Web design is equal parts art and science. While a strong technical foundation is key to keep things running, it’s the visual embellishments that really make a website memorable and impactful.
Just like any science, web designers (professional or otherwise!) must remain agile and move with new innovations. But just like any artist, it’s their prerogative to accept or reject trends based on whether they suit their own taste and needs.
From website visitor counters to blinged-up, maximalist layouts, many web design trends have come and gone over the years. However, there are a handful of modern visual trends we’re confident are here to stay.
More than just a passing fad, these visual elements elevate your web design, streamline the user experience and leave a lasting impression on your website visitors. To help inspire your next creation, read on for 10 web design trends that will never go out of style.
1. Clean and minimalist layouts
They say ‘less is more’ and this certainly rings true for web design. Cluttered, chaotic layouts can dilute your brand message and confuse and overwhelm your website visitors. On the other hand, a simple and minimalistic layout allows you to draw attention to only the most important elements on your website—which is generally your calls-to-action.
What’s more, a clean, sleek layout never looks outdated. This means it will be just as effective a few years down the track as it is now, so you won’t need to redesign your website.
In this web design project for an architecture firm, Juraj Masar sticks to a simple layout and pared-back color scheme. He lets bold typography and high-quality images do the heavy lifting and uses subtle elements like shapes and lines to add extra visual interest.
Of course, embracing minimalism on your website doesn’t necessarily have to mean using only black and white. For your purposes, it could mean limiting your palette to just two or three colors (even if they’re bright) or avoiding large chunks of text on your website. It’s all about being deliberate in your design choices and only using elements that serve a very specific purpose. This Canva template is a great blank canvas upon which you can start creating your slick new website.
For more information on minimalist designs read: Minimalist design: 25 beautiful examples and practical tips
For a sleek and timeless website template, customize Canva’s Decor Online Store Website template with ease.
2. Mobile-friendly design
With the World Advertising Research Center predicting that 72% of people will access the internet solely on smartphone by 2025, mobile-friendly design isn’t going anywhere. So, making your website functional on mobile can no longer be treated as an afterthought. Now, in order to create a professional-looking website, designers must take a mobile-first approach.
There are a few key design principles to keep in mind when optimizing your website for smartphones.
Firstly, your typography should be clear and legible. Oswald, Merriweather and PT Sans are some great fonts that work well on mobile.
While it may seem logical to increase your font for mobile, this can actually lead to your text getting cut off. In fact, it’s generally best to downsize your headers for mobile to cater to the narrower screen. You may also choose to avoid large images on the mobile version of your site and instead, opting for simpler icons.
Another key consideration for mobile-friendly design is navigation. Whether you’re designing for desktop or mobile, the key objective should always be to prompt the user to take action. When you use tiny menu bars, buttons or arrows on mobile, it makes it difficult for the user to see their options—let alone, click on them!
In this project for Adventure Trips, designer Hesham Mohamed has used intuitive mobile-friendly design to create a streamlined user experience. Often on mobile, our instinct is to swipe and scroll, and Hesham has seamlessly incorporated these gestures into his design.
When it comes to designing for mobile, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Just be sure to treat desktop and mobile as separate entities and ensure your designs have been well-optimized for both platforms. Most modern web design platforms allow you to preview how your website performs across multiple devices before you go live.
3. Dynamic video backgrounds
Video has come a long way since it killed the radio star back in 1979! Now, moving visuals are everywhere—from our social media feeds and music streaming apps to even ads on train platforms! Video has also become increasingly popular in web design too and for good reason. Using a full-page video background is an excellent visual storytelling tool. It immediately piques the user’s interest and draws them into the narrative of your brand. Not only that, but it’s excellent for SEO (search engine optimization) and user conversion, with research from Wistia showing that people spend 2.6 x longer on websites with video.
There are many different ways brands can incorporate video into their web design. It can be used as a kind of dynamic slideshow, as can be seen in this example from Focal Point Homes. This can be an excellent choice for companies that want to show off multiple selling points for one thing in an easily digestible format.
Video can also be used to show atmosphere (for example, of a destination, a workout class or cafe) or to show a product in action.
While the application of video will no doubt continue to evolve, one thing is for sure—it’s not going anywhere. By getting on the bandwagon now, you can ensure your brand stands out and creates a long-lasting impression on your audience. Just be sure to optimize your video file sizes and consider removing the autoplay on mobile to maintain website accessibility.
4. Animated elements
Bigger is not always better when it comes to motion on your website. Instead of using a large video background, you may also choose to use smaller, more integrated animations throughout your website. These are a great way to make browsing your website a more interactive experience without compromising your website’s load speed.
Animation can be incorporated into your web design in many different ways. Some designers opt to use animated ‘character’ illustrations to draw users into the story of the website, or show how their products work. Others use particle backgrounds to add motion to their website in a visually appealing way, as you can see in the above example from Heco.
You may also choose to integrate animation into your web design through elements like loading, scrolling or navigation, as can be seen in the below website from One Design Company. This can help make even the most mundane aspects of using your website a fun and interactive experience for your user.
Canva Animator on Canva Pro makes it easy to create animated graphics for your website. With six different animation styles, you can transform your static images to animations with the click of a button, which can then be downloaded as a GIF or movie and uploaded to your website.
