Each year, new design trends come to the fore and they are usually based on a mix of the latest technological advances along with some reimagined favorite concepts. From 3D imagery and parallax animation, with a dash of old school vintage nostalgia thrown in, this year is no different.
To create a website worthy of Webby Awards contention, today’s designers have to be innovative and creative, as well as plugged into user experience trends like never before. And all this has to be instantly interchangeable between mobile devices, s, and PCs. So let’s take a look at 2021’s best website design trends.
This year, a big trend in website design includes storytelling through scrolling animation. You know the ones we’re talking about — they grab your attention and keep you interacting so you can get to the next “chapter”. Like a good novel or a great movie, scrolling animation hooks a user’s curiosity and keeps them delving further into the site.
Because scroll-triggered animation is controlled by the user, the experience becomes dynamic and exciting. The more exhilarating and cohesive the storyline, the more interested the user and the longer they will stay to engage with the site.
Web-based animation trends continue to evolve with new and exciting uses that are growing in complexity and delighting the eye. One such design trend is creating a parallax effect by separating page elements into foreground and background extremes
To create the parallax optical illusion, objects in the foreground move faster than objects in the background which creates a surreal effect. Equal parts immersive and transforming, it draws users into a theater performance that feels magical and engaging. When done well, it lifts the site visuals to an extraordinary level.
Accessibility and Inclusive Design
We want the world to be accessible and inclusive so why shouldn’t the internet be accessible for everyone all the time? Inclusive design practices not only fuel innovation and support accessibility for everyone, but they send a strong message to site visitors about an organization’s culture and values. When you take the time to carefully consider all of a site’s potential visitors, it sends a strong message about inclusivity within an organization.
Plus, it’s just practical. Eighty-five percent of video viewers on Facebook watch with the sound turned off, but by adding closed captioning, your complete message still gets delivered. Likewise, adding Alt Image Tags to your images not only helps people with vision limitations but also improves your search engine optimization (SEO) and thereby enhances page rankings.
Colors that Comfort
Whether you attribute it to our world of social distancing or Zoom fatigue, people want to be comforted and nurtured. Website design that incorporates soothing colors and gentle visual images goes a long way in today’s design aesthetic.
It’s the same concept as a hot cup of tea and a warm blanket on a wintery day — greens and blues or a muted terracotta in soft, pastel hues represent a sense of calm and contentment and that’s what speaks to people in 2021.
Created as an architectural style in the early 1950s, brutalism is defined as raw, unfinished, or blocky. Seen as a reaction to the highly stylized and slick websites that can all start to look similar, brutalist sites bring more of a “punk” attitude that is anti-design and completely disregards any conventional rules. They exist to make a statement; to get in your face.
While not everyone’s cup of tea, you will continue to see their use increase because…well, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s the point!
While 3D effects have been around for a few years, 2021 is seeing 3D being used to create interactive stories with stunning visuals that are captivating and effective. Whether launching a rooftop pool in Las Vegas or showcasing full-vision digital billboards in Los Angeles, the sweeping visuals that can be achieved with 3D effects continue to offer amazing opportunities for creativity and communicating a vision.
Sans Serif and Serif Combinations
In graphic design, combining serif fonts with less than optimal, but in 2021, we are seeing more creative uses of the serif/sans serif combo in website design. In the past, the website design industry leaned towards sans serif fonts for their clean, simple lines and structured aesthetic that was straightforward and unadorned. Conversely, publishers, especially in academia and more traditional areas, have continued to lean toward serif fonts for published works to give the copy a classic feel.
However, today in 2021 designers are more willing to experiment with combining the two types of fonts where you might use a structured sans serif font for the title and a serif font for the text or vice versa. It adds visual interest and can be an essential part of developing an overall brand look. So, take a look at Montserrat with Cardo or Lato with Merriweather — you might like the look!
Developed years ago, Graphics Interchange Format files or GIFs are everyone’s favorite addition to email, messages, and Facebook posts. But, as a design element, GIFs can be made from video and used to make a website more dynamic and interesting.
Popular a few years ago, 2021 is seeing a resurgence of GIFs that add movement and animated graphics to create a sense of interactivity and highlight a process or function.
The first five to ten seconds a person spends on a site are crucial. You want to engage with the user, pique their interest, and entice them further along the sales path or funnel. In 2021, that’s often being done with questionnaires that initiate when a user lands on a site and guides them to what they’re looking for before they have a chance to bounce back to their search page.
