Adam Balazy July 2nd, 2020

What Graphic Design Trends Are Going Out Of Style?

A graphic designer is a highly-demanding profession that requires not only a wide array of skills and vast expertise but also thinking ahead and breaking the rules.

Even veterans must continuously upgrade their skills and expand their knowledge to stay on top of the game. To be able to do that, they keep tabs on modern trends that delight their clients. After all, the design is the top driver of web and mobile users’ positive first impressions. Considering this, graphic designers’ work is essential for a fruitful online presence. With 1.7 billion active websites of competitors, every single pixel matters.

What popular trends are going out of style in graphic design? 

Strong and complex gradients

Over the course of the last few years, we have seen a trend of using very sophisticated and robust gradients. This design theme was very prominent across the globe, with the big brands like Instagram, Tinder for example, and as a part of smaller interface elements (buttons on Asana brand applications). In my honest opinion, this trend is transforming into a less aggressive color selection and fewer colors used in gradient in general. This is by no means a suggestion that we will not see any gradients used at all, but some of the applications will evolve into different approaches like the use of holographic patterns.

Isometric design

Isometric perspective in design is a trend that comes and goes. It was a very prominent way to approach the topic of illustrations and iconography in web and mobile interfaces over the last few years. Isometric design often feels more technical and stiff than the current trend of a more “humane” way to present illustrations with a lot of sketch and abstract silhouettes and proportions. This trend will remain to be seen, but we think that it will be used in more specific cases and mainly for a very technical field of design because it’s a relatively easy way to show a product from a wide-angle and perspective on a single image.

Outlined typography 

Outlined typography creates a unique visual effect for typography, but it can very often collide with the User Experience. We want to make sure that the app you are using is easy to use and navigate, content blocks are visually appealing. This can be easily ruined with a part of a design that has a crucial meaning to users, and a pixel-wide outline mixed with a low contrasting color can turn that into an almost invisible object. Outlined typography is one of the most concerning parts of typography when looking at components with the simple “UX Squint Test.” If your brand revolves around an outlined typography, a small object that uses this technique will be almost impossible to see if you try to look at it with a squint eye. This is a clear indication of a problem for users across various devices.

Strict grid structure

We are all used to ensuring that everything is perfectly aligned with Grid, fits the proper column with a tidy, pixel-perfect gutter in between. With the ever-improving front-end capabilities of various code languages & frameworks that allow for easier implementation of more fancy and imaginative interfaces, we are finally able to create a more asymmetrical layout. This is by no means a way to do a „chaotic” design and still requires a lot of practice to get right, but we should see way more unorthodox designs in the near future.

Stiff, technical copywriting

Web and mobile apps are finally changing the very technical, overcomplicated headers and descriptions. With the increasing number of major brands that are more aware of the importance of good copywriting can bring, microcopy rises in power. With the right approach, you can push the same information to your beloved user base without needing some (or most of them) to check the dictionary. Microcopy with a more relaxed tone, clear description of values is by far one of the most welcome changes to what’s going on in copywriting and design in general.

What cliches inexperienced graphic designers overuse?

Overuse of color

If the app you are designing has a single primary color, you should not add three, four, or more colors to the used palette. We know that it’s tempting, but keep in mind that brand awareness should be a big part of a design planning process. If the app you have designed will see mostly green color, but the client brand is strictly using blue, it could lead to confusion if the app belongs to the same band.

In addition, as we said in the previous section, we think that a lot of designers treat gradients as an easy way to make the interface look more advanced than it would look like with a solid set of colors. We still tend to use gradients, depending on the app - but if you can achieve your design work with the basic set of colors, you should be able to resist the use of gradients.

Mixing outlined and filled icons at random

It might be a bit nitpicky, but this is a common sight in a lot of early designer portfolios, where you can see a set of 3-4 navigation icons and one of them - often the least important from a User perspective - is filled and appears bolder, while the rest is a less intrusive outline styled. It’s a common practice in design to stick to one style, or apply an outlined icon for inactive and filled with the active state (for example heart or bookmark icons)

Breaking design principles “just because”

Since we have had access to tools and resources to design, Designers always wanted to experiment with the various components of user interface design. This is an essential part of making your style and a unique product in general, but some things are better done the way we are common with. So you should not really over experiment with the Checkbox, to replace a checkmark with a Triangle, or make a triangle button. This often leads to confusion and a drastic drop in readability and user experience for the sake of making a change.

Key takeaway

One of the means of staying up-to-date is continually getting inspired by accomplished masters of the trade, like Jeffrey Zeldman, Mike Kus, or Ethan Marcotte. To amp up your design skills, I recommend reading the articles 10 Lessons Learned From Top Web Designers and WOW Your Users With These 31 UX Best Practices for Mobile Design.

Now that you know what trends are out of style, breathe new life into your UX/UI design by applying these new trends.

For your next digital product choose experts who will create a neat and responsive UX design by not only keeping up with the newest trends, but also by anticipating them and broadening the horizons through turning to modern art, architecture, and even traditional fashion.


  1. Thanks so much @Adam Balazy
    For easier understanding of the article, illustration would richly be appreciated.
    This is a nice piece every graphics designer must know

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