Learn Marketing Techniques & Strategies From The Experts That Will Leave Your Competition In The Dust

By Ata Khan | April 10, 2020

In 2020 the web design world will be flipped upside down on its head. Those that can keep up will make serious gains, and those that cannot will fall by the wayside.

 

Staying relevant with the most up to date web design trends (in the forever-changing digital landscape) is critical to success.

 

So get your notepad out and start taking notes as these trends will dominate the web design landscape in 2020.

 

Combining Flat, 3D and Dynamic Designs

 

Flat illustration/designs have been around for a while.

 

Some big names like Slack and Shopify have been using them for a long time. In fact, the craze behind minimalistic designs is what gave rise to flat illustrations.

 

However, in 2020, that trend may (partially) die off.

 

Instead of ditching flat designs altogether, some websites have begun combining flat elements with 3D and dynamic designs (which also includes animations).

 

The current header on HubSpot’s homepage (partially animated) is a great example:

 

 

Another good example is this animated 3D illustration on Pitch’s website:

 

 

The aim is to find a middle ground between simplicity and complex designs.

 

This enriches the overall user-experience by taking your visitors through an immersive journey.

 

Not only does it look better and engaging, it can also help give your brand a persona.

 

Here’s how you can combine flat, 3D and dynamic designs on your website:

  • Start with a flat design – take stock photos out of the equation and start creating custom, flat illustrations/designs. Avoid using standard geometrical shapes and sketch out something unique to give your brand a distinctive style.
  • Integrate 3D designs – integrate 3D elements into your flat illustrations to make the overall design more attractive. Most of the time, small custom 3D illustrations work better than simple, 2D designs. Here’s a prime example (also taken from HubSpot’s home page):

 

 

  • Animate – once you’re done creating custom illustrations, try animating a few. They don’t have to be complicated – they just need to deliver the message by immersing the user. Instead of creating simple GIFs, try using SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) animations, as they’re smaller in size.
  • Compress your files – remember, you don’t want to trade off loading speed for a visually-appealing design. Optimize your files by compressing them using different tools (for example, Tinypng, SVGO, etc.).

 

Voice User Interfaces (VUIs)

 

With voice becoming a major part of our lives, there’s one thing designers can’t stop talking about – voice user interface (VUI).

 

Voice user interface is a speech recognition technology used to interact with a device or application through speech.

 

It involves the overall user-experience of conversing with machines – including how the interface receives commands and to what extent a user can control the device/platform with their speech, among other things.

 

The exciting part is that the VUI application isn’t limited to search engines, smartphones, chat bots, and home assistants – the next big thing is ‘in-web voice features’. In other words, the ability to control a website using only speech.

 

For example, instead of having visitors type keywords in the search box, they could “speak” to the website.

 

To be more specific, let’s suppose you have a website that compares airline tickets.

 

Instead of having your users fill out extensive forms to view the available options, they could simply speak a command like, “show me available tickets from X to Y on Z date.”

 

By 2020 nearly 30% of browsing will be done without using screens. This means web designers will need to create practical VUIs for their websites to provide better experiences.

 

As of now, the closest thing we have to a web-based VUI is Handsfree for Web – a special Google Chrome extension that allows users to control their browsers using only speech.

 

 

The goal of any VUI is to minimize the use of hands (and screens) and maximize convenience.

 

While the concept of a voice-controlled website is still relatively new, the trend, if it kicks off, may redefine the world of web designing.

 

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Create a user journey map – create a graphical representation of an average visitor’s journey. What path(s) do they usually follow? Where do they usually go after landing on a specific page? Identify their pain points and solutions, as this will help you determine how you can make their journey easier with voice features.
  • Make a list of commands – keeping the user journey map in mind, make a list of all the possible commands and their variations. As a rule of thumb, remember that every voice command has three integral elements – the intent (e. objective, for example, willingness to book tickets), the utterance (how the command is phrased, for example, “book me tickets” or “find tickets for me”) and the slot (an optional variable, for example, book “first class” tickets).
  • Replace GUI elements with VUI – think of how you can replace features like the search bar, login forms, etc. with voice features that enhance the user journey. Experiment with different tools (for example, DialogFlow, NodeJS, Socket.io, etc.) to create voice features and integrate them with your website.

 

Custom Themes

 

Thanks to platforms like WordPress and Wix, an average person with zero coding skills can create a website in just a few, simple steps.

