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Web Design Trends 2024 and Beyond

February 1, 2024

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Web Design

You could say I’ve been around the block when it comes to knowing web design trends. Since I grew up in the ’90s, the internet (as available to the public) has been around as long as I’ve been alive. I’ve even been making websites for most of that time, too. Well… so long as you count using Freewebs.com or Geocities to make janky fan sites — rest in peace. 

Professionally, I’ve been making websites for around a third of the internet’s lifespan (10 years). So, as I continue to age closer to becoming a suburban dad spending weekends over a grill, it’s interesting to consider how web design trends will change, too. 

And change, it shall.

The following are my thoughts based on my experiences with web design trends, what I’ve been observing across the industry lately, and how I predict it’ll continue to change in the near future. While I mention some visual web design trends alongside the greater scheme of web design trends, this article is more towards the big picture — especially since visual gimmicks come and go. So I don’t think you need me to tell you, “Minimalism is in!” or something to that effect when it’s never left in the first place.

So, how are the winds of change blowing in the world of web design trends in 2024 and beyond? Well, let’s breeze right into it!

Handmade Graphics: The AI Counter-Movement

Question modernity; embrace tradition!

Joking aside, in direct response to the advent of AI technologies, I foresee a similarly strong trend at the opposite end of the spectrum. Since tools like Midjourney or Stable Diffusion allow anyone to create images that are near-perfect (from an execution standpoint), I think that many websites will begin to embrace hand-drawn, imperfect, and even messy illustrations. 

This is not to say I don’t think AI is profoundly useful because it is. Below, I describe how you can leverage the power of AI to accomplish many tasks when developing a website, and it will only improve.

Brand awareness relies on design systems that accurately convey your brand to maintain consistency. For this reason, a creative director must examine all of a brand’s components to effectively communicate its meaning through design.

After all, what better way is there to stand out in the sea of “perfect” AI-generated imagery than to appeal to the human element? It’s difficult not to appreciate the authenticity of hand-drawn media, especially when it’s unclear whether the creator of the work was actually a person.

So, while I’m sure every website in the tech field will no doubt be interested in using AI at every turn, I can easily see more humble industries and companies taking advantage of the situation to stand out from the incoming saturation of AI imagery. 

Let’s face it: AI-generated graphics are already becoming fatiguing.

Virtual/Augmented Reality in Web Design

While the use of VR/AR (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality) is nothing new in the news, I think we will see a lot more of it integrated into websites in 2024 and beyond. If you aren’t aware, mobile website browsing now exceeds all other platform usage. Like, overwhelmingly so — a whopping 55% of all web traffic is mobile now. Shoutout to you if you’re reading this on a phone!

Google even rolled out an update that prioritizes the mobile version of your website when ranking you — solidifying their stance on the importance of mobile-first design.

Since mobile is playing such a huge part now, besides better mobile networks and device performance, I think we’ll start to see websites integrate your phone’s camera (and that’s where AR and VR come into play here).

For example, IKEA, with their IKEA Place app uses AR so that you can quite literally visualize how furniture looks in your room before buying it. It scans your room for dimensions and shows how the furniture would fit with 98% accuracy. Impressive! Or Zenni, which has a website that allows you to upload pictures of your face to create a “3D” view of what their glasses would look like on you – no need to question modernity here; it’s awesome.

I can easily see this trend continuing, and as the technology advances, I’m sure we’ll see more of these integrations as they become more widely available as third-party applications.

For full transparency, I’m a web designer who is a big fan of website builders (specifically Divi by Elegant Themes on WordPress), so my opinion on their use may be skewed in their favor… 

However, it’s still a fact that there are more website builders out there than ever before — the no-code movement is here to stay, which gives me more time to do what I do best – design!

I genuinely foresee more and more websites being created with these tools, and I think at some point very soon they’ll be the go-to method of creating most websites.

Website builders have come a long way since the days of Freewebs and Geocities. Hell, it’s even come a long way from just ten years ago when Squarespace and Wix were essentially glorified template editors (no shade intended — I used them myself, and they served their purpose well!).

But nowadays, website builders such as Divi, Framer, and WebFlow (to name just a few) have been developed in such a way that it’s like working in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Canva.

