The first internet browser launched on December 25, 1990. The first website launched about three months later on April 6, 1991. It contained only text with hyperlinks. Its job was to explain what the web was, how to use it, and basic set-up instructions. Other websites followed suit, because, with no web design tools, there were no other options. (Learn more web design history in the Web Design Museum.)
After the early ’90s text-only pages, the next iteration of web design in the mid-90s featured tables (think: columns), which allowed designers to incorporate images and graphical icons into websites. By the end of the ’90s, the hot web design element was Flash. It didn’t last, but it did change the way websites were designed and used. (Side note: Adobe is officially ending support for Flash in 2020.)
Today you’ll find that what is considered great web design is still in flux. Every year hot new design trends arrive, replacing the old with the new. While jumping on every new trend is not a smart strategy, staying current with the best design elements is important for gaining the maximum impact and results from your website — the workhorse of any marketing strategy.
What’s popular now and predicted for 2020? We’ll review some of the trends anticipated to shape the next-generation of great web design.
First, let’s look at a short list of what’s definitely out for modern web design.
Here are five of the biggest trends in web design that many companies are already deploying.
Technically, mobile isn’t a new idea. However, it has proven its dominance in the digital universe and the design of mobile is becoming more sophisticated. As a result, it’s more important now than ever. According to Statistica, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones. As the mobile user base increases, good visual effects and search experience are factors that need to be considered in website design in 2020. This image of a mobile page from Evernote is a perfect example of the sleek, simple, yet compelling mobile design everyone should be aiming for.
Mobile design tips:
Slack made waves when it launched, not just with its simple communication functionality and sleek mobile design, but also by using an illustration (of a rooster crowing) versus a photograph. At a time when tips on taking great photos dominate the headlines, illustrations are making a powerful comeback from their historic heyday in the 1940s and ’50s. Today, Slack’s web designers continue to use illustrations in their content marketing efforts.
While photographs are still power visuals, illustrations offer several design advantages including:
Synonymous with simplicity, minimalism removes the clutter that distracts visitors and keeps them focused on the steps you want them to take next. For example, on the Buffer for Business webpage, it’s easy to grasp the essential message and find the button to click for a free trial in this design.
Minimalism design tips:
In the past few years, more designers have adopted color gradation. Even if only one color is used, it can create a rich, layered structure with the help of gradients and different images, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing experience. This Saving Animals illustration by Zahidul is a beautiful example of using gradient colors.
Color gradient tips:
Research shows more than 95 percent of the information on a webpage is text. In terms of influence on users, typesetting is second only to web color matching and images. Adventurous, bold typography impresses the audience. Carefully selected fonts can convey the emotions you need and build a powerful visual hierarchy. In fact, more big names like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samung and Netflix are starting to use their own branded fonts to enhance their brand's recognition (learn typographic terminology at Supremo).
Font usage tips:
If website design trends had to be summed up in a few words, they would be simple, direct and sophisticated. If you stay focused on those goals, you’ll be right in step with website design best practices for 2019, 2020 and beyond — ensuring your website remains your ideal marketing workhorse.