People are understandably excited about the coming year. Businesses hope to put the pandemic behind them as vaccines become more readily available. The world is ready to resume business as usual and start a fresh chapter of growth. It’s a good time to look at innovative web design trends and embrace a few new things for your site.
When studying what’s popular, you should also consider the purpose of the website. To create a strong business presence online, you must use only those things that make sense for your audience. Blue gradients might be all the rage, but if you cater to colorblind or visually impaired users, you should probably focus on other aspects of your design.
Some trends tie into technology, while others take their cue from the fashion or entertainment industries. Figuring out which ones to implement in your web design boils down to understanding your user and knowing your personality as a company.
We don’t think you should follow every trend there is. You’ll only exhaust yourself. However, it is important to be aware of new styles and choose the ones you think your customers might respond to. What makes sense for your audience? Here are the top trends for 2021, along with some advice about when to use them.
1. Frosted Glass
The look of frosted glass started showing up in kitchens across the country. As more people built walk-in pantries, they also wanted beautiful interior doors. A frosted glass pane with the word “Pantry” etched into it may have been part of the reason for this new design trend.
Conversely, as with most web design trends, it could just be from someone wondering one day if they could repeat the look of frosted glass and experimenting. Whatever the reason, it is one of the more unique styles in recent years.
The effect blurs anything behind your main elements. It creates a soft effect that is easy on the eyes but elegant at the same time. Upscale salons and wedding-related businesses could use the design trend to showcase new products or services while offering a blurred glimpse of tried-and-true ones.
Frosted glass overlay lets you use any background you’d like, and the blurred and softened effect lets text and other elements pop. There are many ways to create a frosted glass effect, but the most browser-friendly uses CSS. Think about how to set it up so it’s friendly with the browser your users tap into most often.
2. Three-Dimensional Colors
Most of 2020 saw bold, bright color choices in design. Advances in screen resolutions allow designers to move away from gradients with one or two colors to backgrounds with shading and a wide variety of shades.
Illustrations look more like what you’d see in real life and seem to almost jump off the screen. Using form and varying weights creates an optical illusion. Colors trend toward bold choices, such as primary colors used in conjunction with one another.
What colors you use matter. Color perception may vary, depending on your audience, but keep in mind there is a psychology to different shades. The best color choices can vary by industry and even signal the quality of the product.
Think about how you can choose a color your users relate to and then add some texture to make it even more appealing.
Velux sells solar-powered skylights. Instead of just showing a light, it creates a three-dimensional illustration of a concept town. You can see how the lights look in different types of dwellings. The background appears to be grass and trees with shading and detailing.
When you land on the site, you know immediately what you’re looking at. The textures, shading and coloration make it clear there are homes. You can see skylights on all the buildings, but they aren’t flat or boring images. They look real.
3. Serif Fonts
We’re starting to see a return to elegance with serif fonts, particularly for headings and subheadings. Serifs are easy to read on most screens and adapt well to different devices.
Sans-serifs were once the golden child of web design. However, screen resolutions today can handle serifs and give them a sharp appearance. The kerning around the words creates a spacious, uncluttered feel.
Experiment with different serifs or even mix with san serifs for a modern tone. Each font has a personality, so choose what matches your mood as a brand.
4. Parallax Scrolling
You’ve likely noticed this trend when browsing around the internet. Some page elements move more quickly than others as the user scrolls through various features on the site. This creates an animated effect that keeps the visitor engaged.
Expect parallax scrolling to remain and become more sophisticated in 2021. More sites utilize this feature, and it works well on both mobile and desktop.
However, use parallax scrolling with caution and a light hand. Too much movement can irritate some people and even cause dizziness if the person has a disorder.
Always have an option to turn off any special effects. Add only some parallax movement. Utilize it for accent and not as the main element of your page.
Bite Toothpaste Bits uses parallax scrolling on its sustainability page to create the effect of trash floating in the ocean. As you scroll down, an animated sea turtle moves across the screen. The text scrolls at different speeds.
While the contrast is striking, it could cause issues with someone with a sensory disorder. Use your best judgment when creating a similar look.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Statista projects the global AI market will hit $97.9 billion by 2023. As technology advances in artificial intelligence (AI), expect to see more sites embracing chatbots and even augmented reality (AR).
Sites such as IKEA have already created apps where users can plug furniture into an image of a room in their home. Imagine an AI online shopping experience where shoppers try on jewelry, talk to a bot about the options for finishes and create a customized piece all at the touch of a few buttons.
Advances in machine learning and how fast processors work mean we’ll see more companies embracing new methods of enhancing the customer experience, especially on their websites.
6. Textured Illustrations
Another trend we’re starting to see in early 2021 is textured black-and-white illustrations. Rather than a flat, comic-book look, designers are adding some shading and different line weights to create additional texture and dimensions.
Illustrations give your site a custom look without the expense of hiring a professional photographer. Many designers are also graphic artists and can add drawings throughout their design to provide you with a unique appearance.
Mailchimp uses a textured black-and-white illustration on its homepage. Note the addition of different angles, patterns, and some dark and light shading to add a touch of dimension to the image. A simple illustration becomes bold and eye-catching with the technique.
You can use textured illustrations on your home page, as part of your logo or to highlight specific services you offer your customers.
7. Shadows and Outlines
We’re noticing a lot of new designs embracing shadows and outlines around objects. By adding these subtle effects, designers can draw attention to specific elements on the page.
For example, if you own a beverage company, you might see images of bottles on your home page. You can outline in black or add a light charcoal shadow to draw attention to your most popular or newest items.
Using shading is another way of adding 3D to your design. As with most trends, use it sparingly so as not to overwhelm your site visitors.
8. High Art Photography
You’ve likely noticed more websites using relevant and custom photographs. The days of grabbing stock photos for a business design are gone. People want to see your employees, building, products in use and specific elements that reflect your brand.
Social media sites such as Instagram have pushed companies to get more creative with how they present their products. Instead of just clicking a setup inside a lightbox, it’s better to use high action shots or products in unexpected displays.
Think of what you might do if you had a storefront display window. You would probably create a scene and try to tell a story to those passing by. Your online images should have a similar tone.
If you aren’t sure what to use or how to present what you sell, talk to a professional commercial photographer. They’ll likely have some creative ideas you never thought of. Invest in the images used in your web designs to stand out from the competition and grab user interest.
What to Expect in 2021
There will be new trends emerging throughout the year. Pay attention to the ones your users seem to respond best to. Add new elements as you can, and always conduct A/B testing to see how your audience reacts. With a little ingenuity and attention to detail, your website will be one of the best around.