4 Ways to Leverage 90s Design Trends on Your Website

4 Ways to Leverage 90s Design Trends on Your Website

Over the years, ’90s web design has stuck out like a sore thumb to most. People talk about and make fun of outdated design elements and poor UX/UI.

However, people don’t realize that web design during these formative years helped establish what it is today. Many of the practices designers use when building websites come from things that happened years ago.

While not all of the design trends of the ’90s are applicable nowadays, some are still used to design attractive websites. Below are the four design principles from the ’90s that persist.

Go Over the Top with Typography

The font used on your website is a design element in itself. The size, color, line height, and face of the font contribute to the appeal of the design as a whole.

Therefore, consider focusing on typography instead of worrying about the design elements you should use on your website.

Since fonts were the easiest to manipulate for designers and non-designers in the ’90s, they were a big deal. Downloading and using unique fonts that match your site’s brand and image were the norms. Only in the 2000s were website font choices limited to variations of sans serif and serif due to their legibility.

Fonts like the dreaded Comic Sans no longer appeal to today’s audience. But for what it’s worth, ’90s web design helped establish typography as an integral part of communicating your message to visitors and your web design.


Image Source: Rally

Rally, a small digital agency in Salt Lake City, UT, puts typography front and center on its portfolio page. The site doesn’t have images, just text on a parallax-scrolling website. Despite the lack of visuals, it could communicate its message loud and clear through typography.

Use Animation to Create an Experience

Back then, websites used Flash to load animation on the page. While Flash helps your website achieve a visual experience, it takes much time to load on the screen. This won’t fly in today’s world, where visitors have the attention span of a goldfish, and loading speed is of the utmost importance. Not only will a fast-loading site keep visitors from leaving, but it will also help increase your keyword positions on SERP.

However, animation has been making a comeback among websites. Instead of using Flash to create these elements, you can use HTML5, GIFs or cinematography, and digital media. These provide the same level of visual presentation that Flash offers but with fewer bytes. That means these elements load on browsers in a matter of seconds.

At the same time, digital file organization makes finding the content you want to display on your site more accessible to help improve user experience.

Prioritize Function with a Minimalist Web Design

Less is more.

This is what minimalism as a web design trend represents in the design community. Instead of making the most beautiful and functional design using as many elements as possible on the page, you can achieve the same level of beauty by only using the most fundamental ones.

Minimalism was in vogue in the 1990s for a different reason. To become a graphic designer, you must know how to write code, period. And since resources on coding were limited, only a handful could design good-looking web pages.

For non-coders who wanted to make websites had signed up to GeoCities and other free web hosting platforms to create their pages from scratch. Think of these platforms as the Wix and WordPress of today but with a higher learning curve.

As a result, most of its users could only create simplistic and minimalistic web pages containing GIFs, images, text, and links.

Plus, few web designers offered their skills as a service in the ’90s due to the lack of demand for an online presence. Now, you have many custom WordPress development services that can bring your design ideas to life. This shouldn’t be a surprise because the number of websites has grown exponentially.

Number of Websites


Image Source: First Site Guide

Most people nowadays poke fun at ’90s design and how it no longer translates well in today’s web design landscape. However, it did provide a straightforward user experience that delivers what people want to see from the page.

Using this minimalist design principle, you now see lots of websites designed with function and efficiency in mind.

To be fair, minimalism was not an innovation from the ’90s. However, the web design trends during those times paved the way for what minimalism is right now.

Make Your Website Stand Out with Brutalism

While web design has become more accessible even for non-designers, it’s ironic that most websites look the same nowadays. Most use the identical CMS, themes, layouts, and add-ons. This isn’t a knock on current web design, but it’s much harder for them to stand out.

Enter brutalism, the answer against the polished, professional, and homogenous design we see nowadays.

This design concept embraces the discomfort of its asymmetry as seen from the dispositioned images and text, radical font faces and sizes, and bold colors.

In other words, brutalism shows individuality and character, making it stand out from the faceless website designs. Instead of following a stringent website design checklist to ensure quality, brutalism goes for the jugular with its raw and unfiltered design.

Going back to 90s design, brutalism was intentional just as much as it was a product of unrefined design skills. In the same context that gave birth to minimalism, brutalism was an outlandish approach to web design that focused on its intentional crudeness. Unlike minimalism, this design type embraces its faults and limitations to create something bold, loud, and extraordinary.

Mary Gaudin


Image Source: Mary Gaudin

Mary Gaudin’s brutalist web design is an example of her work. As a photographer, she displays her work on her website in a non-linear fashion that perfectly captures her style.

That said, brutalism works best when catering to an alternative audience. Most online users will find this design too challenging for their taste. This is why most web designs are similar —familiarity helps them navigate the site more easily.


Using any of the ideas above is not simply a way of bringing your visitors back to the past, where the approach to web design was different. If anything, the ideas from the ‘90s were a pivotal part of what design is now and continue to pave future innovations in web design.

The good thing about web design is if none of the designs work, you can always use the website feedback you receive from your audience and make the necessary changes.

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