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Trends - in the wider world they're just strange things.
Looking at web design, trends are easier to follow. Trends are handles that designers hold onto to go along with the spirit of the times - or are they chains? Are trends the chains that tie ourselves to the hypetrain that make us all a bit more gray.
Okay, even in web design, trends are just strange things.
Because trends are easy, but also treacherous. They help you when you just don't know how to get the ball rolling while the deadline is getting closer; click around and find inspiration in the trends of the moment. But what if you reach for the closest trend every time? Then the question is whether you're really designing or just tracing, like you used to with a transparent piece of paper, a 2B pencil, and coloring pages of your favorite cartoon.
Let's first take a look at what web design trends are before we decide whether to follow or avoid them together.
What is a web design trend?
A trend, in the general sense of the word, is a change in people's patterns. They can be observed in almost every aspect of life: fashion, technology, art, entertainment. Even sports have to deal with it, or do you say you haven't played padel yet? Exactly, trends are everywhere.
Thanks to trends, we no longer eat breakfast, because we collectively think that three meals a day is too much. We suddenly get up at five in the morning because waking up shortly before work is no longer acceptable. These changes in the patterns of our lives can last long or short. A very short trend is called a fad, while a very long-lasting trend eventually becomes outdated again.
Although it sometimes feels as if you have to follow all trends to move with the times, today's trend breakers are tomorrow's trendsetters. Following a trend is always a choice, and sometimes it is good to move along with the crowd, while at other times it feels better to rebel.
How and when you make that choice is always difficult, as those are always important choices. Let's list a few web design trends of 2023 so we can look at where we might want to rebel.
Web design trends to follow in 2023
Nostalgia and Y2K web design
It used to be normal for trends to return every 30 to 40 years. That was when the world turned more slowly than it does today. Because although according to the old logic, we should use the color palette from the 80s, this year the Y2K aesthetic from the early 2000s is a trend.
This trend is all about mono-spaced fonts, pixelated artwork, and a strong focus on text.
The world is spinning so fast that trends are accelerating, and that is precisely why we are returning to designs from a time that felt easier.
On the other end of the spectrum we find the 3D trend, where we use all the possibilities that the web offers. This is not only about adding 3D illustrations, but also whole 3D worlds that you can build in-browser these days. Now that everyone has fast internet, we want to get away from that flat screen - experiences go deeper.
With the addition of the third dimension, the possibilities are endless, but be careful to keep it simple. Your website still needs to be usable.
Interactive and micro-animations
Just as the world around us reacts to our presence, applications and websites are increasingly becoming more interactive. Technology is an essential part of our lives, so let's make it as natural as possible - no static pages, but experiences that feel alive.
Let users customize your application or website to their liking. By letting someone choose whether your website is light or dark, for example, you give them control, which increases their engagement with your brand. The beauty of this trend is that you increasingly put the user at the center: what gives them the best possible experience? If they can customize your website to their liking, they get the experience they really want.
Give them control over the colors, fonts, and anything else you can think of.
Web design trends to avoid
As a designer, it's important to always stay on top of the latest trends. Your clients come to you for your expertise, and that includes knowledge of your work area. Yet, they also ask for your creativity, which goes beyond blindly following the latest trends.
How can you ever make a choice? Let's make it easy and state that there are two reasons to avoid trends: you want to develop your own style or it suits your client to color outside the lines.
If you go against trends while working for a brand that benefits from fitting into the contemporary zeitgeist, you are needlessly contrarian. If you work for a young fashion brand, it is good to look at the trends. This way you find connection with the target group by creating images that fit their world.
If you decide to break with a trend, what should you watch out for?
Choose your own taste. If you then break with trends, opt for your own personality and let yourself speak through your designs.
Be consistent. If you decide to leave certain trends, make sure you are consistent in this decision.
Be critical. What is the reason that you want to break with a trend? Is it your own ego as a designer or is it really the best choice for the client?
Do research. Designing without trends is a considerable challenge, so make sure you keep researching all forms of design. This way you stay inspired for innovative ideas.
Ignoring trends gives you the opportunity to create a unique style, but dealing professionally and creatively with a hype also shows that you are versatile.
What do you choose: to follow or avoid?
"If everyone is jumping off a bridge, will you jump behind them?" parents ask their children. We can also ask this question to web designers and actually to everyone. People are just trend-sensitive and love to follow the crowd.
Whether you choose to follow or avoid trends should, in my opinion, depend on the client you work for. They pay you for your creativity but also to create the best solution for them. Sometimes this will mean that you follow a trend because it fits the brand you are designing for.
The most important thing is therefore that you are aware of your own process. If you always go straight for the latest trends, then it may be good to challenge yourself with a blank canvas. However, always breaking with trends is not the solution either.
As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, which way will you go?