By Jeff Kline


Top 10 Nonprofit Web Design Trends of 2017

Thursday, February 2, 2017

It’s a new year, and you know what that means...a new lineup of the top design trends! We hunkered down and put in hours of research, and we found ten design trends for nonprofits to try out in 2017.

Based on our research, it looks like this might be the year we start to see a significant move away from minimalism. Expect to see more purely decorative elements, more asymmetry, more color, and more animation. Gradients will continue to make their comeback, and so will serif fonts!

It’s going to be an exciting year in web design. Let’s dig in.

1) Gradient Overlays

After several years of flat, minimalistic web design, gradients started making a comeback in 2016, and they will continue to be a trendy design pick this year.

The new way to use gradients in 2017 is to overlay them on an image. When you combine a brightly-colored gradient overlay with bold text, as seen on the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce website, the result is quite striking.

Spartanburg Chamber gradients


2) Decorative text effects

Typography is really stepping up its game in 2017. One of the most exciting typography trends this year is the use of video or photo inlays. The educational website Black In History is a great example of how powerful this effect can be.

Black History typography


3)    Big, bold text

Another typography trend is the use of big, bold text. And while this trend has been popular with geometric sans serif fonts in past years, it seems that serif fonts will be used as well this time around.

The Danish Shipowners’ Association website features a large serif font...

Danish Shipowners Association website

...and the Association of Talent Agents website uses an impactful sans serif font.

Association of Talent Agents website


4)    Responsive design

Responsive Web Design, or RWD, has been an industry best practice for 5 years, and a standard since 2015. With the continued use of phones, tablets, and other devices, as well as with Google’s new mobile search index, responsive design will remain at the forefront of design trends for 2017.

The website for Santa Barbara Association of Realtors has a responsive design that looks stunning on any screen size.

Santa Barbara Association of Realtors - responsive web design


5)    Video

In 2017, it is estimated that 69% of consumer internet traffic will be video. Already, people spend more time watching video than interacting with social media. In addition, people are spending more time watching videos online, with an average person spending over 1/3rd of their time online on video, including watching over 16 minutes of video ads every month. With this increase, video is the key to your website’s future.

Video is put to great use (and beautifully displayed) on the website for Greater Oklahoma City Economic Development.

Oklahoma City Economic Development video


6) Content “below the fold”

With the popularity of mobile phones and mobile websites, scrolling on webpages has become second nature to internet users. Where it was once key to have as much important information as possible on the top of the homepage (above the fold), this is no longer the case. Your homepage can feature more details further down the page.

If you visit the website for Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, you’ll see that the majority of the homepage content is below the fold.

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce website


7)    Less stock, more real

In an age where fake news has permeated the web, authenticity is more important than ever. Your website should not only show what you do, but who you are. You can accomplish this by using real photos instead of stock photos, and by displaying testimonials on your site.

The beautiful images on the Levine Jewish Community Center of Charlotte website are photos of real members!

Levine Jewish Community Center of Charlotte website


8) Less symmetry & order

Some organizations will be trading in the simplistic, symmetrical grid layouts that have been popular in past years for a more casual (or even slightly chaotic) look and feel. The grid layout on the Mt. Cuba Center website has boxes of differing widths and heights that don’t line up perfectly— this adds a little more intrigue to a traditionally minimalistic design element.

Mt. Cuba website

Overlapping will also be more prevalent in 2017. On the website for the Levine Jewish Community Center of Charlotte, the “Quicklinks,” “Events,” and “Calendar” headers overlap the header image. (And yes, we love this site so much we featured it twice!)

Charlotte JCC website

An article on hypothesizes that these trends are on the rise as part of a new effort to “disrupt the typical minimalist harmony” that we’ve all become so accustomed to.


9) Floating geometric shapes

Another design trend that rebels against minimalism is the use of purely decorative elements. One of our favorite ways to implement this is with “floating” animated geometric shapes. A great example is the website for the Brazilian nonprofit Evoluir. The shapes aren’t clickable, and they don’t point to a call-to-action. But they are visually intriguing, and they set a youthful tone for the website. (Make sure to visit the live site to see this effect in action!)

Evoluir website

Fun fact: This trend actually inspired Accrisoft to create our own “floating” background!


10) Diversity, diversity, diversity

Five years ago, every website showed considerable similarities. While this is still somewhat true, the ever-expanding world of web design has made it possible—and desirable—to have a unique website and really differentiate your organization. You only have to look at a few websites to know that yours doesn’t have to conform to any rigid hierarchy.

One great example of this is the website for Greater MSP, which forgoes the typical image rotator for a more unique header.

Greater MSP website

With that being said, while we do encourage you to consider all of these popular design trends when updating your website, it’s also important to stay true to your organization.

Take these trends & make them your own

Some of the design trends mentioned in this post can be applied to any nonprofit—the use of genuine photography, embedded videos, and content below the fold—but other trends, such as floating geometric shapes and overlapping elements, might not be appropriate for your organization. First and foremost, you must stay true to the heart and soul of your nonprofit. If that means applying bright orange gradient overlays to your photos, great. If it means maintaining a symmetrical, minimalistic design, that’s great, too.

Whichever trends you decide to embrace in 2017, we wish you the very best on your redesign!



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