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Web Design Trends 2018: What Will Make an Impact This Year?

The landscape of web design is constantly evolving.

Something that looked modern and fresh yesterday can appear dated seemingly overnight, and trends once dismissed as irrevocably passé can unexpectedly cycle back in vogue.

1. Typography

More and more companies are turning to big, bold typography to anchor their homepages. This style works best when the rest of the page is kept minimal and clean, like this example above from Brooklyn-based agency Huge.

2. Broken grid layouts

In designers’ neverending quest for more creative and engaging layouts, the grid we’ve always relied on to bring harmony and logic to our layouts has itself become a kind of constraint.

Which isn’t to say that broken grid layouts ditch the concept of the grid altogether - instead, they allow images and text elements to drift into and across the gutters that usually serve as hard stops in more sober layouts. Here, the usual discreet boxes of images and text begin to overlap and converge, often creating beautifully unexpected juxtapositions of bitmap and letterform.

3. More organic and oblique shapes

Both web and mobile design have been dominated by card-based UIs for several years now. Until recently, most of those cards were (mostly) sharp-edged and right-angled, exposing the geometry of their underlying divs in an almost modernist concern for the materials of web design.

And it’s not just those primary elements growing more organic shapes. Backgrounds now abound with almost amoeboid blobs of color, dramatic diagonals, even dashes of the real world rendered almost cartoonish.

But designers aren’t just turning to organic curves in their never-ending search for a way out of the box. Many simply give those boxes a twist out of their usual 90° angles, freshening up their designs with a simple change of perspective, as on Stripe’s homepage.

All this isn’t to say that right angles are going to go the way of the dinosaur. We’ve also seen several sites double-down on straight lines - and mix them effectively with more organic and spherical shapes.

You’ll also notice the emergence of “flashing” or “vibrating” colors in many website UIs. While these color combinations create incredibly striking effects - including ghostly afterimages that seem to linger in your eye as you scroll on - it’s worth noting that they represent iffy territory from an accessibility perspective.

While accessibility is usually thought of as making a design user-friendly for the disabled, it’s worth remembering that even those with color vision can have a hard time with jarring color combos.

4. Geometric elements (with a touch of vintage)

These days, it feels like people are all about nostalgia. While it might be bizarre to think that so many customers are drawn to retro concepts and shapes in a time when we’re moving so aggressively towards the future - it does make sense too. After all, the more complex the digital world becomes, the more natural it is for us to crave things that feel familiar and safe.

There’s a distinctly “90’s” feel about some of the shapes appearing in 2018 web design trends. In fact, if you spend a lot of time on fashion sites, you might have noticed the iconic geometric shapes of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Saved by the Bell popping up from time-to-time.

Shapes like squiggly lines, lightning bolts, and triangles can play an important part in web design when you’re trying to create a bold visual look. In fact, even the most traditional companies could benefit from using geometric elements in their design to break up large amounts of content and push the eye around the site.

Not only is the geometric design great for those interested in a bit of vintage branding, but sharp angles can also push the eye directly to a CTA – improving conversions. If the angle is right for your brand identity, then leaning on trends from the past can really help to direct your website into the present.

What’s more, creating a “safe” visual experience packed full of recognisable patterns is a great way to add to the sense of trust that today’s customers need to make a purchase. If your product or service relies heavily on emotion, then a nostalgia-based design can be a great way to generate more sales.

5. Brighter colours and bolder gradients

If web design 2018 is all about designers becoming more courageous with their ideas, then it’s safe to say they won’t stop with formatting and layout. Colour has always been one of the best ways for web design experts to show off their creative spark – and this year will be no different.

For 2018, the Pantone colour of choice was an extremely bold one: UltraViolet. That choice alone helps to introduce one of the biggest 2018 web design trends - which involves using brighter, and more exciting colours into modern websites. While you don’t necessarily need to play with purple to be trendy, it’s worth recognising the importance of bright colours for earning attention this year.

Over the years, introducing a bright pop of the right colour has been one of the easiest ways to establish a vivid and eye-catching design. The right combination of dark and light colours can create a vivid contrast that directs the eye around the page. However, in 2018, the focus is less on contrast and more on the natural blend of gradients.