Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a trend.
The year 2019 is less than a month away, so I am excited to know what’s going to happen in web design!
Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with two of my colleagues: our managing director Andrew Terekhin and art director Alex Potapenko.
Andrew Terekhin, Managing Director and Partner at Agente. Andrew is in charge of strategic development and operational administration.
Alex Potapenko, Art Director. Alex is responsible for leading a design team and producing all elements and components of product design with practical creativity.
Sveta Yurkevich, Marketing Manager. Sveta is building the marketing strategy at Agente. Always on the hunt for cool content!
The guys are known for their strong business approach and sophisticated taste in design. I asked them to comment on the hottest web design trends of 2018, and give predictions on what the future holds for UI in 2019.
So, ladies and gentlemen, It’s time for TRENDspotting!
SVETA: Hi guys! Happy to see you! :) As you can see, I'm trying to get a sense of what has been going on in web design in 2018. Today we are going to discuss the most popular website design trends of 2018, rate them on a 1 to 5 scale and say whether each one is going live out or die in 2019.
ANDREW: Let's start!
ALEX: Sounds great!
“Color of the year” – Ultra Violet
SVETA: 2018 was marked by the emergence of purplish interfaces. Many designs were inspired by “the color of the year”—Ultra Violet. Why is this happening? Will purple color schemes live on in 2019?
Source: Agente Studio
ALEX: Well, the best unified theory I've come up with has to do with 2017’s blockchain hype. Last year we saw a rise of cryptocurrency startups and ICOs of all kinds.
The blockchain is all about isometric illustrations, blocks, towers, circuits, ladders covered in purpuric blue or purple color. In this “alternative universe”, purple is like a level up from a classic blue “IT” color to unnatural tones.
ANDREW: Indeed, the trend for purpuric blue is not new, and did not happen all of a sudden. It just has transformed into something unrealistic, referring to the immersion into the digital world.
In fact, a lot of ICO websites appeared which made us believe that purple is the new black:)
But, let’s talk terminology here. We should distinguish trends from fashion. Huge web design trends are influenced by tectonic shifts in operational systems, technologies, devices. New technologies require us to abandon old mental models of what it’s like to design a web experience, for example. That’s what triggers a change!
After all, the change of colors, forms or shapes is rather a “fashion”.
That said, nothing has ever changed in recent years since I wrote my 2017 web design trends overview. I would say “purpleization” is a temporary thing, not a game-changing trend.
ALEX: Yeah. My biggest comparison with the neon hype dates back to the 90s, from the very first color patterns in the movies like Matrix or TRON. The atmosphere was all about the black background with bold green, yellow, blue, red objects on it. Indigo blue matches deep black and works as an alternative to “retro,” black-and-white designs.
SVETA: Well, and I remembered that at the end of 2017 Pantone picked purple as the color of the year for 2018. #18-3838 Ultra Violet, to be correct. Recently Pantone chose living coral as the color of the year for 2019. Now the Internet is bursting out with designer memes! Will the color affect interfaces again?
ANDREW: In the case of ultraviolet, Pantone might have anticipated current changes and hyped on crypto. As for coral, I don’t think it will affect web and mobile interfaces that much. Rather, this is a trick for wall paint producers and fashion designers:)
SVETA: Your ratings, guys? Will this popular website design trend stay hot in 2019?
ANDREW: Well, the trend is still afloat but it is becoming irritating. I give it a 2, it’s time to die!
ALEX: To be honest, ultraviolet looks like a trendy concept from Dribbble, not a real website’s color scheme. The truth is that the base for this color is still blue. And blue is classic, a bit colder or warmer, this color will be on trend for at least 5-10 years. So let it live, 4 stars:)
Bold colors and gradients
SVETA: In 2018 designers used mostly bold colors, gradients and glitches all over the web. Are they supposed to be even more vivid in 2019? Or is the trend going to fade away?
ALEX: Jump back to a couple of years ago, and you’ll see that dilute, pastel colors were on trend; now the color schemes are bright—even acid. In short, fashion is cyclic. We can only dive into the reasons why the trend for bold colors and gradients has appeared.
On the one hand, the world was captured by nostalgia for the 70-80s, which we can see in colors and typography. On the other hand, this neo-futuristic aesthetics hype, which we’ve already discussed.
