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Envato’s Creative Trend Predictions 2020

From design to multimedia, here’s what we can expect on the trends front coming into the new year, according to our experts.

Posted 20 Dec 2019
Creative Trend Predictions 2020

From web design trends and marketing trends to video and music trends, 2020 has already been referred to by some as 20-plenty. Here’s what we can expect on the trend front coming into the new year, according to our experts.

If you haven’t already, take a look back at the trends we spotted in 2019.

Design trends

Get That ‘70s Look​

You might be thinking patterned wallpapers and the avocado green/burnt orange color combo, but what does ‘70s vintage look like as a modern design trend?

“Bold color choices, flower motifs, paisley patterns and curvy serif fonts. It won’t be as kitsch-y as the original designs were, instead it will evoke a nostalgic, relaxed and cheerful aesthetic,” says Kate McInnes, Envato’s Content Specialist for graphics.

For a recent example, look to Glossier’s pop-up shop in London’s Floral Street, Covent Garden.

Illustrations Enhance UX​

Illustration for SaaS websites has been steadily gaining traction since 2017 and looks set to continue its growth in 2020. (check out our UX and UI Trends article, to take an even deeper dive into this topic)

Styles so far have had isometric, minimal, and modernist inspirations, but making this style work means looking past the methods and focusing instead on the purpose.

“Playful and diverse humans work best,” says Kate. As good practice, she points to City Marathon by Faber14 or Geyo – Remote Working by sudutlancip.

AR Becomes Easier

Adobe recently announced the Aero augmented reality app, the first tool of its kind that doesn’t require technical knowledge for basic creations (that’s right, no coding skills needed).

“Some designers will start to experiment in this space, but it might be a slow burn while early adopters come up with new and interesting ways to use it,” predicts Kate.

The Design Suite on Your iPad​

Self-explanatory but exciting nonetheless: Photoshop for iPad is out, and Illustrator is due to launch in 2020.

“This will make life easier for busy creatives and design nomads. So far, the beta looks great and I’m excited to see the final release,” says Kate.

Brutalist Isn’t So “Ugly” Anymore​

Brutalist architecture came to prominence in the 1950s, characterized by functionality, concrete structures, and hard angles. Now this look is being adopted by graphics and visual design—with large fonts, contrasting colors, and overlapping imagery.

“Brutalist can be defined as an ‘anti-design’ movement which carefully pushes the design boundaries and can often be perceived as ugly,” explains Tahlia Giannopoulas, User Experience Designer.

Test it out using fonts like Monolisk by StudioBuchanan or in an HTML template like Brutal by mp-web.

Photography trends

Demand Grows for Portrait and Square

“Online advertising via social media will continue to exert demand for photos that are better adapted to that format,” says Gaby Jalbert, Envato’s Content Specialist for photos.

Get started with templates on Envato Elements, for things like Instagram shopping or Facebook display ads.

Drones Deliver Results​

The technology keeps improving, and the affordability keeps improving with it.

“Even with the new regulations in some countries, there’s no signs of it slowing down,” says Gaby. “It allows new perspectives that simply weren’t possible before without using expensive equipment.”

Popular topics include the obvious travel and cityscapes, but also weddings and agriculture. Check out examples like this aerial forest view in Finland by nblxer.

Imagery Emerges for Social Issues​

Polarizing topics often require stock imagery and assets, of which there can be limited options due to their sensitive nature.

“There is potential to represent these social topics in a way that doesn’t look too staged and can be licensed commercially,” says Gaby.

On Envato Elements, examples include images specific to violence against women or gun control.

AI Is Everywhere​

It’s not going away as a trend anytime soon—we know it’s in our lives in the form of smartphones, manufacturing, and online advertising, and it’s being developed in things like prosthetics and self-driving vehicles.

“We’ve just scratched the surface of it!” says Gaby, and points to an example image by Halfpoint.

Video trends

Fluid Animation Hits the Scene

Fluid animation uses persistent movement, often with elements having the appearance of liquid.

“Animators use fluid to keep the pace while also smoothly transitioning between elements or scenes,” says Mark Brodhuber, Envato’s Content Specialist for video.

See what he means in video templates like Particles Titles 4K by MIKO and Fluidum Liquid Backgrounds on VideoHive.

Gradients Make a Comeback

“They fit really nicely into the retro, ‘80s, cyberpunk theme that’s been trending since early 2019. They’re being used as bold striking backgrounds, or to accentuate text and other elements, helping them to leap off the screen,” says Mark.

