Over the past decade, technology has had a huge influence on web design.
From the way we create websites, to how we view them, being on-trend starts with understanding how new tech enables designers to push the limits of creative expression.
So far, 2020 has been the year of the Coronavirus and reliance on technology is at an all time high.
Businesses are adapting by increasing their online presence and depending on their websites to help them weather the storm.
In order for you to get the most out of your website, here are the top 10 design trends taking over the Web right now.
Creating trust with your users
Unfortunately, our online world is littered with misinformation. (#fakenews)
While sites like Google and Facebook continue to penalize or remove false information, an opportunity has been created for brands that inspire trust among potential customers.
When it comes to creating trust, it’s the little things that add up. The images, words, layout, and color choices you make may influence how people perceive your brand.
A good way to understand user behavior is to put yourself in their shoes.
Even better, you can use sites like Userbrain to ask real people that don’t know your brand how they feel when navigating your site.
The lessons you learn from these one-on-one sessions can go a long way towards improving your website and in-app performance.
- Less is more – avoid complicated designs and big blocks of text;
- Pay special attention to pricing, call-to-actions, and form design;
- Avoid stock images when showcasing your product or customers;
- Incorporate social proof in your design (reviews, photos, etc);
- Only link out to reputable websites (this will also help for SEO);
- Provide your customers with an easy way to get in touch with you.
Oversized type and elements
This year, designers are leveraging oversized poster fonts with big, impactful visuals in order to create memorable first impressions.
Although this trend is one of the easiest to recreate, executing it properly requires harmony between your brand, the typeface, and visuals you choose.
Unfortunately, not all fonts can be scaled to 150px and still look good. Here’s a list of 60+ fonts that look great at scale and that are sure to get your creative juices flowing.
Since modern website builders make it easy to use just about any font on the Web, you should never limit your creativity because of the tool you’re using.
When it comes to your visuals, make sure to use professional grade images. The last thing you want to do is highlight imperfections on your customer’s new 4k monitor.
- Your hero text needs to be short and to the point so people have a clear understanding of the message you’re trying to communicate. Should never be more than two lines;
- Your entire website needs to fit the style you’re going for. Having a big, impactful hero section that doesn’t fit the rest of your design will create more harm than good;
- Leverage CSS animations to bring your design to the next level.
As previously mentioned, technology has a huge impact on web design trends. Over the past year or so, operating systems, browsers, and pro-focused apps have been shifting towards dark UI.
This year, the trend of dark design has made its way to websites.
By combining dark backgrounds with vibrant accent colors, designers are able to maintain and influence users’ attention.
The great thing about designing on a dark canvas is that everything stands out.
However, the key is to not overwhelm the user with too much content at once. Dark designs need to be minimalistic and include lots of whitespace (or in this case, darkspace).
Also, while creating contrast is great, too much of it can create eye strain.
Here are some tips to make your dark design user-friendly:
- Avoid pure black backgrounds as it creates too much contrast, Material Design recommends #121212 as your canvas color;
- Avoid dark colors with heavy saturation. Focus on lighter tones which maximize readability;
- Avoid white or grey call-to-actions as they can blend in with your text;
- Avoid using dark backgrounds for blogs or websites that are text-heavy;
- If you need to add a larger block of text, consider using light grey instead of white.
App inspired websites
In 2020, web designers are working closely with product teams in order to create a more consistent experience between what users see on the website and in their native apps.
Using the same styles, visuals elements, copy, animations, and interactions can go a long way towards creating a streamlined experience that helps with both product adoption and brand recognition.
On top of consistent branding, websites are incorporating more and more product shots in order to help set expectations. By previewing the user interface (UI), it becomes easier for users to quickly familiarize themselves with your product.
It’s also important to note that there are a large number of experts who believe that progressive web apps (PWA) will replace many of the mobile apps we use today. By converting your website into a PWA, you can eliminate the need for users to:
- Go to the App Store/Play Store
- Search for your app
- Click to install
- Accept permissions
- Wait for it to download
- Make sure your web and product designers work together;
- Incorporate in-app style elements such as colors, buttons, fonts, icons, and visuals to your website;
- Use curated visuals instead of direct product screenshots;
- Develop style guides to help your team be consistent;
- Always use high quality images, icons, and mockups in-app and on the Web.
For a few years now, gradients have been making a huge impact on the world of web design.
From apps to websites, the use of gradients has increased dramatically, especially when it comes to websites in the tech sector.
This year, creators are taking gradients to a whole new level – incorporating them into fonts, shapes, interactive elements, and even videos. Also, while most websites used to limit gradients to a single section, more websites today are using gradients that take up entire pages.
With the help of CSSGradient.io, you can visually generate custom gradients and then copy the code into your website. You can create linear gradients, radial gradients, and even text gradients.
