- This article was written by Lilly Smith. Header illustration by Eliran Vahdi and Anita Goldstein.
We’re already halfway through 2022, and it’s time for a mid-year temp check. What are the biggest design trends to splash across our screens so far?
Editor X, the advanced web design platform that allows freelancers and agencies to create responsive websites for clients, has released its new mid-year trend report, which highlights seven of the biggest digital design trends of the year. Here, we’ve pulled the top three trends graphic and web designers need to know.
✏️ Thanks to our friends at Editor X for sponsoring this blog post!
1. Web kitsch
Fashion and web design are colliding, aesthetically: Y2K nostalgia is everywhere in 2022. Designers are taking on the less-polished aesthetic of the early days of the web—when it was less templatized, less corporate, and decidedly more weird. That means web design that’s intentionally low-fi—default fonts, patterned backgrounds, old-school browser windows, simple layouts, and decorative sticker icons like butterflies that convey an amateur look—even if the designer is anything but.
“Most stuff feels like the LaCroix version of the original source material, which is okay,” says David Chathas, design director at Wieden+Kennedy of the trend. While trends vary in staying power, he adds that longer ones stick around for two to five years. “The important thing is whatever the new thing is, is actually cooler than the original. We just won’t be able to process it until later,” he says. With more tools available than ever before, designers are well-positioned to make exactly that happen.
The style is cropping up on websites for pop star Olivia Rodrigo, fashion label Off-White, and a slew of personal portfolios. The pixelated, low-tech look has infiltrated NFTs and crypto art. On the other end of the spectrum, web kitsch is playing out through the re-emergence of outdated tech (Neopets, anyone?).
2. Dopamine color palettes
First, there was “dopamine dressing”—dressing in colorful, happiness-inducing hues. Now, the trend is making its way from fashion to our screens. Bright, bold, and vivid color palettes are all over the web right now, and that makes sense considering how exhausting and demoralizing the past few years have been.
Inspired by the reemergence of 70’s-era psychedelia and an optimistic outlook, sites are serving a rainbow of colors to dazzle and delight the eye. Just look at the branding for Houseplant, Minx, Nike PlayLab, a wellspring of agencies like Paard, and consider Pantone’s color of the year (which we dubbed palliative purple for Gen Z) and try to tell us you didn’t get a little mood boost.
3. Interactive 3D elements
This year, interactive 3D renderings are becoming even more commonplace, as designers bring the IRL feeling of physical products to 2D screens. The popularity of these elements are also a sign of things to come. Fueled in part by pandemic restrictions and new AR and VR tech, our real and online worlds are becoming one holistic space, where the internet is more three-dimensional, and our every day that much more clickable.
“Designing with an interactive 3D element on the web creates a sense of delight, and in turn engagement, through its inherent unexpectedness, stemming from the origins of a two-dimensional web,” explains Talia Cotton, designer and coder at Pentagram, who also teaches advanced interaction at Parsons School of Design. “Nowadays, what’s possible in terms of drawing on the web is practically infinite, but so much of design is still informed by how we’ve been doing it for decades. This is why when you see a 3D element on the web, it’s unexpected, and as such gives a website a particular new kind of engagement.”
Explore more design trends to inspire your work
There’s more to know about digital design in 2022. Get inspired by all seven trends in the Editor X mid-year trend report and learn how you can apply them in your next web project. We can’t wait to see what you create! ■
About the author: Lilly Smith is the Senior Editor of Shaping Design. Prior to this, she was a design reporter with over 400 bylines at renowned business magazine Fast Company, and a contributing writer and editor at AIGA Eye on Design and Design Observer.