Whether it’s fashion, music, or web design, trends in design come and go. Digital design has seen many trends over just a few decades as technology developed quickly and the ways we use the web changed. The design trends that are popular now will likely fade away just as fast, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of current trends and how to apply them effectively so that your web design feels contemporary and fresh. Right now, gradients are in again, with a new twist.
Whether you’re part of a web design company in San Francisco or any other country or you’re self-employed, being familiar with the current trends is essential if you want to be at the forefront of your field. Agencies have a significant advantage in keeping up with contemporary design sensibilities since they have access to more resources and tools. Independent contractors have more work to do to keep up, but it’s well worth it.
Let’s look at how and why gradients are back in fashion in web design.
What is a Gradient?
A gradient, also called a color transition, is a gradual blend from one color to another. Gradients can be complex or straightforward, fading between multiple colors. They can be subtle, with similar colors such as two shades of blue, orange to red, or bold, with contrasting colors like purple to red or yellow to blue.
Gradients are a very versatile design tool. They can serve as a quiet background or become the bold focal point of a design. They’re a great way to highlight a unique color combination or add depth and interest to a minimalistic design. No matter the aesthetic, there’s a place for gradients.
A (Very) Brief Summary of Web Design Trends
In the internet’s early days, websites were all about functionality rather than design. All default blue underlined hyperlinks, plain text and bulleted lists, and the occasional compressed jpeg. As internet access spread and more people logged on, web design quickly evolved.
Bright colors, animations, background images, and more were possible, and people used them all in their designs. As web design technology evolved and improved, designers started incorporating everything they could into their websites, creating a style that we’d look at today as cluttered and difficult to navigate.
By the early 2010s, designs had become much more minimal, with “flat” styles becoming the norm. A decade later, we’re starting to see another evolution, with gradients gaining wider use again, bringing depth back into the picture.
Gradients Are Back
Gradients are a current trend in web design, as you can see them used across the web in various ways with more frequency. But they’re being utilized differently than they were in the early 2000s. Instead of the entire rainbow across a website banner, we see bright. Still, similar colors blended on sites’ backgrounds, adding some depth and visual interest to an otherwise flat, minimal design. The right combination of colors can draw the eye across the page, highlighting important information and keeping the user interested.
Why Use Gradients?
- A gradient adds more visual interest and depth than a solid, flat color
- Gradients can create eye-catching designs without photos or illustrations
- A gradient overlay can make a photograph or illustration stand out or fade into the background
- Gradients can be created entirely with CSS (what is CSS? – see here) —indicate the colors you want and the direction of the gradient
- Color blending allows designers to access an almost infinite color palette.
There are a lot of benefits to minimal, flat design for the web—it’s more accessible and eliminates distractions from the content that the site’s owner wants to highlight. However, some methods can be too flat, crossing the line into boring. With so much content online, designers are faced with a challenge: catching visitors’ attention without too much clutter or distraction.
A gradient is an excellent solution to this challenge. Subtle color blends create an eye-catching look that invites the viewer to stay. Analogous or monochromatic color blends create nice, subtle gradients that are easy to keep in a color scheme. Colors on opposite sides of the color wheel make muddy browns that aren’t always wanted, so choosing colors is critical when using gradients in a design.
Web design is constantly changing, says Forbes, and we can never be quite sure what the following trends will be. While subtle but saturated gradients are in right now, who knows how long this trend will last. Still, keeping up with this trend and using angles in your designs will keep your work looking fresh and modern.