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The Year That Was: 2018 in Web Design

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Like an Elon Musk side project, 2018 has rocketed past at phenomenal speed. Let’s remind ourselves what’s happened in web design since last January, and take a quick look at what’s to come!


2018 kicked off with a word of warning from the people behind Is Google organising the world’s information, or controlling it? AMP’s future development was keenly in focus back in January, and still is to this day.

Poor design was to blame for some unfortunate at Hawaii’s State Warning Point office accidentally telling every resident they faced imminent doom by sending them a missile alert.

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Not what you want to wake up to

Okay, enough bad news, time for some positivity: was launched in January, explaining (whilst simultaneously demonstrating) how good UX is done.

In web education, Jen Simmons launched her YouTube channel Layout Land, and A List Apart hit 20 years of age!

And finally, after a long time in the making, Bootstrap 4.0.0 launched.


Snapchat redesigned, remember that? Users were not happy. And that unhappy sentiment was echoed by Kyle Jenner, whose disparaging tweets fanned the flames and added to Snap’s combined $1.5 billion loss in market value.

Creative Commons launched a new CC image search engine, and (dedicated colour font foundry) launched too.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were still very much a talking point after the spike and crash of December 2017. This delightful illustration project on Behance summed up the feelings of many a sceptic.


Lastly, Google brought up AMP once more, this time wanting to use it to make email more interactive.


Then in March, things went awry for privacy on the web. It was revealed that Cambridge Analytica (by now a household name) was able to leverage data from millions of Facebook users to influence the course of political events, most conspicuously the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.

Some would argue that Cambridge Analytic’s actions were largely ineffective, but folk were understandably concerned nonetheless, and the Facebook privacy narrative continued throughout 2018.

In March 500PX was acquired by Visual China Group, we welcomed a new custom typeface by the name of Netflix Sans, and were given a brand new npm website:

However, we bid a farewell to Adobe Muse, and Google announced that, after nine years, its URL Shortener would be moving to Firebase Dynamic Links.


Two redesigns landed in April: Reddit and Gmail.

Steve Schoger published another very cool refactoringUI video:

And Affinity Spotlight (new content eco-system for creatives) launched.


May 2018, otherwise known as “that month when every service you’d forgotten you’d ever signed up for sent you an email you didn’t read”.

That’s right, on May 25th the most significant piece of European data protection legislation to be introduced in 20 years came into force when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaced the 1995 Data Protection Directive.

Google took developers somewhat by surprise when they revamped the Google Maps developer platform.

This effectively restricted users to 28,000 free loads a month instead of 25,000 a day. Quite the jump. Notably, as of July developers would be required to enter payment details just in case limits were reached.

In jollier news, an update to Google Material Design was announced at I/O, Semplice 4 (a CMS on top of WordPress’ own platform) was released, Figma launched, and Airbnb introduced a new “accessible” typeface going by the wholesome name of “Airbnb Cereal”.


Adobe raised its head with two bits of news in May: firstly announcing that XD would be made available with a “Free Starter Plan” (*cough* check out the Adobe XD courses on Tuts+), then revealing the acquisition of Magento for an eye-watering $1.68Bn.

June 2018

Speaking of acquisitions, in June Microsoft announced its acquisition of GitHub for an even-more-eye-watering $7.5Bn (in Microsoft stock).

We were then dealt some lovely redesigns: Lyft, The Atlantic’s article pages, and Adobe’s Behance network.

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Good news: Avocode 3 launched and Sketch announced they were working on a new dark UI for mac OS Mojave.

Bad news: FCC announced that Net Neutrality laws would be declared inactive from June 11th.

July 2018

Celebrations! Apple AppStore turned 10 in July and Envato welcomed Placeit to the family:

InVision (via the desk of Clark from InVision) announced its new mobile app, then Vox Media (perhaps ambitiously) opened up their CMS to third parties.

“Lining up customers who are willing to pay six- and seven-figure sums for publishing technology may be a tall order in a digital media industry where many players are struggling to meet their financial targets.”

Finally, in slightly stick-it-to-the-man news, it turned out Amazon wasn’t ready for its own invented “Prime Day”. The site crashed on its biggest day of the year.

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Dogs of Amazon


August was quiet. I went on holiday for a start. Still, Ghost CMS introduced version 2.0.

September 2018

September began with InVision making an announcement. The next step in their “vision” for a single, seamless workflow, would come about by taking their relationship with Atlassian to the next level.

Then Google (who seemingly don’t fail to get a mention every month) revealed their newest version of the Chrome browser, ten years to the day since its initial launch.

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Shkodran Arifi published some interesting UX thoughts on the new iteration.

Speaking of birthdays, StackOverflow also hit ten years of age!

Lastly, Gutenberg Cloud was announced, a community library for custom Gutenberg blocks.


October. The final quarter. In this month Google (yes Google) publicly stated plans to shut down Google+ after failing to disclose a user data breach, Adobe Typekit repackaged itself as Adobe Fonts, and panic hit the internet when YouTube “went down” for four hours.

At Adobe MX it was confirmed that a full version of Photoshop would be coming to the iPad. Many other product features were announced, including a bunch of XD improvements:

October inspiration came in the form of a redesign of


Important words from Sir Tim Berners-Lee in November as he launched a campaign to save the web from abuse. If you read just one thing from this whole roundup, read what Sir Tim has to say.

“Humanity connected by technology on the web is functioning in a dystopian way. We have online abuse, prejudice, bias, polarisation, fake news, there are lots of ways in which it is broken.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Moving quickly on from dystopia, two bits of Google news: Chrome Labs released an open source, browser-based image optimization tool Squoosh, then PageSpeed Insights declared it would henceforth be powered by Lighthouse.

Approaching the end of the year web developers can always look forward to summary reports, perhaps most popular being, this year concluding that (well, you’ll just have to read it, won’t you?)

November inspiration came in the form of new icons from Microsoft Office.


As it does every December, Pantone revealed its color for the coming year. Living Coral will be front and centre in 2019.

Mind you, at Envato Elements we looked back and decided that Ultra Violet might not have been so prominent in 2018 after all.

Then a big launch. WordPress 5.0 hit the shelves, even warranting a mention by Forbes. Not everyone is happy with the new editor, so we’ll see how things for Gutenberg go in 2019.

Microsoft confirmed rumours that its Edge browser will use Chromium moving forward,  instead of its own proprietary rendering engine.

Roll On 2019!

I’m a nostalgic type, and I love looking back over the years and seeing how much things have changed. 2018 was no exception–which web design memories stuck out for you?

As the new year begins, who knows where web design will be in twelve months’ time? Will dark UI variants be a distant memory? Will Google and Facebook still be monopolising the news? What new legislation will have been passed? And which new tools will you be using? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

In the meantime, check out these other retrospectives from Envato:

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