As 2019 takes us towards the end of the second decade of the century, it’s plain to see that the Internet has changed and evolved exponentially since 2010. Mobile devices have started to reign supreme and many acronyms like AR, VR, AI and AMP have found their way into our technical vocabulary. Amidst all the excitement of the new technology wave, the most striking changes have been seen in web design trends.
In just a matter of years, design trends have become increasingly more creative, leaving behind the once-popular stock photos and grids and replacing these with colourful and imaginative illustrations, vivid colour schemes and unconventional yet user-friendly layouts. Also, technological progress has triggered smarter websites along with machine learning and a greater subtlety of user interactions. These new trends have propelled web design forwards and, in 2019, we’re seeing web design trends that combine aesthetics and technology in brave new ways.
Below are some of the dominant 2019 web trend predictions, without these being an exhaustive or restrictive list by any means. One thing’s for sure: 2019 is is the last chance for web designers to stamp their identity on this decade.
So, here are top web design trends of 2019 that are right up to date.
Serifs hit our screens
Despite the unwritten rule that serifs should be reserved for printed material and sans serifs for the screen, web design trends have shaken up this principle, turned it on its head and laughed in the face of convention.
There’s no doubt that sans serif is clean and easy to read. Indeed, it’s still the popular choice for longer texts. However, brands are increasingly using bold serifs in design areas like headers and calls to action (CTA). Behind this lies a good reason: Serifs are well-known for being decorative and an excellent way to place emphasis and draw attention to what’s being said.
Despite the fact that serifs are frequently seen as being a little old hat, web designers haven’t been able to deny their boundless character and adaptability. This makes them pretty indispensable, even today. For example, take the rounded serifs that have been used by Mailchimp in their eye-catching branding and look at the wedge serifs and bold characters that have given Medium its contemporary look.
Black and white with colour accents
Undeniably, colour is a highly important part of a website, setting the tone and mood and unifying the brand. Colour can help users to navigate through an interface by creating visual features and creating logical steps. In 2019, web designers have been going back to black and white in order to make their designs stand out and create an impact.
Colour is essential in our perception of the world around us. It operates through the emission and absorption of light particles. In the absence of colour, the world around us undergoes a metamorphosis as shapes and textures become sharper and clearer and everything seems to become more simple and slow down.
The use of white on its own against a coloured background is clean and reserved but black is bolder and more assertive. So, when both black and white are used in combination, the impression is altogether more striking.
While it might seem logical that using black and white shouldn’t involve any other colours, in actual fact, black and white designs have a greater effect when used with a small amount of colour. Colour accents here and there help to break up the monotony and starkness of black and white and can make certain web features stand out such as headings and CTAs.
The use of natural shapes
Historically, web pages have been designed according to straight structures like grids and tables. However, the latest trends are based on natural, organic shapes and geometric structures. While classic shapes like squares and rectangles give users a feeling of security and stability, 2019 trends are shifting the focus towards accessibility and user-friendliness.
Organic shapes are imperfect and asymmetrical by their very nature. For this reason, they give a certain depth to a page layout and make it easy for designers to highlight certain elements. Stemming from the natural word around us (e.g. the curves of a tree trunk or the slope of a hill), organic shapes are intuitive. They can be enhanced by free-hand design elements to give the feeling of spontaneity (e.g. a splattering of paint). By using these methods, web designs are aiming at creating a human feel that comes alive through the sensation of fluidity and movement.
Retro designs make a comeback
Included in the list of trends for 2019 are retro design elements, which are starting to make a comeback. This takes the form of glitch art, a warped kind of retro. Glitch art can take many forms but essentially captures technology gone wrong. For example, moments when a movie film gets distorted or a sluggish dial-up connections only partially delivers the image a viewer sees on-screen.
Such glitches used to be an annoyance and worry to viewers but, in our modern world, they matter less as computers are becoming more and more powerful. This can leads to the reassurance that glitches can be easily resolved and are transient, even entertaining and quirky in some cases.
On the one hand, there’s a concern that technology will take over, yet we need the reassurance of the presence of machines in our every-day lives. Therefore, technology breaking down or going wrong is an interesting theme for viewers to contemplate and to actually become part of when interacting with technology. Using glitch art in web design can draw the user’s attention to areas of a site through distortions, glitches, or warped and over-exposed images, for example.
