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These web design trends are going to take over screens in 2024

Maximalism, ‘80s excess, Y2K, heritage revivalism, Kawaii-inspired femme design, and more. This is a design forecast you don't want to miss.

Illustration by Ido Israeli.

Profile picture of Margaret Andersen

12.19.2023

9 min read

It feels like just about everything ramped up or broke down in 2023. 


Online trends accelerated, the economy began its rebound, AI took over, Twitter became X (and more chaotic), and brands still needed to break through all that noise.


Web design trends responded to the cultural temp: a maximalist design approach solidified its place on our screens, users continued to lean into Y2K and early web nostalgia in search of more connection; designers took on AI tools and questioned how soon it will change just about everything. 


With this in mind, we’re making a few predictions: on both big, stylistic trends, and the individual web design elements you can expect more of in 2024.  


2024’s top web design trends



An ad banner that reads "Innocate with built-in AI tools. Start creating."


1. Maximalism


Dieter Rams famously said that “good design is as little design as possible.” Well, maximalism is pretty much in direct opposition to that approach. If there was one overarching web design trend that was big on the internet in 2023—and will continue to be in 2024—it’s maximalism. Think: loud graphics, dopamine colors, expressive typography, and overall, a strong visual point of view. 


We keep waiting for maximalism to reach peak market saturation, but so far, clients and their consumers can’t seem to get enough of the more-is-more approach. It has appeal across categories, but especially for the web presence of CPG, F&B and emerging brands catering to younger audiences. Consider JKR’s super well-received rebrand of mass-market soda Fanta, the playful primary colors and chubby, all-caps sans branding of celeb chef Molly Baz's website (and new book designed by Playlab Inc., aptly called More is More); or Collins’ new take on Disney-owned streaming service Freeform.   


Maximalism has also spawned a variety of smaller identifiable sub-trends, including heritage revivalism and ‘80s-inspired retro glamor (more on those below), showing up in individual site elements as well as entire brand worlds. In 2024, maximalism will continue to evolve as it saturates the market, and designers will find new stylistic expressions of this more-is-more approach to break through the noise and meet the demands of their clients.


A website in the maximalist design style uses an array of bright colors.
Maximalist design is all about loud graphics and colors, expressive typography, and overall, a strong visual point of view. Illustration by Ashger Zamana.


2. Heritage revivalism


This maximalist web design subtrend borrows from the excess, ornamentation and teeny tiny details of the 17th and 18th century Baroque and Rococo artistic movements, but more broadly, from a less blanded, digitally-optimized visual heritage. This revival is possible, partly, because of improved tech, which can now support more visual details due to higher resolutions and bigger screen sizes.


Burberry’s February rebrand, which revived its cobalt blue serif wordmark and 122-year-old equestrian knight motif and broke through a crowd of luxury fashion sans serifs, was perhaps one of the most talked about things on design Twitter (now X), this year. 



On TV, Plains of Yonder’s White Lotus title sequence fittingly evoked the murals of 16th century, sun-drenched Italian villas. That sense of luxury, escapism, and timeless bespoke craftsmanship appeared on sites for perfume, tinned fish, even dog shampoo, and was a welcome respite from the san-serif sameness that’s dominated screen design for years. It’s also an early sign that we're seeing new takes on maximalism as the aesthetic continues to increase in popularity across devices through 2024.

A website with a Rococo-inspired background and large sans serif type in bright yellow that reads "Giltique" on the botto, half of the first fold.
Heritage revivalism borrows from the ornamentation and tiny details of the Baroque artistic movement, but more broadly, from a less blanded, digitally-optimized visual heritage. Illustration by Ido Israeli.


3. '80s excess


Another maximalism spinoff channels the visuals related to ‘80s and early ‘90s excess and exclusivity, exemplified by successful startups  like suncare brand Vacation, “members-only” winery Rochambeau Club and design-friendly $1,500 wine cooler brand Rocco, for the Ghia-drinking, Issey Miyake-wearing professional set. 


This approach uses a few common callbacks, like grainy background textures, soft single-color gradients and heavy use of vintage photography and styling. It also uses old-school magazine layouting techniques, like thin-line motifs and bordered images. Of course, the type choices are retro, too: look for neutral semi serifs or thin serifs paired with secondary scripts. 


But retroglam doesn't just embody ‘80s print media. Pepsi embraced the design approach with a reboot of its mid-’80s visual identity featuring vintage clips of Madonna in honor of its 125th anniversary, while bodycare brand Billie leaned into the kitschy, over-the-top infomercials of the past for its recent digital campaign.




4. Brand worldbuilding


Brands adopted a holistic design approach this year, moving beyond mood boards to create entire immersive, fictional brand universes across their websites, social channels and packaging. The strategy is about more than just selling a product; it’s about inviting individuals to become a part of a rich story and creating a community that feels playful, imaginative and authentic—wherever a potential customer encounters the brand. 


Skincare startups like Futurewise, Starface and Dieux Skin all excelled in creating visually cohesive brand worlds, as did Flamingo Estate, while Vacation makes our list a second time for expanding their universe of retro leisure to include clever collabs with tennis ball brand Prince and the iconic AriZona Beverage Company. We’ll see worldbuilding as a more common omnichannel design and marketing solution for brand clients in 2024, as the ways consumers enter a brand funnel continue to broaden in 2024 and beyond.




5. AI tools


It’s only been a little over a year since ChatGPT launched, and it's obviously changed the way we work and create. AI tools have quickly integrated into many of our design workflows to help with ideation, content, lorem ipsum filler text, wireframes, image and video creation.


