Web Design Trends for 2021
The website users’ needs are in constant evolution. Nowadays, users are looking for realistic designs focused on purpose, not just good looks. So staying up to date is essential, and it helps business owners understand which trend suits your business goals. This is why F5 Studio web designers scouted the web design trends for 2021.
Dark Mode site design
For nearly three decades, black text on a white background was the norm, until dark mode made its first comeback in Windows Phone 7 in 2010. Once Google verified that dark mode saves battery life, they added the feature to their Android OS in 2018. A year later, Apple followed suit with a dark mode on iOS. But web designers continued to avoid using Dark Mode until 2020.
2021 seems to be the year of Dark Mode design. Contrary to the critics who considered that dark mode looks awful, more and more people tried to switch to it, and they all discovered one thing: it is way better for mobile users. Many users expect to have such a version of your site or application.
Dark Mode design looks very fresh, calm, and gives an elegant look. But the key feature of Dark Mode is reducing eye strain.
What about the cons of using Dark Mode?
Dark Mode can reduce emotional connection, shrink space, and give a sad look. The biggest problem is Dark Mode design can make text harder to read.
So, you have to consider needs of your your target audience and to follow some rules:
- Ensure that your content remains comfortably legible in Dark Mode
- Avoid using pure black
- Meet accessibility color contrast standards
- Consider the emotional aspect of your design
From our experience the best option is to allow users to switch from regular to the dark mode. But it induces additional costs.
Most people spend the majority of their time on computers. The Dark Mode also has its drawbacks. So, web designers will be thinking outside the two extremes of dark and light in 2021. They are finding middle ground in soft color palettes to make interactions more comfortable.
Сomfortable colors positively impact the user’s experience on a website. Among Brand’s color guides, the UX designer should consider the emotions that each color triggers. Nowadays, new web design techniques allow smoother transitions, finer effects, and a much wider palette. This helps designers create a clearest and more realistic experience for the user.
Don’t overdo with comfortable colors.
Gradients have made a comeback, so we are going to see them a lot in 2021. Gradients are a gradual blending from one color to another color or from one color to another color to another color—gradients aren’t limited to two shades. They give a fresh, realistic feeling to the design and website simply by adding depth. Real-life isn’t made of flat colors and gradients make website design more closer to the real world.
As we can see it is a continuation of a trend that created Neumorphism, Glassmorphism, and other “real-life” styles. It is a reaction against the creation of material design and flat design.
The gradient trend is extremely versatile. There are a ton of opportunities to incorporate the gradients into your web design or mobile app design. It can be bold or subtle, the focal point of a design or a background element. Mix and blend different shades of color, gradients can lend a completely unique feel to designs.
But you need to know that your gradients can have the wrong effect and your audience aren’t going to respond to your design.
How to make gradients work for you:
- Know your audience
- Choose the right colors
- Make sure the colors you choose for your gradients are colors that work with your existing brand colors
Use gradients wisely. In many cases less is more
Neumorphism is a controversial web design style because it comes with challenges, especially for web designers who must pay a lot of attention to this design’s usability issues. Well, on the bright side it is gaining popularity thanks to its simplicity combined with life-like components that give a fresh, intuitive overall look.
Ukraine-based UI/UX designer Alexander Plyuto created and uploaded a shot on Dribbble in late 2019. This image immediately gained momentum, accumulating thousands of likes in just a few months. Now Neumorphism is one of the most popular web design styles. F5 Studio’s web designer used Neumorphism in user interface design of a business site.
With neumorphic design on the screens, tactile design can reach a whole new level. Some users will find it easier to distinguish between elements on the screen. Some users will enjoy interaction with elements with an almost realistic look and feel.
The accessibility and space issues are cons of using Neumorphism. The entire design style is based on lights and shadows. If a web designer tries to increase the contrast through shadows, the design will lose its essence, and will look ugly. Also using two shadows makes it difficult to implement Neumorphism when you have several elements to arrange on a screen. But the accessibility and space issues can be resolved.
The main rule is using neumorphism only on those elements that need to stand out. Also, it’d be better to leave your project to a professional web designer.
