Web design trends come and go, influenced by the changing world around us in the same way fashion, music, art and other creative industries respond to cultural shifts. 2020 was a year unlike anything we’ve experienced before, which will no doubt be reflected in the designs we see in 2021 and beyond.
To get an idea of what could be in-store, we’ve put together a collection of some of this year’s web design trends.
Collage art has a long and rich tradition in physical form and is one of the more surprising web design trends to emerge for 2021. It’s something of a throwback to old styles seen in fanzines, newspapers and on posters and not an aesthetic you would usually associate with digital media design.
Social media is largely responsible for its re-emergence, regularly appearing on news feed content and as the standard format for Stories. This has now bled through into web design, featuring a large, bold visual with image cut-outs, all integrated into a larger pattern of solid colour graphics.
It works particularly well in ecommerce websites that allow for bright and colourful promotion of products, special offers and more. Collage art has a strong, eye-catching appeal and can help pull visitors into a section of a website you are attempting to drive traffic towards for a certain period.
Emoji’s continue to take over the world – and they have helped create a new kind of language that can express feelings better than words at times. Emoji’s can translate brand sentiment and connect with people across the world who are able understand the meaning, overcoming language barriers in an instant.
These playful symbols have become increasingly available away from just our mobile phones, now appearing as standard in email toolboxes, group forums and more. At one time it used to be a simple smiley or sad face, but now there is an emoji available to express almost everything without the need for words at all.
They are also quickly rising in popularity with web designers, and will become a prominent feature in a number of designs over the next year and more. They can make for a fun and engaging part of a website’s design, giving the brand a unique voice that can make it stand out and feel memorable to the customer.
From experience you are probably aware that light colours can lose some of their vibrancy in print, never truly bringing out the richness of their tone. However, largely due to the brightness and sharpness of laptop/desktop screens, they tend to stand out a lot more in digital spaces.
Compared to darker tones, lighter colours offer a soothing effect that encourages people to stay on the page for longer, which has obvious benefits for the client. A darker tone can feel a little heavy and sometimes overbearing for the person staring at the screen. No-one wants to induce stress in their customers, so an increasing amount of designers are turning to lighter colours as an alternative.
The user experience isn’t just limited to the functionality of the site and their ability to find what they need efficiently. The time spent on any website is as much as a visual experience as it is a practical one, and introducing lighter colours can set the right mood and frame of mind to keep people engaged and potentially spend more.
Classy Serif fonts
The Sans serif font has been a staple font for web designers for years, and while maybe not loved as much by others, that is about to change. Large screens are now becoming the norm, and resolutions have improved at the same time. When seen on a larger screen, Serif fonts benefit from the wider space surrounding the words, making the text look less cluttered and more engaging as a result. The enhanced resolution adds further clarity to the letters, so they do not look as heavy and clunky.
Other classy, elegant fonts have started to take centre stage more recently – the likes of Times or Georgia gaining in popularity. Even the likes of Portrait or Noe Display have found their way into the web design toolbox. It goes to show that as technology changes, so does our perception of what may have previously been considered an unsuitable font, demonstrating that there can still be some life left in tools we may not have used in a long time.
2020 accelerated the shift from high street to ecommerce shopping, although the main challenge still facing online stores is to offer a true-to-life representation of what an item will look like off-screen. 3D technology has been making some inroads in recent years, with some retailers introducing it to create virtual stores and representations of their products.
3D technology will continue to be one of 2021’s key web design trends, with advancements now allowing customers to get a better idea of texture and multiple angles, which is particularly helpful for fashion retailers.
The use of 3D and virtual technology will only continue to expand over the coming years. The technology is becoming more accessible, adaptable and cheaper to integrate, which will open up a whole new world of possibilities for web designers. After all, 3D is already available on all web browsers, is relatively issue to code, and at some point in the future the internet is likely to make the big leap from 2D into the realm of 3D, which will change the way we browse websites forever.
Minimalism is back in web design, in very much the same way as print magazines, introducing more white space within the layout.
It’s a simple yet highly effective transformation that ensures visitors do not have to deal with unnecessary distractions whilst browsing. Effective use of white space allows people to move fluidly through the content to easily find what it is they came to see.
Having a minimalist design also creates less stress for the viewer. Throughout the day we are subjected to a never-ending stream of images, colours and distractions vying for our attention. Customers appreciate a calm, easy-to-look at site that makes the browsing experience hassle and stress-free.
More white space will also sharpen focus on the content and allow each item to stand out. This has a even greater benefit when it comes to ecommerce, as it prevents a stream of products all merging into one, letting each one stand out on its own merits while also giving the customer clarity on the full range of options you are able to offer.
How will this year’s web design trends influence your website?
The world of web design is forever evolving, with this year’s trends quickly changing into something completely different 12 months later. Even if you don’t have a plan to completely overhaul your existing website, small design changes can still make all the difference.
This also applies to how your website is designed for use on mobile devices. Google now indexes mobile sites ahead of desktop versions and our 10-step guide on how to become mobile-ready is available now as part of our free mobile review.