When technology is constantly evolving as it is today, change appears to be the only constant. The same can be said for both web design and graphic design. Some end up as mere fads while others become lasting trends.
Bringing ideas to life by combining pictures and text is part of what I do for a living — and what I love to do. And in 2015 new design trends were introduced that were quickly incorporated by many websites and graphic designers.
So, while everyone is predicting what the design trends for 2016 and beyond will be, I thought I’d take the time to show which web and graphic design styles are on their last legs — and how they could be refreshed.
Top design trends of 2015
Grid layouts remain
Grid layouts are one of the trends started by Pinterest.
The grid system in graphic design is a way of organizing content on a page; using any combination of margins, guides, rows and columns. They typically use solid colours with bold outlines and geometric shapes. Most grid-based designs work well on sites that need large content lists, like blogs.
It’s tough to say exactly when the grid design style became popular, but it’s definitely a beloved choice by many graphic and web designers. And while grids have always played a role in website design, they haven’t always been front and centre when it came to design.
As graphic or web design trends evolved in 2015, non-traditional font styles were introduced. Several typographical trends that emerged were handwritten, display, and enlarged fonts. Pairing them with a full screen background images or videos, these styles quickly gained traction.
Adding custom fonts and font styles also helped many companies to brand in a modern and unique. And now with Google Web Fonts, you can add almost any style to the text of your website.
Flat design on the out, but not gone
One of the simplest types of graphic design, it also became the one that is the most widely used. There are no glossy buttons, no bevels (something that my previous employer had to have on everything) in flat design. It’s inspired by various styles of art: Swiss, Minimalism and Bauhaus.
Many popular brands like Microsoft, Google and eBay are currently using this style design. And because of this popularity, it’s common — and common is boring.
Bright pastel colours
Colour is important in design. It helps to create contrast and focus the eye. Of the design trends in 2015, a lot of graphic designers combined both flat design with bright pastel colours to make their works stand out from other similar design styles.
Illustrations over photography
One of the most important trends of 2015 was the use of illustrations in place of stock photography. They convey a very unique brand message, feeling less generic and phoney, and are now widely used because of the fact that no one could replicate them.
Animated graphics to entertain
In 2015, several companies started implementing short animated graphics. This allowed websites to become more interactive and entertaining.
As long as it’s tasteful — and we don’t end up with websites from the 90s — it’s fine by me.
The ins and outs of design trends in 2016
Most websites that’ve incorporated trends from the past year already look slightly outdated, but chances are good that the design trends for 2016 will give users an even more unique experience. And while popular trends from 2015 might remain, change is coming.
Here’s what’s expected to change in 2016:
Grid layout makeover
The grid style layout might get a makeover, but it won’t disappear completely. People still crave some form of structure for their content, but grid layouts are being used by so many websites that it’s getting very monotonous.
As flat design becomes boring, expect to see it evolve into Flat 2.0 — as coined by designer Ryan Allen.
Flat design seemed to take the design community by storm, therefore it’ll take some time to evolve. Early showcases of flat design were very basic, with a desire to lose all of the skin of the previous skeuomorphic era. Flat design 2.0 will start to include more touches of flair and ornamentation — and not just for the sake of aesthetics.
Graphic designers are running short on inspiration for their digital illustrations, meaning that this trend might fade in the next year. However, expect it to be replaced by hand-drawn illustrations that will ultimately leave a very lively experience for the users.
Animated graphics might continue to persist into the early parts of 2016 — but in a completely different way. Expect them to be replaced by cinemagraphs.
Cinemagraphs are basically still photos in which a minor and repeated movement occurs. You’ve probably seen a lot of this with Apple’s new iPhone. This trend will be seen all over the websites because it gives the feel of a photograph and a video together.
As so many companies and brands use the same design styles, the effects have gradually decreased. However, in the new year, expect websites to become more dynamic and old graphic designs converted into something unique.
If you agree with this list, are there other design trends that I haven’t mentioned? Share your thoughts below or on social media.