Glassmorphism is a sort of another trend in UI that rapidly became popular among designers. While its brother, Neumorphism, won so many fans, this trend will definitely do much more.
Glassmorphism is characterized by a glassy look that is based on a combination of shadow, transparency, and background blur.
Despite its beautiful and minimalistic look, this style does come with some disadvantages in regards to readability. The lack of contrast can be extremely inconvenient for visually impaired and colour-blind users. Transparency effects, first and foremost, serve decorational purposes.
You should follow these practices to utilise this trend:
- Glassmorphism looks best over light and colourful backgrounds
- To create the illusion of a glass-like panel floating over a background
- Setting the right grade of transparency is relatively easy with common design tools such as Figma (read more about Figma pros and cons)
Glassmorphism can work great if it’s used the right way. A limited use of “glass” will actually make the elements of site design look better and more attractive to the users. In the other words it’s very important to not overuse it.
Remember that this is a trend, and mostly likely, this too shall pass. But It’s a good time to experiment with this eye-catching and colourful web design style.
Minimalism and Simplicity
Minimalism is holding its stable place on the web design trends podium for years. This website design style will continue to be popular.
Minimalism and Simplicity essence come from the focus on User Experience and not necessarily on the aspect. Minimalism aims for simplicity, relying on the principle “Less but better.”
This design type became popular due to it positively impacting the user’s experience. In fact, some users are most attracted to sites that have a simple, clean design. This trend is highly used for utility applications, like email and banking apps.
Minimalism allows us to build fast corporate sites that are effective at converting consumers. But these sites provide lack of content. With few words and images, it’s difficult to communicate complex products and services.
Also minimalism doesn’t tolerate mistakes! While more visually complicated designs can make small mistakes or missteps practically invisible (a welcome benefit for many beginning designers), simple website designs don’t offer the same coverage.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. While some people love the look of minimalism, you must remember your end user at all times. Will your customer appreciate the bare necessities, finding it easy to navigate? Or will your non-creative user shy away from what looks to him like something is missing?
We all know that most users fall in love with the aesthetics of web designs based on illustrations. Knowing this and the fact that 2020 was all about 3D, it feels normal that illustrations keep the place on the web design trends podium in 2021. This trend is also empowered by e-commerce stores that have used 3D illustrations this year to render their products. This trend is blurring the line between digital and reality, creating new experiences.
The depth and a totally immersive feel created by 3D, draw the viewer into the design. Gradient coloring, shading, and shadow effects create great definition and plenty of interest to hold the visitor on the page.
Also, 3D graphics are getting more and more presence in web and mobile interfaces.
Applying this kind of graphics to UI is a challenge that requires specific skills to be crafted well. In addition, it’s time-consuming. In other words, think about ROI if you want to use this web design style.
Mobile First Website Design
Mobile traffic has become our new reality. Therefore, web designers are now “coerced” to prioritize mobile responsiveness.
While mobile traffic is no more than 10% for many sites, it makes sense to give responsive design priority.
But you need to know that mobile users don’t convert as often as desktop users. A smaller screen, connectivity issues, distraction, etc. For example, it is difficult to checkout or sign up for a free trial with one hand while users are shopping for groceries or talking about the weather with friends. So responsive web design cannot be blindly blamed for low conversion rates. As you can see mobile user experience is very specific.
At its core, responsive design makes the desktop experience look good on mobile, but it can’t address the specific needs of mobile visitors.
Web designers should understand that this is one problem that cannot be solved with responsive design.
There are few methods that will help to create a responsive design:
- Know your audience
- Conduct research to better understand the wants, anxieties, points of friction, and motivations of mobile and desktop users
- Prioritize the messaging, calls to action on your website
- Evaluate your site from a UX perspective and design a custom conversion funnel
Maybe, it’d be better to build a mobile app for your mobile visitors?
Realistic Textures In Web Design
After several years of ethereal gradients and flat design, textures come back. Many web designers had used this principle in 2020, and we are expecting to see even more of it in 2021.
