So far, 2018 has been a remarkable year for web design trends. We’re seeing years of design evolution finally come to fruition in trends like Design Systems and Tactile Design, as well as fun and energetic styles like the return of retro. Now more than ever it’s crucial to reflect on what’s happening with web design, and what will continue into the future.
In this article, we discuss the 6 web design trends that are influencing 2018 the most, starting with one that’s shaping up to be a new design necessity.
Component-Based Design Systems
If your company hasn’t implemented a design system yet, chances are you will in the next few years. Design systems are the natural progression of style guides and pattern libraries, but with so much more to satisfy the needs of modern companies. A design system includes design standards, documentation, and — one of its central advantages — a UI toolkit with patterns and codes. Design systems aim to ensure consistency across each of an organization’s products, and even within individual products themselves, and to use the optimal design solutions in any given situation.
Polygonal Shapes and Geometric Layers
One of the most distinct web design trends of 2018 focuses on geometric themes, specifically polygons and layered shapes. Chances are you recognize this style when you see it, but to put a precise definition on it, a polygon is any closed-off shape with straight lines, typically 3-5 sides. This trend includes every floating triangle and square you see, but also original shapes that fit the definition. The style essentially centers around geometry, either with shapes (both regular and irregular)
Tactile Design has an interesting origin: it grew from the principles of Material Design, but at the same time it modernized the old skeuomorphism trends from the early 2010s. In a nutshell, Tactile Design makes objects appear real in a digital space. Tactile design is hard to pin down with words, but like the geometric trends, you know it when you see it.
Tactile Design prefers meaningful motion over more complicated animations just for fun. Moving elements like hover states and transition animations don’t just improve the visuals, they also serve a purpose and improve usability.
Modern Retro Design
Even the New York Times admitted that web design is currently in an age of nostalgia. Today, designs are borrowing more and more from the distinct tastes of the 90s, 80s, and 70s. We see a resurgence of not just big and bold text, but also the fonts themselves. Fonts with elaborate strokes, thick cursive, and/or rough edges are becoming popular again, as are fonts reminiscent of old movie posters. The key to using such “loud” fonts effectively is moderation. Big and bold typography is ideal for titles and headlines, but can be distracting for secondary information or body text. It’s best to pair loud fonts with a simpler and subtler font for normal copy.
Last, a return back to basics. Homepage trends have come and gone over the years, but now we’re seeing simpler home pages that work more as a gateway than a source of information. This trend actually emcompasses a variety of other trends. Flat, Almost Flat, and Flat 2.0 — similar but with distinct differences — all work well for simplifying homepages. Like minimalism, they reduce distractions and take advantage of color flourishes, but flat design is more forgiving of detailed visuals like an HD hero image.
Web design in 2018 is making huge advancements, perhaps more than in any preceding year. That makes this year one of change and transition, where fields like mobile design and component-based systems are coming into their own, while older styles like busy pages are retiring.
Now more than ever it’s time to reevaluate your design strategies and catch up on everything that’s been coming to light over the last few months and years.