With so much to look forward to in 2021, this year’s web design trends are about retro typography, the constantly growing no code movement and much more.
No one thought what a crazy year 2020 would be. Being all about work-from-home to using tonnes of sanitizers and wearing a face mask; we are a little shaken up but yet trying to move forward in life!
After having communicated with some of the best designers in the market like Brand Studio team at Webflow, we have compiled a list of top notch web design trends we hope to see do well in 2021. Not only will these trends inspire you but also compel you to approach the web in a more comprehensive way.
14 web design trends 2021 you simply cannot miss!
Here are 14 web design trends which will not just make your day or week but your entire year a brighter and happier place!
- Retro Fonts
Remember those Mom jeans and Chunky Sneakers? Well those are not the only things that have become cool once again! Retro fonts and designs featuring vintage typography which were not so popular have suddenly come back with a bang especially with all the artistry and stylization they have been through.
To know more, check out the Spotify’s Carnival promotion page which breathes in new life to the age-old, traditional bold fonts. While being completely legible, they have experimented with the traditional fonts and presented it in a fresh and cool avatar!
Another ideal example would be the Goliath Entertainment website which offers the perfect blend of past and present with their bold typography.
- Parallax Scroll Animations
Trending in the world of website designs for ages now, Parallax scroll effects will be seen in more subtle and creative explorations in 2021. However, avoiding excess movement in such effects is essential as the illusion of movement and depth causes dizziness in vestibular disorder patients.
Some points to consider include:
- Do not allow the effects to divert from essential information; stay focused
- Try to minimalise parallax movement within every instance
- Do not make it harder for the user to complete essential tasks
- Use minimum number of effects wherever possible
- Restrict the effects within small areas of the screen
- Offer the user an option to turn off effects if required.
The Alice Lee’s portfolio site is the perfect example where parallax is used with constraint. Small and well-controlled movements within limits are the key factors which make the effects a big hit!
- Horizontal Scrolling
With several web designers experimenting with horizontal scroll, it is a new trend to use it progressively to disclose secondary information just as it is in an image gallery.
Points to consider include
- Do not be rigid in horizontal content; allow other ways to navigate
- Use easy-to-locate visual cues to emphasize on the content using this scroll
- Analyse which content would actually benefit from such scrolls
- Do not use horizontal scroll for text that should be read
A great and effective way to use horizontal scroll is to use it to zoom in on large images and add on to the relevant content by showing important parts of the image in a bigger size. A scroll motion which is short and well-paced and allows the featured images to stand out itself means a job well done!
- Omnipresent 3D Visuals
Taking into account 3D, gone are the days of chunky edges of Geocities as higher resolution screens are now stealing the show. This trend has been seamlessly incorporated into web designs and have enhanced the overall user experience to a large extent.
Using 3D design elements such as colourful layouts, gradients, layered elements and drop shadows help bring the designs to life in a subtle yet appealing way. One of the major reasons why this trend is becoming increasingly popular is its ability to add dimensionality and distinctiveness to any webpage.
- Multimedia Experiences
Multimedia web experiences will see a big leap in 2021 with faster internet speeds reaching more and more users with every passing day. A rich user experience is on the cards as multimedia helps bring together audio, text, video and visuals in a synchronized manner.
However 2021 will see some constraints when it comes to multimedia such as:
- Focus on simplicity when creating combinations of audio and motion. Avoid distractions by engaging in too much of an experience at the same time.
- Pre-recorded multimedia should contain closed transcripts and captioning
- In order to maximize content accessibility, consider using different media formats
- Complex images should be accompanied by longer descriptive texts while images should include alt text
- Do not allow auto playing of motion content or videos; a simple play/pause button works best
- Do away with rendered inside images and instead focus on HTML for text
When using this web design trend, make sure to do so effectively yet responsibly.
- Designs offering a personalized experience
Web developers have been constantly trying to offer improved personalized experiences to all users be it changing the appearance of a site, a toggle between light and dark mode or modifying navigation to suit the user’s unique needs.
Focusing on making the internet more user-centred and less passive in nature, this year the trends are bound to focus on innovative algorithms and practises which can contribute to the same. As a user navigating through websites, you will get your special wants and tastes fulfilled just the way you want it to be.
