1. White space
Modern website design is heading back to minimalism with a tide of purposeful white space, much like in print magazines.
Like natural currents, white space helps move visitors through your site pages, flowing from one element to the next — and it creates a visual hierarchy where no element distracts from the whole.
The breathing room white space provides allows viewers’ eyes to rest. It also aids comprehension by defining relationships between page elements.
When two elements are close together with little white space in between, human eyes will view them as one unit. On the other hand, if two elements are further apart, your eyes will view them separately.
White space allows visitors to identify your site’s hierarchy. And they use white space to find the most important information on pages, so knowing how to use white space on your website will help improve your site’s user experience (UX).
Example: Take a look at the white space in Myles Nguyen’s digital portfolio as a web and interaction designer.
See how it leads you right to all the important bits? The amount of white space he leaves his modern site design lets your eyes travel comfortably, giving you lots of places to rest.
This modern web design example redefines minimalism with thoughtful use of white space.
2. Full-page headers
Full-page headers are the way to go for modern web design in 2020.
Web designers can implement header variations, but a popular set up involves adding key text or call-to-action (CTA) buttons to the left of the header with eye-catching images on the right.
This is because readers tend to focus most of their attention on the top-left of your page.
Example: Discord’s website providing a voice and text chat app for gamers is a good example.
Discord exhibits a fun and quirky image to the right of their header and highlights the benefits of their paid service to the left. Their CTA buttons are clearly marked and tell viewers exactly what they need to do to get the added experiences.
Scrolling down, you’ll find that Discord groups site elements into cards, making their information sleek, easy-to-find, and easy-to-read, while keeping the fun element. You can see how websites like this one generate a feeling of playful sophistication.
3. Playful cursors
Modern websites often feature cursors that make viewing pages a new experience.
Implementing playful cursors on your site in 2020 can be as simple as changing the cursor shape or as complex as coding cursor-triggered animations. Either way, your visitors will have a great time engaging with unique cursors.
Example: Paolo Fornasier has an awesome cursor set up on his online portfolio. The cursor displays different photos with a rippling animation and a piano tone when scrolling over the vertically-aligned text of the navigation menu.
Because of the playfulness of the animation, users easily spend a couple of minutes floating their cursor over the navigation menu.
Your cursor doesn’t have to be as complex as this one, but adding a unique element to your cursor is sure to add some spice to your website.
4. Dynamic scrolling
Dynamic scrolling is another modern web design trend for 2020.
One version of dynamic scrolling sets different scrolling speeds for your site’s foreground and background to give visitors a 3D effect.
Example: Take a quick peek at Crypton’s site to see how amusing dynamic scrolling makes a site.
Background video can also incorporate into dynamic scrolling, where the video only plays when users scroll — and with dynamic scrolling, you can trigger animations and make your images appear like magic.
5. Custom illustrations
Illustrations breathe life into your brand and website.
When it comes to illustrations, modern web design for 2020 pulls inspiration from print publishing and other traditional art formats.
Gone are the days of cookie-cutter stock images, with websites incorporating custom illustrations into their modern web design in 2020.
Example: Take a look at the art of renowned illustrator Alice Lee, for example. She’s designed custom illustrations for popular brands like Macy’s and The Washington Post. Here’s one that she created for Airbnb.
Her art has helped spark a growing trend of custom illustrations for brands that look like they came straight out of a storybook.
And with increased coding capabilities, illustrations continue to evolve beyond 2D design.
Even now, digital designs pull in 3D illusions that add another layer of depth to the Internet.
The slow change from one color to another with gradient shading
Digital cut-out styles that mimic designs cut out of layers of paper
3D cursor interaction that users can’t help engaging with on your site
6. Grid design
Modern web designers will continue to play with grids in 2020 — and an asymmetric layout likely will become even more popular.
Example: Jingqi Fan’s online portfolio displays how functional an asymmetric layout can be. His site exhibits plenty of white space and a minimalist style that highlights his project images, while the asymmetric design keeps his site fresh, exciting, and engaging.
Many top designers use CSS Grid Layout to bring all the capabilities of print layout to the web.
