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2018 Design Trends

While others might be wondering what clothing styles will be hot this year, our creative team has its sights on design trends. As always, we’re keeping on top of color, typography, patterns, photography and illustration styles – and figuring out that fine line between short-term fads and impactful trends. Here’s what we’ve seen stand out so far for the year ahead.


In 2018, we see the return of a trend called Memphis Design, which celebrates loud colors and patterns reminiscent of those in the 1980s and ’90s, dynamic type and breaking the grid. Co-existing with this trend, we see the continuation of confident and, at times, clashing color palettes as well as the use of duotones and gradients. Sturdy serif and extra-bold extended sans fonts have returned in both web and print design. Keep your eyes on brands like eBay, Spotify and Dropbox, and you’ll see these trends in action.

Potential uses (color):

  • Daring color palettes to garner attention and stand out from competitors
  • Gradient overlays or duotone photography treatments for hero images
  • Vibrant background color floods to keep viewers visually engaged

Potential uses (type):

  • Oversized headlines or key words to grab viewers’ attention
  • Multi-layered type hierarchy with special attention given to supporting text
  • Intermixing serif and sans serif typefaces for dynamic structure

Potential uses (grid):

  • Integration of uneven and asymmetric column widths
  • Unbalanced placement of visuals for visual push and pull
  • Increased white space to emphasize unbalanced grid


Authentic photography is here to stay as cheesy stock photos continue to be shunned by society. We’ve seen a surge in the use of custom illustrations often interacting with photos or type to create dynamic and unique layouts. We’ve also seen designers continue to embrace and push the “destroyed” look and the art of creating through chaos. 2018 is the year of “more is more” as layered, split and glitch-y looks continue to reign.

Potential uses:

  • Reflect changing environments with diverse and captivating visuals
  • Add a hint of playfulness with illustration
  • Utilize original photography to capture key demographics


Storytelling will continue to be a strong trend in 2018. The evolution of the GIF, micro-interactions and animations continues to delight audiences while enriching a brand’s story. Custom hero videos on websites draw attention, and responsive sites and images carve out the trailblazers.

Potential uses:

  • Enrich simple content with energetic, interactive visuals
  • Craft an experience that fosters engagement by charming the viewer with surprising design elements
  • Embrace whimsy through playful interactive sequences

Let’s keep the conversation going.

Connect with Fusion Hill to explore how the latest design trends could freshen up your brand. And in the meantime, visit our Insights Library.

| Creative


After a memorable experience last year at Open Arms of Minnesota, we chose to again spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day helping bring nutritious meals to people struggling with life-threatening illnesses.

Along with delivering, this year we also assembled a kitchen crew, which allowed us to experience both sides of this 31-year-old organization. In just one day, we packaged 467 meals and delivered 372 meals.

We’re grateful for the experience and for a work culture that encourages community involvement – collectively and as individuals. To find out more about this great organization, visit Open Arms of Minnesota. And to check out some of the photos from the day, go to our Facebook page.

| Culture


As we prepare for a long, restful weekend with family and friends, we’re reflecting on what has made 2017 such a terrific year. Topping the list has to be the opportunity to continue partnering on important work with amazing brands and wonderful clients.

And all that great work has resulted in great growth for Fusion Hill:

  • We’re now 40 people strong and still hiring!
  • One of our newest members is our director of strategy, who, along with her growing team, is expanding the strategic offerings that fit between our creative and research disciplines.
  • We built out new studio space that overlooks the Mississippi, which you may have visited during our recent Fall Brewhaha. If not, stop on by and check out our shipping-container-turned-conference-room!
  • We found inspiration at conferences – SXSW, Transform, the Digital Summit, AIGA Eye on Design and Qual360.
  • We were named one of Minnesota Business Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For again this year!

As we enjoy the delights of our Thanksgiving meals, we’re confident our hearts will be every bit as full as our stomachs. And for that, we thank you – our closest partners and friends.

| Culture

Revisiting Rural America.

What does it mean to live in rural America today? After an election in which the polarization between rural and urban voters widened dramatically — on average, a 26-point gap — many are seeking to better understand the experiences of a population that is too often left out of the conversation.

A common refrain among rural Americans is that the nation’s economy is leaving them behind. It can also be said that these rural residents are being left behind as consumers — underserved by major brands and service providers. Thirty-nine percent of rural counties today lack access to broadband; 40 percent of them lack a bank branch. In urban America, there is an average of 39.8 patients for each primary care provider; in rural America, that number rises to 53.5.

