Cutting edge web design today is not just about aesthetics. It’s a confluence of technology, psychology, and artistic expression, and this year, we’re expecting a fascinating shift in web design trends that reflect broader cultural and technological changes.
It’s an eternal truth in design and trendwatching: everything old is eventually new again. The seeds of a retro revival took root in 2023 and will likely flourish in 2024. This trend is centered around the reemergence of design elements that evoke nostalgia, connecting users to a bygone era with pixelated graphics, vintage logos, and classic textures. It’s a bridge to the past, offering a sense of comfort and familiarity in an increasingly fast-paced and futuristic digital world.
In response, brands are turning to updated versions of their designs from decades ago, incorporating fonts and color palettes reminiscent of those times. These elements not only stand out in the modern sleek digital environment but also convey a sense of timelessness and durability. They tell a story of heritage and continuity, suggesting that a brand has stood the test of time and respects the enduring principles of design from past decades.
Kinetic Typography and Teleprompter Effects
This trendy technique involves animating text to capture attention and convey information. It adds a layer of emotion and emphasis to the written word, allowing designers to highlight key messages or guide the user’s attention in a specific direction. For example, an animated headline might expand or change color to emphasize its importance, or letters could move across the screen to create a sense of action or urgency.
A popular example is the use of teleprompter-style animations which reveal text in a controlled, step-by-step manner, enhancing focus and imparting a dramatic impact to the message being conveyed. Teleprompter typography is particularly effective on visually-heavy websites where the gradual unveiling of text ensures that the written content does not overwhelm or clash with the intricate visual elements. Instead, it allows the visuals to captivate the viewer first, with the text subsequently entering the spotlight.
In 2024, dark mode, once a somewhat rare feature on websites and apps, will likely grow in adoption. This design choice, which involves a darker color palette for interfaces, responds to growing user preference for themes that are easy on the eyes, especially in low-light environments.
In terms of professionalism, dark mode conveys a sleek, sophisticated aesthetic. It lends a modern and stylish look to websites, and, for adaptability, dark mode offers a dynamic user experience. Websites can implement automatic switching between light and dark modes based on user preference or even local sundown times, demonstrating a responsive and user-centric design approach.
The choice of typography is a key element that shapes user perceptions and experiences online. 2024 will see greater adoption of semi-serif fonts which retain the clean lines of sans serif fonts but add the classic touch of serifs with subtle flourishes at the end of strokes. This fusion results in a typeface that is both familiar and novel, appealing to a wide range of audiences. It’s this blend that brings an almost human-like, handwritten quality to digital texts, softening the digital harshness and adding a touch of warmth and personality.
The concept of “humanist sans,” a term often associated with semi-serif fonts, plays a significant role in enhancing brand approachability. These fonts imbue an inherently organic and approachable feel, often resembling calligraphy. This humanistic quality makes them exceptionally effective for brands looking to establish a friendly and inviting online presence. The use of such fonts conveys a message of accessibility and relatability, breaking down barriers between the brand and the user.
Also known as the semi-transparent glassy effect, glassmorphism is characterized by translucent surfaces. These backgrounds are often overlaid with subtle, blurred elements, creating a sense of depth and dimensionality. The effect is akin to looking through a frosty window, where objects on the other side appear soft and diffused. This technique not only adds a layer of sophistication to the design but also helps in creating a hierarchy of elements, with the semi-transparency acting as a focal point that draws the user’s attention.
The functional aspect of the glassy effect is as impactful as its visual appeal. One of the key benefits is the enhancement of legibility and contrast. By strategically placing text and other elements over semi-transparent surfaces, designers can ensure that content stands out against a variety of backgrounds without overpowering them. This balance is crucial in creating interfaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.
Oversized Text as Hero Image
This bold move replaces traditional background visuals with large, impactful typography. It’s a trend that evolved in response to the ever-increasing information overload on the internet. Oversized text as the hero image strips away any potential distractions, allowing the core message or value proposition of the website to take center stage.
Furthermore, this trend underscores the importance of concise, impactful content. When a website opts for bold typography as its primary visual element, every word must be chosen with care. The text needs to be compelling, clear, and concise, delivering the message effectively without the need for additional context. This brevity and directness cater to the modern user’s preference for quick and easy consumption of information.
“Authentic” was Merriam-Webster’s 2023 word of the year, signaling a growing desire for things that are real in our increasingly digitized world. Thus it’s no surprise that hand drawn artwork is of growing interest online. This trend signifies a shift away from generic and impersonal branding towards designs that exude originality and a human touch. Handmade illustrations have thus become a powerful tool for brands to distinguish themselves in a crowded digital space.
Unlike standard stock images or graphics, these illustrations are tailored to the brand’s identity, encapsulating its ethos and values in a visually engaging manner. Whether it’s through whimsical sketches, bold and vibrant drawings, or subtle watercolor effects, handmade illustrations add character and personality to digital interfaces, making them more approachable and relatable.
Research by Microsoft has highlighted a startling trend: the average attention span has plummeted from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to a mere 8 seconds today. In a world brimming with information and distractions, capturing and maintaining user attention has become a formidable challenge for web designers and content creators.
Interactive storytelling is a powerful tool for combating short attention spans. It leverages the potency of gamified features, quizzes, calculators, configurators, and other interactive elements to transform passive viewers into active participants. By incorporating elements of game playing such as point scoring, competition, and rules of play, websites can transform mundane tasks into fun experiences.
Animations and Microinteractions
Micro-interactions are small, often overlooked animations that occur in response to a user’s action. These include the playful bounce of a button when clicked, a subtle shift in color when an element is hovered over, or a small animation that indicates a successful form submission. The power of micro-interactions lies in their ability to provide immediate feedback to the user, making the digital environment feel more interactive and responsive.
Loading screen animations serve a different yet equally important purpose. Users are famously impatient with loading times and these animations offer a creative way to engage them during these brief waiting periods. Whether it’s a playful graphic, a brand-related animation, or a simple progress bar, these animations can distract users from the wait, making the loading time feel shorter. However, it’s crucial that these animations are lightweight and don’t add to the loading time themselves.
The classic pointer is getting an update. Infused with micro-animations, dynamic cursors transform the mundane act of navigation into an interactive and visually appealing experience by providing a sense of fluidity and responsiveness, making the user feel more in control and engaged with the content.
But the real benefit of dynamic cursors lies in their ability to change appearance or behavior based on context. For instance, a cursor might expand into a circle when hovering over clickable elements, or it could trail particles or icons relevant to the content it interacts with. These subtle animations draw attention to interactive elements, guiding the user’s journey through the website.
Hanlon works at the cutting edge of design, technology, and modern marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help elevate your brand’s digital home.