Ombré: The 2016 comeback of CSS gradients has arrived

History has a funny way of repeating itself. We see this in fashion (we’re still wondering why flared pants keep coming back in style), in politics and history, and in design trends. This year, CSS gradients are making a comeback. But this time around, we’re calling it ombré, and doing it using css gradient code, and giving Photoshop a rest. The results transform this 90’s-style splash trend into a sleek, modern accent tool that surprises viewers without overpowering other design elements.


The flat design trend took the creative world by storm and helped cut through the mounting visual clutter of hyper-realistic, hyper-saturated, hyper-detailed design made capable by today’s powerful digital tools. But, like many trends, once flat design reached an extreme, tastes have begun to slowly swing in the other direction. We still love the clean simplicity of flat color palettes and how minimal design focuses the eye; but we also crave a few dynamic elements that bring just the right amount of depth and interest into the picture. Layering a subtle ombré wash onto a flat background or using graduated color to denote shadow adds elements of realism onto flat design principles without departing from the essential simplicity of this trend. 


Despite the complex visual intrigue ombré delivers, it’s surprisingly simple to implement. In some ways, we credit technology for this design comeback. Today’s website coding language allows developers to create a consistent set of rules, called a CSS, that dictates how certain elements (such as your hero image or tile modules) are treated across the site. Designers and developers can work together to define these rules in accordance with your brand style guide so that your designs and the finished website product are more closely aligned with each other, and with your guiding creative principles, than ever before. CSS gradients are a perfect example of how technology can make your designs more consistent. Instead of using Photoshop to add a gradient onto every single photo where you want this style to appear, CSS gradients use a simple snippet of code that deliver radial, horizontal and vertical linear fades almost anywhere on your site. They can be layered on top of each other to combine two or more colors for truly remarkable – and replicable – effects. These gradients can be seamlessly duplicated anywhere you want them to appear. This frees your designers from the tedious process formerly needed to create web-ready striking ombré images on your site, while making implementation more consistent and clean across the board. Trust us, your perfectionist of a developer will thank you later.


Spotify made ombré backgrounds popular with their jewel-tone color overlays and bold fading. But you can also use CSS gradients on individual elements. Consider adding a gradient to a button to draw attention to that element without beating viewers over the head. Use gradient in your font to create beachy, laid back text elements. Add ombré to your borders and shading for a surprising twist on tried and tested visual cues. Or layer colors on top of each other to change the tone and feel of your site (think: muted nudes for an ethereal vibe or punchy primaries for a more jovial energy). CSS gradients can be applied almost anywhere due to the flexibility of the code used to implement them. Because this effect is easy to implement and edit, don’t be afraid to experiment how it looks around your site.

Our team is in love with this new trend and wants to hear how you have been celebrating the ombré comeback on your site. Share your design ideas here or reach out to our team to learn how you can incorporate CSS gradients onto your next paid ad, website, or email campaign for creative elements that are truly on point.

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