The Biggest Web Design Trends of 2020

As we near the fourth quarter and the year draws inexorably to a close, now would seem a good time to take a look back at the biggest design trends of 2020 and how they’re shaping the internet we can expect in the future.

The web is in constant flux and developing all the time, so staying on top of design and development movements is important, both from an aesthetic and usability point of view.

The emergence of dark mode

Dark mode can be seen on everything from YouTube to WhatsApp and was undoubtedly the biggest design change of 2019. Even in 2020, the move to darker base graphics has proven extremely popular among designers, developers and users alike.

Dark mode essentially swaps out the standard white background of a website, replacing it instead with black (or near-black) and using enhanced text in a light color (most often white) on top.

Part of the reason dark mode has become so prevalent is down to design aesthetics; however, it also has a positive impact by reducing the load on our oh-so-important device battery life. A darker background also decreases eye strain on the part of the user and arguably improves the legibility of text.

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The growing popularity of minimalist design

Very often, less is more when it comes to web design and there has been an increasing move towards minimalism in site design. Again, this is partly through aesthetic considerations; however, the widespread use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and HTML5 has allowed more varied fonts on sites and better layouts. Designers are now far better equipped to explore more minimalist frameworks.

A minimalist approach often encompasses less (and better designed) text, a sparser navigation structure (often using the popular ‘hamburger’ link), simpler color palettes and more striking photography. Minimalism also helps the user focus on site content, which, after all, is the most important aspect of a website and the reason you’ll encourage repeat visits.

Increased use of 3D elements

Improved embedding options, players and browser support are allowing designers to include more 3D content and players into their layouts. 3D content is particularly useful for e-commerce sites to give potential customers an improved view and understanding of products.

Featuring more white space

In design terms, white space needn’t necessarily be white — it can be any color; however, the principle remains the same. Leaving empty space on your pages doesn’t just look good, it’s also useful for adding prominence to your text and photos. This increased use of white space can be seen on websites all over the internet, with the website of ALT Agency being a particularly good example:

In the last five or so years, there had been an increasing trend towards producing full-bleed websites (i.e. where the page takes up the entire available screen). However, in 2020 that seems to have slowly reversed with many contemporary sites now leaning towards a more bordered, cleaner approach.

Increased awareness of users and usability

As the way we use and interact with the web continues to change, so too site design. With mobile internet access now accounting for over 50% of all web traffic, designers are having to think about accommodating visitors using smaller screens. Web design is still a relatively young industry (as is the web itself); however, designers are increasingly moving towards designing for use, rather just purely for aesthetics.

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