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Article updated on June 20th, 2019.
If the last couple of months were setting a grade, then 2020 is all set to be a breathtaking experience in web design. Couple that with the advancement in display technology for devices most people use to consume web content and web designers will not go wrong to splash a dash of vibrant colors and creative mixes not tried before.
Some trends, such as gradients, are making a comeback although this time as dynamic gradients. That means if flat design decides to take a nap, it could die a sure death starting in 2020 (which is where hard-to-spot ghost buttons are headed). And dynamic gradients could take over the entire darn space – at least for a while.
But then again, with pioneers such as Google and Apple backing flat design, this year might see an injection of depth and color into the minimalist concept. Over the past couple of months, it has been evident flat design can accommodate splashes of deeper and more energetic colors when afforded the attention and experimental dash it deserves.
In any case, the vast majority of designers and developers are focusing their attention on two distinct areas of web design trends for 2020 and beyond:
Likewise, we’ve already entered an era where mobile web traffic has comfortably overtaken more traditional desktop traffic in many key regions. Globally, mobile traffic is responsible for approximately 52% of all web traffic. By the end of 2019, 63% of all mobile phone users will access the Internet primarily via their device. Hence, there’s never been a more important time to focus on the leading responsive design trends, approached entirely from the perspective of the end-user.
Taking a look at things at a more general level, there are several key web design trends that are already proving popular among developers worldwide. Some are continuations of existing trends, and others bring bold new features and functionalities into the mix.
But which can you expect to see the most of over the next couple of years?
As more brands seek to stand out among a sea of competitors online, more website owners will continue to adopt bold and bright colors.
Think of supersaturation.
Not only are brilliant and deep colors immersive, but they are also attention-grabbers, which are something many online brands can use.
Not only that. Going against the grain, where most web designs have defaulted towards safe shades and shadows, demonstrates a brand’s forward-thinking, daring, and even eccentric personality. And, depending on that particular brand’s target market, that can be a great thing that induces loyalty and association.
It helps that more device screens are adopting In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology, which will make bold colors stand out beautifully for the world to enjoy.
Here’s an excellent example by Egwineco.com; see how they use bold colors to exemplify each can.
Looks crispy to me! Simple, effective, and the kind of stunning website design that makes you want to reach into the screen and grab the product. The inclusion of a simple serving suggestion adds further weight to the message.
That’s bold, no doubt.
And again, the very essence of simplicity in design. Simplicity, in general, is one of the top e-commerce design trends of recent years.
The use of bold colors also reflects the growing sophistication of consumer technology in general. These days, most everyday consumers carry ultra-powerful smartphones that are capable of displaying incredible eye-catching imagery. Bold and beautiful imagery has become the norm today’s consumer expects.
The video almost went big in 2017. But slow page load times are making it a tough-sell this far, seeing that slow web pages will make you lose readers (potential customers).
Yet motion graphics are pretty popular with readers across the board. So what is taking video’s place?
Animation. Animation. Animation.
There are a couple of ways the animation bug could bite:
These motion graphics tend to take up less time to load compared to outright motion pictures such as good-quality video (despite having a range of possible use cases).
Not only do these motion graphics add spunk and persona to your overall brand, when well executed, but also the integrated animations, GIFs, and custom illustrations can help illustrate what you stand for and tell your story—in a cool, clear and confident manner too.
Shopify illustrates how Polaris is meant to be a guiding light. Works better than photography here!
Of particular note for 2020 is mobile animation.
Mobile-first has been a web design trend for a while now, and mobile’s colossal uptake (over the desktop, no doubt) will continue to drive accelerated enthusiasm for the mobile animation to new heights from 2020.
Illustration, on the other hand, can make it easy for product brands to demonstrate to potential users how to use the product—or help the reader to preview a site’s pages.
Even e-commerce sites could use custom illustrations to help online shoppers navigate through product pages and see how a product works beforehand, how to configure filters and shopping carts and guide them to the checkout page.
Still, “serious” brands can utilize custom animation and illustration to inject fun and pizzazz into a buyers journey or sales funnel. Or to simply keep the reader’s attention while the page loads (such as dadadata.com does).
With advancements in web-based, AI and big data technologies, animation and 3D effects can swoop in to offer less stringent and bland data visualization. Then maybe more people would care to look up the numbers twice.
One of the only provisos with animations being the careful consideration of mobile site visitors. Depending on the size and nature of the device used, it may be difficult or even impossible to provide the same experience for mobile audiences.
Nevertheless, there are many ways to use animation to connect and cement stronger relationships with customers.
Think about it…
Most websites are grid-based, obsessively orderly bland fields were playing it safe is the order of the day. Not that well-arranged homepages are a sin, but in 2020, asymmetrical structures are receiving adoptions in a bold bid towards flourishing individuality, brutalism, and unbalanced fun and enthusiasm.
Personal websites, in particular, are increasingly taking this idea to titan levels. Broken-grid structures are especially appealing due to their perceived uniqueness and dogged assertiveness.
But there’s a need to tread carefully here.