This is a rather new and growing trend amongst designers who use web experiences to tell stories to the user. Scrollytelling is all about visual storytelling where the story gets heightened with the reader getting hooked onto the narrative.
In order to create the best applications with this trend, it is essential to:
- Use a small area for the motion
- Ensure that scrollytelling elements do not distract from the main text but instead help emphasize on the story.
- Keep in mind the user’s terms when providing interactions. For example, allowing the user to play/pause/stop motions by inserting playback controls for it.
One of the best ways to support a story is to use subtle and small animations with attractive animations which catches the reader’s attention almost instantly.
- Dark Mode
With more and more designers experimenting with the dark mode aesthetic, it is surely going to be a top web design trend in 2021. The reason for its popularity is because a dark backdrop allows an array of design elements to pop up and stand out thereby increasing visibility.
One of the finest examples of Dark Mode can be found on the Obys Agency page where a black slightly textured background was used to pay tribute to Peter Lindbergh, the legendary fashion designer.
2021 is the year to experiment with the dark in your own designs.
- Customised Cursors
With the plain old arrow having found its permanent place in web designing, most web designers simply overlook the cursor aspect. 2021 is however different! Several web designers are now turning the boring old cursor into funky and cool customised cursors which make the site interesting, fun and unique in its own way!
Be it the off-the-wall bold black cursor from HGM Legal or the circular ones from The Pen Tool, there is absolutely no limitations on what a designer can achieve when it comes to creating these beauties. Some designers have gone one step ahead by developing a morphing circular cursor which can alter its appearance as it hovers from one element to another!
- Cartoon Illustrations
Gone are those days when text and images with a little bit of graphics were all that could make a website. With the constantly-evolving web, designers are making a more personalized approach for creating a site.
The reason for cartoon illustration’s popularity is that it helps transform websites while adding the human touch. It allows the designer to be at its creative best, give a personal touch to the brand and experiment with characters easily. Another added advantage is that such illustrations help conceal slow load times and get more quality leads as the content can be far more engaging and interesting than the non-illustrated ones.
If you are looking for some top notch custom character illustrations, Blush is your go-to platform.
- Colour-less Designs
For a clear design, a scattered white colour would be your best choice. Sometimes coloured elements grab attention depending on its size and placement. For example, the Latinx Who Design has quite a bit of white space but it is the hovering effect wherein each image transforms into full colour from black and white that takes the cake!
Using animations, micro-intentions and other dynamic effects can work wonders in changing a minimalistic design to engaging content in no time. This point is best proved by User Experience Database which makes a colour-less design legible and simple.
- Print-inspired Web
Old media has undergone a rebirth of kinds with digital technology replacing the ancient physical objects we once could not do without. Vinyl albums, which became popular almost instantly are the perfect example of people experiencing and accepting new stuff with ease.
Print-inspired layouts allow users to feel connected to the real world. Traditional graphic designs such as a magazine-styled layout can help offer a tactile experience of print on paper and make the content more appealing and realistic.
- Design Systems allowing Consistency
Being used as content management systems, design systems are a powerful tool which can create repeatable layouts and allow the designer to edit or update or even duplicate websites rapidly. Any organization, small or big, can use consistent design systems to manage and create material thereby increasing productivity and workflow.
Look for simple and detailed templates and a plethora of other design system tools at Figma. For those who wish to power a design system irrespective of its size, try the CMS Collection by Webflow and you will not be disappointed!
A major advantage of offering audio in web designs is that it is the biggest tool in removing accessibility barriers for visually impaired users. It also appeals those users who prefer listening to the texts rather than reading it.
2021 is definitely going to witness more audio options on sites giving users the liberty of experiencing content just the way they prefer to. If we were to pick up a site which does a marvellous job of adding audio to its featured articles, it would be The New York Times for sure.
2021 – The year to look forward to!
Though there are several other trends which have not made it to our list, we think the ones mentioned above are the top rankers in 2021.
With the ever-evolving web design trends which only get better every year, we can’t wait to see all the amazing new innovation these trends will help bring in! It would be nice to see your work in our showcase and you can also join the growing community in our forum if you wish to!