We’re already a quarter of the way into 2018, which is as good a time as any to pause, take stock and looking around us: what are the emerging web design trends of 2018? How has the year gone so far for designers, and what lessons and latest fashions can we take from the front-end of the year? In short, what should your site be doing to look like it’s keeping up with the crowd?
Web design trends should, like any fad or fashion, be used sparingly. It’s important to know what the latest developments are, but not necessarily essential that you use them all at once. Understanding the general lie of the web design land is crucial; being a slave to fashion will, in design as in life, only ensure you date yourself faster.
So take instruction and inspiration from the latest trends, but don’t make your site dependent upon them. Add accents to your current site by tapping into the newest design thinking, but at the same time don’t abandon the lodestars of usability and clarity that define good design whatever the year.
All those caveats given, however, what are the cool kids doing in 2018?
First and foremost, they seem to be into web animation. Flat design is being enlivened by subtle movement – and sometimes not-so-subtle! Animating transitions, or featuring animated characters throughout your design to add a little spark or interest, is the new normal.
We’re seeing more and more uses of web animation because they make ideas and interfaces easier to understand. Animation can direct and channel a user’s attention in helpful directions, enhancing their experience of a website, as well as also adding personality to it and its brand.
Indeed, adding personality is a big element of recent design trends. Bold colours are increasingly a “thing”, which exciting and unusual hues standing out more and more from designs and replacing the once dominant whites and cool greys that defined a more minimalist approach to design.
There will continue to be more uses of adventurous colour in 2018 because getting out the paint pot can likewise help draw your users’ attention to specific areas of your site – and make the whole look and feel of your online home memorable and quirky.
Adding that additional layer of character is probably the reason behind the explosion in creative typography, too. Don’t hide behind Helvetica – we’re seeing increasing experimentation in the realm of type, with all sorts of interesting and attractive fonts deployed to hold a user’s attention and add emphasis to key elements of a site’s copy.
All of this is moving away from the revolution of a few years ago: we went from skeuomorphic design trend, which sought to make websites look and feel like their real-world equivalents, to a flat design fashion which emphasised the artificiality and sleekness of the online environment. Now, we’re in a “Semi-Flat Design” stage, in which sites are still sleek but gradients and shadows are being used to add nuance to a website.
Used in moderation, those gradients and shadows – like animation, colour and typography – can provide better aesthetics to a site. The final trend for 2018, however, is all about functionality: the increasing flexibility of mobile websites.
Mobile phone browsing has now overtaken desktop browsing, which means that developers are focusing more and more on the mobile audience. That means more intuitive microinteractions and gestures will be incorporated into every design, to improve the browsing experience of mobile websites. Form and functionality: enhancing both is what defines the upcoming web design trends of 2018.
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