If we have learned anything over the past few months, it’s how important a web presence has become in today’s society. And while the pandemic was busy taking over the world, many small business owners and solopreneurs not only had to adjust to “doing more business online” but also had an awakening in regards to their outdated websites. But to help you overcome website shame, I have put together the top web design trends for 2021 so you can rock the web and turn your website visitors into raving fans.
Fact is, your website can make or break your business! That’s why you need to pay as much attention to your website as you do to all other parts of your business / online venture. After all, a slow and outdated website will make your website visitors click away and once they’re gone you have lost them for(almost)ever.
With that in mind, let’s not delay and take a look at the upcoming trends in web design for 2021 coming your way.
TOP WEB DESIGN TRENDS IN 2021
- Dark Mode & Creative Use of Color
- Collage & Abstract Art Compositions
- Anti-Design & Brutalist Websites
- Neumorphism & Three-dimensional Colors
- Minimalism & Unique Illustration
- Organic Design & Calm Design
- Web Design for Causes & Accessibility
- Page Builders & Template Kits
- Better Ecommerce & Enhanced Photos
- Detailed Data Visualization
Dark Mode & Creative Use of Color
For a long time in web design, a white background was considered the only way to create empty space on a website or app. While some designers began adding darker themes and elements several years ago, the Dark Mode trend really took hold of the industry in 2020, and we expect to see it continue into 2021.
Used by large brands like Apple, Hublot, Mercedes-Benz, and Sony, dark mode is a great way to add a modern, elegant touch to any website. As well as allowing designers to play with more creative elements, such as pastels and neon. Studies have also shown that dark mode is better for both our battery life and our vision by it reducing blue light exposure.
Collage & Abstract Art Compositions
Collage was one of the biggest trends to take over the graphic design and social media landscape this year, and it’s quickly caught on in the world of web design. The mixed media style returned to the spotlight due to digital artists and social media influencers, and was also adopted by many brands and web designers.
Now that it’s moved into the digital realm, the collage trend has evolved into mixed media such as animated collage, large decorative fonts, artistic textures (such as paint brush strokes) and even animated distorted text, which generate some incredibly unique results.
In addition, 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.
Anti-Design & Brutalist Websites
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to throw all rules and expectations out the window. Anti-design is a trend that was spurred on by the resurgence of Brutalism in 2019, and the controversial style has more recently seeped into the realms of social media and pop-culture, as well as web and graphic design.
Described as ‘raw’, ‘unapologetic’ and even ‘hideous’, the anti design movement is all about embracing chaos and ugliness in protest of the traditional standards of ‘good’ design. It features experimental and asymmetrical layouts, exaggeration, distortion, layering and traditionally ‘ugly’ elements, which means it’s certainly not everybody’s cup of tea. But if you’re someone who likes to stand out from the crowd, there’s no denying that an anti-design website is a very effective tool for doing just that!
Neumorphism & Three-dimensional Colors
Neumorphism has been gaining incredible traction this past year, and in 2021 it promises to usher us into the paradoxical age of minimalist realism. The style is a successor to skeuomophism—a design approach that incorporates renderings of familiar, outdated materials into current designs, and it had its heyday on app icons everywhere in the early 2010s. This trend was largely supplanted by flat design, which simplified icons and colors in a way that was less realistic but more uniform and easily identifiable.
Neumorphism represents a merging of both trends, with designs that mimic physicality through selective drop shadows while being overlaid with semi-flat colors. Most commonly, the effect resembles digital embossing or debossing. It allows designers to reclaim the tactile experience that was lost in the flat design era, and this in turn heightens the user’s connection to the design he is interacting with. Expect to see this stylized realism on the buttons, search bars and text boxes all across the digital designs of 2021.
In addition, color schemes in web design have been trending towards gradients for a while now, and this year’s trend feels like the next evolution, with color transitions becoming more lifelike than ever. Taking their cue from Apple’s Big Sur OS, we expect colors that are saturated and three-dimensional, almost like fruit you can pluck right out of the screen.
This trend is accomplished through fine shading that gives a rounded feel to the flat icons of yesterday. While we do anticipate it to appear most commonly on app icons, web designers are also abandoning the neat transitions of gradients for background blended colors that come across as more imperfect and natural. Two colors side by side might abruptly smear together or they may retain the shadows and depth of painted objects. All in all, this prediction suggests that the web design trends 2021 are aspiring to higher realms of realism.