For instance, if you have a haircare website, the user would be greeted with a series of questions about their type of hair and their lifestyle that would lead them to the products best suited for their needs. With the questionnaire collecting email information, follow up with the customer is easy and they’re already familiar with the product and company.
Retro fonts are having a little bit of a resurgence these days. Maybe it’s a longing for a simpler time or familiarity, but in 2021 fonts that are a bit stylized and retro seem to be growing in popularity.
Think 1970’s retro, but with a cool, modern spin.
Changing Multimedia Experiences
In the coming year, we’ll see an evolving use of multimedia. Multimedia experiences have been escalating as fast as devices have improved, but now it may be time to be more thoughtful in approaching this medium — to showcase concepts or ideas rather than overwhelm.
We’re seeing more constraint being used when bringing together video, sound, and text having finally learned that too much can be distracting when users get lost in the glitz, thumping bassline, or snazzy technology.
Today augmented reality (AR) has gone from rudimentary digitized headsets to being incorporated into stylized “tours” of services or products. Jeep has a “Build a Car” feature that lets you walk through the ordering process while you control the view from inside a vehicle as you add and subtract options.
Other ways AR is impacting website design include:
- Air-BNB lets you tour locations where you might opt to stay,
- Loop-LOC Pool Covers has an innovative “Mirage Visualizer” that lets you try different designs and colors when designing an outdoor living area, and
- Zillow offers 360◦ views from the housing market.
Calculators and Estimators
User experience defines what captures the imagination and once you’ve done that, it’s time to offer a “nuts and bolts” interactive calculator or estimator that gives a more concrete feel to a customized buying opportunity.
Today’s estimators allow users to figure monthly payments when considering a loan or the cost of a home remodel. Think of them as a required element, since users search out companies that offer them the flexibility to plan and develop and ultimately understand their costs.
By offering a dark background, a site not only creates a stunning backdrop for its products but also helps to reduce eye strain. A dark or black background allows the designer to highlight design elements that would otherwise not stand out as much on a white or lighter-colored background — think Apple Airpods Pro for great use of dark mode.
While micro animations can always add a bit of fun and playfulness to a website, they can also be used as helpful guides that encourage navigating further along a path. In the most effective uses, these small animations can provide visual feedback while also delighting the user with an engaging, welcoming little interaction.
From simple “like” buttons that have an animated thumbs up to directional buttons or arrows that animate when hovered over, these quick shots give the user visual confirmation that they are on the right track.
Organic and Fluid Shapes
One clear change we’re seeing in website design trends in 2021 is the use of more fluid shapes that add interest, like arched windows, circles, and free-form shapes. By using more organic flowing shapes, designers are creating an illusion of movement and a desire for discovery. Who hasn’t been invited to look through an open window to the gorgeous view beyond?
For a fun experience, one element in the website designer’s toolbox is using CSS to change up the look of your cursor when visiting a site.
One thing for certain — it will get noticed! Users visually track their cursor constantly and adding a fun cursor change while the user is on a site is a great way to stand out and offer visitors a custom experience.
You may think of collage art as something that you’ve done in art class or on a vision board, but collage is a distinct part of Modern Art that traces its roots back to Picasso and Braque in the early 1900s.
Today, collage art is used to give flat surfaces a three-dimensional effect. In website design, it’s particularly effective in placing a ton of information on a screen without losing the text in plain paragraph formatting and the options for creativity are seemingly unlimited.
Let’s face it — people are visual creatures! Data visualization is an art form that allows you to present facts and figures in a pleasing and engaging way. No matter how dry and boring the information may be, there is a way to help the user visualize that same data in an interesting and entertaining way.
Done well, a great visual presentation allows people to see a ton of information and focus on what they find most interesting. Data that might otherwise be lost or ignored, are given a platform where it’s accessible.
Summing Up the Website Design Trends in 2021
Defining website design trends can be difficult because they are constantly evolving and shaping the way we interact with the web. Following a crazy 2020, we are seeing an emerging design landscape where designers have delved into new and exciting themes that enhance the user’s experience and delights their senses in a new and supportive way. Join our mixologists and brandtenders on the journey!
Contact Lounge Lizard to learn more about design trends, brand development, and improving your digital presence in 2021. Request a quote today.