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Top digital design trends for 2020

Looking at aesthetics, approach and design moving into 2021.  

Many of us are still working from home, unable to collaborate in person and navigating a new horizon of creativity and inspiration. We’re forging onward, the landscape has obviously changed and we see it in our own projects. It’s exciting, intimidating and challenging—all in a positive way. Things such as Zoom brainstorms, illustrative approaches, virtual photoshoots and even the occasional doodle sent via text message are used to bloom a new sense of collaboration. The months ahead will test limits and possibilities, but we’re pumped to stretch some forgotten creative muscle and take on a new way of designing across all mediums. Throughout the industry this is apparent and we’re going to explore some of the trends that will push those boundaries into 2021. 

Big & Bold Typography 

In the last few years, we’ve seen typography slowly step into the spotlight. Hand lettering has filled social media feeds, retro fonts have resurrected themselves from past eras and animation has brought a newfound energy. Whether the project is print or digital, typography is taking the lead. The use of big, bold, elegant typography not only sends a message but also a distinct look and feel. 

In the digital fields, we’re noticing that the standard hero space with a big image may soon be replaced by a dynamically written headline in a powerful, brand-centric font choice. In doing so, it creates the focal point and allows the words to paint the visuals for the visitor. It’s different but it is a statement for the right brand that’s feeling like getting outside of the type-box. 


As we creep closer to 2021, the less is more approach is ringing true. We could call it design social distancing, but the elegant use of white space and a limited color palette draws attention in the busy world of media. Using pops of color to highlight a product or action is the new modern approach to what used to be a very black and white style. Utilize a duotone to compliment company branding. Once a challenging and unique print technique, it’s now being applied to digital mediums with vibrant colors and gradients. 

When a site utilizes a minimal approach, the benefits include faster load times and a cleaner compatibility between desktop and mobile devices. This is a double win in Google’s book – it also gets products, services and information to your users faster and we all want it now. 

Even big names in publishing (The Economist, The Walrus, Fortune, New Scientist, Food & Wine and, GQ) have recently designed covers by implementing big type or illustration in clean ways to communicate their message. 


Custom and stock photography and video have become a challenge with social distancing and congregating restrictions in place. Marketing budgets have also taken a hit due to the economy’s slump. Fear not – illustration has stepped up to accommodate those needs in some situations. The ability to create a full catalog of brand specific assets from icons, infographics, group scenarios and much more offers flexibility and sometimes quicker turn-around times to keep projects moving forward. Plus, that catalog of custom illustration can be animated to further solidify your brand story and bring next level movement to your aesthetic. 


Speaking of next level movement…animation. In the digital world that we live in, we can apply motion to nearly anything that helps attract the user’s eye. From innovative roll overs, full screen motion graphics, or a subtle movement to embellish a logo on a site, animations can be your long-lost friend. Use them effectively and you can take an “OK” design to a polished design; but overdo it and you can completely miss the mark and overwhelm the user. Animations have also proven to be an asset on social media with higher click rates and engagement. So, move slowly, and you may just hit it out of the park. 


Real. Genuine. Honest. There’s something to be said for no filters, almost-perfect lighting, and a sneak peek into the “real world” of a company. We’ve found that traffic and engagement have shown growth in certain areas where an “all-natural” photo or video was appropriate and relevant. These areas might include new product or service announcements, customer testimonials or company culture features. 

The other side of authenticity is the way that you connect with your audience, the people-side. Making an impact on someone in our fast-paced environment is difficult but if you can cut through the noise and clutter in a striking way to make that connection, you’ve overcome the largest hurdle. When it comes to design, you can curate content for your network and potential users. 

Start off with being transparent, include extra and relevant information and be human centered in your delivery. These ideas are a few ways to show your genuine side. It’s much easier for a person to connect with a person, or a group of people, versus a company that appears to be all business and no culture. Customers are interested in who they are considering working with or buying from. They want to know that they trust, rely and have confidence in the product or service. Being authentic in what you do, who you are, and your values will help drive that factor home. 

Data-Centric and Human-Centered Design 

Thoughtful design started because there was a rinse and repeat aesthetic and approach to building things. As decades have passed, we realize that good design is process. It takes a step back to look at the problem as a whole – conduct research, implement a strategy, prototype, test, revise and then finally implement an approach. This process has really been streamlined, due to the amount of data at our fingertips and the tools in place to analyze that information. More recently, data and the “human-centered” design approach have become an integrated step in the process of any project that involves design at its highest level. Whether that’s a mailed marketing piece, a site design, a new or refreshed logo, an app or a digital storefront, to understand where the goals are you need to dive in and understand where you’re starting. It may seem intimidating, but the right combination of tools and firms will guide you through the process. The best part is that the data and the people are there to help optimize the project and meet your goals.  

With 2020 flying by, there’s no time like the present to evaluate if your business approach could benefit from implementing any of these design-forward ideas. We feel confident that these trends will take us into 2021, especially since design is not just aesthetics – it’s also an approach and way of thinking. With good strategy, a strong foundation and the right team in place, applying these trends will help you continue to stay relevant, fresh and modern while still grounded in your roots. If we can help, we’d love to. After all, our passion is building, supporting and growing businesses towards goals through a thoughtful, designed approach. 

Let’s talk about your business moving toward 2021. We would love to hear from you!