Authenticity Is King

Most would be glad to know that tired stock assets have been consigned to the past, and customer expectations of authentic video are helping this along.

“The days of generic, cheesy, or obvious stock footage have come to an end. Customers now demand authentic, genuine, film-grade material that is both beautifully shot and believable,” says Mark. For an example, watch this day to night time-lapse of Hong Kong.

Colors Go Bold

“Nothing makes more of an impact than bold colors with minimal but strong typography. Vibrant colors are appearing more frequently, giving designs a younger, trendier look and feel,” says Mark, pointing to things like Colorful Fashion Promo Festival by pixelin as examples.

Vertical Video Continues to Flourish

“After mobile-first video really emerged in 2019, in the new year we can expect to see vertical video continuing to thrive. As Breadnbeyond says, ‘smartphone users hold their phone vertically about 94% of the time’,” explains Jen McKinnon, Envato’s Video Marketing Specialist.

“This transition is being reflected in the types of tools and templates you can use to streamline your video production, like this event promo template from Envato Elements,” says Jen.

Music trends

Tech’s on Top

Tech audio is always at the cutting edge of refining techniques and unearthing fresh sounds.

“Energy levels may sway from subtle or subdued, all the way to striking, sensational, or sweeping,” predicts Adrien Gardiner, Envato’s Content Specialist for audio.

Example styles include electronic experimental like Piano Flickering Lights by macrobellonicmusic and the more dramatic Dark Technology by AllenGrey.

Sports Sounds Bring the Energy

Sports will always use sounds to foster a sense of challenge and achievement.

“The defining sound of sport is “energy”, and we expect to keep seeing all manners of hybridization, various blendings of all the most impactful kinds of music,” says Adrien.

Use a take on the perennially popular stomp rock style sound, with Powerful Stomp Sport Rock by TimCat or a new spin on classic sport sounds, like Liquid Drum and Bass by MarbleSpace.

Travel Captures Emotions​

What does travel feel like as a music trend?

“Happy!” says Adrien. And the industry is booming, meaning so should its sounds be.

“Especially with modern, upbeat, and youthful genres to engage and drive that perpetual, wayfaring sense of wanderlust,” adds Adrien. To see what he means, listen to On the Future Bass by CoffeeMusic or Tropical Paradise by monkeystyle.

Corporate Music Turns Creative

No, it’s not always boring, though it may have been hit with the label “generic” in the past.

“Growing numbers of corporate projects continue to define this subgenre as legitimate,” says Adrien. “Not many corporate works get done without the optimistic sound of uplifting melodies, motivational beats, and an inspirational feeling of unbridled exuberance.”

As evidence, you only have to look as far as Indie Acoustic Corporate by Russell_Frederick.

Web trends

Animation Becomes Refined

This website trend was included in Envato’s 2019 year in review, and while movement on a web page isn’t new, it is becoming more prevalent than ever before. But there’s plenty of room for refinement, says Stephen Cronin, Envato’s Content Specialist for websites and themes.

“In 2019 animation may have been a little overused,” says Stephen. “Hopefully 2020 will see it used more cleverly, with more subtle animation on interaction used to support user engagement and more obvious animation used to draw attention to just one or two calls to action.”

Images Get Bigger​

Illustrations have become such a website mainstay for tech companies that it’s nearly accepted as best practice, rather than a trend. However, website illustration continues to inspire new template designs as customers continue to seek them out.

“If illustrations are not being used, then it’s very likely that large images will be used in their place. In 2020, having some sort of image (or background video) on your website is a must, and it’s a case of the larger the better,” says Stephen.

Website Design Rules Are Broken

Grid layouts, white space, consistent visual hierarchy, legible fonts… they’re all taken for granted as essential rules. But 2020 might be the time to throw these out the window, says Stephen.

“Let’s break that grid and go with an asymmetrical layout. Let’s use a wild font that is not as readable. Let’s include hand drawn elements. Let’s put some elements over the top of other ones, obscuring them,” suggests Stephen (wherever it doesn’t significantly affect usability).

Variable Fonts Rule

“With browser support improving, 2020 could be the year that variable fonts break out and become commonplace in themes and templates,” predicts Stephen.

Variable fonts allow many different styles within a single font file, leading to improved performance and smoother transitions between styles. Learn more with Envato’s guide to how to use variable fonts on the web.

