In the realm of current web design, whether it mirrors an epoch of self-indulgence, wistfulness, maximalism, minimalism, or even the integration of artificial intelligence, one undeniable truth stands out: we are entrenched in an era of swift transformation. Discover how web designers are adeptly navigating these trends in the landscape of 2023.
Amidst the era of rapid digital advancement, it’s a frequent occurrence to encounter novel AI tools that reshape our workflows. Coupled with the breakneck pace of information consumption, pressing climate concerns, and economic challenges, it’s only natural to experience a sense of being inundated. The landscape is marked by extremities. Do we actively plunge into the exploration of novel technologies and innovations, or do we seek solace in the comfort of the familiar?
Moreover, how do we cater to individuals with fleeting attention spans and limited focus in a world saturated with content? How can we incite engagement? This article endeavors to align contemporary sensibilities with web practices, spotlighting inspirational concepts poised to ignite and invigorate the mind. Join us as we paint a picture of the web design trends for 2023.
1. Goblin Mode – Maximalism
Bornfight Studio’s Website
The term “Goblin Mode” was selected as the 2022 Oxford Word of the Year. This term refers to behavior that is unabashedly self-indulgent, lazy, or untidy, and often defies social norms or expectations. It has the distinction of being the first Word of the Year chosen through public voting.
The modern world has gradually embraced self-indulgence over the past few decades, visible in various aspects of Western life. This trend is evident in athletic fashion, online shopping, fast-food ordering for convenience, and binge-watching TV shows. These examples of contemporary living provide fertile ground for our inner goblin tendencies to emerge. It’s intriguing to speculate on how this will influence the future of web design.
The evolving social norms associated with goblin behavior have implications for UI and UX design. At its core, UI and UX design adhere to standards, best practices, and user research while aiming for inclusivity. This trend is reflected in goblin-style websites that prioritize the brand over the user. These websites often disregard best practices and accessibility, challenging conventional notions of beauty. They strive to enhance brand presence by adopting a rugged aesthetic characterized by an abundance of imagery, repetition, bold colors, audacious animations, and numerous design elements. We may love or critique these websites, but it’s difficult to deny that we haven’t employed similar techniques to enhance a website’s impact.
2. Simplicity and Minimalism
Templeton Clothing’s Website
In contrast to maximalism, there is a growing simplicity movement that advocates for balance and a deceleration of pace. This trend aims to provide users with a soothing and unhurried experience, countering the prevailing culture of superficial appearances.
We can anticipate more websites embracing simplicity by reducing intricate details and striving for anonymity. These websites may adopt a structural, wireframe-like approach, utilizing minimalistic typography, a restricted set of type styles, muted colors that harmonize with large images or amorphous illustrations replacing intricate UX visuals. Subtle animated scrolls may guide users through the website, creating a serene ambiance.
Creating such websites requires a mature design perspective, as designers must discern what is essential and what can be discarded. These minimalist websites often stand out in terms of both style and performance, differentiating themselves from content-heavy competitors.
Templeton Clothing, an e-commerce platform from the Bavarian Northern Alps, demonstrates this approach with a hero section that invites users to scroll gradually. Their black-and-white linear design and emphasis on product spotlighting showcase an “anti-design” ethos that places products at the forefront.
3. Hyper-Delights in Website Journeys
Studio Brot’s Website
In the previous year, the concept of “scrollytelling” gained traction, but the current year introduces innovative methods to engage users on the web.
Before designing a website, a user journey is mapped out, structuring the website’s navigation and framework. Comparably, a physical path is constructed for users to traverse, leading them towards conversion. The emerging “delight” approach urges us to view websites as multidimensional experiences, aiming to sustain user engagement by incorporating surprises and joyful Easter eggs along the journey. Notably, animated cursors play a significant role in enhancing user experience through web design.
This perspective encourages us to reimagine elements that were previously considered technical or navigational obstacles, such as menus, internal links, CTAs, and endpoints like footers or 404 pages. These elements offer opportunities to elicit emotions like success, interest, or trust through animations, marketing messages, and playful motifs. These design spaces offer creative freedom and can enhance the bond between users and brands.
Studio Brot, a design agency emphasizing advertising and branding, exemplifies this approach through its use of seamless motion as users scroll through the sections of its website. This constant motion generates a dynamic atmosphere that keeps visitors engaged and curious.
4. Ecommerce – A Tangible Online Experience
Grace Nutritional Product’s Website
As the boundary between the physical and virtual realms becomes increasingly blurred, the evolution of e-commerce is captivating. It’s paradoxical—while physical design becomes digitized, some daring e-commerce websites strive to offer a tactile, touchable purchasing experience.
The allure of physically entering a store, sensing new fabrics, or trying on clothes guides this web trend. Interactive product displays replicate the tactile engagement of real-world shopping, adding depth to the online buying process.
Even with limited budgets, websites can stimulate users’ senses through animations, rotations, and 3D effects. Such interactions encourage users to explore products actively, fostering a sense of discovery. The challenge lies in understanding the unique features of a product and crafting interactions that resonate with users.
Grace, a nutritional product, demonstrates this approach by simulating an unboxing experience and allowing users to interact with the package. This digital experience surpasses the possibilities of a physical store.
5. AI’s Emergence in Web Design
While AI technology is not new, recent advancements have made it accessible to the public, sparking widespread discussions. Online AI engines like ChatGPT, dall.e2, Midjourney, and Stable diffusion, alongside deepfake technology, raise questions about the role of human creators in the future.
Debates often center on AI rendering creative professionals obsolete. However, AI’s current role is that of a tool, not a replacement. AI empowers creators, particularly evident in image generation capabilities. The results require refinement and mastery, mirroring the learning curve of any tool.