Source: Brand New
ANDREW: Right, Blade Runner 2049 style. People are crazy about the alternative universes now. Designers from different fields get inspiration from one another: in fashion, cinema, music, classic artworks. And now it has come to web interfaces.
ALEX: And that’s great, indeed.
ANDREW: The downside is that companies want clicks, they want to be positioned as opinion leaders, as the guys on trend. As a result, every website looks the same. I’ll give this trend a 3.
As for gradients, the big names like Instagram and Apple are using them in branding, which means this is one of the top web design trends 2018.
Naturally, users are lured by the bright colors on the Instagram icon and click on it. But look on the inside of Instagram: it’s all about black and white, no bold colors, no gradients. That’s why I give gradients a 1.
ALEX: My rating is 3. I agree with Andrew—gradients won’t become a part of a web interface. As designers, we should understand, this artistic device is very emotional. Still, it’s good for advertising, blog covers, and promo pages.
SVETA: Animations are huge this year. It seems like they have infiltrated each field of design, even logos. What do you think of this trend?
ALEX: Animated logos give space to creative freedom, I would say. But it is a narrow-specific trend and won’t be widely used.
ANDREW: In some cases, using animated, dynamic logos is reasonable. For example, when a screen is loading, or when an app is installing, a logo will spin around and make the waiting time less boring. Two seconds of waiting with a beautiful background is a better user experience that one second of waiting on a white screen.
What is more, animated logos are a must-have for media companies who are producing video content, creating their channels on Youtube, etc. It makes sense for them to have responsive logos that are flexible to any environment rather than stick a logo in the corner of a website.
ALEX: Well, right...but I see the best usage of animated logos only for designer presentations. Some logo makers present their works to the clients interactively, in a moving fashion. Even in cases when a logo is not supposed to be animated, designers do it just for the sake of a cool presentation.
SVETA: Your ratings?
ANDREW: I like dynamic logos, 5 stars.
ALEX: 3, animated logos look great, but the trend won’t go public.
SVETA: Speaking about animation,is it true that in 2019, designers are going further than ever with these micro-interactions in UI elements?
ALEX: Most of the stuff I’ve seen in this regard is just the concepts. The implementation costs much effort and money.
ANDREW: I’d agree with Alex. I like the idea of animated elements, transitions and micro-interactions in mobile. They are good for giving cues that the action is completed. Needless to say, it’s just beautiful and engaging.
I’m trying to recall some interesting cases in real life, and the first thing that comes to my mind is a Twitter “like” that blow up when tapping on it:)
ALEX: Yeah, buttons, loaders, pull-to-refresh, you name it. Fast forward a couple of years, it’ll be the next challenge for developers to apply simpler means of implementation to mobile animation. Now the lion’s share of designers’ concepts will collect dust in Dribbble. I rate it a 3.
ANDREW: I’ll give it a 3, as well.
SVETA: In 2018, we saw the rise of custom illustrations. Designers from all over the world are avoiding stock photography on the websites. Do you like the new wave of illustrations?
ANDREW: That’s definitely a 5, hot trend. Here’s where we should differentiate unique creativity from the will to keep up with trends.
When a company is seeking their own style and visual language and works out the combinations of lines, shapes and colors, it looks amazing.
I liked it how the Slack team did their re-branding. Those retro illustrations are associated with old-school posters. It looks fresh
ALEX: I agree, also 5 stars. Just don’t you guys search for custom illustrations in Dribbble. You gotta fight the attack of the clones—60-90s retro style, similar color schemes, similar proportions. If it is an illustration of a girl, she will have long waving hair. Disproportionate body parts, small heads, certain angles of bodies. A new microtrend for 2019 is blue people in illustrations.
ANDREW: Yeah, designers are trying to be inclusive while illustrating different people. It makes sense.
SVETA: What do you think about 60s-90s inspiration, flat and wide fonts, text on the background?
ALEX: The trend is fresh, so I think the variability of implementation is unlimited. I would connect it to the rebranding of Dropbox, none expected the hype it triggered.
SVETA: What do we normally include in a retro concept?
ANDREW: As you have said, it includes bold and flat fonts, outline text, flag warps, vibrant colors. Again, if you look at the custom illustrations, they mostly have a retro style. I think this trend has appeared to tell a fascinating story to readers.
