Design in 2022 is a study in extremes. With consumers continuing to spend so much of their time online, designs have gone in several, wildly different directions to stand out and to capture shrinking attention spans. Some brands have gone maximalist by using electric colors and gradients, while others have taken to minimal palettes with modernist typography. Here are the five hottest digital design trends we’ve seen so far this year:
1. Gradient Mania
Gradients are an easy way to make designs look more modern with just a few clicks. Both smooth, futuristic gradients and gradients with a more vintage, grainy look are popping up in digital designs of all kinds. Go for a subtle gradient to encourage viewers’ eyes to follow the text all the way down the page, or go for stark color contrast to grab viewers’ attention and stop their mindless scrolling. Choosing where certain colors hit within the gradient has the added benefit of highlighting specific information in the design, or giving a logo the spotlight. If a gradient is too big a commitment, try a one or two-colored “aura” to inject a cloud of color into your design.
2. Electric Colors
Designing for different mediums requires using different color systems. For example, designing for the web requires using RGB or hexadecimal colors which appear on a screen and are made up of light. In contrast, print design uses the CMYK color system which is made up of tiny ink dots. Due to the material differences between these two color systems, different colors can be achieved in each medium.
In this era of bright-and-bold designs, you might have noticed that some colors you encounter on screen seem to glow. Some of the best examples of these electric, glowing colors are royal blue, lime green, yellow, mint, pink, and purple. Electric colors can emphasize certain features of your design and separate your brand from those that don’t take advantage of this unique feature of digital design. Try adding a web-specific, electric accent to your brand’s existing color palette to add an instant “pop” to your designs.
It’s 2022 and there are no rules! What was once frowned upon—doing everything at once (multiple fonts plus multiple colors plus illustration plus photos, etc.)—is now an effective design strategy. The wackier and crazier, the better. The visual chaos of maximalism might not be traditionally aesthetically pleasing, but it is so jarring that you just have to look at it.
4. Serif Fonts with a Twist
Fonts with serifs (the little feet on the ends of letterforms) are an evergreen design choice but one often avoided when designing for digital spaces. It was said to be harder to read due to being rendered in pixels and not printed in ink, than its sans-serif alternative. However, screen quality has improved and serifed fonts continue to gain traction even when designing for screens.
As Margaret Andersen said in The 10 biggest design trends of 2021, “An influx of classical serif fonts appeared throughout 2021, modernized with unexpected and organic flourishes that felt both futuristic and referential to the opulence and luxury of art nouveau, baroque and rococo movements.” This trend of mashing up old and new type elements to create entirely new fonts that are somehow both vintage and modern is still with us in 2022.
These hybrid creations include new fonts like Voyage and Almoneda that take serifed standbys and alter them slightly to give them a retro-but-futuristic feel. Elongating the letterforms, creating slight waves in the serifs themselves, and playing with the width of the strokes give barely-there classic fonts a facelift.
5. Minimal Neutrals
On the opposite end of the spectrum, neutrals are having a moment. Ultra-minimal designs and neutral colors like vanilla, barely-there grays, tan, and true white can give viewers a sense of calm and a feeling of order. This sophisticated, elevated aesthetic provides a stark contrast to the louder, bolder, rainbow colors of other designs in the digital landscape.
So far, 2022 has proven to be another year of design rule-breaking. In addition to the trends listed above, we continue to see illegible type, the next generation of Corporate Memphis, animation, video, static imagery, tiny random patterns, amorphous blobs, and more, proliferate around the web. Let’s explore the best trends for your brand creative in 2022.