You can make a website utterly and totally beautiful - breathtakingly so - but if the user experience is rubbish, you've lost the plot. You can give a site the best ever UX from start to finish, but if it looks like a dog (no offence to actual dogs), it won't quite hit the mark. Like so much in life, create a site that's as beautiful as it is useful and you're golden. Here's how the finest web design talent is achieving exactly that so far this year.
1. Bright colours
2018 was, well... a bit grey. Monochrome is classy, of course, and has its own subtle messaging. But 2019 seems to be more about colour. Vivid colour. Bright colour. Colour that speaks, that supports powerful branding, that attracts the eye and makes users feel good.
2. Strong contrast
Colour's great, but it's not always practical unless you also achieve a strong contrast. Every UK website must, by law, be fully accessible to people who can't see well, and that means making sure your contrast is strong enough for those with poor vision to discern with ease. Half-shut your eyes and look at the screen. If you can't tell the difference between the colours, the contrast isn't good enough.
Symmetry looks good and is easy for the eye to deal with. But asymmetry can also catch the eye and draw it in, and it stands out. That's why today's asymmetrical layouts are so popular. At the same time asymmetry isn't easy to pull off. You need a proper graphic designer, a proper web designer, not just someone who knows how to do a bit of amateur design and can do pretty things.
4. Focusing on the essentials
It's tempting to ram as much information - pictures and text and video – into a web page as you possibly can, so you don't miss anything out. But while you might be suffering from FOMO, users might just find your site a mish-mash, a mess that makes it hard to see the wood for the trees. One of today's strongest web design trends is eliminating non-essential elements. The results are clearer, better looking and often deliver a much better UX. And as every good marketer will tell you, it's better to provide a clear, simple message than a long, cumbersome one that includes every single tiny, weeny detail.
5. Creative transitions
Transitions are the animated changes that take place between two pages, states or views, and they're meant to deliver visual continuity. They harness all sorts of cool visual effects, from fades and slices to folds, scales and masks. They look fantastic... but great web design is about more than looks, so make sure you don't send your users into a terrifying loop of transition madness. Use them for a good marketing reason, not just because they look great.
6. Brilliant vids
Video went massive in 2017-18, and this year it's bigger than ever... but the quality has also shot up. This is no time to be making substandard, amateur-looking video content. It has to be bloody good. At least as bloody good as your closest competitor, ideally a whole lot better. And relevant, too. In 2018 people were making videos like there was no tomorrow, and plenty of them were very poor as far as relevance goes. If your story requires moving images, use video. Don't just crowbar a subject into a video because video is cool.
A minimalist website can look amazing, all calm and clean and simple. But don't forget the words. Search engine algorithms still aren't clever enough to 'read' images. If all you have on your page is a selection of stunning images, with no words, Google and co won't know what on earth the site's all about, and will be unable to rank it in the SERPs. Duh!
8. Getting clever with text
Plop a dense wall of copy in front of a user and they'll faint, fall over or click away. Actually the last option is the most likely, but hey. Visitor engagement means you need to actually engage people, and you can't do that with endless words. On the other hand you need words to tell Google and other search engines what your page is about. It's a balance, which is why more designers are using professional copywriters instead of letting their clients loose on written content.
9. White space
Along with the trend for essentials-only design and minimal design, white space has become incredibly important... and it makes practical sense. Jam a page full of stuff and it's harder for the user to 'get' the core message than it is when looking at a clean, clear page on which the text stands out, text that you can read with ease.
10 Being authentic
This is a tricky one, since authenticity isn't that easy to pin down. But when 86% of consumers say it matters, it matters to you. Being authentic can mean taking your own photos instead of using cheesy stock shots, expressing yourself in a human, entertaining way that makes friends and influences people, and using colour appropriately to create, maintain and grow great brand equity.
The overall message?
Now you know about the hottest web design trends 2019 and onwards. It's clear you need to think through the design side of a website with greater care than ever. The landscape's more competitive than ever, punters are fussier than ever, there are more websites online than ever before, and the internet's still growing. Only the best websites – those whose users really do adore them – truly succeed.