Fashion and design trends are as ever-changing and unpredictable as the weather in Melbourne. And website design is no exception. Just look back at the text-heavy design preferences of the early 2000s, or the HTML-inspired bright colours and tables of the 90s, to realise how far we’ve come.
In 2019, website trends are taking on a life of their own, and savvy consumers are quick to spot outdated features and unresponsive plugins that make a site appear unkempt and archaic. In order to ensure your site’s features and designs are up-to-date, here are the top website design trends of 2019 to consider if you’re due for a website upgrade.
Bring on the serifs.
Design 101 stipulates that the human eye struggles with serif fonts. A non-serif font is clean and reads easily, while a serif font is seen as overly decorative and laborious to read, which is why websites have been using non-serif fonts for years.
In 2019, designers are shaking things up and introducing serif fonts to their designs. This adds a sense of fun and flirtiness to a page, and while fancy serif fonts are still not ideal for blog sections or any large areas of text (they are much harder to read in blocks), they are an unconventional and enjoyable addition to banners, headlines, and large CTAs.
Take a look at this banner on the main landing page of the Commonwealth Bank website for example. While they are gaining popularity, it is traditionally uncommon to see serifs used in both the key header and in the blurb. Interestingly, further down the page, Commonwealth Bank switches to a non-serif font for information and links to the rest of the site.
Say hello to video.
Continuing on from 2018, video is living in the limelight as a medium du jour.
Videos are being used more and more as engaging background visuals to make homepages stand out, as well as to help explain the features and benefits of a product or service without the user having to click through the website to find key information.
These can be short clips that replay on a loop, or a longer video which can be particularly effective when a visual narrative helps to present the story and journey of a brand.
Screen Australia offers the perfect example of this on their homepage. A short but engaging rolling video offers snippets of films and programs, introducing the visitor to both the site and the content and branding of the organisation with just five words on screen.
In fact, we have something similar on our very own homescreen. A short selection of clips from our current television ad campaign highlights a variety of activities introduces our theme of connecting people through digital marketing all over Australia.
Say goodbye to symmetry.
Another long-standing website design principle is that of symmetry. And 2019 is throwing that out the window.
Traditionally, symmetrical preferences meant that everything on a site was nicely balanced – for example, if you have a block of text on the left of the page, it should be balanced out with a simple image or more text on the right.
However, when you introduce asymmetry to a page, it catches the eye and makes the brain do something of a double take, making your website stand out from the crowd.
There is a real art to this technique, as the line between asymmetry and messiness is a fine one.
For example, the main page of the University of Western Australia’s website is beautifully symmetrical, with some text in the middle and the background imagery offering an eye-pleasing pattern that focuses the eye on the important information on screen.
Compare this with the homepage for the University of Melbourne, which also offers key information in the centre of the page, but adds a touch of asymmetry in the background with an image slightly to the right of centre. While this welcome page is still visually appealing, it is slightly off kilter, adding an interesting and memorable visual introduction to the site.
Bring on black and white.
Of all the major website design trends in 2019, black and white seems to be one of the most popular by far.
There is a beautiful simplicity to a fully black and white layout. Amongst all the noise of all the online content out there, clean contrasts can be an eye-catching and a welcome change.
Some brands will inject just one highlight colour here and there to add their own style to the mix, while others will stick with the contrasting duo for a powerful look.
There are countless examples of this black and white trend, and you will find it across many websites of design studios (and if anyone knows how to make a website, it’s them!).
Here’s one by design studio South South West.
And another from the Interior Design Institute of Australia.
And a final example from a branding agency called The Room.
Bringing back geometric shapes.
It’s 2019, and designers are taking inspiration from the childhood game of fitting bright and bold geometric shapes into puzzle pieces for their websites.
From circles and triangles to rectangles and star shapes, and everything in between, bright shapes are a great way to express a brand’s identity if they are looking for something supremely fun, uplifting and eye catching.
Sonder, an Australian web design company, uses geometric shapes in their own content on 2019 web design.
Headspace Australia also subtly uses geometric shapes throughout their website to keep the content fresh and upbeat. In the creation of a website, this subtle design can help tie everything together and can transform background images to suit the company’s branding.
Keeping it minimal.
Minimalism is definitely seeing a resurgence in all forms of design – just think about Marie Kondo’s meteoric rise to fame with her ‘tidying-up’ guidance and dedication to jettisoning anything that doesn’t bring you ‘joy’.
It is no wonder that minimalism has made its way into the world of website design, which is why we are seeing this trend come through in a variety of forms.
In the case of the National Gallery of Australia, their homepage doesn’t feature very much at all. In fact, above the fold, all you see is a slowly rotating series of images, zero text, and a toolbar across the top. This is a far cry from the crowded pages of just a decade ago, which often offered as much information as possible in this introductory space.
Another great example of minimalism in website design is that of Australian Fashion Labels, which, as you would expect from a leader in style, is on point when it comes to 2019 trends.