ALEX: Sure, the style is inspired by old magazine layouts.
ANDREW: My rating is 5, the trend catches fire.
ALEX: 3, the retro style is very specific, so the hype for it will die away fast.
Broken Grid and Overlapping Elements
SVETA: Broken grid combined with overlapping elements has been here for some time. Do you think, it will live another couple of years?
ANDREW: I like the broken grid when it’s reasonably applied in the context—when grid gutters are gone, but the elements have visible borders and are easy to skim through.
Unfortunately, few designers can work with the broken grid. Striving to create a creative layout, many designers just scatter all the elements across the screen.
ALEX: And that makes them totally chaotic. Take the example of a broken grid on Zipl’s website. Different blocks are positioned in random locations to create points of emphasis in the design, page transitions are animated, menus are turned through 90 degrees. As a result, the content is really hard to read. You spend too long, trying to find social media icons or contact info.
ANDREW: Before you paint cubism, you should master classic arts. The same holds true for the broken grid. Only the one who knows the basics perfectly can do the broken grid, with the understanding of composition and layout rules.
I’ll rate the broken grid a 5. It can be cool for promos or creative agencies etc.
ALEX: I can rate it a 3, but only as a concept. In real-case scenarios, a broken grid may be difficult for navigation and may hamper the mobile experience.
SVETA: Flat design—is it dying?
ALEX: It’s already dead:) Skeuomorphism is bursting into the interfaces with full steam on. Designers start building pseudo volumes giving “pseudo depth” to a flat design with realistic shadows. This creates the effect of a three-dimensional space.
This effect can be enhanced if the objects are divided into separate layers and if the sharpness and blurring of one object affect the sharpness and blurring of another.
Look at the new Microsoft Office icons. The basic idea is that we take color paper, cut it in a specific way and put the pieces on layer after layer. It won’t be as flat as in 2014-15.
ANDREW: When Windows 10 was launched, it was significantly different in comparison with the 8th version. We saw the first touch of animation, a human-centered, dynamic approach, and the application of physical laws to digital objects.
Step by step, big companies like Android or Apple are adding light effects to the boring super-flat interface. That’s what we see in Microsoft's teaser video.
ALEX: It’s a visual satisfaction to see how geometrical shapes are expressed in this video, with fantastic attention to detail. It hints that big changes are coming, and probably it will transform the overall design philosophy of Microsoft products.
SVETA: Bearing in mind the “volumization” of objects, can we say that 3D is going to be a new trend?
ALEX: That’s right. People are tired of 2D flat images, and more and more graphic designers are starting to learn 3D modeling.
However, we cannot call it a “classic 3D”. Instead, it’s kind of the interaction of 3D graphics and realistic rendering, I’d call it one of the cases of skeuomorphism 2.0.
Designers start from semi-volumed animated models like the Pitch team did:
ANDREW: I agree with Alex, but it can also take time and money on implementation. Well, it is more affordable in product design rather than in interface design.
ALEX: Yep, 3D models visualization is not easy: setting up colors, light, shades, decor. It’s a separate science that graphic designers need to learn:) Thanks to Cinema 4D and with many lessons available on Youtube, it has become easier to deal with 3D illustrations
ANDREW: In general, I expect an eclectic approach. Merging ideas from a broad and diverse range of sources with 3D objects can have an amazing outcome.
SVETA: Should designers follow current trends in web design? Won’t it be silly to have a gradient interface in five years?
ANDREW: Hunting for trends is silly by default. Each trend should fit in the context and target audience. If a product has to live a week or a month, like a promo website or a social media post, you can add glitches, gradients or whatever is on the bandwagon at the moment.
For B2B or B2C products with a longer life cycles, you should be more careful and envision how the trend will live in years.
ALEX: A designer’s work is all about understanding first where the user interaction cycle begins, and then thinking up the flows, style, interfaces. Today’s designer is not just someone who draws a picture. Instead, it’s someone who makes a user’s story work, from the point a customer finds a product to the interaction in every possible channel.
ANDREW: In general, UX/UI designers can affect development at the engagement stage and make a feature better. It’s time for designers to take on a leadership role in the industry and shape the new wave of user-centered products.
SVETA: Well, sounds like an inspiring end to our conversation! Thank you guys for sharing your thoughts on the new website trends 2019!