While developers are still needed for more complex or custom functionality, the grand majority of website needs have been democratized by website builders — allowing designers to be hands-on with the design of the website itself (and also minimizing any back-and-forth between developers for small tweaks).

WordPress has always been and will always be a game-changer.

If you wanted to create technically impressive websites, you’d need multiple people working in tandem at entirely different things (a designer and a developer at minimum, for example).

But you’re a designer who uses website builders, and you don’t know code. You can create high-performance websites with a crazy degree of customization. Your imagination is the only limitation.

We are not talking about templates here. You should never use a template as your end product.

I think website builders will continue to trend as a more convenient hand-off tool for clients. With a rudimentary understanding of how the builder works, clients can effectively make simple changes on their own (like changing a headline, swapping out images… etc) without the need to go back and forth for minor edits. Of course, like any tool, there is a learning curve to mastery — but with how well-developed and fairly intuitive many of these builders are, I think this trend will be a net positive for delivering better products to the client.

Bolder Visual Experiences and Storytelling in Web Design

Generally speaking, a grand majority of web design revolves around designing to make things work within those constraints — for instance: image optimization, caching, CDNs, and so on. As internet connections and PC hardware become stronger and faster, so too do the capabilities of websites increase. We can get more creative with websites because… we can do more without sites taking a zillion years to load since the overall standards are improving drastically.

Just think about loading a modern site on a dial-up connection on an ancient PC — yikes! That thing would probably explode.

Now, this isn’t to say that optimization and speed don’t remain paramount. All I’m saying is that we have a bit more room there than we used to.

Website animations are now commonplace, and the tools to create them are more prevalent within website builders.

And since the web has been around long enough now, people are already accustomed to what a good website looks and functions like. These standards are expected now. If your site is slow and looks outdated, it dies out — simple as that.

So, rather than mentioning any given aesthetic in web design trends, I think it’s more valuable to note that web design trends will start leaning more toward creating a more immersive experience. The visual style is secondary. By experience, I’m talking about how interacting with the website feels. We’re getting emotional, baby!

Does scrolling through a website evoke a sense of wonder? Excitement? Mystery? Does it hype you up for a product you’re interested in? Does it tell a story that aligns with your values or makes you recall a memory?

A plain but well-designed site will give you confidence in the product or service. But an immersive and exciting experience will win your audience over.

For example, Apple has been creating these kinds of pages for years, like their latest iPhone 15 Pro landing page — which is choc-full of dynamic images, animations, videos, interactive 3D models, micro-interactions… basically, everything I’m mentioning in this post! Their site almost feels like you’re scrolling through a motion graphic. 

In the past, imitating this would be a very high hurdle to clear. And I’m not talking from an internet speed and PC power standpoint, either. Back in the day, it’d be impossible to do this without many designers and developers who could create this immersive experience.

However, now, the tools to recreate that experience are more accessible than ever. Especially with how much website builders have been advancing (as I mentioned earlier). 

Of course, you’ll always need an experienced web designer to capture Apple’s level of design. But the tools are becoming easier and easier to use for more people to be able to achieve that effect. To that end, here are a few ways that designers will be achieving these web design trends.

Website Animation

Without a shadow of a doubt, we’ll be seeing many more website animations… to name just a few kinds: more complex button animations, page transitions, new ways to use hover states, and on-page animations… basically, the sky is the limit!

Of course, designers will still need to exercise caution. While web capabilities have increased over the years, there is still the possibility of too much of a good thing.

As I said before, speed is still paramount. So, while websites will continue to become more animated and engaging, designers must still be judicious in their use. 

Animations that are too lengthy, excessive, obnoxious, unnecessary — or worse yet, all of the above — will detract from the ultimate goal of a website, which is to supply the user with what they’re looking for while making it as quick as possible to respect their time. Just because users want to have fun with the website doesn’t mean they want to be bombarded by animations if they aren’t relevant!

Website Animation Micro-interactions

Micro-interactions are sort of tangentially related to animation, but I’ve been seeing it so much more recently on websites. As far as experiential improvements go, micro-interactions will be the MVP of web design trends in the years to come.