Brands with significantly large amounts of live content might find deploying asymmetric design onsets a chaotic web experience for their readers. So, such a brand would do well to reconsider the idea and switch on to a more fitting yet personable design – if they are to keep users happy.
We might as well use dadadata.com again. They use a combination of asymmetric structure and dynamic background, which flows into action as you move your mouse’s pointer to browse:
How audacious is that (or how quickly things can get out of order, in a nice way)?
Of course, there is such a thing as taking even the most prevalent web design trends too far. The key to stunning website design when working with asymmetry lying (ironically) in balance. To create a sense of balance in an asymmetric design, it’s important to ensure that no part of the page is significantly ‘heavier’ than the rest. Using larger images is fine, under the condition that they are perfectly balanced with text, space, and other elements.
Irrespective of how complex or otherwise the design may be, the eye of the viewer always hits the larger on-page elements first, before traveling to its smaller accompanying elements.
Typography as visual is not entirely a new web design trend in 2020, now is it?
But while previous to 2020 typeface design made use of traditional san serif fonts to say it loud, the emerging crop of typefaces are set to be bolder, dogged and entirely hard to miss.
Sometimes words speak louder than the thousand words a photo might yell out. For those times, deploying big, bold and custom fonts to usher in more elaborate typefaces makes a ton of sense. With more tools and devices available to support custom fonts, 2020 is a big year to make bold statements that set you apart from the crowd.
Variable fonts are coming on strong as well. A variable font is fundamentally a single, dynamic font that changes to appear like multiple fonts.
Here is an excellent example by Typekit Blog.
OpenFormat is officially supporting the new trend. In fact, type designers can easily interpolate individual glyphs alongside up to 64,000 axes of variation—from width to weight and so on. So adventurous typeface designers will have a wide variety of options to play around with and flourish.
And, of course, typography counts for something for any online business that appreciates (wants, actually) to tap and leverage the power of search engine optimization by using targeted, yet well-designed keywords.
Nevertheless, there’s much to be said for simplicity and basic readability. Taking things to extremes with illegible fonts in a vain attempt to be creative can be off-putting and counterproductive. Then there’s the importance of balancing loud and proud typography with mobile responsiveness. The issue is that typography that does the business on a large desktop screen might not be quite as suitable for a tiny smartphone. Don’t shortchange your mobile visitors for the benefit of your desktop traffic.
Here is a web design trend born to solve the evergreen responsive design question.
In recent times, online brands have had to decide between creating a mobile-only or desktop-only site. And designers have had to configure those sites to detect what device a visitor is using, so the latter can be re-directed to a version of one website that suits their device size.
And while it has been official since 2017 that more people now browse the web through their mobile devices than on desktops, a smart CSS grid offers a brilliant option to flex one site into multiple versions to fit a user’s screen size (instead of opting for mobile-only web design). From the perspective of the end-user, this is by far one of the most important responsive design trends of recent years.
As touched upon previously, mobile web traffic volumes have already overtaken traditional desktop traffic in the majority of key markets worldwide. The fact that Google itself continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to mobile-friendly websites really says all that needs to be said.
The latest advance in responsive web design, CSS grids ensure every visitor is presented with the same high-quality experience irrespective of the size, type, and nature of the device used to access the website. The layout system allows the web owner to organize content into rows and columns that respond to the user’s screen size. What better way to demonstrate this than bring up a visual?
If you are wondering how to capitalize on this most important of 2020 Responsive Design Trends, Robin Rendle breaks the process down in this actionable post.
People love multimedia, and sites that host engaging multimedia content score higher than text-only webpages when it comes to engaging and retaining visitors.
But in the past, websites with rich content have had to suffer slower page-load times thanks to traditional file formats such as GIF, PNG, GIF, and other video formats. These formats have been notoriously anti-mobile.
Now Google recently made everyone aware they’ll soon be using mobile-first indexing results to rank websites. This statement doesn’t come as big news seeing the number of people using mobile devices quelled desktop traffic since two years ago.
What this means for website owners is it is time to make the early bird switch to responsive, mobile-first designs that put mobile prioritization at the heart of the design process – without sacrificing rich visual content that enchants visitors.
And that’s where SVG comes in.
These are vector images that scale with the size of a screen while upholding the quality of the original graphics. SVGs are not pixels, which is a significant contributor to their scalability aspect. Another critically important responsive design trend for today and for years to come, SVGs ensure the consistent quality of the user experience for all mobile visitors.
Rather than some getting the full website experience and others being shortchanged, SVGs are all about consistent mobile performance – essential in a mobile-first web society.
As more webmasters realize a website represents more than an online address, hand-drawn elements that add a unique sense of character to website pages will pop up more often.
This web design trend took off on the back of two other growing web design trends in recent times – bold typography and custom illustrations. But given the sophistication and technological advancement of most web design trends for 2020, what’s the appeal of hand drawings? Why not stick with the high-resolution imagery and photography more typically associated with stunning website design?
The short answer – hand drawings are both charming and human.
You can utilize hand drawings to enlighten, engage, and enchant while oozing personality and standing out from the crowd – a massive differentiator among the billions of quality websites choking for attention around the web.