In our futuristic world of today, we’re still uncertain about how much more control technology will have over our lives in the long run. All we really know is that technology will play a role of ever increasing importance as the decades roll on. Glitch art succeeds by accentuating our occasional feelings of disorientation and uncertainty. Instead of causing us worry, it gives sites a dream-like and contemplative appeal.
Micro-interactions enjoyed by users
With the main aim of surprising the user and creating an appealingly human and life-like experience, micro-interactions give us the opportunity to get involved in subtle ways on a site or app. For example, we do something and get a specific response, such as the ping of a message landing following our Facebook post or the beep when refreshing a Twitter page.
These micro-interactions have become more commonplace in 2019, with hovering and scrolling animations, chimes, bells, bleeps and far more to give the user small rewards and pleasure from using a site. These techniques are the ideal way to encourage users to interact with a website, subtly conveying information to users based on their actions and giving the impression of websites being smarter and more engaging.
The evolution of chatbots
Chatbots have been evolving for some time, but 2019 has seen these AI entities really come into their own. The spotlight on chatbots in 2019 is mainly down to AI’s progression through more intricate machine learning. This has lead to greater efficiency and intelligence in the design and implementation of chatbots.
In the future, chatbots will become an increasingly common feature on web pages and more unique and individual than ever before. The use of bright colours will enhance their appearance and invite users to interact with them. The chatbot will stand out as a real and welcome feature on a site, providing relevant information and advice to users. Also, it’s likely that more and more brands will start using friendly mascots as the ‘face’ of their chatbots, bringing them to life and making them more personable and approachable. In many ways, robots will start to represent brands just like well-trained human customer service representatives.
More video content
Of course, website content in the form of videos is nothing new and users have been watching this form of media for years. The use of video helps to make web pages more varied, diverse and understandable. Video brings a site to life and also targets an audience that’s constantly on the go, with little time to read and absorb big chunks of text.
What’s changed through the use of video is Google’s move towards mixed search page results, where content containing video is ranked above standard pages. As a result, websites have started to prioritise this form of media. This means they’ll stand out in search results and provide users with the type of content they want and find easy to share.
As possibly one of the most timeless and classic design trends, minimalism is frequently chosen by designers when creating websites. Less content and fewer elements on a page mean that an audience won’t have to work as hard to understand the key messages. An effective minimalist design will show users just what they need to see without leading to any ambiguity or confusion.
With minimalism continuing to be a big part of web design in the 2019 digital landscape, techniques such as animations and fade-ins are making page browsing easier and more engaging, providing greater space and freedom in terms of content. The result is more white spaces, contrasts and fewer distractions, providing users with a simplified and frustration-free experience.
With mobile access surging ahead as these devices of choice start to overtake desktops, website designs are striving to be more ‘thumb-friendly’ for users browsing sites on their smartphones. In a study of the mobile trend carried out by Josh Clark in his book ‘Designing for Touch’, he looks at the way users handle their mobiles and how their gestures, especially the use of their thumbs, should be reflected in web design.
Users are increasingly benefitting from navigation aimed at the use of he thumb. The easiest area for someone to reach with their thumb is the bottom of the screen. So, ideally, a mobile menu needs to be located here, allowing users to tap on the hamburger icon and choose an option in the quickest and most efficient manner. By contrast, having the menu at the top of the screen forces users to re-grip their device or possibly navigate the page using their other hand, which is clumsy and far from ideal.
Website speed is vital and has many effects such as greater user interaction with faster website and improved search engine rankings. Web standards are also still important and you should aim to comply with wc3 standards.
In the past, designers have fallen into the trap of forgetting that the web is, in fact, ‘world-wide’, connecting billions of user across the globe from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures. Users all have different abilities, ages, genders and identities. Most of all, as individuals, people want to feel they’re reflected in the content they access as opposed to being forced to interact with generic content that’s non-localised and impersonal.
In this respect, little things can matter the most. Take, for example, Apple’s range of emojis with different skin tones, making people from all kinds of backgrounds feel more included in the brand’s identity. 2019 should see designers taking giant leaps towards greater inclusivity, with improved accessibility and diverse, socially-aware content and images. In this area, web design still has progress to make, but designers have many tools and skills to hand to ensure that their sites reflect real people and make true connections with all users, not just select groups.
The future of web design trends from 2019 onwards
So, we’ve summarised the main trends of web design that have taken shape over the last months of the decade. However, new innovations are always on the way, with many surprises in store and plenty of time for designers to pave the way for more popular web design trends from 2019 into the future.