People are usually attracted to familiar elements on websites. The website interface with realistic textures, like wood or metal gives them a tactile and familiar feel making them more comfortable with the website. That is why a higher level of realism impacts the UX of a website positively.
However, try not to overdo realistic textures. It’d be better to create generally pleasant and harmonious visuals for visitors of your website.
This trend is most appropriate for such sites to highlight the naturalness of products.
Abstract art compositions in web design
Although web designers focus so far on the realistic elements of website design, the abstract composition style still has a following in 2021 as a trend. Abstract art can bring a touch of creativity and individuality to web design.
Abstract images are trending thanks to a growing interest in fine art and craft-inspired products.
The abstract art compositions work beautifully for website layouts, serving as an elegant, versatile backdrop for text and photos. Abstract art elements in web design, like abstract shapes, forms, and crazy colors can give a fun visual look.
For modern web designers, abstract art design’s value lies in its characteristic to adapt to a wide range of purposes and businesses. You can use abstract art for e-commerce sites, corporate services, architecture sites, for the websites of restaurants.
But remember that the elaborate chaotic design can be less recognizable. The one of the ways is a combination of abstract art compositions with minimalist design. The effectiveness of this combination depends on balance. To create this balance web designers must use right fonts, right colors, meaningful imagery, and spaces.
Dynamic video and animation background
Some users can find videos and animation more user-friendly and engaging. Also, videos and animations are the easier choices if you are looking to communicate a specific mood or brand message. That is why video and animation background stills to be a popular web design trend in 2021.
But don’t get carried away with them. Otherwise, you can end up with a slow website that scares users away instead of attracting them. Also, you should follow these pieces of advice:
- It’s important to think of these videos as backgrounds, not stories
- Don’t try to explain what you do, it is a video, not documentaries
- Video can be distracting. If you add video to your website, keep the rest simple
- Do not have sound auto-play. If you really want music, voice or ambient noise (which I don’t recommend), allow users to turn it on themselves
- Browsers or mobile platforms can not support auto-playing video. Thus, an option is required, such as a static image
- Hire professional web developer who can implement a seamless responsive video background on your site
If you decide to use a video background on your website, be sure that your visitors need it.
Parallax means the displacement or difference in apparent location of an object when viewed along different sight lines. Firstly known from video games, the parallax effect is now widely used in web design. Parallax scrolling, then, is an effect where the background images move slower than the foreground images. It means the website loads as you scroll down or across, creating the visual sense of a story unfolding before your very eyes. In this way parallax websites enhance visual storytelling, which can encourage users to keep scrolling and scanning the page down.
Parallax animation is very popular, but like some trends, it wasn’t necessarily a good idea. When parallax animation is overused some problems arise:
- Parallax animation takes a huge amount of website load time
- Users can easily become lost trying to find information if your website is scrolling through endless pages of flashing graphics without much content
- Parallax scrolling doesn’t work on mobile devices
- Using parallax animation reduces the SEO performance of the site
On the other hand parallax animation works well if your website is just a landing page, like a slideshow or some quick information about who you are or what you do. Parallax animation on websites might also work for sites aimed at children. To improve the SEO performance of the site you should create additional support pages linked off the main parallax home page.
But for most sites, either using parallax sparingly or not at all is more likely the key to success.
Anyway parallax animation in combination with 3D elements became a new trend for 2021.
Mixing photography with graphics
If you want to bring some personality and freshness to your web design, keep in mind the mixing of photography with graphics!
People feel in love with the quirky, beautiful, unique result of mixing realism with graphics and illustrations. It’s a mashup of visual elements that don’t seem like they go together at first, but when done well can create a stunning aesthetic of corporate site design.
Ready to take a design risk?
Well, these tips will help you:
- Use illustrations as UI accents. It means you might incorporate illustrated user interface elements into the web site design
- Sketch out the illustrated parts and see where the design goes before you add photo or video elements
- When it comes to mixing real and illustrated images, remember to tell a story that engages the user
- Make it the part of brand’s identity
While the trend of web design can look amazing, it might be hard to do.
Big and Bold Typography
Big and bold typography is an absolute classic technique that is back in fashion again.
