How Offline Visual Trends Impact Web Design

Design has always been impacted by other trends, such as fashion, interior design and what’s popular with people at any given time. Some styles stand out more than others, but everything eventually circles back around to one art movement or another.

An older design style, such as minimalism, might get a fresh face but still be highly recognizable to those who’ve seen it before. Knowing what the trends are of today, as well as yesterday, gives you a wide range of options from which to choose for your next project.

Are Trends Important in Design?

Statista estimates there are around five billion internet users in the world. With so many cultures, ages and individuals browsing the world wide web, you can assume they all have differing tastes. Keeping up with the trends may not matter as much as coming up with a web design that functions well for the majority of people.

Understanding current trends, however, helps you gather ideas for what might work best for your audience. It shows your company understands the times and what users want. Being aware of offline visual trends can impact your web design in a variety of ways–here are a few ways to incorporate real world examples into your digital presence.

1. Be Alert

One of the best ways to add offline trends to your web designs is by paying attention to the world around you. Did a new ice cream shop go in around the corner? What colors and fonts did they use? What does the interior look like?

Pay attention to billboards, print promotions and even vehicle wraps and tee shirts employees wear. What’s unique about each look, and does it apply to your industry?

2. Include Trendy Colors

Interior design is known for embracing new color palettes every season. If you’re struggling to come up with the best combination of colors, turn to paint stores to find out what the top hues of the season are.

Interior design magazines can also offer a bit of inspiration. You can also combine more than one palette for a unique look. You’ll find that paint swatches often complement one another.

3. Turn to Nature

Natural hues and earthy tones never really go out of style. When you’re feeling stuck in your designs, head to the great outdoors and take in the vibrant sunsets, beautiful blooms on flowers and shades of shrubs.

You can always start with nature-inspired tones and then add a pop or two of color to grab attention. If you sell something that makes one think of the earth, even better. For example, a company selling organic coffee might use browns and a hint of green.

4. Grab a Weather Mood

Weather can set the tone for a mood. Icy days may remind one of warm memories by the fireplace with the family. A gloomy, cloud-filled, gray sky might put a somber tone on the day. Think about what the weather is doing and if it can apply to your design. Sunny yellows, bright blue skies and fluffy clouds brighten anyone’s mood.

What is the emotion you most want to invoke in your viewers? Can you accomplish that through weather? You could add in some images of weather moments to your design. Use a rainy day hero shot or share a beautiful sunrise.

5. Revisit Your Favorite Art Movement

Modern web design gathers a lot of inspiration from art movements of the past. Favorites such as minimalism show up over and over in today’s designs. Find your favorite style and apply it to your current designs. For example, if you love art deco, you might add some ornate flourishes to your website.

Does your industry lean more toward realism or the abstract? Can you add an abstract background to set your design apart from other sites in your industry? Become familiar with the different art movements, so you can apply them as it makes sense to your web designs. Head to a museum to gather even more inspiration.

6. Study Marketing Materials

People in advertising come up with unique takes on design. With 32.5 million small businesses in the United States alone, advertisers have to grab user attention and keep it. They have a way of thinking outside the box and coming up with fresh concepts.

When a postcard arrives in your mail, take the time to study the color choices, layout and any unique features. Watch television ads to get an idea for tone and mood. Look at every piece of advertising you see, break it down and try to learn from it. You may find you only apply an idea or two here and there, but you’ll add to your artist tool box.

Talk to Other Designers

Spend time chatting with designers more experienced than you. What do they use for inspiration? Taking a walk, visiting an art gallery or going to a trendy store can all serve as inspiration for your next design.

Author Bio:

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

Top 6 Web Design Trends for 2021

The question “what makes a good web design?” does not have a conclusive answer. You see, the digital landscape is constantly evolving, which is why we get a new perspective on this question every couple of years.

Generally speaking, a good web design is responsive, immersive, and intuitive. Everything else is optional.

Now, while these “requirements” are clearly defined, they are merely objectives that you can complete using a number of methods. The themes and styles change, as well as the popularity of various design elements. With that in mind and without further ado, here are the top six web design trends for 2021.


There are many reasons why minimalism is a great solution. First of all, it’s not resource-intensive, which already helps your website run more smoothly. Keep in mind that the page’s responsiveness plays a significant role in user experience and ranking factors.