Their homepage is the definition of minimalistic. While there are a number of links to their brands and a few about pages, everything from the muted two-tone colour scheme to the uppercase sans serif font, lack of imagery, and the clean single dividing line at the top third of the page is pure minimalism.
To create a website for a company as prestigious and market-leading as Australian Fashion Labels, you must be absolutely up to date on current design.
Brightening things up with illustrations.
Illustrations are fun. Graphic designers are particularly adept at creating bright illustrations to depict certain points, or even to replace text as a link to break up the page.
Plus, if the branding you’re aiming for includes uplifting, positive vibes and an air of light-heartedness, illustrations are a great way to continue telling your brand story through the use of design.
Keep in mind that illustrations are often created with a brand’s colour palette and guidelines in mind, but can stray from these rules provided the rest of the content is on-brand.
Headspace is just one example of a company that incorporates illustrations rather than real people in their branding. As they are a company focused on helping others to be more positive and stay in a healthy frame of mind, these illustrations maintain that upbeat vibe.
UBank, an Australian bank, also includes illustration as part of their homepage website design. This serves to take a traditionally dry and dull topic (home loans) and make it appear brighter, more interesting, and more attractive.
Faster website speeds.
A speedy website is not something that most visitors will spot right away, but it is an essential element of the back end of website design, and is absolutely vital in 2019.
That’s because your audience certainly expects your site to load quickly, and if it doesn’t, they may simply give up and click through to a competitor’s page. One study by Kissmetrics even found that roughly half of all internet users expect a page to load within two seconds or less, so you can’t afford to waste their time and see them click away before your header even shows up.
Firstly, to test the speed of a website, you can use Google’s Page Speed tool, which will give you an overall score, and traffic light result to tell you if your site is slow, average, or fast compared with other pages.
Fortunately, there are ways to speed up your website, from optimising images to making the most of external hosting platforms for large files. Learn more with our article on 5 ways to improve your website speed.
Interacting with chatbots.
Anyone who has spent time on the internet lately will have experienced being welcomed on by a friendly chatbot.
Usually found in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, a chatbot is designed to offer users a more personalised experience. Rather than browsing through the pages in search for information, a user can simply type in their question, and wait for a response.
A chatbot can either be programmed with responses for common questions (and improved over time with updated responses), or the bot can connect to a real life company employee who can organically interact with the customer to answer queries. One option is also for the chatbot to automatically respond with canned answers to common questions, but if the bot does not have the answer, the query can be redirected to a human – making the most of AI, but also cutting down on the workload for real life workers.
This feature offers next-level service to customers, and can help them feel attended to without having to visit a store or pick up a phone.
Australian Super have created a chatbot named Ash, which is designed to automatically answer a raft of questions from customers. The automated initial message also helpfully points out that Ash is still ‘in training’, so if a question is too complicated or unique, Ash can pass the customer on to a human representative. The chatbot also states that asking one question at a time is easier for the system to respond to, therefore anticipating and avoiding possible issues.
Making a statement with oversized text.
They say that content is king, and in 2019, designers are making that beyond clear with page-filling, oversized text.
Filling a page – especially above the fold on homepages – with text is a bold statement that puts the content at the heart of the browsing experience. While imagery is still clearly present and important, it is the words that take centre stage.
This allows a brand to show just what is most vital, and to ideally meet the needs and wants of a curious visitor.
On the South Australia tourism website, the homepage is dominated by an ‘itinerary & road trips’ headline, which takes up the entire above the fold space, and is also presented in uppercase bold letters to really ‘drive’ home the current focus of the page.
A similar font size and bold style is used on the Australian Wildlife Conservancy website, which uses the entire home page to declare their newest conservation partnership. Again, even though the rotating video background offers some beautiful visuals, it is the oversized text that dominates the screen and first grabs the attention of the user.
Making a rainbow with vibrant colours.
In contrast to the current trend of sleek black and white colour palettes, some designers are going in the complete opposite direction – with bright and bold eye-popping colours.
Bringing together multiple saturated bright colours creates an unforgettable visual brand, and works particularly well for designers looking to exude a sense of creativity, fun, and daring through their colour choices.
Naturally, it makes a lot of sense for any design agency to make a statement with a range of vibrant colours in one space, which is why Australian agency dlo has built such an unforgettable homepage with neons. That said, there are still real design elements at work – these colours still complement one another and work well as a group, as many bright hues in one place could easily be garish and unsightly.
Another Australian brand to work bright tones into a cohesive homepage design is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). This highlights how even a government body can partake in this trend and still offer a professional, polished look when coming up with a design for a website.
Does your website feature any of these current trends? Or has it been an Internet age since you last made updates? It’s easy to let updates fall by the wayside when there’s so much else to do, which is why a professional agency can be a huge help in ensuring your site stays relevant, without taking up all of your time.
The Yellow Websites team is made up of SEO experts, designers and developers who create websites that look great and get found. As market leaders we stay on top of the latest movements in website design and build, to ensure you stay on top of the game, and ahead of your competition.