Web design is constantly evolving, which means each new year brings with it new trends. The best website trends of last year set the tone for what’s hot this year, giving a new face to the world wide web, one site at a time.
If you’re getting ready to design (or redesign) your website in 2020, it pays to know what trends are on the up-and-up.
Check out eight of the best website design trends to watch in 2020 and what makes them so special.
1. Creative typography
Google web fonts have long been a staple in website design. Now, they’re a driving force behind a new trend of typographic design. It’s not just big, bold fonts, either—it’s creative, stylish typography that’s taking the place of traditional graphics and images. Strong typography-focused headers and interactive text-based elements are making waves in 2020 web design trends, fueled by eye-catching fonts.
Check out the New York Times’ food festival website for an amazing use of animated typography or the UK’s Phase3 website for a plain, yet inspiring use of bold text elements. If you’re a font fanatic, Typewolf’s website has an ever-changing turnstile of beautiful examples showing just how versatile creative typography can be.
2. Branded illustrations
Stock photos are great for adding life to your site in a pinch, but today’s powerhouse brands are going above and beyond with their graphics. Branded illustrations are the new norm for websites seeking to deliver a personalized message and engrain their brands as unique in the minds of visitors. From goofy doodles to immersive, artistic works, branded illustrations are the poised to explode in 2020, with some major brands already leading the way.
Check out the colorful, creative styles of Slack’s branded images and you’ll easily see why it’s one of the most popular corporate blogs on the web today. Digital document company DottedSignpairs simplified illustrations with animation for a delightfully interactive approach to web design. And, of course, marketing leader MailChimp is constantly reinventing its illustrations to show itself as an evolving innovator.
3. Stark contrast
Black on white. Light next to dark. Big text on a small picture. Taking two opposites and putting them together is a great way to get someone’s attention. No wonder it’s one of the best website design trends in 2020! Stark contrast is gaining new traction as a mode of design for one simple reason: it helps improve time spent on page. People are drawn to striking contrast and it takes our brains a few seconds to process the juxtaposition. The designs aren’t just beautiful—they’re a smart marketing tool.
Want to see some amazing contrast? Check out the Cahn Wilson law firm’s website for some major juxtaposition. For a colorful example of contrast, check out the #FramesForFuture website, which uses bold color on white to make individual concepts pop.
4. Imperfect design
When responsive websites rose to prominence in 2016, the design community collectively shifted to a grid-type layout. The ease of using grids to scale the site from screen-to-screen made it an obvious choice. But now, we’re moving away from uniform grids and back toward more imperfect designs. Things don’t have to be symmetrical or uniform. This type of design makes websites feel more personal and less scripted, encouraging people to stay on-page longer and enjoy the site you’ve built.
An easy way to create a uniquely appealing aesthetic is through the use of soft shadows, layers and floating elements. Check out a site like the Craft Kitchen or the ARJAY Studio website—both of which feature layers and floating elements that keep your eyes focused on the page. But imperfection doesn’t have to be as blatant. Take Stella and Chewy’s website, for example. It looks familiar and welcoming, yet is a friendly mix of different illustrations, varying typography and all types of segment sizes—imperfect, yet cohesive.
5. Dark mode
The web is going dark! No, it’s not shutting down—rather, brands are switching their design tactics to embrace dark colors instead of white space. Much of this comes fueled by the idea that people surf the web on their phones at night, when the lights are low. Consider iOS’ dark mode as a driving force behind the idea—supported by the many web browsers now offering forced dark mode settings. Many sites are getting ahead of the trend and embracing the black.
There are stunning examples of websites ‘going dark’ across every industry. The Oregon Ducks football program’s website pairs dark design with bold interactivity for a truly immersive experience. Lush Cosmetics’ website shows how to make a dark-themed website user-friendly by using white elements in the background.
6. Minimalist navigation
A decade ago, navigation menus were packed to the brim with links. The idea was to provide visitors with the most direct route to whatever they were looking for, usually by listing all your pages, products and landing pages in the top-level navigation. Among the best website design trends in 2020 is a complete reversal of this concept. Navigation is shrinking to just a few links—sometimes even just a single drop-down with one or two options. Today’s robust navigation lives in the footer.
Looking for examples of simple, straightforward navigation? Starbucks’ website is already ahead of the curve. Inc.com’s website is a great example of adaptive navigation—the site has virtually no top-header, yet the navigation expands dramatically when the icon is clicked.
7. Geometric shapes
Geometric shapes aren’t just pleasing to the eye—they’re a robust design element with plenty of opportunity when used right. Geometric shapes frame a website well on any device and give designers plenty of room to build in custom animation, information and links, without disrupting the flow of the layout itself. Plus, geometry is great for scalability!
8. Data visualization
Data speaks volumes, but it’s only effective as its presentation. People need to see and understand data in context, and there’s no better way to present it than through creative visualization techniques. Infographics are a good start, but interactive, vivid, colorful examples are best. Don’t just show the data, either—paint a picture and tell a story with it.
The visualization of world languages by the Puff Puff Project shows how you can leverage huge quantities of data beautifully on a website. Simple, yet breathtaking, the U.S. Wind Map uses data in an amazing way. Or, check out this incredibly simple representation of how intellectuals throughout history spent their time!
A new year of web design
This year’s best design trends are full of creativity and imagination—the product of many evolving trends from previous years. If you’re designing or redesigning your website in 2020, make sure you’re paying mind to these best practices, so you can position your site to be on the cutting edge of modernity.