Vintage Websites: How to Get the Retro Look
Fashions come and go, but one thing never changes – retro is always happening. Whether in clothes, hairstyles or home decor, going for an “old-fashioned” look is often the most cutting-edge choice. Even when it comes to web design, many people choose to go retro when they create a website.
Considering how technology and digital culture are based on constant innovation, the proliferation of vintage websites may seem surprising. But it actually makes perfect sense. Nostalgia, after all, is a powerful marketing strategy that plays on people’s individual memories and life experiences. It creates a sense of familiarity and a bond between consumers and brands.
In addition to that, retro styles are powerful because they are recognizable. They symbolize a cultural identity, a message and an attitude. In creating a vintage website inspired, for example, by 1960s hippy culture, the site owners tell visitors so much about their brand or organization’s values and their approach.
Moving on to the fun part, here are six classic retro styles that will never get old. We’ll give you a full breakdown of how to easily recreate each style while building your own vintage website.
The Fin-de-Siecle style
What is it: Everything sounds better in French, doesn’t it? The term fin-de-siecle means “turn of the century” and in this context, it’s a reference to the unique aesthetics that emerged in the hippest world capitals during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
Fonts to use: Arnold Böcklin, ITC Benguiat, Hobo, Souvenir.
Leading colors: Black, orange yellows, red.
Popular graphic elements: Vectors, elaborate ornamentation.
Visual motifs: Floral patterns, curvy figures, animals like peacocks or cats.
Where to find inspiration: Moulin-Rouge-inspired paintings and all things Art Nouveau.
The Roaring Twenties style
What is it: You may have had the opportunity recently to be invited to a Great Gatsby party, inspired by the film adaptation of Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel. The visual culture that emerged in the 1920s continues to fascinate us not only because it’s so gorgeous (and it is!), but also because of its association with a lifestyle that celebrated fun, freedom and individuality.
Fonts to use: Broadway, Rennie Mackintosh.
Leading colors: Black and white, gold, red.
Popular graphic elements: Geometrical shapes and lines that create sharp angles, enlarged typography.
Visual motifs: Jazzy scenes, the boyish flapper women, chandeliers, classic cars.
Where to find inspiration: The Cabaret, Art Deco architecture, silent films.
1960s cocktail party style
What is it: Influenced by mass media and the rise of consumer culture, this style celebrates new technological developments and the ways in which they influenced everyday life. Creating a 1960s vintage website is not unlike hosting a 1960s party at your house. There’s a lot of attention to fine details, and a great host/ess has them all under control.
Fonts to use: Helvetica, Futura, Bauer Bodoni.
Leading colors: Orange, green, yellow, light blue. Don’t be afraid of using saturated hues.
Popular graphic elements: Wallpaper-like patterns, icons, illustrations, ribbons.
Visual motifs: Home appliances and interior decor, smiling faces, futuristic transportation methods.
Where to find inspiration: Mad Men episodes, 1960s cookbooks.
The pop art style
What is it: Pop art mixes shock value with playfulness. Unlike the previous styles explored here, this one is less interested in pleasing and more in creating a fuss. It’s deliberately messy and never takes itself too seriously. Oh, and it’s one of the hottest web design trends you’ll see this year.
Fonts to use: Bubble Gum, Cooper Black, Baby Teeth.
Leading colors: All flashy and strong colors are welcome here, and the more you mix the better.
Popular graphic elements: Cartoonish illustrations, combinations of printed and hand-drawn elements, bright color backgrounds.
Visual motifs: Edgy and cheeky images, dots as a visible texture (inspired by Roy Lichtenstein), celebrities.
Where to find inspiration: Old comic books, and, of course, the works of Andy Warhol.
What is it: It’s time to get groovy! Your website is transitioning into a dance floor surrounded by shining lights and filled with motion. The disco style is very effective in creating an uplifting mood. It’s expressive, fun, and can be simultaneously jolty and smooth.
Fonts to use: Optex, Stripes, Flash, Chalet 1970.
Leading colors: Lots! Combine stark bright colors on a black background to make them really pop. Metallic shades work great here, too.
Popular graphic elements: Shapes, wavy vectors, a crowded layout with relatively little “white space” (but keep the site readable and navigable!)
Visual motifs: Glitter, pixelated chromatics, platform shoes, disco balls, of course :)
Where to find inspiration: Disco hits music videos, album covers.
1980s, no regrets
What is it: Often referred to as “the ugliest decade,” now the 1980s are finally coming back. The 80s style is known for being over the top, but that’s exactly what it tries to be. Perm hairstyles that block everyone’s view, tacky tropical-themed bars, couches with a floral pattern that you can’t look away from – the 1980s gave us all of that and they are not apologizing for it!
Fonts to use: Usually a major design “don’t,” mixing more than two fonts is actually a common trait in 1980s graphics. Try fonts like New Alphabet, Catalogue, Gridnik.
Leading colors: Neon purples, pinks, yellows and greens.
Popular graphic elements: Icons, badges, triangles, grid-like backgrounds.
Visual motifs: Sci-fi (like the original Tron movies), lots of zebras, zig-zag and spirals patterns, palm trees.
Where to find inspiration: The Memphis Design school, classic video games, early-career Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
By The Wix Team