As we all walk out into the fresh 2019 air, the new year serves as a stark reminder that the digital age is remarkably fluid. Believe it or not, we’re about to round out the second decade of the 2000s — years where we saw incredible tech changes, cultural shifts, and the rise-and-fall of millions of digital strategies.
In particular, web design has gone through some explosive changes in the last 20 years. We’ve seen the birth and death of desktop-based design, the era of copy-and-paste templates, and the current age of drag-and-drop theme building. Brands have been built on, and lost in, the chaos of these web design changes.
Today, let’s embrace 2019. Here’s where the web design world is headed this year. These are the trends that are set to carry us into 2020 and beyond. So, put on your party hats, grab a cocktail, and let’s jump straight into the fray.
Here’s web design 2019.
If you had to describe the current affair of web design, minimalism is probably the first thing that would pop-to-mind. Being able to reduce web clutter, improve UI, and simplify the UX has reshaped the world of web design. No longer are we greeted with overly-flashy websites blaring Myspace-era music in the background as they saturate the page in pop-ups and tabs.
Now, most websites are stripped the bare minimum. We’re in a landscape of little, and we expect this trend to skyrocket into the new year. Not only does minimalism give brands a better overall user experience, but it also helps improve speeds, reduce distractions, and clarify the main purpose — conversion.
But, the continuation of minimalism isn’t synonymous with the same minimalism. The container-heavy, color-on-negative-space, page-building themes that have dominated the web space this year are going to start fading into obscurity. As businesses continue to leverage branding as a solution to growing market fractures, web design has positioned itself as the perfect place to stand out from the crowd.
Text-based web design has been around before. Well, really, the first websites were entirely text-based. But, lately, we’re seeing an up-spark of websites that use text as a massive part of their overall design architecture. More interestingly, the text that they’re using isn’t fancy — it’s easy-to-read. This trend is partially riding on the backbones of major sites like Medium — which have sparked their own mini design-revolution.
Serifs, Futura, and Helvetica, tend to be the fonts of choice for websites that try to leverage typography beyond-the-graphics. This is web design with function and meaning.
CSS Grid-based designs are certainly “in.” While flexbox was making massive waves this year and last year, CSS grid is positioning itself as the next major grid-based design player.
In other words, CSS grid is the newest wave of websites. Pushing content into containers has been popular for a while now, but CSS grid gives designers the flexibility and control to make sites faster and more organized. Really, CSS grid standardizes some of the elements of web design — which isn’t necessarily a “bad thing.”
While minimalist websites are going to survive (and thrive) in 2019, bizarre, weird, and glitchy designs are starting to gain traction. In particular, glitch art has become a massive design trend. It’s one-part past, using age-old (think 80s) idealizations of the future. It’s also part modern, as growing tech continues to push boundaries and redefine global landscapes.
Using strange and surreal art as a way to capture these moments of fear and anticipation is the perfect way to make your website hyper-digestible. We’re also seeing waves of post-60s psychedelic art and strange 30s(esk) silhouette art. Art is in, and we’re perfectly content with that.
Of course, while all of these minimalist, artistic, and grid-like websites are being produced en masse, there’s an underground design revolution that’s happening in stark contrast to these trends. Against-the-grain websites are popping up in the most unusual of places, like major businesses.
Again, this is partially due to the branding wars that are waging between businesses across the globe. But, there’s also a small part of this revolution that’s simply human nature. We want to stand out. We want to be different. These websites are doing exactly that. By combining funky designs, unusual fonts, and atypical UIs, businesses are trying to break out of the confines of the minimalist design culture that’s swallowed us all.
2019 will certainly increase the presence of unique and strange designs.
Scrolling animations, unique sounds, scroll-over effects: all of these one-off design implementations that leverage unique human interaction are growing. These micro-interactions break up otherwise dull and repetitive browsing actions. Whether it’s a chime that sounds when you close a pop-up box or lively animations that spring to life the second you hover over that boring stock photo, micro-interactions act as unique breathers in an otherwise semi-static experience.
Remember how 2018 was the year of videos? Well, so is 2019. We could point fingers and say that it’s all down to the changes in web design architecture that make embedding videos in websites less restricting and less data consuming. But, honestly, people just love videos. In fact, 87% of marketers use video content in one-way-or-another. Websites seem to be the perfect place to put up some quick videos layered on glossy images and typography.
We expect 2019 to further this trend, and we think videos will become a core part of web design going forward.
It wasn’t until 2016(ish) that we started to see mobile web design really bloom into its own “thing.” For the longest time, desktop design absolutely dominated the web design market. Of course, most of that was due to the era of phones (browsing on a 4s isn’t exactly fun.) But, now that Google is a mobile-first indexer and 64% of ALL browsing sessions are mobile-based, mobile first design makes sense.
Design trends like thumb-friendly navigation are dominating UI design. It works well on mobile, and it gives mobile users the space and browsing experience that they need to appropriately consume your content. It’s all about making users lives easier, and mobile first design does just that.
To see mobile first design in action, check out this HubSpot post.
The trend of buying a WordPress catch-all theme is starting to die down. These drag-and-drop themes that seemed to dominate 2017 and the first part of 2018 are glaring reminders that your website isn’t different. By 2020 (next year!) Walker predicts that the customer experience and branding elements will overtake price and product as the single most important differentiator.
As businesses funnel money into branding, we’re seeing the impact already. Websites are getting creative, unique, and unusual again — and we love it!
If we took every website from 2017, we would find a hero, 3 icons, and a pricing table on 99.9% of them. These standardized elements that drenched the web in a cloak of conformity are starting to die down. It had to happen. While we all may have gotten used to the same-old-same-old, the uprising of uniqueness is slowly hacking all of these elements off of major sites.
It’s not that these elements are bad, and we aren’t going to see them disappear. But, we’re seeing designers go a different direction, get creative, and get scrappy again.
We’ll admit it, we love negative space! Who doesn’t? You know what we don’t like? Every website having negative space! What started off as an eCommerce trend (which worked great for displaying product) soon become standardized in the worst kind of way. Not every website benefits from overwhelming amounts of negative space.
In this new revolution of branding, negative space is starting to be replaced with rich videos, cool icons, and unique backgrounds.
2019 is going to usher in a new wave of design trends. All of these trends have a recurring theme. They’re all unique. Web design is starting to crawl back to its roots as a way to differentiate from your competitors, not as a way to blend in with them.
If you’re looking at all of the new trends and thinking: “Wow! I wish my business could have a cool branded website too!” Contact us. Let’s recreate the internet together — starting with your website!