In this article, I’ll cover the biggest web design trends that’ll boom in 2021. Should you use them all? Probably not. Too much trendiness may work for teenage fashionistas, but that’s it. Should you use this list as a starting point to get inspired? Probably yes.
Whether we admit it or not, most of us focus on the visual aspect of things. Blame it on the Instaculture, our laziness, or anything else. But the truth is your website’s design matters. It’s your online presence’s business card, so regardless of your business’s type, branch, and potential clients, it’s vital to keep it fresh, modern, and up to date.
Web Design Trends: 2020 Roundup
Before we dive into 2021 web design trends, let’s take a look at the 2020 review. The past year saw new tendencies such as:
- emphasis on typography and word-based design,
- dynamic hero headers,
- rounded shapes,
- full-width pages,
- understated animations,
- storytelling websites.
How do these compare to 2021 predictions and directions in web design? Let’s see!
2021 In Web Design Trends
This year’s web design craze is in fact not that different from the last. In fact, most of the new tendencies may seem like continuations or natural descendants of 2020 movements. As the designers strive to give the best UX possible and ‘seek new heights of realism, blending the digital and the ordinary like never before’, it’s only reasonable to follow the same route as before.
Here’s a list of 8 web design trends that are bound to be big this year:
1. More Fun Typography
Continuing the 2020 trend, we’ll see more surprising typography solutions. With letters perceived as decoration rather than just functionality, designers will also combine typography with another huge trend: animation for maximum attention catching.
Big and bold typography, often superimposed on images, is not a total novelty, but it still brings surprise and showcases your creativity… as long as your users still understand your words and intention, that is. The ‘grandma finds the internet’ meme knows no mercy.
2. The Parallax Effect
Are you still just scrolling through the website content up and down like it’s 1995? Let’s kick things up a notch. Parallax scrolling brings a whole lot of interest, giving your users dynamics and depth.
When used subtly, this effect - which happens when the background of a webpage is perceived to be moving slower than the foreground, creating a 3D effect - can turn your website into a memorable one.
Remember when the flat design was all the rage? Extremely simple icons and block colors made us feel more confident with web navigation: they were easy to identify and looked more uniform. This fashion is behind us now. If you don’t believe me, reach for your phone and take a look at the app icons.
Neumorphism is a design movement that turns flat icons back into realistic, 3D-like objects (remember the early 2010s trend when every button looked like it had a thousand layers of gradient and gloss on it? It was called skeumorphism, hence the 2021 ‘neumorphism’ name) and keeps them in line with the upcoming age of minimalist realism.
Selective drop shadows, semi-flat colors, and digital embossing create a friendly, calm UI with depth and subtle contrasts. This design trend is like a cold compress for sore eyes!
4. Bright Colors
Even with neumorphism getting the hype, it looks like bright colors aren’t going anywhere. This will be an interesting battle to watch, as both trends have a strong fanbase. Not to mention that there’s a whole lot of reasoning behind using bold hues.
Those who favor bright colors in web design argue that they work better for visually impaired users, bringing more contrast (you’ll read more on that in #8). Also, they’re great for CTAs and other elements that should catch the most attention, and they conjure stronger emotions.
Bold hues are also a crucial part of other big design trends such as brutalism or anti-design.
5. Dark Mode
Designers agree that dark mode is soothing and calming both to the eye and the brain, allowing us to chill and focus on the website content. The latter actually gets another boost from dark design, as it increases contrast.
We’re spending more and more time looking at screens, and that's a fact. Blue light and eye strain being bad for us is another. We have to admit it: the ubiquitous whiteness of screen-based media is too much (and strains your precious battery life). Especially if you’re checking your Instagram at 2:30 AM with no lights on. My eyes hurt already when I think about it 😨
Giants such as Facebook already have a dark mode toggle, giving their users an option to customize their experience (yet another growing trend of the recent years!). This feature is also a sleek and ultra-modern look for your website, so if you’re looking for an elegant color palette to try, consider a dark mode-inspired aesthetic.
It seems that minimalism will rule this year’s design. If you come back to any of the above trends, it’s clear that they all meet in one point. Elegant, simple web design translates to more user focus and engagement, highlighting what your website is all about and directing your visitors right where you want them, with no distractions.
Typically, this type of web design is associated with a lot of white space, but with the recent shift away from light hues, websites are now expected to embrace more colorful minimalism. Proving that minimalist design doesn’t have to be boring, the use of colors also evokes emotions and distinguishes your website from an ocean of white.
Minimal design is also easier to adapt for mobile devices, so it’s a real win-win in terms of web design trends!
We’re getting closer and closer to codeless websites. Tools such as Wix or Elementor open up the boundaries between developers, designers, and non-tech people, allowing everyone to create a no-fluff website.
If you want to build your online presence yourself, but don’t know where to start, you couldn’t be living in better times than 2021. There’s plenty of page builders to choose from, and they’re getting more powerful than ever.
8. Functionality, Inclusivity & Accessibility
2021 will be yet another step towards optimizing websites in various ways, not limited to factors like load time and mobile-friendliness. The spotlight has now switched to answering the needs of people with disabilities. According to statistics, 15% of the world's population struggles with these problems, often feeling marginalized.
Luckily, it’s not rocket science to create a website that’s easy to navigate through for anyone. If you want to take simple steps towards inclusivity and accessibility, create a high-contrast design with big buttons and large typography, use functional alt tags for your images, and add labels and instructions to your form fields. It not only promotes inclusivity but also increases conversion. A relatable, straightforward copy will also help your SEO.
We believe that this one isn’t really a web design trend, but something permanent for 2021 & beyond! The importance of UX and website accessibility couldn’t be overemphasized. That’s why implementing solutions such as VUI isn’t a fashion choice anymore.
Web Design Trends For 2021: Summary
Looks like 2021 isn’t going to be a total shift from 2020 trends, but rather their smooth extension. Chances are we won’t be able to distinguish 2020 creations from 2021 ones (at least not that easily), but it’s nice to see that some tendencies stick with us.
Just to sum up, our predictions for 2021 hottest web design trends are:
- Fun typography,
- Parallax effect,
- Bold color palettes,
- Dark mode,
- Codeless websites,
- Increased functionality and inclusivity.
Our top pick? If we were to choose just one trend to follow this year, we’d advise you to hop on the accessibility train. It’s fairly easy to implement, still leaves you a ton of room for showcasing your personality (not everyone is a fan of bright yellow, we get that), while putting you lightyears ahead of the competition, boosting your conversion rate, and opening your website to a wider-than-ever public.