7 Predictions for Web Design in 2024
At this time every year, we like to make some predictions of what the coming 12 months will be like for web designers.
Perhaps for you, 2023 was a vintage year, 12 months that you would happily relive. But globally, 2023 wasn’t great: we doubled the number of major conflicts, the world economy is still spluttering, and the climate is breaking down faster than predicted.
But there’s power in positive thinking. Knowing where we’ve been and why you didn’t like it helps point you in the right direction. So here’s to a vintage 2024, a year in which (we hope) you’ll be happy, healthy, and prosperous in your life and work.
It’s the first of January, a clean slate. So let’s go again…
How Did I Do in 2023?
Before looking at our predictions for the coming 12 months, it’s a tradition that we look back to see how last year’s prediction panned out. Here’s what I thought would happen in 2023.
- We’ll stop freaking out over AI — considering how useful AI has proven itself in the past few months and the fact that the great implementations of AI help designers rather than replace them, I’m saying I got that one right.
- We’ll embrace the real world — post-lockdown, I felt we’d bring the natural world into our design work. And there have certainly been nature-inspired trends, from the Art Nouveau revival to Pantone’s color of the year. I’m saying I got that one right, too.
- We’ll reject brutalism — we did—the brutalism trend is over. I’m on a roll this year.
- We’ll reject dark mode — I predicted that we’d all get tired of the dark mode trend, and it’s definitely not been as prevalent over the year. It may be that dark mode has grown beyond a trend — I hope so; I’m writing this in an app using dark mode. But as a design trend, I think we are tired of it. Are we on track for a clean sweep on the predictions?
- We’ll embrace personal retro — personal retro? No, Instagram filters are still everywhere. I missed the mark there.
- We’ll fall for borecore — perhaps my devotion to invisible design was coloring my predictions because I was wide of the mark with this one too.
All in all, 4/6 predictions were broadly correct; that’s a success rate of 67%. It’s better than last year’s score of 30%. So let’s see what 2024’s going to look like…
1. Google Makes or Breaks AI
Google is in big trouble.
Google’s near-monopoly is based on the supremacy of its search algorithm. Without it, it loses advertising revenue. But AI-powered search is already a reality, and Google’s first attempt to hop on the AI bandwagon failed spectacularly. SGE (Search Generative Experience) may be its last roll of the dice.
And so 2024 will bring one of two things: either Google will transform SEO with AI, or Google will, Cnut-like, attempt to halt the march of AI by downgrading results it thinks are relying on AI. Perhaps both.
2. Kinetic Branding
Gone are the days when a logo needs to work in black and white. Businesses print less and less, and even when they do, color printers are the norm.
Most branding is now found online, but there are so many different use cases for branding, from favicons to VR installations, that a single mark is often too inflexible. Kinetic branding is motion-based. It draws attention to itself by animating, but it brings with it the added benefit of adaptability.
Expect to be asked about kinetic branding in 2024.
3. Short-stack Design Services
For years, designers have pitched themselves as full-stack or full-service designers. A comprehensive one-stop shop for a client’s design needs. It’s simply not realistic. Even large agencies with hundreds of staff pull in freelancers these days.
This year, it’s not about solving your client’s problems. It’s about delivering one small element of a complete design solution. It’s going to take intricate planning, relationship building, and a great deal of specialist knowledge.
This year, most of your clients will be other designers.
4. Small Language Models
The reality is that to simulate human-generated content, AI needs to be trained on human-generated content. A whole mess of legal issues has yet to be untangled — our legal frameworks may simply not be capable of regulating AI.
What will likely emerge in 2024 is the option to generate fresh content from content you already own (small language models, or SLMs) — no one is going to sue the author of Fantastic Beasts for ripping off Harry Potter. Starting this year brands will be able to use their existing content to train AI, for content without the ethical dilemmas.
5. Short-form Video
Throughout 2023, we saw designers prioritizing content that was unique to a company. Whereas once the cute hand-drawn mascot was relegated to the help page, now it was front and center. Anything unique, human-generated, and authentic worked well.
There’s unlikely to be an AI backlash (that will come in 2025), but we certainly value the things AI can’t do convincingly.
2024 will see an explosion of short-form videos, especially on websites.
6. First-hand Experience
The driving force behind content creation has always been to capture as much of the market as possible. Mathematically, that means producing sites with content similar to the market leaders to steal some of their audience. AI has lowered the bar for mimicry, and some experts predict that half of all content will be AI-generated by the end of 2024.
In 2024, distinguishing yourself with expert content will mean you outperform the competition. EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) guidelines are already in place.
7. Text-Only Websites
We talked about kinetic branding, but kinetic typography is also a growing trend. Animated text does an excellent job of grabbing attention while loading fast and adapting to devices, which is why text-only hero sections have been popular in 2023.
In 2024, an increasing number of sites will abandon or significantly downplay images in favor of large, animated text; not just for hero sections but for the entire digital experience.
Ben Moss has designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. When he’s not in front of a screen he’s probably out trail-running.