However, rural America also presents a more complicated picture than stereotypes suggest. Eighty-three percent of rural growth between 2000 and 2010 was made up of Hispanic residents, who have helped slow a longstanding decline in the rural population. While traditional sources of income like manufacturing and mining have diminished, there are now new sources of rural employment — like renewable energy.

We’re working to better recognize the complexity of these communities and the reality of the challenges they face. Want to know more? Download the full report.

| Research

Closing the Gap Between People and Health: Transform 2017.

While the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, its health outcomes are less impressive. In fact, they’re well below those of other high-income nations. This is certainly no secret to anyone who has followed the news or political debates of the past few years. The solution, however, isn’t an easy one, as physicians, administrators and healthcare innovators from all corners of the country noted at Mayo Clinic’s Transform 2017 conference.

We joined these leaders and creative thinkers in September for a wide-ranging discussion of the industry’s most pressing issues — from value-based care to interoperability to the potential for disruption. The conversation boiled down to one daunting question: How do we restructure the system so that providers can fulfill the purpose that brought them to medicine in the first place and patients can actually get the care they need?

Here are some of our key takeaways.

Conversations matter — but there’s little time for them.

Today, a doctor gets paid far less to have a conversation with a patient than to perform a procedure — even though conversation may be the cheapest and most effective tool. Danielle Ofri of the NYU School of Medicine noted that cost pressures, regulatory requirements and administrative paperwork keep physicians feeling like “hamsters on a wheel,” spending far more time on administrative tasks than on patient care (in some studies, by a ratio of 2:1). Patients feel the imbalance too. Speaking with their physician for only a few minutes at a time and then being prescribed medication that doesn’t make them better creates an underwhelming experience at best – and a harmful one at worst.

We must redefine the value equation.

In a situation so dire, it may seem the only choice is between spending more to increase outcomes or cutting spending and worsening inequities. But there is another way: increasing healthcare value, and thus reducing costs and increasing quality of care.

Value = Health outcomes that matter to patients / Cost of full cycle of care

Determining value, however, depends on being able to define health outcomes. As they are traditionally measured, these rarely include what matters most to patients. Elizabeth Teisberg of Dell Medical School proposed three alternative measures of what patients value most:

  • Capability: The ability to get back to things one used to be able to do
  • Comfort: Relief from pain and suffering
  • Calm: The stability to continue participating in one’s individual and family life

Evolving the ways we measure outcomes is just one way to begin closing the gap between patients and providers.

Analyzing the right data is key.

Health care lags behind many U.S. industries when it comes to interoperability and the meaningful use of big data. Electronic health records (EHRs) may have been a leap forward, but their usefulness is limited by variation in provider adoption — leaving them to perform essentially the same role as medical records of the past, albeit digitally. Without integration, collaboration between systems, and “sift and serve” capabilities that help physicians find what they need, pooling data just means that the haystack surrounding the needle they are looking for gets larger.

The data we collect today can also be misleading. “Beware of surrogate end points,” warned Darshak Sanghavi of OptumLabs, noting that the data points we often measure and incentivize may reflect a short-term goal that does not correlate with the more meaningful long-term goal. It is essential that the right questions are being asked, and that the long-term goals that matter are established, before we celebrate the power of data to solve our healthcare challenges.

Innovation can help close gaps.

As technology evolves while systemic challenges remain, there is a growing possibility that disruptive solutions could come from the outside. Many of the speakers at Transform believe that these kinds of innovations are needed to force the transition to value-based care and to achieve a better return on our investment in health care as a nation.

However, it is also important to remember that true innovation goes beyond flashy technology. Americans’ health care needs today are not acute problems with a quick fix. Instead, they are often chronic conditions requiring sustained lifestyle change, and they revolve around the social determinants that shape patients’ lives outside of clinical spaces. As Andy Slavitt of the Bipartisan Policy Center put it, the patient we need to serve better is not just the healthy 60-year-old who wants a wearable that can upload his run times to his doctor; it’s the low-income woman who has to take two buses to get to dialysis and keeps missing her appointments. Right now, ZIP code is a better predictor of life expectancy in America than genetic code — and only when that inequity is addressed will health care truly be transformed.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

Connect with Fusion Hill to learn how we’re helping innovators in the healthcare space tell their story.

| Research

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