Web design has come a long way since the early days of the internet but at its core, it is still the effective combination of both type and image to evoke emotion and desire in a user.
Typography has waxed and waned in importance over the intervening years, sometimes taking a starring role and other times being relegated to the background, but in recent times we’ve seen something of a comeback from typography as a statement, rather than a necessity.
Words have always been powerful tools but now innovative web designers are letting the type tell more of the story. The result is the appearance of large, more dominant typefaces that are not only the equal of images and videos but actually the star of the show.
Think of it not as a typography renaissance but rather an evolution. As we all know, “crazes” and fashions appear and disappear in a cycle. It is the same for web trends. What is old will be new again, and what is new will be old.
The truth is the right fonts in the right places can catch our attention and make us feel something. They can give power to words and give them a totally different meaning, depending on what we want and need. There is no other facet of web design that has as much subtle influence as the choice of type. So make your decision carefully.
Whether you are creating a new website from scratch or revamping an old one, having your finger on the pulse of type trends can make your job as a designer a little easier. You’ll know what works and, perhaps more importantly, you’ll know what doesn’t.
Read on to take a look at the biggest typography trends of 2019.
Bold & Loud Fonts
If there was one word, to sum up, this year’s typography trend it would be dramatic. Bold and brash is the new beautiful. Making a big impression right away is the aim of the game.
Many brands and advertisers have turned to loud type in order to make a statement. It seems there are so many things vying for our attention these days (social media, Amazon, emails, Netflix…) the only way to grab us for a meaningful amount of time is to do it bigger than anyone else.
This shift towards LOUD is part of a larger movement of using type as part of the brand imagery, rather than as just a conveyor of information. The benefits for businesses are threefold: they get to showcase their personality, people remember their name, and messaging is given a center stage.
Minimal Sans Serif
Despite the widespread return of aggressive fonts, due in part perhaps to the current mass nostalgia for the 1980s and 90s style, the minimalist movement is still going strong & is a typography trend for 2019. This is best showcased by our current fondness for simple sans serif typography.
Sans serifs are generally seen as “cleaner” by designers. They are considered by many to be “non-corporate”, which might explain their popularity within the startup culture. Whatever the reason for their longevity, they are smart, unobtrusive and tell a story without being visually demanding. Especially when combined with strategic whitespace they can give forth an air of exclusivity, luxury and importance in a variety of industries.
Some of the best fonts for web design (sans serif) include Helvetica, Verdana, Avant Garde, and Futura. The best font pairings at the moment are Helvetica Neue/Garamond and Futura Bold and Souvenir.
We live in a society where pushing limits and breaking down stereotypes is part of the norm. It’s a world of remote workers, flexi-time, political unrest and a rapidly changing social structure brought about by technology.
In short, it is a world in the throes of rebellion.
Brutalism perhaps reflects our current reality better than any of the other typography trends. It is where designers turn when they want to bend the rules of conventionality. Are our standards set in stone or can we blaze new roads?
When you use brutalism correctly your design will feel raw, unpolished yet not unpleasant, and will convey a sense of in-your-face authenticity to your users. It will add a sense of visual tension that can be extremely powerful, both in terms of short-term attention and long-term remembrance. And getting your brand remembered is what all of this is about.
The power of brutalism, however, is often in the eye of the beholder. Not every industry is right for it. Some are downright wrong for it. Even so, if you do find yourself in the right industry, with the right sort of personality, you can do much worse than an edgy unique rebelliousness that could potentially turn site visitors into brand evangelists.
Hand-Lettering And Hand Drawn
The overarching trend of digital right now is towards personalisation. Everybody wants their consumer journey to be unique and personal to them and their preferences. Surprise, surprise – typography is beginning to reflect this.
Hand-lettering is becoming extremely popular because it adds a custom feel to something which is actually uniform. It adds a touch of specialness and uniqueness without actually having to be unique to every-single-visitor.
The great thing about hand-lettering is that all bets are off. You can do literally anything with it. Size and shape are no obstacles. Style is a given. Most importantly, however, is that you give your brand a breath of personality that no one else has. In a world of royalty free images and logo generators where everybody looks the same, this is immensely powerful. You automatically differentiate yourself in the eyes of the consumer.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with your hand-lettering, either. Simple spins on old fonts can be more than enough to give you a distinctive aesthetic.
The world of web design is changing as we know it – in a few years, thanks to the rise of new technologies, it will be fundamentally different from what we have right now.
Design innovations in AR, VR and photo-realistic styling have made three-dimensional type the “one to watch” in the future. A lot of this is down to its customizability. With 3D you can distort type easily, adding depth and making the entire design more immersive.
One of the best things about 3D type is that, in almost every way, we are only just getting started. As immersive and experiential technologies make their way into the mainstream we will no doubt see new and fantastic efforts that everybody will be scrambling to imitate. 3D is, above all, an artist’s medium. It is there to be experimented and created with and can be both striking and informational simultaneously.
Some easy ways to incorporate 3D type into your own work is to manipulate “lighting” (use shadows), play with perspectives and use a sharp font on a blurred background.
Carrying on from our conversation on 3D types, there is a real movement right now towards animation in typography & could potentially be the biggest typography trend of 2020.
We’re seeing more and more designs using fonts that move and shift with the user, again offering an interactive and immersive feel to something we (wrongly) assume will be static and underwhelming.
Of course, there are potential pitfalls with this approach. If the animation fails to fire what happens then? Is the intent of the website still clear to the user?
The best examples of animated type that we have seen don’t try to be too clever. They understand that getting the message across is the most important thing. The animation is simply a cool bonus which has the potential to delight new customers.
Anything that moves too quickly flashes off-screen or is too hard to read will be an immediate turn-off and will probably mean lost business.
Basically, if it looks like it belongs in a terrible PowerPoint presentation circa 2002, get rid of it. If not, you’re good.
Black and white have long held the crown for minimalist cool but colour typography is beginning to make a comeback. Designers have even started combining the two, using clean design with sans serif colour fonts to bring something new and innovative to the table.
Colour is a great way to evoke emotion without saying anything (we all know the effect on our moods certain colours can have). Colour psychology is a real thing & true typography trend. Use it as a springboard for catching the eye, converting a user and building a brand identity that you can be proud of.
This year continues the trend of typography not only being part of the whole but the central pillar of great design. We are seeing design experiments that we have never seen before. We are seeing brands pushing the envelope a bit and destroying standards that many thoughts were set in stone.
The best bit? They’re winning.
What typography trend is your favorite and why