Why is Big and Bold Typography a trend for 2021? It is a timeless, old-school stylistic option that everyone can rely on. Because it is easier to be noticed and it grabs the website visitors’ attention immediately. Why use big types in web design?
- To draw attention
- To maintain the connection with your audience
- To replace images
This technique should be used to convey a message or make your brand to be remembered. It is an effective technique for startups, ecommerce sites, landing pages.
To avoid issues you should follow recommendations about Big Typography.
Usually web designers use the extravagant, dramatic typeface with a wow-factor. It’s often best to stick to two or three fonts for a website, but not in this case. Use a variety of striking fonts and styling. Try to decorate your site background using just text. Use large, sans-serif headers to draw visitor’s eyes towards the most important areas of a web page.
However, you should consider cons before opting for the big type. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision:
- It is better not to use oversized lettering for image-heavy websites
- Do not use big type on every single web page
- Don’t highlight minor pieces of content
In fact, the modern trend of Big and Bold Typography centers around the neutral sans-serif typefaces. Sometimes it feels a bit rustic, but this approach allows to direct the visitor’s attention effectively. It does not overpower the audience serving as an excellent instrument for corporate and ecommerce websites.
Colour is one of the fundamental elements of communication with a target audience. Color schemes in web design have been trending towards gradients for a while now, and 2021 year’s three-dimensional color trend feels like the next evolution, with color transitions becoming more lifelike than ever.
This style is accomplished through fine shading that gives a rounded feel to the flat icons of last years. Fine shading, gradients, and thoughtfully chosen colors create more texture and make visitors feel like objects are popping out of the screen. On the other hand 3D colors give a more enhanced user experience for website visitors.
The three-dimensional color trend looks less like design out of a sci-fi movie and more like actual design we would encounter in everyday life.
The basic function of website scrolling is to allow users to digest your content as they wish, so it’s important to tailor the user experience to your offerings.
Do you want to keep your users engaged and encourage them to interact with your website? Users are attracted by new, intuitive experiences. So you should focus as much as possible on the scrolling experience your web page has to offer.
Now web designers are still trying to find new solutions, but technically it is using animation on your site.
Enhanced product photography
Many processes have accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and triggered changes in online shopping behaviours that are likely to have lasting effects. In 2021 everything is about online shopping. In 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online. So, you can see a clear need for a detailed products showcase.
Users want to feel like in a real store when they make an online purchase decision. And the product images will play a critical role. Using high-quality product photographies is good but that’s not enough. Online shops should use VR media. VR could redefine the shopping experience, allowing you to create immersive experiences that re-enact the physical shopping journey, but from the customer’s own home – or from anywhere.
But you need to know that videos and 360′ images can make or break the user experience for visitors of ecommerce sites. In many cases improving customer service remains critical to the success of ecommerce business.
Anyway, we can expect to see full VR begin to make more changes to the landscape of eCommerce within the next few years. So, it is a good idea to begin to implement the eCommerce VR on your marketing strategy.
Conversation Design and Interactive Voice Response
Conversation Design is the process of designing a natural, two-way interaction between a user and a system (via voice or text) based on the principles of human to human conversation. Text-based chatbots and websites that use conversational design remain popular today, but we can see growing popularity of the voice user interfaces (VUI).
Using voice user interfaces isn’t new, however this trend can get kicked up a level in 2021.
The shift of UX towards VUIs is natural, and they are constantly growing in number. The goal to provide more personalized experiences for their users. Probably, voice commands will become a user’s need on a daily basis. The web designers should adapt to this trend as the way users interact with voice user interfaces is very different from how they interact with graphical ones. While digital UX design traditionally focuses on visual design, conversation design relies much more on an understanding of linguistics, psychology, voice user interface design and speech science.
Also, the 2021 web design trends include not only the great design tips from the visual perspective, but they also are built around the main technology breakthroughs.
There’s one other new pattern that begins to shape in 2021. Regardless of the visuals and style you choose, your website design should always be user oriented. If it’s not functional, it’s only not worth it.
It means you should understand your target audience, focus on User Experience, and set your marketing strategy to the real needs and pains of your target audience.