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Web design trends that are taking 2018 by storm

Colour schemes, animations and new layouts to send your website intergalactic.

10 Best Web Design Trends of 2018

2018-ify your website with these 10 eye-catching trends


A well-designed website is much like a carefully curated wardrobe. At the core should be a minimalist, user-friendly design, but you can play around with the finer details year on year to keep things looking fresh and ‘trendy’.

We’re going to talk you through 10 easy-to-adopt trends to catch your website up with your calendar.

The top trends for web design in 2018 are: loud colour schemes, particle backgrounds, drop shadows and depth, mobile first, dynamic gradients, bold typography, geometric shapes, asymmetric grid layouts, custom illustrations and integrated animations.



1. Colour schemes

It’s easy to associate minimal design with a monochrome or neutral palette, but this needn’t be the case. Clever use of bold colours is very much en vogue.

Pantone named ‘Ultra Violet’ the Color of the Year 2018. The American colour giant has a strong history of influencing design with its Color of the Year award, so expect to see this mystical tone cropping up all over the place.

Meanwhile, ‘millennial pink’, 2017’s colour of the moment, is showing no signs of slowing down on the web scene. In fact, vivid fuchsia tones have also joined the pink party.

Pastels and metallics make great neutrals, and black (or nearly black) will never not be cool.

When it comes to colour, 2018’s mantra is: ‘go big or go home’.

Ultra Violet is Pantone's Color of the Year 2018

'Inventive and imaginative, Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come' - Pantone


2. Particle backgrounds

Sounds highly scientific, isn’t in the slightest.

Particle backgrounds let you have a soft animation playing in a block on your site, without the distraction and file size of a video.

They can be really simple, and add that extra bit of ‘something’ to any website. Check if this is something your web designer can incorporate into your site, and ask to see examples of previous work for inspiration.


3. Bold typography

If ever there were a year for experimenting with typeface, it’s 2018.

Large images and videos don’t always fare well on mobile, so punchy typefaces are taking centre stage. Set down the Helvetica: serif fonts in bold are 2018’s go-to, and statement paragraphs of text in large letter sizes get a big thumbs up.

example of bold typeface from Apostrophe website

Australian copywriting agency Apostrophe lets its words do the talking


4. Mobile first

It’s official. More people browse the internet on mobile than on desktop.

What does that mean for web design? It means it’s not enough to make your website work on mobile, or even be responsive (when the page realigns to look better on mobile). No, in 2018 you have to think - and create - mobile first.

Google has changed the way it reads sites to reflect the shift to mobile. Now, it operates ‘mobile first indexing’, which means it recognises (or ‘indexes’) the mobile version of a site before the desktop one. If your mobile site isn’t up to scratch, expect to see a drop in rankings.

Change your mindset from ‘let’s make our desktop website work well on mobile’ to ‘let’s create the best possible mobile experience for our customers’. Yes, you might have to lose some of those full screen images, but that’s okay. The modern user expects burger menus and icons, and they interact well with them.

an example of a responsive website

Having a mobile responsive site was great in 2017, but the arrival of Google's Mobile First Index means you need to go one step further in 2018


5. Dynamic gradients

Flat is still 2018’s style of choice, so gradients aren’t being used for a 3D effect as per the old Apple icons. Rather, they’re bold backdrops that set off the quiet surrounding text. Why have one colour when you can have two?


6. Drop shadows and depth

Drop shadows are a great way to add depth and character to your website.

Soft-edged drop shadows on text help differentiate it from the background, but should be approached with caution. Too much, and you risk 2009 WordArt style text. Subtlety is key.

Hard-edged drop shadows on text will bring a playful, retro vibe to your site. But for ultimate 2018 cool, experiment with a flat design and long drop shadows.


7. Geometric shapes

Dust off your compass: it’s time to get geometric. 2018 has seen the return of a distinctly retro use of shapes, such as lightning bolts and triangles. When used well they can create a warm and nostalgic effect.


8. Grid layouts

Grid layouts have been given a fresh look for 2018.

Gone are the uniform grids of old - this year it’s all about broken and asymmetric grid layouts. They’re jarring, but that’s what makes them so eye-catching and effective.

Some websites take things a step further, challenging accepted design in a form of site architecture known as ‘brutalism’. And it’s starting to go mainstream:

balenciaga homepage brutalism design

Balenciaga's stripped-back homepage proves that the simplest web designs can be the most shocking


This level of brutalism might be a step too far for an unestablished business, but don’t be afraid to break the mould. If you want something a bit out of the ordinary, it’s worth looking at examples of the previous work of design agencies to find the more experimental ones.


9. Custom illustrations

Getting a graphic designer to illustrate something for your website is a simple way to add character and uniqueness to your site.

good example of a custom website illustration

We're fixated on Fixate's amazing custom illustrated homepage


10. Integrated animations

Video is becoming increasingly popular, but has a bad reputation when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO). It can slow sites down, and therefore damage their rankings.

Little pops of animation are a great way to make your site interactive and interesting, without the same risk.

This can take the form of kinetic (moving) text, or images sliding into frame as the user scrolls. Or it can simply be ‘twitches’ in illustrated images - the blinking of an eye, the flapping of a wing, etc.


What about the web design trends for 2019?

When it comes to web design, the future looks bright. Literally.

Expect to see plenty of colourful designs around in 2019, too. Ultra Violet will no doubt still be going strong, and will be joined by Pantone’s Color of the Year 2019.

So, what else can you expect to see? Movement! And lots of it.

Particle backgrounds, animations and full-screen videos will increasingly take centre stage. The growing popularity of YouTube and Instagram stories is proof that users want to consume information in this way, and you can be sure that Google will continue to adjust its algorithm to support this.

Website builders are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They let anyone create a website, no matter their previous experience. However, for a truly cutting-edge and future-proof website, your best bet is to leave it to the professionals. What’s more, with prices starting at £200, a professionally designed website really needn’t cost the earth.

You can check out our roundup of the best web design agencies for small businesses, or take a look at our guide to how much a website costs. Or simply fill in this quick form now to get tailored quotes for your business website from up to four design agencies.