10 Design trends 2013 – Where did all the gradients go?

Megan Isaak / Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Here is a list of 10 design trends I'm seeing this year:

  1. Large images beautiful imagery Something that has become more and more popular in the design world is putting your header copy of a big beautiful image. I see it on the web and in applications. Sometimes the images are in focus...sometimes not.

    Twitter.com features copy over an image and a floating sign-in/sign up box.

    Flipboard, a news and social media aggregator uses a series of large images before you enter there ipad/iphone apps.

    Linked in gives you a blurred NYC screenshot with a sign in button on their iphone app.
  2. Large Text over that beautiful image

    Playgroundinc.com uses the image of their studio with there tagline overlaid to welcome you to their site.

    Dickson Fong a designer at google has a blurred image with big bold letters as you enter his site (his site also is only one page, see #3)
  3. Long one page layouts (or infinite scrolling) - web
    A trend that I'm seeing more and more of lately is websites offering web page layouts. Its difficult to capture in a screen shot, the links below will provide a better preview.

    On the same page of infinite scrolling it goes for vertical as well as horizontal. Here are a few examples of vertical scrolling
    myspace.com (check out there new design, something worth looking at)
    dassel und wagner
  4. Brighter, bolder colors
    I don't have to explain this one, bright colors are making a come back in a new way. Before where we'd have a 2-3 colors in a site or app we're starting to see 5-6 to make distinction between areas and provide visual interest. Here are some examples from Elevatr and Tumblr iPhone apps.
  5. Plain white/light grey background
    This trend has been around a while, but Apple is pushing it to a new level. With the new iO7, however this isn’t a new concept, Google already knows it well. Here are some examples from the new iO7, Fliboard and Google Maps.
  6. Goodbye Serif Fonts - Sans Serif Please
    I could show all of the examples I've already included in this blog in this category, Serif fonts had a comeback for a few years but are quickly going back in there hiding place in logos and books.
  7. Less textures - (but they aren't extinct yet) With all the light flat backgrounds that we are seeing, textures are starting to make an exit from their reign in the design world. But there are still sites/apps that are making it work while using other trends to keep their site modern and fresh.

    Smashing Magazine uses a grey texture as the site background, but keep the main content area white.

    National Geographic's app for National Parks uses great textures in their backgrounds in a neutral color pallet, the images of the parks really pop
  8. Simplistic Icons
    Along with the minimalist concept, the icons have really taken a beautiful turn. They are simple and to the point. You know what they stand for and they don't take away from the message.

    Both of National Geographic's App for City Guides and National Parks, have perfect examples of simple icons.
  9. Fixed Headers are sticking around
    Putting a Fixed header on a site isn't a new concept, but it has really taken off in the last year. I see it used on a regular basis more and more often.

    Pttrns.com a site that showcase UI patterns in mobile dev keeps their branding at the top.

    Numbrs - A UK app for banking uses the fixed header on their one page layout.
  10. Goodbye gradients - flat simple design
    My main takeaway today is that a flat, simple design is going to look more modern and fresh, than if you add a gradient to your buttons, icons, headers etc.. I think that it's going to take another year or two before we start seeing them again, if we do. I love the new design trends, I think that simplicity is great for bringing your content to the front of the app and not overwhelming it with design elements.

If you're interested in how to avoid the 5 most common design mistakes, I'm hosting a webinar on July 24. Register here!