 

These platforms offer an extensive range of free and premium design templates that you can implement with just a click – which is great if you’re low on budget or time.

 

 

Even some large and medium-sized businesses have built their websites on these ready-made themes, despite having the budget to create new ones from scratch.

 

However, lately, we’re seeing more and more websites pop-up with unique, custom themes – another trend that’s expected to catch on in 2020.

 

Instead of completely relying on these themes, some businesses are investing in unique designs.

 

Brands are now mixing preferences of users with their own corporate goals, which can only be accomplished through strategic and customized website design.

 

The motive is to stand out and deliver a one-of-a-kind experience – one that makes users coming back for more – instead of creating a generic website from a template.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind when building a custom theme:

  • Begin with a starter theme – if you’re using WordPress, begin with a “starter theme” (a basic theme which you can build upon, for example, FoundationPress, Bones, Underscores, etc.). From there you can optimize it further to your liking.
  • Reference Your Brand’s Style Guide – if you haven’t created one, work on your brand style guide. In the beginning, choose an appropriate color scheme and typography. Once selected, make sure to use them in all your channels/collateral since they’ll make your brand more recognizable.
  • Get Inspiration – if you’re having trouble coming up with a unique concept, get inspiration from existing themes/designs, use elements that appeal to you, and combine them to create something completely new and unique.
  • Design – The best practice is to create sitemaps, wireframes, mock-ups (on Photoshop or Illustrator) and then proceed to coding. If you don’t have the required skills or resources, consider outsourcing to a web design agency.

 

Virtual Reality Websites

 

Virtual reality – a simulation of an interactive environment that resembles the real-world – has paved the way for the next level of user-experience.

 

With a VR headset, you can now explore the farthest corners of the universe at the speed of light, go back in time to pet dinosaurs, or ride a unicorn – the sky’s the limit (or distant galaxies in this case).

 

With that being said, “virtual reality websites” aren’t far from reality – in fact, some already exist.

 

Instead of looking like standard web pages, these websites deliver immersive virtual reality experiences.

 

Some developers have already created a few in the past, which can be accessed through JanusVR – a “virtual reality browser.”

 

 

Due to VR headsets being expensive (with the exception of the Google Cardboard), the concept hasn’t been implemented on a large-scale.

 

The most users can get these days are embedded VR experiences which are part of the overall experience.

 

But we still have yet to see fully-functioning websites that are completely based on virtual reality.

 

If such websites begin to pop up in 2020 and the trend catches on, it could make a number of traditional best practices for web design and SEO obsolete.

 

And the best part? You don’t need to be a hot-shot programmer to create immersive web-based VR experiences.

 

Here’s how you can get started on implementing a VR-experience on your website:

  • Get familiar with the tools and resources – if you have little or no experience with creating VR experiences, familiarize yourself with the WebGL API (an interface that lets you render 3D content on browsers), js (a comprehensive library of resources that can simplify the rendering/coding process) and A-Frame (a framework that lets you create “entity-based” web-VR experiences using HTML).
  • Get familiar with the 3D coordinate system – since you’re designing immersive, 360-degree experiences, you have to get familiar with the 3D coordinate system, which will help you with coding/designing. Unlike the standard 2D coordinates system, which only uses x and y-planes, the 3D coordinate system uses an additional “z-plane” – illustrated in the image below:

 

 

  • Think like an architect – stop thinking like a “web designer” and start thinking like an “architect.” Your goal should be to create an appealing “web space” that resembles reality, rather than a “web page.” Before you code/design, plan out how you want users to interact with your VR-based website. For example, the folks at JanusVR came up with the concept of making YouTube seem like a movie theater.
  • Get designing – start creating your VR-experiences on A-Frame. You can use Glitch – a free, online code editor – to write VR codes and explore extensive open-source libraries to get inspiration, or even borrow entire source codes to make things easier.

 

Parallax Scrolling

 

Parallax scrolling – a style in which the background images scroll at a slower speed than the foreground image – is a contemporary web design trend that’s not expected to die off any time soon.

 

In fact, it only continues to grow in popularity.

 

Parallax scrolling provides a captivating 3D effect and adds depth to the web design – immersing the user and providing that “wow” effect.

