After a year like the one we have just experienced, venturing an outlook on the coming trends takes on almost utopian proportions. After all, who would have thought in 2020 how quickly the world can and will change? And how quickly we can adapt to the changes. Let's take a look at the web design trends of 2021 together!
The new normal has us all firmly in its grip: technology has become more important to us and more integrated into our everyday lives. As a result, our technology needs to move in a direction that allows for more personalization, integration and interaction. And for all of us.
Lockdown, home office and the like have shifted our focus more towards the digital. This trend also brings with it a rapid growth in digital products. The same applies to the e-commerce sector. All of this requires more individuality and skill to position oneself against an increasing number of competitors.
Right now it's important to focus on the end users. It's about amazing them, integrating them and personalizing the internet. While always focusing on maximum functionality.
Web design trends 2021: from dimension to interaction
We'll be seeing more opportunities for personalization this year. It's more common already to have the option to switch between dark and light mode or even customize the colors of a design itself.
Designs will be more daring and less symmetrical. The counter-trend towards the integration of organic colors and elements remains. We achieve more personality through collages, mixed media and animation effects. Let's take a look at the 2021 web design trends in detail below!
Parallax & parallax scrolling
Parallax is something we've been using for several years, especially with simple images. Recently, we've added complex parallax scroll animations. When used correctly, these animations transform your website from a flat 2D-like background into an interactive digital world - comparable to a theater stage.
What is the parallax effect?
Parallax effects occur when elements are located at different distances from each other. If these move by scrolling, we perceive the movement as different speeds.
Please note: For users who suffer from vertigo, too much movement on your website may cause discomfort.
A few tips on how to successfully integrate the Parallax effect:
- Always display important information clearly and make sure the effect doesn't distract from it.
- Ensure the full functionality of your site is maintained on all devices even under suboptimal conditions, e.g. a poor internet connection.
- Keep the use of parallax effects to a minimum.
- Consider including an option to disable the effect.
The website for the game Firewatch uses eight different PNG images in the header, which are animated together to convey the feeling of a real landscape. In the mobile version, however, the parallax effect is replaced by a static image.
Extensive scrolling animations are also not entirely new but haven't been given much attention up to now. Probably not least because their composition requires drawing skills. As always, less is more here. Used well, scrolling animations give your website a harmonious flow.
ToyFight is a creative agency based in Manchester. Through the clever use of scroll-triggered animations, the agency adds vibrancy and personality to their website. Even on smaller devices, the animations work - even if the loading time is somewhat affected.
The company Prevint offers an overall concept against sexualised violence. Through the minimal use of scrolling animations, the three most important precautions for prevention are visualized. Special here is the use of vertical and horizontal scrolling: The main navigation is on a vertical level, while horizontal scrolling goes deeper into the respective topic.
The navigation arrows at the bottom of the screen provide additional orientation. Users only navigate the mobile site by tapping buttons.
Although opinions have been divided in the past, we see more and more websites using horizontal scrolling today. Many people had previously questioned its use, especially from a user experience perspective.
The website of Home Société, built as a one pager, works completely horizontally oriented. The sticky navigation, which we usually find at the top, is on the left site . It works the same way with Anchor Links as in a vertically oriented One Pager. On mobile, we get the site displayed vertically.
The website of Kwok Yin Mak is a design portfolio that scrolls horizontally through all integrated sites . The difference to Home Société is the use of Infinite Scrolling: If you come to the end of a site , you will be transported back to the beginning unnoticed. This site also dispenses with horizontal scrolling on a mobile basis.
A few tips on how to successfully integrate horizontal scrolling:
- Give your users a plan B for navigating your site, e.g. arrows or a sticky menu.
- Think about what content on your site would benefit from horizontal scrolling.
- Try to stick to one direction as much as possible. Switching between directions too often will confuse your users.
- Be careful when combining long texts and horizontal scrolling. This layout may make your texts less readable.
Which font suits my website?
An appropriate font makes your website much more interesting, and not just visually. Fonts have a crucial influence on whether sections of text are ignored or read. In this Post I'll show you how to find the perfect font for your website!
Scrollytelling means visual storytelling through animated scrolling. This gives the website personality and a sense of interactivity. Long content can be digested more easily. You can build stories up in a more interesting and appealing way. The internet is being used more and more as a medium for interactive storytelling.
The New York Times uses a relatively minimalist approach here. The header image consists of a parallax effect followed by lots of text. This is packed into clear paragraphs and is visually supported by parallax sections in comic style.
Best practices, tips and guidelines in web design
What makes good web design? And what do we even define as a design standard? You can find the most important tips for successful websites in my article on best practices in web design.
An interesting example is also Webflow. The website invites you on a journey through art history in search of the web design trends of the future.