The proliferation of AI, like dall.e2 and Midjourney, showcases its image creation prowess. ChatGPT’s introduction enhances microcopy creation. However, understanding the tools’ nuances is vital; refining queries and directing AI are skills that evolve over time.
6. Nostalgia Amid Digital Overload
Hie Talent Agency’s Website
The imminent 20th anniversary of WordPress highlights the digital revolution it sparked. Amidst constant digital evolution, there’s an occasional yearning for the past, evident in the persistence of 80s-90s motifs.
As technology advances rapidly, some prefer to dwell in nostalgia, embracing retro objects and design elements. Collages, pixelization, strong colors, MS-DOS-like UI, and vintage arcade game influences are prominent in this trend.
Hie Talent Agency, which serves content creators, incorporates contemporary reimaginations of nostalgic objects. This playful approach taps into a longing for simpler times while fostering curiosity.
7. Motion for Emotional Connection
Estudios Victor Cordon’s Website
Shortening attention spans, influenced by social media, prompt designers to integrate motion into UI for enhanced user engagement. Motion enriches the user experience, facilitating interaction and immersion.
User interaction with dynamic elements is expected due to familiarity with motion in digital interfaces. Soft scroll animations, parallax effects, and micro animations are used to create engaging and interactive sections. Additionally, extreme motion, challenging users’ sense of balance and gravity, is explored.
Estudios Victor Cordon, a creative platform for independent artists, employs constant seamless motion throughout its website. The background-generated motion creates a fluid ambiance, enhancing user engagement.
8. Pushing Typographic Boundaries – The Longing for Print
Parazker Branding Studio’s Website
Amid the prevalence of clean design aesthetics, a growing number of websites are boldly pushing the limits with distinctive typographic layouts. This trend is rather unexpected, considering this design approach is typically found in space-constrained mediums like packaging, music festival posters, labels, and signage. Perhaps this trend arises from our yearning for designs grounded in tangible materials, which we’ve forsaken in favor of screens and interactive experiences.
With an aim to captivate attention, the most captivating instances play with typography and grids, discarding conventional web layouts to forge an indelible text-based viewing experience. These websites often embrace larger-than-life headlines with brutalist typography, a departure from typical web conventions. This movement might also give rise to more websites featuring sections with a single paragraph, employing oversized typefaces that command the entire section. Together, these elements infuse dynamism into the page, even in its static state.
Parazker’s web page offers a wealth of content in a single fold. While this condensed presentation could span multiple folds and pages, it evokes a sense of familiarity akin to product labels or barcodes. The designers have consolidated all the information into a single fold, allowing users to take it all in at a glance.
9. Enhancing Accessibility – Enriching the Digital Landscape
In a time marked by the amplification of extreme voices in the real world, there’s an opportunity to create positive change in the alternate universe of the web we’ve built. After all, as web creators, we form a significant community. We possess the power to contribute more value and transform the World Wide Web into a more inclusive and improved space.
As our society becomes increasingly digitally reliant, particularly since the onset of Covid-19, users are spending a greater amount of time online to access even the most basic services. When commencing a project, we customarily craft a precise brief and tailor designs to specific user personas and needs. Perhaps this year, our resolution could be to view the Internet through others’ perspectives – ensuring technology is accessible to everyone, irrespective of their abilities, economic circumstances, age, education, or geographical location.
This mindset shift and minor workflow adjustment can make a substantial difference. It begins from the project’s inception, with a responsibility to educate clients about accessibility and its associated legal obligations. Considering accessibility from the initial brief stage and dedicating a bit more time and effort can influence the website’s design style. Employing colors and font sizes thoughtfully, incorporating alternative text, and supporting keyboard navigation contribute to a more inclusive web experience. Designing with this challenge in mind not only cultivates novel styles and conventions but can revolutionize our overall web interaction.
10. Exploring the Link in Bio Webpage
In the realm of social media, brimming with infinite possibilities, certain limitations persist – sharing only one link in your profile being a prime example. Enter the ‘Link in bio’ concept. Essentially a landing page, the Link in bio connects social media, websites, stores, videos, music, podcasts, events, and more. It serves as a hub, fostering connections, building relationships, and driving conversions.
Given the surging number of users migrating from social media, a pressing question arises: How should this link bridge between your social profile and website be designed? Is it a mere extension of your profile page?
Currently, the Link in bio layout remains rather basic. The full potential and possibilities inherent in this landing page layout remain largely unexplored. The prevailing structure resembles list-like views or galleries – predominantly featuring buttons or images of equal size and hierarchy. However, a question emerges: Should they remain uniform? Do all the links hold the same weight?
This terrain of simple pages is likely to expand in the coming year, as creators propose fresh visions for this digital business card’s appearance.
Having delved into a plethora of examples – from goblin mode and maximalism to accessibility, typography, and motion – an evident query arises: What role does a designer assume amidst all this? How should we approach our forthcoming website designs with a forward-looking perspective?
Bear in mind that each website serves a distinct product or service, intended to address specific issues with defined goals. As such, blindly following trends won’t suffice.
With a deeper comprehension of the objectives and products we endorse, we can intelligently incorporate select trends and unearth novel ways to go the extra mile – evoking inner smiles of user satisfaction and delight.
While the rise of AI may momentarily challenge our status as creators, it’s also ushering in an expanded role. Navigating the complexities of fostering engagement necessitates keeping pace with new technologies, strategies, and trends. The upcoming year promises a dynamic journey for us web creators. Amid this exciting landscape, always trust your instincts and follow your intuition.