Minimalism & Unique Illustration
A design trend that absolutely refuses to quit, minimalism has become the bread and butter of the work of web designers over the last decade. But what is minimalist web design? Less a visual style and more a design principle, minimalist design is based around using only the essential elements – such as basic shapes, clean text, limited color palettes and empty space – to create something simple, functional and memorable.
In fact, colorful minimalism is on the rise in both graphic and web design, featuring block colors and bold backgrounds, simple sans serif fonts and minimalist typefaces, as well as minimal design elements to create a simple yet stunning website design.
And what pairs better with minimalism than illustration? This trend has absolutely exploded this year across graphic design, social media and web design. Plenty of brands, businesses and creators are catching on to the popularity of illustration and digital art, with many now integrating hand-drawn elements into their website designs.
And with an increased focus on diversity and representation in design in 2020, many illustrators are now featuring quirky people of all shapes and sizes, a style commonly referred to as “odd bodies”.
Organic Design & Calm Design
One of the biggest design trends of 2020, organic design is all about using nature and the world around us as inspiration. While frequently seen in product design, interior design and graphic design, this trend is now starting to gain momentum in the world of web design too. Organic design trend is influenced by an increased focus on sustainability and environmentalism, featuring warm, earthy colors, natural shapes and raw organic textures.
Neutral colors replicate our environment’s natural palette, and are one of the easiest and most effective ways to add a more organic feel to your website. Alongside soft browns, beiges and whites, faded pinks, blues, and greens can also be great additions to a neutral color palette, which can be used on their own or paired with brighter colors to make them pop.
And since the past months have been a rollercoaster (the least to say) it’s safe to say that Calm Design which employs websites with concise microcopy, minimal design, soothing colours, and acres of relaxing white space have served as beacons of quiet in a noisy and tumultuous world.
Furthermore, 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 web design trend overall is a hopeful sign that web designers of the future may be more concerned with accessibility and comfort than dramatic innovation.
Web Design for Causes & Accessibility
Let’s not forget, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the various shelter-in-place orders that followed, the internet has become a refuge. Not only have virtual conferences become the norm for social gatherings and entertainment, many brick-and-mortar brands have turned to websites to keep their businesses afloat. And web designers were up to the task, creating meaningful and impactful designs.
What this means is brands focusing their web designs around their virtues, such as their sustainability efforts or community involvement. It means brands getting onboard with stock photos that reflect real, diverse customers. It means a rise in digital spaces bringing awareness to social causes through interactive means, such as visualizations and simulations. And it means an increase in the resources and methods of DIY web design, making website production accessible to everyone.
Web design has long been focused on delivering great user experiences. And in 2021, the best user experience will stem from shared values and joint causes.
Furthermore, website functionality has always been a key aspect of web design. However, along with fast load times, page speed, and mobile-friendly design, an increased focus on inclusivity and accessibility have created a growing need for web design to factor in the needs of people with disabilities, and make websites accessible and functional for all.
Optimizing your website to be more functional, accessible and inclusive is not just good for customer service – it also increases conversion, boosts your SEO, and extends your audience reach.
Page Builders & Template Kits
In the last few years, self-serve website templates and page builders have increased in popularity. Website builders such as Beaver Builder and WordPress Gutenberg mean that, nowadays, even the least tech-savvy or design-minded person can create a professional website in no time.
Page builders are fast, code-free and fully flexible, offering professional layouts and limitless customization for those without design or coding knowledge.
To build your own WordPress website, check out WordPressWeb Design Guide where I dive deep into creating your DIY website with page builder & my favorite theme for free.
Better Ecommerce & Enhanced Photos
Once upon a time, digital services felt like an optional extra for physical retailers. But with more than half the world experiencing some form of lockdown in 2020, ecommerce has suddenly become the only game in town. Businesses whose doors were shuttered by government decree have had to rapidly shift their operations online, and those who failed to do so, or just didn’t do it well enough, have gone to the wall.
It’s clear then that in 2021, more people will be buying more stuff online. And companies have to develop more reliable, faster-loading websites and apps, not to mention more consumer-friendly UX, or get left for dust by the competition.