The effect is still appealing on mobile devices too.
canals-amsterdam.nl combines scrollytelling with horizontal navigation, animation and parallax. A special detail: the sticky menu changes its background color depending on the color of the current position. More information on this topic can be found in the Scrollytelling Guide.
By scrolling cards we mean vertical or horizontal scrolling, which snaps into the next window before we navigate further. You can visually emphasize this, for example, by colored separations, which convey the feeling of cards, as in the example of Green Meadow.
Other special features here are text animations that keep reloading and infinite scrolling that gives us the impression of an endless website.
2. Design compositions and layout
Integrating the physical characteristics of the products being sold
Ora London sells nail polish among other things. For the design layout of their website they use the texture of their product.
On the Main Squeeze Juice website, there are blobs of color that might resemble a washed-out version of their fruit juices. This effect is also used for some headings.
Ora The Floral Agency has visually highlighted their website with flowers from their range.
Neumorphism or neomorphism has been declared a trend for quite some time. The creative scene has long rejected these minimalist designs for two main reasons:
- Neumorphism is difficult to reproduce. If not created correctly, the design quickly looks quite unprofessional.
- Elements in neumorphism design can cause problems for the end user due to soft shadows and low contrast.
In 2021, the Neumorphism trend is now set to take off a little more. The template Neu Vision shows an everyday-friendly integration of Neumorphism.
Abstract compositions, collage and mixed media
As mentioned before, websites are allowed to show more personality. One way to achieve this is through abstract compositions or collages. Mixing different media is also welcomed, e.g. hand-drawn illustrations paired with perfect geometric shapes.
City Circus uses collages all over their website.
Blur and frosted glass effect
Organic and unobtrusive
The pureorganix.ca website tends to use few and bright, natural colours. Organic hues have been around for a while and will remain a theme in 2021.
Black / white
The complete absence of color makes your website look minimalistic, uncluttered and clean. The serious touch created by the omission of friendly hues has been well balanced by UX Database's use of illustrations.
UX design and web usability
Why should you be interested in usability and user experience as a web designer? And how do you really achieve added value for your users through good UX? I'll tell you that and more in this article.
Icons and images
As with virtual reality (VR), we've been waiting for 3D objects to finally make their big breakthrough for quite some time now. At the beginning of every year, 3D elements and VR are expected to play a bigger role from that point onwards. And that's exactly what we're predicting for 2021 too.
3D elements will be increasingly used in 2021: as a replacement for 2D icons and illustrations, to represent products, and as geometric design elements.
We will also see 3D as an interactive part of the website, as with the Dogstudio agency.
Or as a static or animated element like in the example below.
Augmented reality has already been used sporadically for e-commerce purposes in the past. Like with the IKEA app.
Diesel, on the other hand, relies more on the interactive 3D variety.
Both approaches make sense for the respective product. Being able to test furniture virtually in your future home not only reduces the chances of making a bad purchase, it's also fun and gives you inspiration for decorating and shopping.
Diesel, on the other hand, is trying to create a kind of 3D feel by allowing end users to examine and virtually feel the product before they buy it.
In the past, the integration of augmented or virtual reality elements and 3D elements was often very expensive and so only reserved for larger companies. With the new tools, the integration of augmented reality (AR) has now also become possible for smaller companies.
Here are two examples:
The web is becoming more personal, more interactive and adapting to us
Google offers an example of interactivity with its Blob Opera. The own creations can also be recorded and thus shared with everyone.
On Madwell's contact page, every graphic element is interactive.
With a lot of personality, Sennep offers its services.
Web design for causes
Furthermore, 2020 has shown that we can all network with each other and, to some extent, even have to. The web has become more human. Web design for causes will be more and more relevant from now on. The importance of ethical websites, green websites, websites to stand up for ourselves and our fellow human beings increased greatly last year. We can expect this trend to continue strongly throughout 2021 at least.
Staying in touch with friends from all over the world, working remotely, marketing products and services online - these are nothing new. And yet, before now, it was only a reality for a small minority of the population.
Many companies and people have so far approached the topic rather traditionally: we have the possibilities for web presence and networking, but we use them only secondarily. Personal contact was in the foreground.
The functionality of our online products is therefore particularly important - also because the competition is much greater. In the future, we can no longer afford to ignore topics such as accessibility.
Of course, a video call can't replace an important face-to-face meeting. But perhaps we can learn through the current situation how to distinguish between what's a critical meeting to be held in person and what can be discussed in a call. This approach was often reflected in the quality of the digital presence.
When planning online projects in the past, I often heard phrases like "if someone wants to know something, they'll call us or ask us". With the new focus on social distancing and working, we no longer have that luxury.
That's why mobile design, performance, usability and the like will remain important factors in the creation of your website in 2021.