Essentially, micro-interactions are subtle animations or feedback responses triggered by user actions. They can be simple, like a button changing color on hover — or a subtle vibration on your phone when you successfully place an order. They’re the small, fun details that enhance user engagement and make the overall experience more dynamic and immersive!

Here are just a few types of micro-interactions that are currently being widely used and will continue to see use in 2024 web design trends and beyond:

  • Hover effects
  • Loading Animations
  • Menu Animations
  • Icon Animations
  • Scrolling enhancements like parallax, image transitions, or fades
  • Content rotation/flips
  • Haptic feedback

Interactive Web Content

In 2024, the web isn’t just about scrolling and clicking anymore. Once again, take a look at the Apple iPhone 15 landing page – it’s not exactly your typical scroll-and-click affair. They’ve included some interesting 3D models you can rotate around, almost like you’re looking through the latest gear in a store.

There are animated buttons at the bottom that stick to the bottom of a section as you scroll, which opens up a modal popup with more details and features. And, of course, sections with interactable menus that affect the image displayed on the screen.

This is a really tough balance to make, too — because you don’t want to make your users have to work to find pertinent information. So adding interactivity just for its sake won’t elevate your website. But when used in a measured way, the interactivity adds a layer of fun and adventure to the page.

Interactive content is making the web more fun and engaging. Instead of just staring at a screen, you get to be a part of the action!

That’s why I think we’ll be seeing this web design trend continue in the foreseeable future. The possibilities for interactivity are endless — think interactive maps, virtual tours, and even completely gamified websites!

As we’re all probably aware, 2023 was a crazy time for technology. So, it stands to reason that 2024 will continue that craziness. Unless you’ve been living off the grid for the past year, you’ve no doubt heard an endless amount about AI this and AI that.

You may even be sick of hearing about it! That’s because even though it’s been the talk of all creative industries — especially those worried about whether AI will replace designers or copywriters — it’s also finding its way into every other industry.

With that said, I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that it’ll affect web design trends for 2024, too. But… perhaps it still may, in ways you haven’t considered yet. I think it will be a bit more nuanced than most people think.

The Obvious Stuff: Generative AI Images, Copywriting, and Code

Let’s get the most obvious use cases out of the way — since I’m sure you’ve already seen and heard all about it. As we’ve seen in the past year, current and future web design trends will use image-generation tools and copywriting/code-writing tools like ChatGPT. With near-instant, on-demand access to images or copy, we’ll see more websites incorporating them. Duh! No surprises there.

Now… moving on to the more interesting use cases!

AI-Integrated Website Functionality

More than just generative AI, I think we’ll also continue to see AI being used more interestingly — mostly on the user experience design side.

For example, I can see there will be a huge uptick in AI-based chat for customer support or sales onboarding. Now, I’m sure you’ve already experienced chatbots — but these third-party integrations for the web will be the next level of that.

I foresee them being used as a “concierge,” sort of like a blend of chatbot and search that can automatically guide you toward the pages you’re looking for or help answer questions you can’t find on the website itself. In conjunction with more voice-assistance technologies, this will become a game-changer for websites with a dense content library.

AI Website Testing 

On the other side of things, I’m sure we’ll also start to see AI being applied to the back end of web design with tools like A/B testing — I can foresee applications where AI can automatically make updates to your website based on the ongoing A/B analysis to a much more granular degree. For example, automatically iterating and adjusting layouts, copy, and images within designated pages of your website. This is likely a long way out, but I could see AI testing and iteration affecting entire websites in this way — making your website come “alive”, and evolve accordingly with your user’s behaviors and decisions.

You could say I’ve been around the block when it comes to knowing web design trends. Since I grew up in the '90s, the internet (as available to the public) has been around as long as I’ve been alive. I’ve even been making websites for most of that time, too. Well… so long as you count using Freewebs.com or Geocities to make janky fan sites — rest in peace. 

As a side note — I’m also hoping we’ll start to see Quality Control AI tools that can help reduce the tedium of testing so web teams can invest more time in the creation side of things. Lemme tell ya, what I would give for an AI tool that automatically corrects typos and links across your website! If any developers are taking notes, you’re welcome — I’ll take a 5% commission for that idea 🙂.

