Web Design Trend #15 • The Increased (and Exaggerated) Use of Drop Shadows

Zazzle Media, by Jamie Leeson

To wrap up, moving on nicely from both parallax and broken layouts, is the use of drop shadows. Now, drop shadows aren’t new. They’re not new to graphic design, web design, or even UI design in general. So, why include them here?

Well… as with a lot of trends, many come to life as a progression or development of a previous trend or style. Some trends may be apparently obvious and altogether new, whereas others, like the long-standing drop shadow, are continually refined and developed over time until new and exciting variations arise.

Shadows have been around for some time now in web design and have reared their head in all kinds of different forms and styles.


Drop shadows have come a long way over the years and are no longer simply reserved for use as extra fancy flourishes. The above image is a great example of how soft diffused shadows help to give the card UIs prominence, lifting them off the page and indicating they are a series of separate panels.

Shadows have been tinkered with, changed and used in all manner of ways over the years. From realistic detailing in early skeuomorphism-inspired design, through to the long shadows made popular with flat design and app icons from a few years back. But, thanks in part to the progression of today’s web browsers and more development experimentation, we’re now seeing new and exciting variations again.

With broken grids and parallax layouts gaining in popularity, designers are increasingly playing with shadows to create depth and dynamism online. They’re a surprisingly versatile mechanic which can be implemented to not only boost the aesthetic of a page, but to also assist UX.

For example – using shadows as hover-states to indicate a link isn’t a new idea, but what is interesting is how designers and brands are building on these long-established norms to create new and exciting variations.

Abduzeedo.com, an industry-leading design blog, takes their shadows to the next level. Their super-long, dramatic shadows are a statement on their own, but they go one step further, using various colors to really add personality. Many die-hards will undoubtedly dismiss this a gimmick which offers little benefit to the user’s experience, but I believe these are thoughtful, playful touches which engage the user and pique their interest – something­­ more brands would certainly be interested in doing over the coming year!

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Abduzeedo take their use of shadows to the next level, using overly-long, drawn out shadows with color overlays to make bold statements.

Our prediction: I think in all of this, the lesson to learn here is that there is room for innovation in all areas of web design. 2017 will definitely be a year where more designers and brands really look into not only the big, bold features we’ve outlined above, but also put thought into the smallest details to delight and engage their users. It’s innovation and an all-round attention to detail that users and could-be customers are looking for, giving a quality fit and finish that will help achieve buy-in and conversion.


There are hundreds of ‘trends’ going on in any creativity industry at any one time, and it’s hard to pin-point every single one, but we believe that the above are some of the more core ones to be focusing on in 2016 and beyond.

As with all trends, the above points have come about for good reason; as creatives and clever-thinkers across the globe have all learned and borrowed from one another to form similar patterns which we see emerge online today. Not all of these trends may be relevant to you and your content, but it’s always beneficial to know what’s happening in the industry and to see where you’re able to improve in order to develop and progress.

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