Let’s face it, shopping online is generally far easier and more convenient than trudging around from store to store. But there’s a big problem when it comes to non-generic items such as clothes and furniture. Not being able to see, touch and feel these products in real life makes it very difficult to decide whether you’re buying the right thing or not.
For this reason, I’ve been seeing a move in 2020 away from small thumbnail images towards large and detailed pictures of products on websites. Many also let you view in 3D, and rotate them through 360 degrees.
And as you can imagine, products are often at the heart of every e-commerce websites, and 2021’s web pages have their hearts on their sleeves. Specifically, products are inspiring literal design elements through creative, digital interpretations of physical media.
This might come in the form of color smeared across a page like nail polish or images that are cropped in rounded rectangles like smart phones. Not only does this approach create visual synergy between the product and its website, it makes web pages feel more organic and unexpected.
With websites becoming an increasingly common part of everyday life, this trend of blending the real world and the digital feels like it was made for our moment in time.
Detailed Data Visualization
Fact is, humans are visual creatures, so there’s no denying that they respond better to graphics than to words and numbers. In 2021, data will be a great asset to your webpages. However,while users do care about stats, they don’t enjoy figuring out what they mean.
Presenting numbers in a smart way greatly emphasizes the information you are providing. Data visualization shapes boring data into catchy graphics, thus making it much more engaging and easy to understand. It allows users to better comprehend business specific information.
Whatever happens in 2021, we’re hardly expecting events to be calm and uninteresting. And so it’s not controversial to predict that demand for data visualization will continue to grow accordingly.
BONUS: Enhanced video conferencing
It’s difficult to imagine what lockdown would have been like 10 years ago, before widespread availability (in the West, at least) of fast internet and video conferencing apps. Thankfully, most of us stuck at home during the pandemic have been able to keep up with colleagues and friends in this way.
The tech is not without limitations, though, with everything from poor connectivity to ‘Zoombombing’ (where pranksters hijack meetings they’ve not been invited to) making many people’s early experiences of videoconferencing more difficult than it needed to be. So it’s good that competition between platforms has driven massive innovation through 2020, including the launch of brand new services.
We’re expecting the heightening rivalry between these platforms to dovetail with continuing huge demand in 2021, even if the pandemic lessens. After all, so many of us have enjoyed virtual meetings and conferences in 2020 (particularly the need to devote less time and effort to commuting, traveling, and hotel stays). Which means that even if society returns to normal, that’s another habit that’s likely, at least in part, to stick.
DIY Edition: Web Design Trends 2021
There you have it, the web design trends 2021 in a nutshell. But now you may wonder how can you implement such changes on your website without hiring a web designer or breaking the bank?
It’s simple, first you take inventory of your current website. You may be surprised that your website may have some of the trends already incorporated on a smaller scale. Once you know what is already in place and what you would like to change/add to your client-winning website, you can take it one step at a time to implement.
Let’s say you are after a Minimalist Website with Comfortable Colors and Enhanced Photos while switching to Page Builder. I would recommend you follow these steps to success:
- Backup your current website to your computer
- Switch your website to Page Builder (if WordPress)
- Review the content of your website & purge the fluff
- Adjust the color palette on your website to your liking
- Upload crispy & optimized photos & replace old ones
See, with a few simple swaps you can breathe new air to your website but keep in mind that while I’ve outlined it in a few steps it could take time to make changes to your website so only proceed if you have the time available to make the changes. And if you have gotten stuck while changing things around, you can always schedule a WordPress SOS session.
Keeping it up to date is the key
No matter what web design trends 2021 are the best, it’s important to remember that content is queen when it comes to conversion on your website. A pretty website following the latest trends may be great to look at but with a copy that bores your visitor to death and slow website speed you’ll certainly won’t rock the web.
So keep your website up to date, create new content on a regular basis and promote your website whenever you can to actually get eyes on your web presence. After all, what’s the point of having a website that follows the web design trends 2021 if nobody sees it on the world wide web.
No website, No problem – get started today!
And if you don’t have a website yet or thinking of DIY website with WordPress, below are my recommendations to launching your website from scratch:
- WordPress Hosting & Domain Super Deal
- My favorite WordPress theme for FREE
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- Or Download DIY Launch Guide for FREE
Editor’s Note: I believe in transparency. I have used the following sources as reference: CreativeBloq, 99 Designs, Envato, Devrix. In addition, if you use my referral links above, then I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you.