Also known as Grid, CSS Grid Layout is a 2D grid layout system for Cascading Styles Sheet, a coding language that describes the layout of an HTML site page. Grid allows web designers to create layouts for complex responsive web design more easily and consistently across browsers.
CSS grid layout still has a way to go before it becomes compatible with all interfaces, but it continues to gain momentum as a top web design trend for 2020.
7. Color trends in 2020
Modern website design explores color pallets, and every year there’s a new color for the web. In 2018, it was yellow, 2019, blue, and in 2020, the WGSN trend forecasting community predicts mint.
Overall, Venngage predicts that online color pallets will become more muted in 2020 vs. 2019.
Gradients are a trend continuing from 2019 into 2020, and designers will likely continue exploring the depths to which they can take design with gradients. And because gradients cover a range of colors, they’re perfect for targeting a broad audience.
Psychology of color will also play a significant role in web design trends for 2020. Make sure that you research the psychology behind colors before generating a new color palette for your company. It’s important that your colors match your brand.
Some smaller trends within colors will likely continue from 2019 into 2020. It seems that:
Soft, cool colors (blues, teals, and greys) = Information and backgrounds
Bold, warm colors (reds, oranges, even greens) = Calls to action (CTAs)
Example: Check out Trello’s website for project collaboration and organization software.
This website is a great example of incorporating muted color pallets and gradients into a smooth, illustrative design. They even highlight their CTA in a bright color!
8. Bold fonts
Modern web design will play even more with fonts in 2020 vs. 2019. San-serif and serif fonts are as popular as ever, and vintage type is surprisingly making a comeback in branding.
Outlined type and bold type are also showing their faces in many places — from brand names to landing page headings, where the most prominent type trend of all is screen dominating text.
Example: Take a look at how Startup Lab plays with bold type cut out of images. Those give the site a bold, chunky feel, while still coming off as professional.
See also how they incorporated stenciled letters into their brand name? It ads a bit of a grungy effect, which is nicely contrasted by the bubblegum pink of the page. A bold choice, but they pulled it off well.
Make sure to choose a typeface that matches your brand, your audience, and the goal that you have for your company.
Make sure to also choose an easy-to-read typeface for the body text of any content you have on your site. The readability of your text is one of the essential factors in improving your site’s UX. A simple, unassuming sans-serif like Arial is a great choice.
9. Increased focus on UX/UI
Modern web design focuses on humans in 2019, and it will become even more important in 2020.
Your site’s UX must be smooth, uninterrupted, and engaging in 2020. This means:
Fast page load
Little clutter (use that white space!)
Scannable, relevant SEO content
Web designers wrap functionality with creativity to create a great UX, leaning into clean design while still being creative and unique in all the right ways. The top web designers throw a bit of untidiness into the white, sterile world of technology, much like a bit of chocolate sauce on the kitchen counter.
Hand in hand with UX, your site’s user interface (UI) must be intuitive in 2020. This means:
No distracting elements
Balanced motion design
Level up your site’s UX/UI by:
Providing visitors with easy-to-read content and easy-to-use interfaces
Hitting their aesthetic sweet tooth
It’s also important to note that mobile surfing will get bigger in 2020 vs. 2019. More than 50% of Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, and that number is expected to rise.
For a website to have a successful modern web design in 2020, all of its elements need to translate flawlessly to both desktop and mobile. Mobile responsive animation and videography will become increasingly important for modern web design.
Example: Take a peek at Chobani’s sleek mobile design.
Chobani provides mobile users with a sleek, fully-responsive design that makes full use of white space. Their content is easily scannable with eye-catching, mouth-watering pictures of their products.
With an easy-to-click CTA banner across the bottom of the screen, Chobani sure knows how to pull in their mobile audiences.
10. Impactful, engaging stories
Finally, modern websites in 2020 will shine at telling stories.
For your site to evolve into a genuine modern website, learn how to tell compelling stories in your content and advertising campaigns.
With classy website design and a compelling story, your site is sure to engage and convert your target audience.
Example: Sustainable food brand Zume’s website is a good example of using your website to tell a story.
Zume spotted a problem, set out to fix it, and they’re telling the world how they’re doing it by making meal preparation more efficient one meal at a time.
The site is clean, scannable, and has plenty of images, infographics, and a very engaging video explaining who they are and their goal.