 

The three main types of parallax scrolling effects are:

  • Simple/classic scroll (different scroll speeds for background and foreground)
  • Fade-in scroll (images appear gradually/fade in as you scroll, offering a more elegant and immersive feel)
  • Reveal scroll (a dynamic and interactive effect that reveals different sections of a page one by one – perfect for storytelling)

 

A great example of paralax in use is Cyclemon.com – an experiment that showcases different “fake” bikes using the power of parallax scrolling.

 

At the top, you can see a bike for “night riders:”

 

 

But, as you scroll down, the cycle moves faster than the background, and the screen eventually reveals the next section/bike:

 

 

Don’t be intimidated – the good news is that it’s actually quite easy to add such effects.

 

Here’s how you can add parallax scrolling to your website:

  • Use plugins and strips – if you’re using WordPress or Wix, you can use plugins or strips to add the parallax effect without writing any code. Some WordPress themes have this effect built-in. In case the theme you’re using doesn’t have the parallax scrolling effect, you can use the Advanced WordPress Backgrounds plugin to create one. Simply install and activate the plugin, and follow these instructions (WP will take care of the rest):

 

 

If you’re on Wix, you can use the Parallax strip to add the desired effect.

 

 

  • Use CSS – you can also flex your coding skills and use CSS to add the parallax scrolling effect. Start by adding this HTML code:

 

<div class=”parallax”>

<div class=”parallax-content”>

(Your content here)

</div>

</div>

 

Then, use this sample CSS code:

 

.parallax { 

background-image: url(“the-URL-goes-here”);

height: 100%;

background-attachment: fixed;

background-position: center;

background-repeat: no-repeat;

background-size: cover;

margin-left:-410px;

margin-right:-410px;

}

.parallax-content {

width:50%;

margin:0 auto;

color:#FFF;

padding-top:50px;

}

 

You can adjust this code to your liking.

 

Oversized Lettering and Bold Typography

 

Another existing trend that’s going to stick around in 2020 is loud and proud typography.

 

Instead of relying on hero images, animations, and videos, you can use bold typography and oversized lettering.

 

This style of typography is more impactful and increasing the font size and spacing will increase your website’s conversion rate and lower bounce rates.

 

Take the homepage of Black Sheep Agency as an example:

 

 

Or this impactful typography by Dragon Rogue:

 

 

Here’s how you can create impactful typography for your website the right way:

  • Choose the right font(s) – the first order of business is to select a suitable font. Sans Serif fonts are highly recommended for website headers. While it ultimately boils down to your brand style, some popular fonts for solid typography include CRUSH, Overpass, Mosk Typeface, Dense, Higher and Bavro. Provide enough space between lines to prevent readers from feeling encumbered.
  • Augment with colors – to make your typography stand out even more, use a combination of strong colors. Use a color wheel to find an appropriate scheme.

 

Custom Images

 

The era of cheesy and overused stock images is coming to an end.

 

Custom images are the new “cool” – and they’re expected to be big in 2020.

 

A “custom image” can also be an original photography of your products, services, experiences, or people.

 

Use an image editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to splice in or overlay unique designs. The end product will be a captivating custom image that will provide an exciting user experience.

 

Here’s an example, taken from Soylent.com:

 

 

And another example, taken from Ikea’s US homepage:

 

 

Here’s how you can get started on creating/using custom images:

  • Invest in photography (or DIY) – if you have a product, or two, to sell, it’s recommended to invest in professional photography (or do it yourself if you have the equipment and the skills for it). Ditch the online image resources altogether and only use small vectors if you must. Though, this is optional, doing so could do wonders in helping you stand out.
  • Use the right tools – use different tools to design/edit your custom images. Apart from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, there are many free online tools to choose from, including Canva, Visage and Piktochart.

 

Hidden Navigation/Hamburger Menus

 

Minimalism and more room to play are becoming common on websites today.

 

Users no longer want to see confusing web designs crammed with content and features.

 

One of those features is the traditional navigation bar, and it’s disappearing.

 

Instead of having a long navigation bar with links, more and more websites are using small hamburger/hidden navigation menu icons which expand when clicked.

 

With hamburger/hidden navigation menus, you can free a large amount of web estate for content, achieve a minimalistic feel, and deliver a pleasant user-experience (especially on mobile devices).

 

Unlike standard menus, hamburger menus also collapse to reveal the main pages of a website.

 

Take the following as an example. This is what the menu (top-left corner) looks like:

 

 

And here’s what happens when you click on it:

 

 

The result – a cleaner, more organized, and easier to navigate design.