5. Modular web design
While modern design is all about thinking outside the box, sometimes it’s okay to stay within its confines—literally! Otherwise known as modular design, the uses of boxes in to logically organize content has become a mainstay in website themes.
On an aesthetic level, this visual trend is great for adding symmetry to your web design. It’s also particularly helpful for allowing users to easily compare and take in information at a glance. This makes it a great choice for service-based businesses, as can be seen in this example from Pixality Design. Accompanied by icons, the designer has used boxes to nearly communicate the various services her agency offers.
Modular design is also excellent for comparing a product with a competitor, or laying out different price packages and options. It can also be an effective website marketing strategy to make one of the options a different color to draw attention to it.
Once a staple of 90s corporate design, colorful gradients made a comeback in 2018 and it looks like they’re here to stay! Put simply, gradients are the gradual transition from one color to another, creating a blended effect. So, what makes them so awesome? Firstly, they add a vibrant pop of color to your website in a way that doesn’t feel overpowering. They’re also a great way to add extra visual depth to your website design, as they create a dynamic, almost multi-dimensional effect.
This example from Spotify For Brands shows that gradients can look just as polished as they do punchy. The designer has artfully blended three different colors to create an eye-catching aesthetic that exemplifies the brand’s fun, modern qualities.
The beauty of this web design trend is how versatile it is. You can create gradients using similar colors such as blue or yellow, or create unexpected combinations using contrasting shades like purple and orange. You can reduce the opacity for a more muted effect, or use it at full intensity. You can also use it as a standalone element, or as an overlay on photo, like Spotify has above.
No matter how you want to play with gradients, this Canva template is a great place to start. You can easily swap out the colors, fonts, and images with your own to create a design that is unique to your brand.
For a website with a fresh edge, customize Canva’s Pink and Orange website template.
Whether it’s three-dimensional cartoons, abstract shapes or animated graphics, illustrations are a fantastic alternative to static imagery on websites. Firstly, as they’re less overused than stock imagery, they help set your brand apart from the masses. They’re also great for helping you explain abstract concepts, as they can be used in step-by-step diagrams or infographics.
Illustrations are also helpful for giving your brand a more personalized, ‘human’ feel without relying on stock photos or photoshoots. This can be seen in this design example from team collaborative platform Slack. These illustrations a creative way to show—not tell—employees engaging with the platform, as well as communicating their brand value of diversity.
You don’t need to be a professional illustrator to use these eye-catching graphic elements in your web design. Platforms like Canva and Humaaans have a library of illustrations you can easily add into your own creations.
8. The use of negative space
Sometimes, great design is as much about what you don’t include as what you do. This is why negative space is one design trend that will never become obsolete. Otherwise known as white space, negative space is any empty or unused space on your website.
Incorporating these blank spaces into your web design helps to create a tidy and visually appealing website. Your user feels they have room to breathe, as they aren’t being bombarded with visual information. It’s also an indispensable tool for creating a seamless user experience as they peruse your website. It helps to direct the user’s attention to where you want it to go, and makes them more likely to absorb and recall the key information.
In the below project for headphones company Skull Candy, Quodox Studio has effectively used negative space to direct the user’s gaze. The eye goes straight to the image of the woman, then moves to the elements around her in a circle—from the text and video on the left and ultimately the navigation on the right. This ensures users are engaging with the right information and keeps them on the website for longer.
Your background doesn’t necessarily need to be white to use ‘white space’ in your website designs. However, a plain white background can be a great place to start when it comes to creating that crisp, airy feel on your website.
Use your own images in Canva’s Grey Home Furniture and Decor Online Store Website template.
For professional images that don’t break the bank, why not try images From Canva’s photo library?
9. Bold typography
While the background, images and colors set the scene of your web design, it's the typography that does the talking. When perfectly synchronized with the written content of your website, it’s where your brand voice can really shine through. While brush scripts and handwritten fonts that have been the fonts du jour in web design in recent years, it’s uncertain whether these trends will stick around. But if you’re looking to create an expressive website that never goes out of style, you can’t go past big and bold typefaces.
Whether it’s a sleek san-serif or chunky capitalised text, dramatic fonts are hard to ignore. In this example from design studio Van Holtz Co, the typeface is the hero element in their homepage. Against a vibrant blue background and accompanied with animated elements, it truly makes the homepage pop.
While any of Canva’s Blue Modern Studio template can be personalized with your own fonts, this web header is a great option for making your typography the hero element.
10. Simple and intuitive navigation
Navigation is an often overlooked aspect of web design, but it can make or break the aesthetic of a website. An overcrowded menu bar can quickly make an otherwise polished website look clunky and messy. Navigation is also an integral aspect of the user experience.
Ideally, website navigation should be simple and intuitive as possible, mimicking the path a user would naturally take on your website. Increasingly, designers are swapping the traditional drop-down header menus for options like sticky navbars that move with you as you scroll or vertical sliding navigation.
In this design example from Thoag Catering Platform, the designer has opted for a very simple, fixed sidebar with only 5 options, so as to not overwhelm the user with choices. They have also tied the sidebar into the overall website layout with the image, which creates a striking quality.
While many web design trends come and go, these classic elements will stay relevant in 2019 and beyond! By putting your own unique spin on them, you can create a website that stands out against the crowd and stands the test of time!