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A beautiful, user-friendly website can be one of your company’s most powerful assets.

However, like so many of your company’s assets, its website must be updated regularly. It’s in direct competition with every one of your competitors’ sites.

The moment its design begins falling behind, you’ll find visitors leaving it in search of competitors’ whose sites are more up-to-date.

9 Design Trends That Will Improve Your Website in 2018

Fortunately, when you understand which web design trends are currently producing the warmest responses from customers across all different kinds of industries, it’s easy to get started on implementing them right away, so you don’t have to worry about needlessly losing visitors.

1. Drop Shadows Are Back

That’s right – shadows are popular once again. You can see an example of this in the picture on the right (the image is below if you are on a mobile device). That’s Joe, Stephen’s son, and his picture looks like it’s floating above the page a little because of the shadow that appears around it.

Not so long ago, skeuomorphism was the hot trend throughout web design. That eventually gave way to flat design  and, for the past few years, drop shadows have largely been considered off limits for anyone who wants a modern-looking website.

Flat design has slowly transitioned into far less severe aesthetics and, with that, drop shadows have been welcomed back into the fold.

Ironically, they actually partner very well with the minimalist and flat design elements that originally drove them out.

Furthermore, new shadow variations have made them immediately relevant again. Many designers are pairing them with parallax and grid layouts, creating depth and the feeling that there is more going on behind the screen.

Best of all, shadows can be extremely effective at improving aesthetics and the User Experience (UX) of your website. They’re perfect for providing emphasis and if you combine them with lively color gradients, your shadows will take on a three-dimensional look that no one can ignore.

2. Gradients Are Back as Well

As we just touched on, shadows aren’t the only trend to reintroduce a once-popular design element in 2018. Gradients are back, too.

Now, to be clear, we’re not talking about the same version that was popular for adding a subtle amount of shading to produce the suggestion of three dimensions. That technique is probably best left in the past unless your company is looking to embrace a retro (relatively speaking) look.

Instead, gradients have returned as another effective method for adding big, beautiful colors to your website. Perhaps the most popular version of this at the moment is adding a gradient filter over a photo to give it a captivating dimension – as opposed to one that the eye will process quickly.

If you don’t have any photos for your site that would work well with this technique, consider adding gradients to some of your backgrounds. This is a great way to keep your visitor on a page long enough to consider its words and other visuals.

3. Vibrant, Lively Colors and Tilted Fonts

Speaking of web design trends in 2018 that involve playing with color, we’re now long past the point when companies should only consider a limited palette of web-safe options.

Many companies are reinventing their traditional branding by using vibrant colors on their sites.

Bright, vibrant colors aren’t the only way companies are ensuring visitors have a visual feast to enjoy in 2018, either. They’re also using supersaturation and even tilted fonts for headers to mix things up.

Thanks to better screens and other technological advances, companies have never had more options for exciting the eye.

4. Big, Bold Fonts are IN

Another of our web design trends to look for in 2018 is fonts that are bigger and bolder than ever before.

This is largely because smartphone screens have gotten so much better. Sharper resolutions that are easier to read make it possible to choose custom fonts that perfectly fit your brand but were previously a challenge for most mobile devices.

Furthermore, aside from Internet Explorer, most other browsers have no problem displaying handmade typefaces that rely on CSS.

The more unique the font, the more engaging it tends to be, as well, which is great for UX and keeping people on your page.

5. Particle Backgrounds Are Replacing Videos

One really easy way to ensure visitors are immediately engaged by your website is to have a video play instead of offering them static visuals.

Unfortunately, the big problem with this approach is that background videos often suffer from performance issues. So, while visitors may still struggle to look away, it’s more akin to how some people can’t stop watching a train wreck.

That’s why more and more companies have opted for particle backgrounds instead.

These animations can still be very stunning, but they’re low-maintenance JavaScript, so there’s no sitting around waiting for them to load (which means they’ll immediately engage your visitors).

Although particle backgrounds have been around for a while, their recent explosion in popularity – including on social media – makes them one of the website trends on this list that could quickly become a staple for years to come.

6. Illustrations Over Stock Photos

Stock images have been losing fans for years and while some experts would recommend using them as supplements to real photos, it seems inevitable that they’ll never enjoy another heyday among any companies but those on shoestring budgets.

There are a number of reasons to use illustrations for your designs, not the least of which is that it’s currently a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Whereas stock photos are still fairly ubiquitous, most companies haven’t made the transition to using fun, vintage, or incredibly-detailed illustrations on their sites.

This level of diversity is just one more reason to love them, too. You can choose illustrations from all kinds of different styles, ensuring they perfectly fit your unique brand.

7. The Grid Continues to Break

The grid has been the foundation for website design since the very beginning. Its invisible lines offered organization and harmony, ensuring visual flow and sufficient blank space.

Yet, one of the most exciting web design trends last year was how many websites were beginning to move away from this longstanding tactic.

The grid had been broken.

Don’t expect the grid to completely disappear in 2018 – or ever – but it’s safe to assume that more companies will continue to play with what’s possible.

Any company looking to enhance its brand with an equally unique layout will be drawn to this developing trend. Aside from its obvious aesthetic advantages, breaking away from the grid allows companies to consider new options for their website’s content.

8. Enhanced Messaging is Key

In 1964, Marshall McLuhan coined the now-famous phrase, “The medium is the message” in his book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

While McLuhan’s simple phrase had much larger implications, many artists and designers since then have focused on the fact that the medium can often be just as powerful – if not, at least, as important -as the message it’s meant to help convey.

For website designers, this has meant finding new and exciting ways to make their creations augment the site’s content.

There are a number of examples of this type of interactive site, but the good news is that your approach doesn’t – and probably shouldn’t – need to go over the top. Simple animations to accompany text, especially those that visitors can interact with, make the content more powerful and do a better job of holding on to attention.

9. Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay

While many people still think of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as belonging to the real of science fiction, it’s actually been part of our lives for quite a while.

In fact, while it makes our list of web design trends, it’s hardly a new development. If you’ve used Netflix in the past few years, you’ve benefited from AI.

One of the most important advancements in our field over the past decade has been responsive design. It’s an incredibly powerful way to make sure users receive the best version of your site for their particular device.

Now, artificial Intelligence is improving responsive design, which will soon involve how content is personalized for each user.

We’re still not at the place where AI can be used to completely build a site from scratch and then update it in real-time based on what it learns about users’ preferences.

That said, by the end of 2018, we’re definitely going to be a lot closer.

Where to Begin with Leveraging New Web Design Trends

Your website’s design is so important that you should regularly return and test it as much as possible – then update it as needed when trends become outdated.

After all, for many of you, your website is responsible for making that all-important first impression with your customers. You probably spend a good amount of time and money just getting people to your site, so it would be a shame if its design was all it took to turn them back.

While each and every one of the web design trends listed above have already proven effective, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be realistic for you to begin trying to implement all of them.

Instead, review the list with your website in mind and get started implementing just one or two. After you begin enjoying better responses, it will be that much easier to return and add another one or two, all the while improving how it serves your business.