Every year, the market sees new and innovative products in both the consumer and business realms. As the technology powering these products evolves, so do the product designs themselves. For instance, features like touch screens, Bluetooth connectivity and smart tech capabilities became nearly ubiquitous among new products over the last decade -- and business experts are eagerly looking ahead to see what's next on the horizon.
To find out what 2020 has in store, we asked a group of entrepreneurs to share their product design predictions for the year ahead. Here are seven trends they believe will get really big this year and why.
Inclusivity has become a major trend across many areas of business, and product design is no exception. Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner, believes many companies will start incorporating more features to make their products more accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
"In doing this, a business can reach out to a greater market and serve more customers," says Balkhi. "It can also support a brand's reputation in a positive way."
In the pre-smartphone days, the telephone, computer, camera, calculator and GPS were five separate products. As those functionalities merged into a single all-in-one device, consumers began to see the possibility for other multifunctional products to simplify and streamline their lives.
This trend will continue to inform product design in the year ahead, says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance.
"In today's technologically-advanced state, folks simply want products that can do more things, because the past has shown that it is possible," Schrage adds. "This will more than likely broaden as we move forward."
Simple, minimal design
The trend of minimalism shows no signs of slowing down, and consumers who follow this lifestyle expect their products to reflect that aesthetic.
"As minimalism continues to grow on consumers, the sleek and stylish look of products will continue to catch their attention," says Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms. "These days, the simpler the design, the better. People are getting rid of their clutter and want to see businesses and brands doing the same."
Green, sustainable materials
As with minimalism, consumers have also been gravitating toward products that are manufactured in sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways. Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, thinks product design will continue to "go green" in 2020.
"As global warming and climate change continue to affect the planet, more companies are taking the initiative and supporting worthwhile causes," Wells says. "Companies will turn to eco-friendly materials and methods to decrease their carbon footprint."
According to Chris Madden, co-founder of Matchnode, the average consumer is now more aware of the security risks of sharing their data with businesses. Product design will evolve to assuage these concerns.
"Consumers are anxious because of the steady flow of data leaks reported by the media and their focus on the damaging consequences of lax data protection," Madden explains. "We can expect to see businesses put security front and center in their products to allay customers' fears."
There's a big market for nostalgia these days, says Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster, and companies are leveraging it in their product designs to evoke emotions in their target audience.
"Nintendo recently released a mini version of their classic NES system and there's talk of Nokia bringing back the flip phone," Griffin adds. "I expect we'll see more of this nostalgic trend in product design and marketing in 2020."
Smart customization options
Kalin Kassabov, founder and CEO of ProTexting, believes we'll see more options for customizing and personalizing products, thanks to the latest technology.
"It's easy for companies to customize and personalize products such as electronic devices, digital products, promotional products and other items," Kassabov says. "Smart home systems are an example of an area where customers can choose sophisticated custom options so they can control specific devices such as lights, security, heat, entertainment, etc., in the most convenient way."