Humanity Returns to Web Design

“We’ve seen web design getting slicker and shinier over the years, with a distinct ‘digital’ feel. Now we’re seeing brands bringing humanity back into web design through hand drawn illustrations, icons and fonts, along with the use of textures and grain effects,” says Camilla Anderson, Envato’s Digital Designer.

In 2020, we can expect to see more brands taking up this trend, as they try to bridge the gap between the screen and the customer.

Camilla points to websites like Chobani as best practice examples, similarly seen in the Superfood and Succulents themes from ThemeForest.

Code trends

All Eyes Remain on Privacy and GDPR

It’s been a hot topic in recent years, and obviously will continue to be of paramount importance.

“With the public’s confidence around the internet giants eroding, expect a course correction where buyers clamor towards privacy enhancing apps and privacy respecting applications,” says Siddharth Pillai, Envato’s Content Specialist for Web Security and Code. “The app is GDPR compliant and publicizes that? Easy win!”

The Demand for Mobile Apps Grows

And growing. And growing!

“Mobile has been the dominant platform for years now and that trend isn’t going to reverse itself. If anything, with foldable phones just starting to appear, I’d bet good money on the demand surging even higher, both for fully built apps as well as UI collections,” says Siddharth.

Tools Like Flutter Fly

“Getting an application built is time (and capital) intensive,” explains Siddharth. Creators have been using various cross-platform frameworks for years now, and he says that the newest kid on the block “promises to upstage them all.”

“Flutter promises incredible development velocity by way of providing sane defaults and a rich widget library. It’s also created and pushed heavily by Google.”

In the mix of options available are Food Delivery Flutter and Fluxstore Pro.

eSports Are Here to Stay

“There’s no need to justify the future of gaming, or the burgeoning esports industry it has created—it’s here to stay,” says Siddharth.

And this is backed up with statistics from CodeCanyon: for example that 11% of CC authors sell games, and 9% of CC authors exclusively sell games.

Try your hand with Indiara and the Skull Gold or with a more straightforward Quiz Game.

Marketing trends

Customers Demand Authenticity​

Millennials especially, according to Mission, prefer brands with a purpose. But this has to be authentic to the brand and ultimately be about the customer (don’t fall into the ‘hero trap’, warns Adweek).

“Companies are changing how they present themselves, trending away from the constant flashy sales pitch and looking towards more subdued and creative ways to sell their message,” says David Scott, Envato’s PR Manager.

Street Style Goes Social

This marketing trend is cropping up in fashion and among young crowds (on social media and in music promotion, especially).

“It feels more raw and uncut, yet still thoughtful and attractive,” says Monica McCormick, Envato’s Senior Email Marketing Specialist. “Moving away from the overly manicured, you’ll see a mix of grunge, collage elements, outlined and bold text, and neons mixed with monochrome.”

She recommends things like Metal stone social media graphic templates by Chanut_industries or Urban Templates by Azrcua, specifically for Instagram.

UGC Makes an Impact​

2020 is the year that brands stand up and improve how they include user-generated content (UGC) in their mainstream marketing efforts—it is, after all, the best advertisement around.

“Not only is this tactic resourceful, it delivers that all important brand authenticity and generates impactful impressions,” says Jen McKinnon, Envato’s Video Marketing Specialist.

Brands Embrace Video Podcasts

Podcasts have been around for a few years now, but brands are only just beginning to harness this media as a content marketing channel.

“Many podcasters publish video versions of each episode to YouTube or other video sharing platforms to maximize reach. For example, Joe Rogan runs both a YouTube Channel and a podcast so that his subscribers can choose how they want to consume their content,” says Jen.

Templates Maintain Brand Consistency

Like podcasts, video content is still not quite being implemented most effectively in brand marketing strategies.

“Creating quality video is expensive, so branding and styling have often taken a back seat, but from 2018 to 2019, HubSpot reported an 18% increase in businesses who use video as a marketing tool,” says Jen.

“As more businesses realize the value and invest more time and resources to upscale their video production, we will see more design cohesion through the use of video templates, like Arrows Broadcast Package by PerryCox for After Effects or Stylish Broadcast Pack | Essential Graphics | Mogrt by Zorrin for Premiere Pro from Envato Elements,” she adds.

Happy Creating in 2020!

Whether you’re a designer, videographer, photographer, marketer, or web developer, we hope this report has provided you with some inspiration for the year ahead. Sign up for an Envato Elements subscription for access to everything you need to get creative in 2020.

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