ith the new year approaching, we’re starting to explore upcoming web design trends for 2021. Take a moment to think about the websites you’ve seen over the last few months. There are probably a handful that stuck out to you based on their user-friendly interface and appealing layout. The same goes for the websites with a terrible user experience — they stick with you and might even leave you with a negative feeling about the brand.
After gathering modern website examples and performing our own UX research, we started to see patterns. In today's vast and saturated online world, an amazing user experience and creative web design aren't just nice extra things to have, they’re expected and necessary for a website to be successful.
We took the time to highlight the 2021 website design trends making a major impact in the online world. It's important to highlight the skilled design work that caught our eye, and we’ve included a few examples created by our own award-winning web design team. Follow along as we share web design inspiration and offer insights about emerging 2021 website design trends.
1. Life on screen: Immersive digital experiences are replacing 'IRL'
As the coronavirus puts "normality" on hold, we'll see more of our lives played out on screen. But the digital community will keep us going by creating stimulating, immersive experiences that are almost as good as the real thing. "Robust platforms will blur the boundaries between real and virtual by creating practical experiences," reads the Editor X report. "Like attending a concert or lecture – that are spatial and rich with elaborate visual effects."
A great example of this is Prada's Spring Summer 2021 catwalk show, which moved entirely online without a live audience. It was presented as a video with complementary materials, including a 3D VR experience. Ok, so it's not like sitting on the front row – but how many of us get to experience that anyway?
Deroy Peraza, partner and creative director at Hyperakt also predicts there'll be more personality and quirkiness in website designs with immersive experiences leading the way: "This unexpectedly digital-first year has been a defining moment for websites as platforms to create immersive digital 'worlds' that show unique points of view. Expect to see custom cursors, big and funky type, organic shapes, and ordered chaos along with big flat colour fields, animated transitions, and surprising colour combinations," he says.
2. Parallax Animation
From micro interactions to particle backgrounds, we’ve witnessed the rising popularity of web-based animation trends year after year. 2021’s web animations are getting even more complex through the separation of page elements into foreground and background extremes, creating a parallax effect. Parallax is the optical illusion that happens when objects near to the viewer appear to move faster than objects farther away. Although we see this in everyday life—when viewing passing scenery while driving, for instance—the effect on web pages comes across as equal parts real and surreal. The depth created through the use of foreground and background also has the added benefit of immersion, transforming the computer screen into something closer to a theater stage. As users navigate the web page, they are drawn into its convincing performance as if by magic. And at the end of the day, isn’t magic what the internet is supposed to feel like?
3. Abstract art compositions
Abstract shapes, especially those consisting of geometric primitives like squares and circles, can come across as simple, minimalist and restrictive. However in 2021, web designers are incorporating them into complex, sprawling compositions that exude freedom. In most cases, these abstract art arrangements are taking the place of stock photography and figure illustrations. While they can include images of people, they still evoke emotion without them. Their bursting, Pollock-esque compositions feel energetic, and their many vibrant colors are infectiously warm. The result is web pages that feel expressive and alive, even in the absence of familiar human faces.
4. Comfortable colors
Given the increasingly digital nature of the job market these days, most people spend the majority of their time on computers. Because of this, it is not uncommon for users to experience eye strain after staring at screens for long periods of time. Web designers have been taking this into account with color schemes that are focused on being easier on the eyes. This somewhat explains the popularity of last year’s dark mode trend, which counteracted the overwhelming whiteness that dominates screen-based media.
In 2021, web designers will be thinking outside the two extremes of dark and light. They are finding middle ground in soft color palettes, like wholesome greens, pastel blues, warm browns or light pinks. These not only make website colors less jarring than pure black or pure white, they naturally induce calm and relaxation.
This trend overall is a hopeful sign that web designers of the future may be more concerned with accessibility and comfort than dramatic innovation.
5. Dark theme
For a very long time the basis of the empty space was white. Some services began adding a dark theme several years ago. But then it did not receive wide recognition. Trends will change in 2021.
First of all, pay attention to the design of the landing pages of large brands. Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Hublot and many others already use this dark theme. A simple color change gave the web design a completely different look:
- makes design elements more visible;
- increases the contrast ratio;
- less stresses the eyes;
- makes the site look more elegant.
Apple added a dark theme in iOS 13, which was liked by so many users. Following this, popular apps like Instagram, Whatsapp also added dark shades. This trend is spreading and becoming more popular in all areas.
Among other things, dark themes are great for OLED screens, as they save energy and extend the life of the screen. Dark shades allow you to create creative elements using a neon glow, which is one of the trends of graphic design in 2021.
Web design is a very intensive stage of website development. First of all, you can add a lot of elements to it that will attract attention. The main thing is not to add everything at once, so as not to create chaos in the interface. But you also need to monitor outgoing trends so that the site does not look old.
For several years in a row, many designers resorted to the use of strict angles and balanced shapes. Today, the user is a little fed up because the sites look very uniform. Therefore, with the advent of asymmetry, any clearly verified figure loses its relevance. Add smoothness to your graphic design.
Bright, saturated colors.
Another element of web design that is rapidly losing popularity. Firstly, they create more eye strain. Secondly, they do not coincide with the general color trends in other areas. Therefore, dimmed pastel tones replace bright colors.
Video and animation as part of the design.
Many sites added animations to liven up their site. A particularly popular trend was the addition of video instead of images to the background of the main screen. This significantly reduced the speed of loading the site. Until this problem is resolved, the trend of the video remains in the past.