Second, it enhances the page’s readability and allows your audience to focus their attention on the right elements. More is not always better, especially if it leads to the paradox of choice. According to one study from 2000, people presented with six options were ten times more likely to make up their minds than those who were asked to choose between 24 options.

Keep in mind that the concept of minimalism creates one major misconception. Namely, because it has a simple look, it creates a belief that making a good minimalist design is easy to pull off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whitespace management alone is a difficult task and having the right HTML-to-text ratio is incredibly difficult to achieve. On top of it, you need to make a lasting impression.

Oversized Elements

Oversized elements can help establish the hierarchy of importance on any page. This is especially important when it comes to presenting an organically inserted CTA (call-to-action) button. As such, proper use of CTA can drastically enhance your pages’ CTR (click-through rate). According to veteran SEO services providers, CTR is one of the principal ranking factors that won’t go obsolete no matter how much the algorithm evolves.

The key to inbound marketing is definitely the concept of spontaneity. This is where oversized elements can take the idea even further. Namely, people are programmed to pay attention to larger objects first. This means that by presenting three objects all in different sizes, you can rest assured that the audience will gaze at them in the order of size. This gives you a lot of creative freedom to create unique designs.

Oversized elements are a simple concept that can fit into any other design trend discussed on this list. It is a simple idea that can be implemented in any theme or style.

Dark Mode

The concept of dark mode has been here for a while now, but in 2021, it has almost become mandatory. Primarily, it diminishes the glare effect and makes it easier on the eyes.

Some websites and platforms (like Facebook, Skype, Discord, etc.) allow the users to choose between standard (often white) and dark mode. This customizability has an important psychological effect on the users. Namely, by allowing your audience the privilege of altering the physical properties of the website, you are helping them feel like they participate in the design, as well. This alone is a huge boon to their sense of ownership, as well as their sense of belonging.

Keep in mind that there’s more to dark mode than just switching to a darker hue of the background. The colors of fonts need to be recalibrated as well. All in all, it’s probably for the best to leave this to professionals.

Split Content

Visual dividers have always been a part of web design, but the concept of split concept has grown in popularity. Knowing how to make a good transition is often quite tricky. Generally speaking, there are several types of visual dividers that you could use. Some of these are lines, color transitions, negative space, shadows, and image frames.

Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, and while some are ideal in one specific scenario, they might not work in some other situation. Generally speaking, split content, especially horizontally split, is excellent for side-by-side comparisons. This is a particularly good idea for landing pages since it provides some instant information. Also, through contrast, you get to exploit psychological constructs like proximity and similarity principles.

One more thing worth mentioning here is that you can use negative space as a divider to make the whole image look minimalist. Like large objects, it’s something that you can integrate regardless of the theme or style.

Retro Touch

Nostalgia can be a powerful tool, but what does nostalgia mean when we discuss the concept of web design? For most people, this is the look of the early 2000s, including concepts like brutalism.

Now, this too is a bit more nuanced than you would expect. When looking at things through the lens of nostalgia, people only tend to focus on positive things. For instance, while they remember the visuals and their positive experiences with early internet content, they often forget the broadband speed and responsiveness.

In order to get the best of both worlds, you want to return to retro formats and retro visuals by keeping present-day responsiveness and optimization. Mobile-friendliness, touch-friendliness, and similar quality of life upgrades should not be forgotten. It’s really all about getting the best of both worlds.

Gradient Color Scheme

Figuring out how to use gradients and make the transition of subtle and mesmerizing hues might not be an easy task, especially if one is a web design novice. First, you need to understand the concept of color progression or color ramp. The key thing is that you pick two colors that will fit the opposite sides of the area/screen and fill in the space between all the nuances between these two colors on the spectrum.

One interesting effect of this method is the fact that it gives a three-dimensional appearance to the design. Most importantly, it doesn’t take too much skill or effort. Of course, there are different types of color gradients and a lot of color gradient tutorials out there for those willing to learn more.

In Conclusion

In the end, while some of the above-listed ideas can be combined, the rest are quite self-explanatory. Your website probably has its own unique agenda (closely tied to your business objectives), and as long as these are fulfilled, there is no right or wrong answer. Just keep it clean, simple, responsive, and immersive. While this is easier said than done, the above-listed six trends will help you with this task.