Sites like Synesthesia let you create custom AI video avatars and voiceovers, while text-to-image generators like Midjourney and Dall-E have given rise to entire AI creative studios, like Maison Meta, which produces AI-generated ad campaigns like this one for Revolve’s IRL billboards. The tech is also available for the first time in website builders: Wix Studio has AI web design capabilities available in its editor. Getty Images and Adobe Firefly released their own text-to-image generators trained on stock photo datasets; which they claim prevents possible  copyright infringement (some creatives say otherwise). 


Despite the exploding popularity of these tools, many designers are still cautious about downloading every new free AI app. There are a lot of unknowns as to how this technology will  evolve in 2024, though one thing is for sure—it'll continue to dominate design and tech discourse.


An interface for a fictional image generator.
AI tools, like this fictional image generator, have quickly become part our design workflows to help with ideation, content, image and video creation. Illustration by Halel Edri.


6. Dial-up design


There’s a nostalgia for the early web, when there were more niche online communities, tech limitations and fewer brand guidelines. Today, web designers are tapping into the spirit of experimentation from the early, Geocities era of the internet by utilizing low-fi social assets like memes and Y2K callbacks, like MS Paint and word art in their work. 


Look to the social collateral of major agencies like Droga5 and Wieden + Kennedy, the recently launched internet culture site Byline, the new Gen Z myspace app, NoSpace, the female-run media startup for the “chronically online,” BoysClub, and BusinessWeek as a few examples. It’s all part of the Y2K craze and points to the continued dominance of this design approach moving into next year. 


A solid meme also qualifies as an acceptable—if not preferred—design asset these days, especially for those clients targeting younger millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Look to social media accounts for popular communities Seamoss Girlies (Gen Z’s anti-Goop?), the previously mentioned Boys Club, new-to-market, exceptionally-branded morning after pill Julie, and messenger app Ghost for starters—but all you’ve got to do is scroll Instagram to see this trend in the wild.

 

Brands also utilized low-fi assets in order to respond to the fast pace of ephemeral, of-the-moment internet trends, like #tomatogirl (Hunts’ impressive collab with cool girl boutique Lisa Says Gah), and lean into an audience that’s chronically online. One unexpected brand to get in on the trend is Celestial Seasonings, the classic ‘90s tea company whose Sleepytime Bear mascot, organically became a meme this year, which the brand is now capitalizing on by blanketing its own official account with the internet-famous icon.




7. Retrofuture femme


This one’s for the Dollz. The internet is getting cuter, thanks to web designs inspired by Kawaii, an endearingly cute Japanese aesthetic. Consider this the kid sister of dial-up design. This web design trend is hyper femme and glittery (see trendy agency for it-girl brands Air Milkshake), and covered in hearts (Studio Nari for Coach), bows and butterflies. This overlaps with fashion trends like balletcore and coquettecore, and it’s gaining traction at the same time as girly, feminine fashions from designers like the sell-out-level popular Sandy Liang.




Girly, femme design emerged with force in 2023 as yet another counterpoint to traditional corporate web design tropes, another indication that consumers—especially younger ones—are tired of the same old sans. As creative consultancy Digital Fairy explains,  the creative expression of the early internet, as found on sites like Myspace, Tumblr and Blingee, still resonates with designers today, and they’ll continue to repurpose the cute aesthetic moving into 2024 for clients looking to cater to younger, fluently online audiences.



An image of a Kawaii-inspired website.
The internet is getting cuter, thanks to design inspired by Kawaii, an endearingly cute Japanese aesthetic. This trend is hyper femme and glittery, and covered in hearts, bows and butterflies. Illustration by Ido Israeli.


8. Gen Z brand speak


Gen Z has had serious buying power for a few years now, and just like millennials before them, a distinct aesthetic has emerged and will become a generational design shorthand in 2024. 


The Gen Z look embodies vibrancy, eclecticism and digital fluency, blending retro influences with modern styles, and features bold colors, nostalgic nods to the '90s and early 2000s and tech-savvy maximalism. Y2K zine effects, stickers, sparkle icons, fisheye photo lenses and gender-neutral colors like yellow, lilac purple and vivid green, are all Gen Z visual signifiers that have been synthesized by brands appealing to Gen Z consumers who now possess considerable power of the purse. 


Nike’s doing it, as are makeup and skincare brands like Billie and Good Weird, and social search engine Diem; even grocery services like Superette (a solid design counterpoint to the millennial-oriented Snaxshot) are riding the Gen Z aesthetic wave all the way to the (virtual) bank.


A Gen Z fashion website mock up called "HouseGen" featuring a metallic swirl around a futuristic group portrait image.
Gen Z brands are using visual signifiers like Y2K zine effects, stickers, sparkle icons, fisheye photo lenses and gender-neutral colors. Illustration by Johnny Orel.


9. Bentobox layouting


The bentobox was built for organized meals, and online, designers and their clients are eating it up. That makes sense: the UI is a versatile compartmentalized design layout, organizing digital elements into discrete, functional sections. This user-friendly structure enhances the user experience by presenting information in an easy to digest, visually appealing format that feels like a step beyond a standard grid. 


Sites like the Workshop Survival Guide and Prowl Studio are neatly organized with minimal spacing in between, but the web design trend can also incorporate playful elements. Consider creative studio Schoooool’s and Vogue-approved brand for new parents Swehl’s slightly rounded corners, or Mode Analytics’ refreshing color combinations. This trend is likely to hit its peak soon, but expect to see more of it in 2024.


A website design that uses the bentobox approach.
The compartmentalized design layout is at its peak right now, but expect to see this strategy carry on through 2024. Illustration by Ido Israeli.


10. Toggle switch