Web Design Trends 2021: Scrollytelling, 3D Effects & More Interaction

Sonja Hoffmann Last updated 14.07.2021
10 Min.
Web Design Trends-2021
Last updated 14.07.2021

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 would change? And how quickly we can adapt to the changes. Let's take a look at the web design trends waiting for us in 2021!

Thenew normal has us all firmly in its grip: technology is far more important to us now 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. 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.

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 integrating organic colors and elements remains. We'll achieve more personality through collages, mixed media and animation effects. Let's take a look at the web design trends 2021 in detail now!

1. Scrolling

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: too much movement on your website can make vertigo sufferers uneasy.

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.
Web Design Trends-2021

The website for the game Firewatch uses eight different PNG images in the header. These 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.

Scroll animations

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. 

Web Design Trends-2021

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. Although the loading time is somewhat affected, the animations also work on smaller devices too.

Web Design Trends-2021

The company Prevint offers an overall concept against sexualized violence. The three most important measures for preventing violence are visualized through the minimal use of scrolling animations. Note here the special use of horizontal and horizontal scrolling. The main navigation is on a horizontal 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.

Horizontal scrolling

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.

Web Design Trends-2021

The website of Home Société, built as a single pager, works completely horizontally oriented. The sticky navigation we usually find at the top is to the left. It works the same way with anchor links as a vertically oriented single page site. The site is displayed vertically on mobile devices.

Web Design Trends-2021

The website of Kwok Yin Mak is a design portfolio that scrolls horizontally through the integrated pages. What's different compared to the Home Société is the use of Infinite Scrolling: When you get to the end of a page, you're brought back to the beginning without noticing. This website also doesn't use horizontal scrolling for mobile devices.

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?

The right font doesn't just make your website more appealing visually. Fonts have a direct impact on whether sections of text are read or simply ignored. I show you how to find the perfect font for your website in this article.

Scrollytelling

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. 

Web Design Trends-2021

The New York Times uses a relatively minimalistic approach here. The header image consists of a parallax effect followed by lots of text. The text 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 how do we define a design standard anyway? You can find the most important tips for successful websites in my article on best practices in web design.

Web Design Trends-2021

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.

Web Design Trends-2021

The effect is still appealing on mobile devices too.

Web Design Trends-2021

canals-amsterdam.nl combines scrollytelling with horizontal navigation, animation and parallax. A nice detail is that 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.

Scrolling cards

By scrolling cards we mean vertical or horizontal scrolling that snaps into the next window before we navigate further. You can emphasize this visually, for example, by using different colors to convey the feeling of the cards, like on the website from Green Meadow.

Web Design Trends-2021

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

Web Design Trends-2021

Ora London sells, among other things, nail polish. For the design layout of their website, they use the texture of their product.

Web Design Trends-2021

On the Main Squeeze Juice website, there are blobs of color that resemble a washed-out version of their fruit juices. This effect is also used in some headings.

Web Design Trends-2021

Ora The Floral Agency has visually highlighted their website with flowers from their range. 

Neumorphism

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:

  1. Neumorphism is difficult to reproduce. If not created correctly, the design quickly looks quite unprofessional.
  2. 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.

Web Design Trends-2021
Tutorial: how to create neumorphism elements

With the tool Neumorphism.io you can try out neumorphism yourself. The CSS code is included in the package. You can find more information about this topic in this article.

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.

Web Design Trends-2021

City Circus uses collages all over their website.

Blur and frosted glass effect

The Frosted Glass Effect is ideal for making text on images readable. It can also be used as a hover effect. A tutorial on how to implement the Frosted Glass Effect in CSS can be found here.

Web Design Trends-2021
Source: Codepen.io

3. Colors

Organic and unobtrusive

Web Design Trends-2021

The pureorganix.ca uses only a few natural and light colors. Organic shades have been on the rise for some time and will remain a trend in 2021.

Black / white

Web Design Trends-2021
website: UX Database

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 answer both of these questions and more this article.

4. 3D

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'll also use 3D as an interactive part of the website, as seen on the website the Dogstudio agency.

Web Design Trends-2021

Or as a static or animated element like in the example below.

Web Design Trends-2021
Website: https://www.yaya.co/

eCommerce

Augmented reality has been used sporadically for e-commerce purposes in the past. An example of this is the IKEA app.

Web Design Trends-2021

Diesel, on the other hand, relies more on the interactive 3D variant.

Web Design Trends-2021

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, tries 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:

5. Content

The web is becoming more personal, more interactive and adapting to us

Google offers an example of interactivity with its Blob Opera. Users can record and share their own creations.

Web Design Trends-2021

On Madwell's contact page, every graphic element is interactive.

Web Design Trends-2021

The company Sennep offers its services with a lot of personality.

Web Design Trends-2021

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.

Final thoughts

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, etc. will remain important when building your website in 2021.

Web Design Trends-2021
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Your questions about the web design trends of 2021
Let us know your questions and predictions about web design trends 2021 in the comments below. Do you want to keep up with the latest articles all about WordPress? Follow RAIDBOXES on TwitterFacebook and sign up to newsletter.

After studying Game Design and Creative Writing in the green Auckland region, Sonja Hoffmann specialized in web and app design and development. Her focus is on gamification and the exploration of user motivation and experience, coupled with a passion and curiosity for technological trends.

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