Okay, y’all. We’re excited about this blog. Mostly because we are ???? over the major design trends of 2018. They’re big. They’re bold. They’re everything.

Trends come and go, so don’t feel the need to automatically incorporate all of these—or even one—if they don’t fit your brand or direction. But if you see anything that speaks to you as much as they speak to us, why not go for it? No design is permanent, and it can be fun to switch things up from time to time to keep your brand fresh.

Alright, let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Gradients

Apple has been using gradients in their iOS icons for years, but now we’re seeing gradients that are big, loud, and even full screen. Popular gradients in years past were more of an ombre (different shades of one color), but now we’re seeing gradients with 2 or more distinguishable colors. And we don’t hate it at all. Don’t have the money for new professional photography? A simple gradient background mixed with a few strong design elements can be a super trendy, yet practical solution to represent your brand message and make your website pop.

2. Drop Shadows

Like gradients, drop shadows aren’t new, but they’re newly back on the up & up among designers. Flat design has been huge in recent years, and it isn’t necessarily going away, but it is morphing, adding in subtle depth by way of drop shadows.

This design trend isn’t JUST for aesthetics. It’s also great for user experience. Combining shadows with gradients is a fun and creative way to direct your users’ eyes to where you want them to look or click. Hello, good user flow. OH. And hello, conversions.

3. Bold Colors & Unexpected Color Pairings

2018 is all about color. Bold and unexpected color pairings are probably our favorite current trend, a la this recent Instagram graphic we created. (It was a really fun creative project to work on!) Vibrant and even clashing colors can be useful for newer brands hoping to instantly attract their visitors’ attention. Colors you wouldn’t normally see paired together can be very eye-catching and keep you in your users’ minds long after they’ve left your site. Like drop shadows, we’re seeing bold colors play a huge role in creating a great user experience. Anything eye-catching placed where you want your users’ eyes to go is a GO in 2018.

4. Custom Illustrations in Place of Photographs

Design this year doesn’t take itself too seriously, and illustrations prove that. They’re in. They’re fun. They’re lighthearted. Image-only design is out, and graphic designers are having a party creating custom icons and elaborate illustrations. This trend isn’t surprising from businesses that are creative and fun, but we’ve seen brands that are typically perceived as professional or serious, like the two examples below, use this design trend to stand out in their respective fields. And we like it.

5. Asymmetric & Broken Grid Layouts

This one won’t be for your everyday, run-of-the-mill professional or practice. But for those in a more creative field such as fashion, food, or even faith, we think asymmetrical layouts will be huge this year as brands create unique experiences to set themselves apart. One big change in 2017 was the introduction of asymmetrical and unconventional “broken” layouts, and this web trend has still been going strong in 2018. The appeal of the asymmetrical layout is that it is unique, distinctive, and sometimes experimental.

6. Animations

Motion catches a user’s attention faster than anything else. Complex animations are helpful for engaging visitors throughout their entire experience on the page. Animations can be simple scrolling effects, associated with various actions users might take, or serve as focal points on your website.

7. Microinteractions

While microinteractions are *technically* an animation, for our purposes they’re pretty different. They’re fun, like an animation, but they’re used for a much more practical purpose. Micro-interactions aren’t just for visual effect, but they can really help improve user experience, too. Here’s a great article about how microinteractions will help user flow. In case you don’t have time to read it, it basically explains that microinteractions are used to let the user know:

a) the button can be interacted with now, or
b) the button can be interacted with soon, or
c) the button is being interacted with already

And they do this in a subtle and tasteful way.

8. Big, Bold Typography

Remember how we mentioned images are out and illustrations and animations are in? Well, we’ve seen a lot of sites with jumbo-sized characters even replacing images. Large letters, lots of serif fonts, and unexpected font pairings as well as juxtaposing sans serif and serif fonts help create dynamic visuals.

With everything, there’s a cycle. Ahem, let me clear my throat. “In the ciiiirrccllleeeee, the ciiiiiirrrccllleeee of liiiiiiiiiiiffffeeeeeee.” (P.S. if you think we can’t reference the Brady Bunch one month and Lion King the next, you’re wrong.) The circle of life is the same for fonts. Sans serif fonts in all caps have been on-trend in recent years, and before that it was all lower case. I mean, I still remember the big reveal of the new Google sans serif logo in 2015. Well, this year we’re seeing a resurgence of serifs, and we’re seeing a lot more in Title Case or Sentence Case.

We’ve had a healthy debate over serif and sans serif for a few months, and we won’t say who on our team was and who wasn’t on board at first, but someone is coming around. (YAY!)


2018 is gearing up to be, IMHO, one of the most fun years in recent memory around the web. In case you didn’t notice, we said the words, “BIG” & “BOLD” several times. We can’t wait to see what designers are going to come up with and how they’re going to push the limits this year. We’re also having a lot of fun incorporating some of these into our designs whenever we can.

Are you BOLD enough to take on any of these trends?