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Digital Design Trends 2023

August 18th, 2023 by Heather Maloney

The style of digital assets changes over time.  The continual change is driven partly by fashion and the desire to keep up to date, partly by the available design tools of the time, and most certainly because designers want to help you stand out from the crowd.

Current design trends are being influenced by designers exploring new AI tools being launched (e.g. Mid Journey, DALL-E 2) as well as AI augmentation of pre-existing design tools (e.g. Photoshop Beta Generative Fill).

At any given point in time, there will be noticeable trends being employed in the design of digital assets, by which I mean:

  • logo design (of course, logos are printed as well, but arguably they are now more often seen on digital screens)
  • website design and website banners
  • email campaign design, including hero images
  • digital billboards
  • online and in-app advertisements
  • social media posts
  • video and animations

Whether you choose to follow the design trends, or carve your own path, should be decided by considering the following 4 questions:

  1. Will my target audience engage more with a design that is in line with current design trends?
  2. Does the trend fit well with, or jar against, my current brand?
  3. How long will the creative asset that I am going to create be used?  For example, a logo should have a longer shelf-life than a social media ad.
  4. Will the design trend help me to convey my message?

Okay, let’s take a look at some of the current design trends.

1. Simple graphic style with high contrast

The trending graphical style harks back to the bad old days at the start of personal computing where ‘clipart’ proliferated. You can see from the examples below that ‘shading’ of images is achieved through solid coloured shapes.  The images lack detail, are very flat and often quite bright.

Xero home page:

design trends simple graphic style

Westpac home page – tiles for latest blog posts:

graphic style 2023 design trend westpac

FIFA World Cup Logo (who knew we would all be watching so much women’s soccer this year?):

Fifa world cup logo - simple graphic style

Hello Fresh, images explaining their benefits:

design trends 2023

Beyond Blue home page imagery:

design trends 2023

 

2. Mixing photography with 2D graphics

Using photographs to set the scene, and then adding playful, graphics to change the vibe.  Here’s 2 examples from a recent Medibank email campaign:

design trends 2023 photos with 2D elements added

design trends 2023 photos with 2D elements added

Australian Open 2024 – imagery for their new range of merchandise:

Australian Open 2024 and design trends

International Women’s Day:

mixing images and graphics design trend 2023

 

 

3. Psychedelic & Retro style

Both the simple graphic style, and combination on photos and graphics, are often being given a psychedelic or retro tweak. Psychedelic design tends to have intense colours, free-flowing lines, and kaleidoscopic patterns. It was created in San Francisco in the 1960s by artists within the hippie movement, and first appeared in posters for music concerts.

The Medibank email campaign designs shown above have hints of this style.  Below is an example of the retro / psychedelic feel given to the National Australia Bank website home page:

2023 current design trends

26th FIFA World Cup branding features animated bright colours (watch the animation here):

FIFA world up psychedelic design trend

The Menu Log advertising campaigns are arguably combining retro and psychedelic:

Menu Log psychedelic advertising

The garish colour combinations seen in the many of the above examples are also a characteristic of neubrutalism which was predicted to make a comeback in 2023.

Animating graphics over photography takes the current design trends to a new level, which can be seen in the animated banners at the top of the SXSW Sydney convention website.  Make sure you click through to view – you have to see it in action to appreciate it!

Psychedelic design trend 2023

 

4. Mixing fonts & variable fonts

The font used for a heading or brand is a very important communication tool – setting the scene for your message, and making statements about who you are and who you serve.

A current trend is to use mostly one font, but change just one letter within a word to a different font, likely a script font.  I went looking for an example of this design trend to show inside this blog, but of course, couldn’t find any when I needed them!  Hopefully I’ll have an update for this blog post shortly with an example.  Let me know if you find one first! 🙂

Mixing up fonts, and creating whole new font looks is being facilitated by the use of AI technologies applied to image creation.  Below is an example of a related trend of using more hand-written and relaxed fonts.

playing with fonts

New technologies include variable fonts which allow designers to precisely define a typefaces’ width, weight, and contrast, giving designers much more versatility.  Prior to variable fonts, a font would come with a range of options (weights, italics or not etc), in separate files.  With a variable font, the one font file allows you to adjust these variables at any point along a continuum e.g. a font weight of 111, 112, 113 … and so on.

mixed and variable fonts 2023 design trends

Very bold fonts and extremely minimalist headings are also trending.  The example from Linktr.ee below shows a big bold font underneath another example of photography combined with simple graphic elements.

graphic style applied to photos

 

 

5. White space

Combining the simple graphical style with large amounts of white space is helping brands to convey their message clearly & boldly.  The latest imagery promoting the Henry Bucks annual sale includes simple graphical style, with a retro feel, and plenty of white space.  The combination of multiple fonts is also on trend.

white space graphic style

 

6.  Simplify

I feel that this is always a trend.  Here’s an example of some recent logo refreshes of well known companies, that are showing the trend to simplification:

Slack says hello new logo.

slack logo refresh

Pepsi unveils a new logo and visual identity.

pepsi brand refresh

Australian Super’s brand refresh.

Thunderbird email client logo simplification:

logo redesign 2023

Trainerize logo refresh:

 

A note about Twitter / X

I couldn’t talk about logo changes without mentioning Twitter, well, I should say “X”.  Has anyone started actually referring to it as X yet, or are you still talking about using Twitter?  Here’s a bit of background on the reasoning behind the change from the Guardian, and a commentary (via a tweet) that slams the decision as a legal nightmare for X.  And here’s a link to the new Twitter logo – we will all want to start applying that to our websites!

twitter rebrand

 

 

Have I missed any trends?  Let us know via the comments.  🙂

If you would like help to freshen up your brand or website (whether you want to get on board with the trends or not), don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Further Reading:

Brutalism in Interior Design in 2023 – Vogue

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