Other helpful resources:
- Use ColorSpace to generate and preview color palettes and gradients;
- Trendy Gradients in Web Design – Article by Awwwards.
Systematic design systems and components
Although designing websites from scratch is a great way for designers to showcase their creative talents, it’s not the most efficient way to build a website.
Over the past few years, many designers have been moving towards website building platforms that enable them to create a component once (like a hero or contact us section) and then reuse it across multiple pages or projects.
In 2020, designers need to create flexible design systems that can be tweaked to fit the needs of their individual clients. Similar to how templates help do-it-yourselfers get started, design systems help designers wireframe websites and quickly move them towards a finished product.
Even for the 1% of your customers who are willing to pay top dollar for a truly custom website, working with a design system will help you build out their site faster once an initial direction is agreed upon. A win-win for both you and your client!
Since the emergence of social media in the early 2000’s, businesses have been slowly moving towards a more casual and friendly vibe both in the workplace and online.
Today, large corporations and CEOs that once seemed unapproachable are making jokes and interacting with customers online.
This year, we are highlighting this trend by sharing simple design tips that will help your brand feel less “corporate” and create better connections with your target audience.
- Avoid large menus with complicated dropdowns;
- Simplify your contact us page – make it easy for people to get in touch;
- Write copy that everyone can understand – Apps like Hemingway can help;
- Leverage graphics and curated visuals to explain complex information;
- Modernize your web design with custom fonts, shapes, colors, and illustrations;
- Use pictures of real people (testimonials, employees).
Memorable and legible fonts
Designers are always looking for new ways to display website copy.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen bold typography experiments including reversed, inverted, and even sliced text.
This year, designers are looking to make an impact, but are conscious of user-experience and legibility best practices. The key is finding a healthy balance between creativity and readability.
In order to follow this trend, we’d recommend you start by finding a great font pairing that matches your brand’s style.
Next, experiment by combining your font choices with some of the other trends mentioned on this list, including large type, dark UI, and gradients.
It’s incredible how a fairly simple font can be elevated to new levels with a few subtle design tweaks.
Oversized images and galleries
Remember the old saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words”?
It has never been more true.
From online stores to portfolios, designers are leveraging big, beautiful images and galleries to make their websites stand out.
When it comes to the image selections, creators are favoring close-up product shots and pictures with solid background colors. In the absence of distractions, this ensures that all eyes are on the product.
As larger images work best with grid patterns, we’d recommend sticking to grid and justified galleries as opposed to the masonry style made popular by Pinterest.
- Use only your best images (less is more in 2020);
- Ensure consistent colors and styles between images;
- Take product shots with a white background;
- Increase the size of the image thumbnails and place descriptions below or to the side.
For the second year in a row, curated visuals have made the list of the top web design trends.
This year, we’re seeing even more concepts such as 3D shapes, motion graphics, and altered images make their mark on the world of design.
Although custom visuals can be time consuming and expensive to make if you don’t have the creators on staff, they are a great way to captivate your target audience.
For most businesses, with moderate budgets, we’d recommend keeping things simple:
- Showcase your product in action using 3D mockups and templates;
- Use websites like Fiverr to hire affordable illustrators;
- Incorporate visuals with no background;
- Consider videos and screen flows as a cost effective alternative to 3D animations and motions graphics.
Bonus: Augmented and Virtual Reality
Although there are many websites and apps that incorporate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into their user experiences, we can’t say that it’s a trend just yet.
As AR and VR technology continue to make strides, it’s important to be aware of how this new technology will impact design in years to come.
Examples of this technology are endless, from furniture stores and clothing companies allowing you to virtually try out products before buying them to fitness apps like Zwift allowing you to virtually ride your bike around the world.
From a designer’s standpoint, AR and VR should be considered as another form of content delivery. Similar to when videos made their way into web design, it took some time for best practices to be developed.
Similar to how autoplay videos don’t work well on mobile devices, augmented reality doesn’t work well on desktops as it’s harder to gain access to a camera that can point and shoot. When you add virtual reality goggles into the mix, you can see how interesting designs might become in the future.
While we wait for AR and VR technology to gain traction, here are a few cool examples of what’s to come:
Regardless of how technology and trends evolve over the coming years, it’s important to remember that great designs will always share timeless qualities such as:
- A simple user-interface (UI);
- An intuitive user experience (UX);
- Beautiful yet legible typography;
- Eye-catching visuals.
For most businesses looking to stay up to date with evolving trends, we recommend a progressive approach.
Making small design updates to your app or website every few months is much more efficient and cost effective than doing a major redesign every 3-5 years.
In order to make regular changes, you need a tool that fits your skill set. If you are familiar with code, WordPress might be a great option. However, if you’d prefer to visually design your website, platforms like PageCloud might be better suited for you.