to implement modern design strategies into their businesses this year.

Motion Design

Joel Mathew, CEO and founder of Fortress Consulting, knows how hard it can be to make your website stand out from the crowd. He says his agency plans to use more motion design and interactive design in their projects this year to take their work to the next level.

"If you want your site to be in the upper echelon and stand out, having interactive elements and motion is important, but it has to be done tastefully," he explains.

Conceptual Minimalism

Minimalism has been the favored aesthetic of many designers and brands in recent years. Nicole Munoz of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. doesn't see this trend slowing down any time soon.

"Taking far-reaching concepts and boiling them down into simplified but creative images is going to be a strong trend," she says. "We saw a lot of these types of websites appear at the tail end of 2018 and I'm sure it will continue into 2019."

Micro-Interactions for Engagement

You should be on the lookout for design that incorporates and enables micro-interactions, according to Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights. Micro-interactions, he explains, are small moments where the user and the design interact, such as a typing indicator in a chat box.

"This year I expect we'll start to see more even more micro-interaction in design on web pages -- for example, when a user hovers over an image on the web they'll see scrolling animations," Christoff says. "This can really improve the user experience if done well."

Neuroscience-Backed Design

If you're wondering what types of design elements really appeal to consumers, turn to neuroscientific research. Justin Faerman, co-founder of Conscious Lifestyle Magazine, notes that much research has been done around the most effective ways to optimize websites.

"You can increase conversions and persuasiveness by tailoring design to speak directly to primal parts of the brain," he says. "It is fantastically effective, backed by research and can supercharge your business and website. Just Google 'neuromarketing' and you'll find plenty of resources to get you started."

Augmented Reality for E-Commerce

Augmented reality (AR) has begun to make an impact on many industries, including e-commerce. Ismael Wrixen, CEO of FE International, believes e-commerce businesses are just now learning how to harness its full potential.

"Rather than being a marketing gimmick, I expect AR to become an integral part of the shopper’s online experience and give them a feel of the products," says Wrixen.

Optimized Mobile Design

Optimized mobile design is by no means a new trend, but according to Shu Saito, CEO of Godai Soaps, many websites still treat their mobile pages as a simplified, condensed version of their desktop sites.

"I have a few strategies that I use for optimizing my mobile design," says Saito. "Specifically, I use navigation that is 'thumb friendly,' I avoid making users type unless necessary and I use Google's mobile-friendly test."

Inclusivity and Diversity

Thursday Bram, editor of The Responsible Communication Style Guide, says inclusive design and imagery will become even more important in 2019.  

"Brands need to show the diversity of their employees, customers and stakeholders as a minimum standard," she explains. "From understanding when to use emojis with different skin tones to sharing photos that include but don't tokenize people across the gender spectrum, designers are building a trend of improved inclusivity."

3D Illustration

Three-dimensional animation has been a big Hollywood trend for a while, but Derek Robinson, founder and CEO of Top Notch Dezigns, sees 3D illustration going mainstream for branded content and websites.

"Leading web designers are now looking at adding realism and depth to graphics with the aim of blurring boundaries between the physical and online worlds," he says. "I look at this trend as more than creating cartoons from flat illustrations. It’s about adding a real-world touch."

Published on: Feb 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.