Graphic design trends that take over the design world in January of every year. Have you noticed? Graphic design blogs, design podcasts, and YouTube channels—they’re all talking about one thing: graphic design trends.
In the past, gradients, futuristic influences, and bold illustrations have been extremely popular.
These are all great, but not everyone has the design skill, or time, to actually use those trends effectively.
So in this article, I am going to focus on a few new graphic design trends that almost anyone can use in 2020.
1. Extra heavy fonts
Let’s get this graphic design trends party started by talking about one of my favorite design elements: fonts.
I also think this is a perfect section to talk about first because almost everyone has experience picking a font for their graphic or project.
Now if you have been paying attention to the design world over the past few years you might have seen people using a ton of bold, strong fonts.
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Those types of fonts are still going to be used in 2020, but I expect extra bold and heavy fonts are going to be extremely popular as well.
As you probably know, there are a ton of font weights that range from thin to extra bold, like below:
Heavy fonts are at the very bottom of that list and sometimes can be called extra bold or thick fonts.
This type of font is usually used to evoke a strong, modern or contemporary feeling in a graphic.
I like using heavy fonts because they usually create a very eye-catching focal point. For example, where is your eye drawn first in the examples below?
It was probably drawn right to the blog titles, which in these social media graphics is the most important piece of info.
If they would have used a minimalist or thin font, I’m pretty confident a follower would have scrolled right past those shares.
You can also make a message or phrase stand out with bold fonts, even when the rest of the graphic is very busy.
In this graphic from Eventbrite, you can also see a brief example of one of the other big graphic design trends this year, abstract illustrations.
Any other type of font would have been quickly overpowered by the illustrations and explosion of color. But the heavy font helps elevate the message above the noise.
One thing that I should note about extra bold and heavy fonts is that they should be used sparingly.
Stick to short phrases, titles, or words you really want to stand out, like in the example below:
Can you imagine trying to read all of the info in the extra heavy font they used for the title? It would be a nightmare, and you probably would give up pretty quickly.
So just remember, like with any bold design element, use it sparingly and efficiently. Otherwise, it loses all its power almost instantly.
2. Muted Color Palettes
After years of bold and bright colors dominating the graphic design world, designers are going to take a big step back from those palettes in 2020.
Once everyone started using those colors, the uniqueness and effectiveness wore off pretty quickly.
Muted colors have moved into that spot, and it looks like they are going to be very popular this year. Massive brands like Apple, Slack, LinkedIn and more are already using them:
If you didn’t know, muted colors are basically the opposite of vivid and bold colors. This category of colors are usually created by infusing black, white or a complementary color.
I like to think of them as vivid colors that have had their “edge” removed, and now are less obnoxious.
When people first hear about muted colors, they think that the design world is going to be a lot less colorful this year.
But take my word for it, this might be the most colorful year that we have had in awhile.
It will just be a different, more reserved, type of color than most people are familiar with. Just check out how many colors are used in these posters!
Additionally, because these muted colors don’t dominate the graphic, they can easily be used in the background or in a supporting role.
Just check out how well balanced the social graphics from ClassPass below are:
As you can see in this example from last year, the backgrounds clearly overpower the rest of the graphic:
Anyone can add these muted colors to their graphics in 2020, which is why they might be one of the most accessible graphic design trends this year.
Especially because you can use your brand colors as a starting point, and then create a secondary muted color palette to use!
3. Genuine Stock Photos
Everyone uses stock photos, even world-class designers. So don’t feel embarrassed to include a stock photo in your project or graphic.
Believe me, as a photographer, I used to hate stock photos but I think when used correctly they can really elevate a graphic.
However, make sure you’re taking the time to find the right type of stock photo this year. If not it could easily ruin the rest of your graphic in seconds.
People are tired of seeing overly edited, posed, and somewhat weird stock photos that some companies still use.
This year I would recommend only using authentic, reserved and genuine stock photos. These types of stock photos will also pair exceptionally well with muted color palettes as well. Like so:
I know that advice is pretty vague but a good rule of thumb is to look for stock photos that your friend could have snapped.
As you can see in these landscape photos, there hasn’t been any excessive editing or production. In fact, the photographer might have reduced the vivid colors to make them feel even more natural.
These photos actually look like something you would see when you visited these locations. Combine these images with a nice muted color palette, and your graphics will seem very real and authentic.
When it comes time to use stock photos that include people, use the same approach. Look for images that feel candid and authentic.
Again, these stock photos look like they were snapped while someone was just living life. Even if they were staged and produced, they still appear a lot more authentic than some stock photos.
Now I know “genuine stock photos” might seem a bit confusing at first. Especially because the whole point of a stock photo is the ability to be used in a ton of different situations.
But if you use my simple rule of thumb and reject overproduced stock photos, you will succeed in 2020 and beyond.
If you’re struggling to find great stock photos like this, check out our library on Venngage! There are literally millions to choose from.
4. Minimalist Landing Pages
All the previous graphic design trends in this article were driven by changes in consumer behavior and preferences.
However, I strongly believe that this one was driven by Google’s algorithm.
Yes, you read that right.
More people are using minimalist landing pages because of a search engine, not because of some major influence from the design world.
It’s truly a wild time to be alive.
If you’re not aware, Google rewards pages that load quickly on mobile with better rankings on searches.
Better rankings on keywords lead to more clicks, customers, and revenue for a company.
So there’s a lot of incentive for companies to make their home and landing pages load very quickly.
And one of the easiest ways to do this is to keep your page rather minimalistic like Buffer does:
This rather simple modular page layout also makes it very easy to transition from desktop to mobile as well:
That transition isn’t as smooth when a company uses a large photo, video, or illustration, especially in the background.
And with Google putting a lot of stock in well designed mobile sites, this is another spot where brands can gain a competitive advantage. The people at Monday also have designed a great landing page:
Now I’m not saying you can’t use videos or GIFs, just make sure they are extra optimized. Or you could load them only when someone clicks on it like Front does:
It’s really the best of both worlds, they can have a fast minimalist landing page and still use an informative video.
Having a fast landing page, and high rankings on competitive keywords is great, don’t get me wrong.
But what happens once you finally get someone to these minimalist landing pages? Because none of that is gonna matter if your page doesn’t convert viewers to followers or customers.
Thankfully these landing pages are very easy for new, and even veteran, users to navigate.
Instead of having to cut through a lot of distracting information, the main message and call to action of each page stand out like a beacon.
In this landing page example from Slack, your eyes are drawn immediately to the main header and then the sign-up button.
There really isn’t anything on this page to distract the user and pull them out of your marketing funnel. The same thing can be said about the landing page that Coinbase uses:
But instead of using a button, they make it even easier for a viewer to become a new lead with an email capture form.
So when you’re working on your landing pages in 2020, just remember that sometimes a picture is not worth a thousand words.
Especially if that image increases page load time and drives down your rankings!
Hopefully you can start using some of these trends in your graphics. Maybe even as soon as today!
Muted colors are probably my favorite trend of the year because it makes a design feel very refined and almost vintage. It also happens to be one of the easiest trends to add to your graphics.
That said, you can also include more genuine stock photos in your graphics just as easily. It might just take you a little longer to find the perfect stock photo. But it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
For both of these trends, you don’t even have to change your branding or brand guidelines.
Just start using them, it’s really that simple. Now if you want to learn more about some of the advanced trends, check out our full list of graphic design trends for 2020.
What did I leave out of this article? Where do you think I got things wrong? And what did I get completely right? Let’s chat in the free mastermind group on FB.
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