AI Website Design

Finally, we’re also starting to see more and more website builders come out with their proprietary AI of all kinds. Divi has included its own AI that allows you to generate and modify images, website copywriting, and code — all inside of the builder. While yes, you can still do those exact same things separately, its convenience will become standard across the board in no time flat.

Remember when the thought of listening to music on your phone seemed silly because you could use your Sony Discman Portable CD player for that? Yeah… case in point.

a person holding a Discman portable CD player

In more drastic uses of AI in web design trends, Framer, among other builder platforms, has developed an AI that can generate your entire website with a prompt. And I think there may be some legitimate use cases for this — what comes to mind immediately are people creating DIY websites or projects with lower budgets.

For designers, I could maybe see this being used to test out a few different styles or “moods” for client approval before committing to the proper website development process.

You may think that sounds kind of unenthusiastic — well, it sort of is. Much like other “website generators” that came before AI, I’m not exactly impressed just yet.

Of course, in theory, this is very impressive, but I think we’re still a very long way off before it resembles anything close to a standard practice. Until AI website design can get to the point where it can automatically interpret how to set up the exact website infrastructure you need, set up all relevant third-party integrations, follow branding guidelines, and other miscellaneous functionality… someone is going to need to go in manually and tool those things around. It’s just the nature of the beast.

By nature, websites are highly tailored to the business’s specific needs. These needs span a wide breadth (assets, copy, animation, video, interactivity… it’s not exactly straightforward to create something unique and bespoke). This is especially true for websites trying to stand out in saturated fields. 

Ethics & Legality

However, and probably most crucially, AI ethics and legality must be considered. I’m not a luddite forbidding its use, but rather urging awareness and mindfulness. Remember that this intriguing technology is very young. Unfortunately, some people create AI models in bad faith or are unaware of the consequences. When utilizing AI, check for these:

  • Training on artwork or other materials without consent & IP Infringement
  • Being susceptible to bias or inaccuracies
  • Issues with copyright and ownership of AI-generated materials
  • Lack of transparency
  • Data privacy violations
  • Other legal issues
  • And more

As such, please be sure to use AI ethically and responsibly.

Honestly, it’s hard to say exactly how websites will continue to evolve after this year. Because historically, there haven’t been any huge upsets in the field of website design. In the past 30 years of its existence, the main changes have resulted from improving internet speeds and computer processing power. In that sense, its growth has been predictable — we’ve seen a clear, natural progression in how well-designed websites have become over the years. 

The 2020s are the first years in which that natural trend has been disrupted by a new technology. The wildcard I’m talking about is, of course, AI. And since its applications are so widespread, it’s hard to say how far it’ll change the game. I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll start moving towards truly “living” websites in the future, where AI can make adjustments or serve catered content to users on the fly.

My best guess is that the change AI brings to web design will be “invisible”, in a sense — most of it will have to do with operations that work in the background that we won’t be able to “see” as obviously.

But on the more visual side of things, I think the other game-changers will continue to be Website Builders — because they democratize who can create websites by removing more of the technical know-how and tedium from the equation.

Website builders remove the technical aspect from the equation, eliminating the need for web designers to be particularly multi-faceted. Instead of juggling many roles, web designers may now concentrate on one area at a time, giving their work greater visual refinement.

Regardless, as a huge fan of web design, it’s really exciting to see how these web design trends will continue to evolve as time goes on, and more disruptive technologies affect it. If your team needs web designers who keep their ear to the ground on all the latest web design trends, give Mighty Fine a shout. We’d love to see what we come up with together.

Author

John is the lead designer at Mighty Fine and has been crafting visual solutions for clients for over a decade. Hailing previously from Boston, John graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Outside of work, John is a creative at heart. He enjoys other pursuing other creatively fulfilling endeavors — like drawing, writing music, or finding visual inspirations in the latest video games he's playing. John’s approach to design is holistic, ensuring that every project he undertakes is not only aesthetically pleasing but also strategically sound. He thrives in collaborative environments, valuing the diverse perspectives his colleagues bring to the table, and is always eager to embrace new challenges that push the boundaries of creativity. His mission at Mighty Fine is to deliver designs that are not only visually striking but also meaningful and effective in communicating the client's message.

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