 

Here’s how to create a hidden menu for your website:

  • Use a plugin – if you’re on WordPress, you can use a plugin to automatically add a hamburger menu. The most popular of the bunch is Responsive Menu, which offers over 22,000 combinations.
  • Use HTML and CSS – in case you’re unable to use a plugin, you can create one with HTML and CSS. First, use this sample HTML code:

 

<nav role=”navigation”>

<div id=”menuToggle”>

<input type=”checkbox” />

   <span></span>

   <span></span>

   <span></span>

   <ul id=”menu”>

      <a href=”#”><li>Home</li></a>

      <a href=”#”><li>About</li></a>

      <a href=”#”><li>Shop</li></a>

      <a href=”#”><li>Contact</li></a>

    </ul>

  </div>

</nav>

 

Then use the CSS code which can be found here.

 

Dynamic Content

 

Dynamic content (also known as “adaptive content”) is exactly what it sounds like – content that changes according to the user.

 

By making use of the user’s data – where they’re from, their browsing history, interactions with the website, their interests, etc. – the content on a website adapts/changes accordingly.

 

This targeted approach ultimately increases the chances of conversions.

 

The most common example of dynamic content is personalized recommendations (which are based on previous interactions with a website).

 

 

Websites that offer this sort of “personalization” experience 70% higher purchases than others.

 

But that’s not where dynamic content stops – you can adapt your content to the user’s geographical location and their position in the customer lifecycle, as well.

 

Here’s an example of dynamic content, adapting to the user’s location (in Spain):

 

 

It all sounds fine and dandy, however, implementing dynamic content can be a bit tricky.

 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Use an appropriate tool – you may use a tool to make things easier. As of now, the most popular one in the market is Omniconvert – a tool that lets you personalize user-experience based on geolocation, behavior, traffic source, and more (with ease) and integrates with a number of platforms. This is the safest option with minimum coding required.
  • Use PHP with MySQL – if you use MySQL database and have experience with PHP, then this option is for you. Check out this resource for detailed steps.

 

CSS Grid

 

Let’s face it – web designing is no cakewalk.

 

Developers often have to use hacks and tricks to place elements on a page in certain positions.

 

However, thanks to the CSS Grid – a layout engine that lets you organize content in 2D as rows and columns – we now have greater control over the entire aspect of web page design.

 

At the moment, not many websites are using the CSS Grid. However, it’s growing in popularity and expected to catch on as a trend by 2020.

 

The best thing about CSS Grids is that it makes the layout of the webpage more responsive. Instead of being hidden on certain screens/window sizes, the content adapts accordingly.

 

Let’s look at an example – this is how these four grids appear when the window is stretched out horizontally:

 

 

When the window is compressed/squeezed, the grids don’t hide, but adapt to the change in the size, like so:

 

 

This is the perfect example of the CSS Grid in action.

 

Check out this extensive library of example-layouts that you can use for your own website.

 

Here’s how you can get started with CSS Grid:

  • Choose a layout – there are many layouts that you can choose from, including a simple grid, two-column layout, skeleton grid layout, etc. In the link shared above, you can explore all these options.
  • Get coding – you can use a third-party tool (such as the Grid Designer) to generate the style sheet and HTML template, which you can easily export and input to your website’s source code. To learn how to do that on WordPress, click here.

 

Wrapping It Up

 

Considering all of these anticipated trends, it’s safe to say that 2020 has exciting things in store for web designers.

 

It all comes down to what you plan on doing with these insights. Will you treat this as infotainment? Or will you act on this information and get a head start on your competitors?

 

The choice is yours!

 

Did we miss something? What do you think will be all the rave in 2020? Tell us in the comments section below.

Ata Khan

Ata Khan

Ata is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Xoobo, a digital marketing agency that is on the bleeding edge of the industry. After leading in-house marketing teams at various organizations, Ata quickly realized the space was underserved and felt that someone needed to step in to bring clarity to the field and provide services that truly made a positive impact on businesses. Ata calls on more than 11 years of marketing experience to guide Xoobo on its journey across the industry. Most recently, he led marketing operations at billion dollar tech titan, Ellucian, where he built their marketing analytics infrastructure and generated over $30 million in pipeline bookings via marketing campaigns and various efforts. Before that he directed the SEO strategy for one of the nation’s largest home builder, Ryan Homes, where he was responsible for a ~25% year over year growth of search engine traffic.

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