Source: Enchanting Marketing by Henneke
Following the usual web design trends with 4k imagery and inspiring photography is always an option. Nevertheless, it’s important to consider one key fact:
21st-century web design is often too perfect.
Everything is far too immaculate and flawless to have been produced by anything but a machine. By contrast, throw a hand drawing into the mix, and you immediately add the human element to your pages. Particularly if the drawing is a little on the rough side – something most non-artists will relate to much better.
Anyone can shoot a bunch of beautiful photographs and then arrange them on a website. Nevertheless, it says something about your character (and that if your business) if you draw something by hand and display it with pride. Hire help to produce your pictures if you wish, but nothing says more about an online business than a hand-drawn picture or two from the team behind the scenes.
Attention spans are fleeting. And smart webmasters know they need to team up with progressive web designers to capture and lead an increasingly distracted readership.
With millions of devices hosting smart virtual assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, more people are embracing voice over text. Primarily due to the convenience of speaking directly into a device, rather than taking the time to enter your queries or requests manually. Web developers can take advantage and treat busy audiences to less effort browsing by levering the more engaging voice-powered model.
Device screens are also becoming smaller and more crowded, and voice-powered models take up little (if any) space and personalize content delivery in a way text might not.
Things may have gotten off to a slow start, but the popularity of voice control/input is finally hitting its stride. The following statistics illustrate how and why voice is one of the most important web design trends for 2020 and beyond:
The introduction of voice-capable interfaces by mainstream businesses remains relatively slow. Nonetheless, evidence suggests it’s only a matter of time before voice takes over as the primary or exclusive input/control option for the masses.
The social media giant, Facebook, welcomed 2018 by releasing their predictions for social media trends to take off in the year ahead. Three among those were (Social) Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning.
For UX designers looking beyond 2020, you’ll be enlightened to know the UI of tomorrow is headed towards doing away with the traditional homepage.
A bubbling trend is to swap it for more targeted and personalized landing pages geared along with use cases and context.
Advanced machine learning will help webmasters, web developers, and UX/UI designers to capture readers’ details based on their browser history and location, for example.
In turn, this information will help website owners, developers and designers to come up with relevant web pages that land individuals based on the kind of information, product or service they’d be looking for on say, an e-commerce website.
Artificial intelligence is no newcomer to the web design and development landscape. Any automated system whatsoever that provides a personalized experience based on the user’s preferences and perceived behaviors qualify as AI. Likewise, Adobe Sensei and TheGrid are offering a stack of tools to help designers move with speed to conquer this growing trend.
It’s just that further down the line, the average web user will begin to expect (and demand) far more multi-dimensional personalization of their online experiences. Online experiences where the websites they visit and interact with know what they want before they even realize it themselves.
Before material and flat design popped into the scene, stringent grid layouts with sharp edges ruled over the web design block.
We have seen in the past year big brands embrace organic designs with their soft, curved lines, shapes and patterns – true works of art meant to add a dash of authentic fun and help uncover the brand behind the design by humanizing them to the target audience.
Google’s rounded-edge designs flash to mind as a good example.
Towards the end of 2017, a new tide blew in that sought to redefine the traditional web design layout. The incoming results highlight a branch from good old static-print-design-like websites with organized, conformist layouts. The aim is to inspire originality and blatant individuality to foster a sense of belonging among target audiences.
From a mix of horizontal and vertical text to color clashing, you’ll recognize it when you see it because a website sporting the new look will have distinct asymmetrical visuals that are in open defiance to conservative website layouts.
In short, the site is brutally original (example 1 and example 2).
What’s more, Brutalism has always been associated with a certain sense of functionality and purpose, over and above unnecessary aesthetic extras. A theme reflected in one of the most popular web design trends for 2020 among everyday users – simplicity and accessibility. Brutalism has the potential to be eye-catching and engaging, but can also be used to create seamlessly functional websites that are all business.
As web consumption devices and technology advances, more web designers are coming up with unique and creative works that will continue to dominate the top web design trends in 2020 and beyond.
Some of our top picks are already growing concepts such as web animation while others such as CSS grids will become some of the hottest web design developments over the next couple of months. However, what the long-term future holds for popular web design trends will continue to be determined by one thing and one thing alone:
The preferences of the end-user.
Theoretically, it’s possible that the tastes, preferences, and expectations of the typical web user could shift radically at any time. In doing so, laying to waste any number of web design trends previously considered superb. If consumers suddenly begin responding negatively to asymmetric layouts, for example, they’re out of the picture.
Then comes the inevitability of technology mapping-out the future web design as we know it. Right now, it’s all about mobile. Rapid advances in the sophistication of mobile technology have transformed the way the world accesses and interacts with websites. Voice-capable interfaces are also making their mark. A few years down the line, virtual reality could usher in an entirely new era of web design and development.
Still, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing sweeping VR-influenced changes in web design trends over the next couple of years at least. For the time being, it’s a case of the ten trends detailed above, forming the cornerstones of truly stunning website design for today’s web user.
Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA