A Showcase of Popular Web Design Trends

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I was wanting to put together a showcase that featured some design trends, and began to wonder which ones I felt would have longevity. I poured through the different rising and pervading trends, struggling to don my prognosticating perspective and choose a few that I just knew would be sticking around. I realized in this feeble attempt to foresee the days to come, that it was just that…feeble, and also, fruitless. So I decided instead, to showcase four of my favorite web design trends. Since these are such popular trends right now you will see some overlap in the different showcases. Perhaps their popularity is the key to how long these trends will linger, I guess only time will tell.

Personalization and Hand Drawn Elements

It is no wonder that this first one has caught on, and taken off the way that it has, especially when it comes to blog designs, and it is because of the way that the website surfers have responded to it. Readers like to feel a personal connection with the author of the blog and designing your theme with a personalized touch is a perfect way to add to that feeling.

Suie Paparude
Suie Paparude

Paul Wallas
Paul Wallas

Gary Nock
The Official Gary Nock Website

Sarah Hayland
Sarah Hayland

talesSimon
talesSimon

Richard Stelemach
Richard Stelemach

Keven John Gomez
Keven John Gomez

PixelMind
PixelMind

Shawn Johnston
Shawn Johnston

Dave Barnes
Dave Barnes

Clean Illustrations

I am not saying the death of the grunge is nigh or upon us, or anything to that effect. In fact, I happen to still be quite a fan of the rough and punk feel of grunge graphics and illustrations, however, there is a trend that moves in a slightly opposite direction. Vector illustrations are an extremely popular web design trend, that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. They have the ability to add a lot of color and style to a site while still keeping it really clean and sleek looking, so once again, their popularity is easily understood.

Tomáš Pojeta
Tomáš Pojeta – grafické portfolio

Owltastic
Owltastic

MailChimp
MailChimp

Octwelve
Octwelve

Project Vino
Project Vino

We Do Markup
We Do Markup

Kulturbanause
Kulturbanause

eAnka
eAnka

The Alamo Basement
The Alamo Basement

Go Glamping
Go Glamping

Paper and Collage Effects

Having explored the art of collage in my traditional art, seeing the trend towards bringing that feel to the web is one that I am overly excited to see. To be honest, this is one of my favorite trends of the moment. Digitizing a bit of real world elements into the vast cyber sea, using paper, sticky notes, paper clips, thumbtacks, and coffee stains all collaged together to create some really appealing layouts.

Ethem Budak

Ethem Budak

Sprocket House

Sprocket House

ArtFlavours

ArtFlavours

Blog Amuki

Blog Amuki

Helmy Bern

Helmy Bern

Hey Josh

Hey Josh

Longboard the World

Longboard The World

blog.SpoonGraphics

blog.SpoonGraphics

Web Smarty

Web Smarty

Time for Cake

time for Cake

Wood Elements

As a bit of a tree hugger, I do enjoy seeing this final trend that I am showcasing, and fondly hope that it sticks around for a while. The use of wood elements in web design, which is a fairly new trend that is starting to take off, is the one I am speaking of. This versatile element can be used to achieve so many different styles from grungy to elegant. One could say it’s a natural. Get it? Cause, wood is from nature, so…nevermind, it’s a hippie joke.

The Things We Make
The Things We Make

Iahweh Surfboards
Iahweh Surfboards

Lucy Blackmore
Lucy Blackmore

QualityXHTML
QualityXHTML

Delicious Monster
Delicious Monster

Outlaw Design Blog
Outlaw Design Blog

Freshivore
Freshivore

Cyclops
Cyclops

Mixel
Mixel

Tischlerei Klehn
Tischlerei Klehn

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to tell us what some of your favorite trends of the moment are. And if you feel like it, link to some of your favorite examples as well.

About the Author

Angie Bowen is a freelance web & graphic designer and co-founder of Arbenting and Dead Wings Designs.

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  • http://www.cbastudio.com Cynthia Blair

    I love the hand-drawn elements to the first set of designs, gives a site real personality and spontaneity…

  • http://hbuchel.tumblr.com Heather

    Quite a few blogs and websites I haven’t seen here, on top of being a nice round up of designs. Great post!

    Heather´s last post was… New Theme? Maybe!

  • http://thecreativelab.timothybsmith.com Tim Smith

    Love the round-up! I have to say that my favorites are the clean illustrations. I only wish I could make illustrations like that! Great Post Angie!

    Tim Smith´s last post was… Don’t Use Photoshop For Everything

  • Abhineet

    Awesome collction…

  • http://eatingdesign.com mali

    Excellent post and some reall crackers on there.
    Hey have a look at mine?

    Mali

    mali´s last post was… St Helens Dream: The Big Art Project

  • http://www.moraywebsolutions.com MorayWeb

    A nice collection, and some great inspiration – thanks!

    MorayWeb´s last post was… Project Launch : Scottish Business Network

  • http://www.from-the-couch.com David Perel

    Nice collection of trends, there are some great blogs and great designs in there. I think there is one trend that is missing from the list though… indented text. Its like the new Web 2.0 in my opinion.

    David Perel´s last post was… Don’t be Afraid to make Mistakes

  • http://squidgemag.com/ Squidge

    Great selection, I really like the hand drawn designs. Should help towards getting me over my designers block today!

    Squidge´s last post was… Interview with Alexandra Carr, Fashion Photographer

  • http://feeds2.feedburner.com/SmallBizWebsitesTipsandTricks Steve

    Really nice collection of different design elements and trends.

    Thanks

    Steve´s last post was… Keeping up with the Jones’ could be vital to your Business Success

  • http://www.jankoatwarpspeed.com Janko

    Amazing examples, thumbs up for illustrations! Great work, Angie!

    Janko´s last post was… What is creativity?

  • http://www.myhtmlworld.com sunil

    Really awesome. Nice collection. I don’t have any other word to explain.. Thank you so much.

    sunil´s last post was… Check your pagerank with PaRaMeter – a free, bulk page rank checking software

  • http://www.ast-blog.de astBlog

    wow, great list. Thx for that. I think we can also add transparency effects to the list

  • A

    Congrats.

    All you’re doing is making 1994-style hand coded HTML writers feel insecure. As if a bank wants a site that looks like a pop group’s.

    The avantgarde is irrelevant to 99.999% of the world.

  • http://arbent.net Angie Bowen

    @Cynthia – I really love the hand drawn elements for blogs. It makes me feel like I’m actually reading the person’s journal.

    @Heather – Thanks, I’m glad I could showcase some sites that you hadn’t seen before.

    @Tim – Thanks! I’m a bit envious of the illustrations as well. I’m still an illustrator beginner and some of these are what I’m striving toward right now.

    @Abhineet – Thanks!

    @Mali – Thank you! I really like your site though I’m not sure it would fit with any of these trends. I would put it more in the elaborate background or watercolor categories. Regardless nice site :)

    @MorayWeb – No problem! I’m glad you found inspiration in it!

    @David – Thanks so much! I’m not sure what you mean by indented text (unless I’m over thinking it which I probably am lol). I’d love to see some examples of what you’re talking about.

    @Squidge – Thanks, I hope it helps with your writers block :)

    @Steve – Thank you!

    @Janko – Thanks man! The illustrations are some of my favorites as well, especially ones like Owltastic and We Do Markup

    @Sunil – Thanks!

    @astBlog – Thank you! Transparency is definitely growing and I think will become much larger once it fully reaches it’s potential.

    @A – Thanks for the comment but I completely disagree. First, 1994-style web design is outdated and any of the above designs can be hand-coded. Hand-coding has nothing to do with style. And while some of the styles above work better for personal sites than corporate sites, I think elements like clean illustration and wood can work well for any kind of site. Professionalism in a site is no excuse for bad design.

    Angie Bowen´s last post was… Fanurio Contest Winners Announced!

  • http://www.i5bala.com Balakumar Muthu

    Awesome lists… just want to add mine too in the list:

    link text

  • http://www.fudgegraphics.com/ Franz Jeitz

    Awesome Article Angie. AAA? I love all the designs and will use some for inspiration when I’m redesigning fudgegraphics. Thanks!

    Franz Jeitz´s last post was… Anniversary Series: Hi-Res PS Brushes Roundup

  • http://goglamping.net Garri

    @Angie: Many thanks for including Go Glamping in your illustrious list, we’re really chuffed ;-)

  • http://www.tristanjud.com Tristan

    This is a great post. It’s the second time I have come back to it today. Great job and thanks!

    Tristan´s last post was… ClubPond got hit by an Acorn

  • http://divyasharad.blogspot.com divyasharad

    Gr8 Showcase. Really Inspirational. U Rockkkkkk…!

    divyasharad´s last post was… 4 F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

  • http://femistevens.wordpress.com Femi-Stevens

    Great innovative stuff, good for the GENERATION X. Individualistic.

    Femi-Stevens´s last post was… Consumer Product Evolutions

  • http://www.trouwjurkonline.nl Rene Jansen

    Nice list. Good for inspiration.

  • http://bit.ly/24eYTO Charles Seymour Jr

    The designs are sweet! The look clean. Very eye catching.

    But for BUSINESS, there are some real important ingredients missing.

    So, for those enjoying the web and wanting a beautiful look, you have some wonderful examples here. For those wanting to use these for business, perhaps you can dig a bit deeper into direct response marketing and acting more like magnetic marketing.

    Best,

    Charlie Seymour Jr
    http://bit.ly/2OUCz

    Charles Seymour Jr´s last post was… Success Marketing: Using A Campfire To Improve Your Marketing

  • http://www.joyologo.com/ joyologo design shop 2.0

    nice web designs, thanks for collection..

  • http://www.blellow.com Mandi Leman, Blellow CEO

    Gorgeous examples! Well done!

  • David Frantz

    Just amazing collection – thanks much!

  • http://snailbird.com Nikki

    I am loving the hand-drawn and illustrations on designs these days. They make a page more personable. Very nice!

    If you like, take a peek at my blog. I like showcasing my artwork via design – it’s a good trend. :D

    Nikki´s last post was… Something To Remember.

  • http://iniwoo.net/ T-Law

    Great collection. Thanks.

  • http://grandpajayspork.com ZombieJuice

    Awesome showcase!
    I’m designing a site for a pork distributor right now and am using a big, wood texture in the background.
    I gave myself a point when I saw the “Wood Textures” on your list =D

  • justin

    Those sites are good for what they are.

    I have one problem with such lists … in general, they often do not include non-designer, non-creative type websites. Constantly seeing lots of designer blogs and sites on these lists gets old for me. I’d like to see these lists include websites for the average small to large sized business-to-business or business-to-consumer websites. Granted, you can learn from anything, and this was a neat list … but … I’d like to see a variety of industries represented. I’d like to learn how X Coporate website is setting a trend.

    Again … not be a downer. I did enjoy the list.

  • 58

    Thx for the review- some really nice sites in there. Agreed on hand coding– I find more sites recently are the sort you can look at and start designing in your head. Me, I really only use WYSIWYG to speed up things like table editing. I’m entirely capable of doing it by hand, but see no real point when it’s so much faster. I don’t like to edit w/out watching the code changes anyway. I’m not generally comfortable designing where I don’t know what I am doing in design mode will be doing simultaneously to the code. But that’s just me!

    @Justin … you might want to try a search for awards given to business sites, especially from a relevant industry group… ideally representing similar types of businesses (like banks, associations, real estate agents, etc.) I found the most useful input through searching online, and through trade publications. If you can get a look at some well-regarded sites, you can find who designed them, check out their portfolios, and get some good info.

    Check out some bigger awards that have sep. categories:
    http://www.webbyawards.com/webbys/current.php?season=12
    http://www.webaward.org/winners.asp
    Not that they are the official source or anything… but good for ideas.

    It’s definitely true that this can be a different audience, likely with different priorities. That said, the general trend I’ve been observing is a move towards more simple, minimalist, cleancut design. In a way, it’s almost a little retro. I find I can look at more sites lately and get an immediate visual idea of the layout (and start mentally coding LOL) esp. with the increasing emphasis on site architecture and standards.

  • http://www.danblee.com Dan B. Lee

    Good list of trends.

    To comment on the materials used in each subject; I can’t say that paper and wood is indexed in my mind the same way vector or collage elements are indexed. It doesn’t seem as though there is enough originality or personal touch with wood and paper elements. I can’t remember if it was during Mike Kus’ FOWA or FOWD talk, but he actually mocked his very own design. He explained that he basically messed around with different backgrounds, picked out a nice wood image, thought it looked great, and then asked himself why he even used wood? He went on to say that he has absolutely no interest in wood and it doesn’t say much of anything about himself.

    To finish without going into great length – Hand drawn and vector trends give a designer a chance to focus directly on the subject matter. Whereas, unless you are creating a website regarding wood, you’d have to be pretty darn creative to link such a theme to your work.

    A great collection, Angie. And you are dead on with all of the trends listed. Its obvious which ones I prefer and which ones I hope stick around longer. Cheers.

  • http://arbent.net Angie Bowen

    Wow, so many great replies. I think it’s grown beyond me replying to each person individually but I do really appreciate all of your comments and support :).

    For those who would like to see more corporate sites represented. I’ll look at doing a follow up along those lines, maybe for next month.

    Angie Bowen´s last post was… Fanurio Contest Winners Announced!

  • http://www.blueblots.com Blue Blots

    I love the illustration sites the most:) great post .!!

  • http://www.tintedpixel.com Andrew

    Fantastic collection!

    Kulturbanause is quite interesting an unique
    In addition to a fun design, Mail Chimp is a neat service to use.
    The ripped & torn bits of paper and wood of SpoonGraphics and Helmy Bern, are always a treat.
    Isn’t the graphic of the girl and laptop on eAnka a stock vector mascot? Hmmmm….

    Andrew´s last post was… tintedPixel Featured on SitePoint 404 Error Collection

  • http://www.artflavours.com Sunil

    Hi,

    Thanks for considering my website i.e http://www.artflavours.com I appreciate your effort.

    Thanks

  • http://www.agck.com Web Design Kuwait

    thank you for sharing this information.

  • http://bit.ly/24eYTO #1 Success Marketer for Dads

    As long as people don’t allow DESIGN to rule and remember that MOST websites in business have one main purpose… and whether it’s lead generation with name capture or selling, the prospect must follow exactly what to do. And there should be only ONE thing to do, and the call to action should make that clear. In fact, I wrote a blog post after seeing your site: http://bit.ly/exUEs Good Web Design – For Beauty Or For Business? | Marketing Success for the 21st Century. Hope you find that helpful.

    Charlie Seymour Jr
    http://twitter.com/UltimateWAHDads

    #1 Success Marketer for Dads´s last post was… Marketing Lessons From American Idol – Adam Lambert vs Kris Allen

  • http://www.creativewhirlwind.com brian

    Thanks for posting this! I needed some inspiration for the impending redesign of my site. Love the Owltastic site.

    brian´s last post was… Do you really know how to tweet?

  • http://www.inowweb.com/ joomla web development

    I also needed some inspiration for the impending redesign of my site……..

  • http://www.annuaire.pixelle.org/ Anas Benayad

    Very beatifull collection ;)

    Love this !

  • http://blog.deadlycomputer.com steve

    the hand drawn elements can be nice sometimes, there’s a few up there that I like.
    The vector ones though all look the same, and I can’t stand them. Each site looks the the same because the designers use the same color pallets, and basic designs.

    The paper and wood elements ones are too cluttered, not enough room for content with all that semi-useless design around the top/edges.

    Overall, I’m not really a fan of any of these trends because in each category, all the sites look similar

    steve´s last post was… LEGO Movie posters

  • http://www.cssperk.com Amanda

    Thank you so much for posting this. This gives me some ideas on how to create my own CSS-website.
    This is also very inspiring.

  • http://seeddesignconsultancy.blogspot.com/ Jessica Colaluca

    LOVE the hand drawn elements…PixelMind & talesSimon’s are amazing

    Jessica Colaluca´s last post was… What’s Ur Footprint?

  • http://www.australianedge.net Clayton

    great list,..how on earth did you find all those sites? (and that they fit your themes). The Dave Barnes site was nicely done.

  • http://www.absolutecovers.com Ovi Dogar

    Wow…amazing examples!

    This is definitely a great post! ;)

    Ovi Dogar
    AbsoluteCovers.com

  • http://www.webevolution.co.za/ Dalesh Kowlesar

    I love creative minds and seeing how things come together. This is a great list of some amazing talent. Thanks!

  • http://www.my909.com my909

    sweet, i like the illustrated ones

  • http://www.andyquick.co.uk Quicky

    Lovely list of sites. I’m prefering the less cluttered ones at the moment but that will change.

  • http://www.scotiasystems.com Scotia Systems

    Wow – what a list! Lots of inspirational ideas to refer back to when I have a design block. Thanks!

  • http://www.designityourselfgiftbaskets.com expert witness

    I have been reading your blog last couple of weeks and enjoy every bit. Thanks

  • http://www.thelayoutspot.net Larry

    Great inspiration here. I’ll have to bookmark this blog.

  • http://www.igwebs.com IG Webs

    I only wished I could do illustrations like these. Envious me!

  • http://www.web-design-folkz.com/ inexpensive web design

    Good collection. Yes, you have perfectly touched the changes and it is banners. I have seen some excellent hand drawn pics and sketches used on banners but wood elements are looking very simple and some are similar to default headers provided with some web designing softwares.

    Do anybody know any free source of hand drawn pics /sketches?

  • http://www.html-to-pdf.net/ html to pdf converter

    Thanks for posting this. Awesome idea!

  • http://www.completebathroombuild.com Bathroom Glasgow

    Genius. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://cssgallery.com CSS Gallery

    Great list of illustrated web design. Vector web design carries with it strong vivid visuals.

  • http://www.oc-web-design.net web design guy

    dude, those template are a blast! quality work with attention to detail. Keep the good work rolling! thanks for sharing them with us

  • http://www.enailsupply.com/ OPI nail polish

    Thanks for the in-depth article. I can tell you put a lot of work into this one. Thumbs way up.

  • http://www.gunitadosypiscinas.com Construccion piscinas

    Thanks for fantastic designs.
    Congratulations !!

  • http://www.sjlwebdesign.co.uk Website Design

    So many amazing designs. definitely bookmarking this for inspiration!
    Thanks.

  • http://allpokerbonuses.blogspot.com/ Steve

    Amazing designs. Makes me realize I still have a lot of work to do.

  • http://vinfotech.com Web 2.0 Design

    Fantastic designs… thanks for sharing them…

  • http://www.graphicdesignboss.com GraphicDesignBoss

    Great list Angie,

    Its interesting, when you put alot of these designs on the same page they tend to blur in the look and feel and they some feel a bit too similar.

    If I wanted to stand out from the crowd I’d be designing something that looked great but was different visual outcome.