In 1990, the World Wide Web entered the scene and introduced a What You See Is What You Get Editor (WYSIWYG), making web design and browsing available to the masses. While websites in the early days were as simple as they come and consisted mostly of text, it didn’t take long for designers to add their stylistic touches. Over the years, trends changed and computer graphic capability improved. Websites of today look quite different than their 1990s counterparts.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 160,500 web developers are making around $73,760 per year. The job growth outlook is higher than average at 13% per year. Demand for knowledgable developers comes from the growth of mobile device usage and the rising popularity of e-commerce. Developing skills in these areas can afford you higher pay and more opportunities.
Simply by looking at past and current trends, it’s easy to predict what web design might look like in 2021 and beyond. Here are 10 ways the industry will change in 2021 and some predictions for which trends will stay or go:
1. Hidden Navigation Goes 2.0
For a few years, designers experimented with hidden navigation on websites. After all, navigation bars can be distracting to the page’s message, notably landing pages. However, site visitors often grow confused when they aren’t sure where the menu is.
A trend cropping up in webpage design includes more intuitive hidden navigation, where the menu pops up as the user begins scrolling down the page or hovers over certain areas. Interactive menus don’t require any additional thinking on the visitor’s part but still highlight the main page elements.
2. Video Blogs Become Even More Popular
The growth of online video is undeniable. From the early days of YouTube, additional options sprang up, including livestreaming on Facebook, video-based apps such as TikTok and videos on websites. According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing report, 87% of businesses use video as part of their marketing efforts. Faster streaming and high-resolution screens allow developers to add a video to nearly any medium.
This Week in Startups hosts vlogs from a different vlogger every few days. When you land on the main page, you immediately see a video of the latest episode. The entire focus of the page is on the video blog. To create something similar, you can create a channel on a site such as YouTube and connect videos to your website by embedding them.
3. Voice Search Turns Into a Necessity
Voice search keeps growing in popularity. The Pew Research Center reports 25% of U.S. adults have smart speakers in their homes. One in every four Americans owns one of these devices, and most cell phones have voice search capabilities. Make your site friendly to this Internet of Things (IoT) tool to prepare for 2021 and beyond. As people search for more convenience, they will turn more frequently to voice search options.
4. User Experience (UX) Remains Vital
Your site’s UX makes the difference in whether site visitors stay or go. There are millions of websites people can visit. If you want them to land on your page and stay there, you must engage them and provide clear direction on where you want them to go. Consider your page’s goals and ways to meet those objectives while meeting the consumer’s needs.
GeoForm International overlays their sediment removal system on their landing page, directing the user seamlessly through their web design and down to additional information. The visitor’s gaze automatically moves downward and brings them to more information on the site’s featured products, plus a clear call-to-action (CTA) button.
5. Dark Mode Gains Popularity
In the fall of 2019, dark mode arrived in an iOS update. Users enjoy several benefits when taking advantage of the new look, including reduced eye strain. Dark mode filtered over into recent web design trends as developers chose darker themes and muted overlays that are easier on the eyes. Although contrast is still imperative, designers might select a deep gray and an off-white rather than pitch black on bright white to reduce screen glare. Expect this trend to continue well into 2021.
6. Mobile Responsiveness Remains Crucial
According to Statista, the average daily use of smartphones will reach about 234 minutes per day by 2021. As time spent on mobile devices increases, so do activities like accessing the internet. Your site should already be mobile-friendly, but if it isn’t, now is the time to make changes before you miss out on a significant segment of your website’s traffic.
Losson Excavating, Septic & Drain does an admirable job of making their website mobile responsive. Note the two versions, both on desktop and iPhone, and how they are very similar, yet the images and text adjust for the smaller screen. The user doesn’t have to scroll endlessly to find what they want on the mobile version. The best way to make sure your website is mobile-friendly is to pick up your smartphone and test it out.
7. More Sites Use Translators
The economy becomes increasingly global. If you want to attain customers around the world, you must reach them in their language. Unless you run a local service business, such as plumbing, you’ll likely have at least one customer from another country or whose first language differs from yours. Build translation into your design, so it presents as an option when someone from another country visits your site.
8. Hero Images Stick Around
With faster internet speeds, designers started adding big, beautiful images to their creations. Hero images within the top page header have become quite popular in the last few years. This trend will remain as long as the photos respond to different screen sizes. They add a unique quality to any project, which many website owners love.
MTV uses a hero image to take up almost the entire space above the fold on their landing page. By using a picture related to a show they want to display, they grab the user’s interest. They can also swap out this photo as they introduce new episodes.
9. 3D Elements Reach Popular Status
As advances in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology increase, expect more developers to implement 3D effects into their work. You’ve probably noticed this trend on Facebook with some photos. These images appear almost alive as you scroll past that photo of a cute new puppy someone just adopted. Screens and devices can now accomplish AR capability without using expensive headsets. As new developments occur, expect more designs to embrace 3D elements for impact.
10. Chatbots Become Almost Human-Like
Advances in machine learning mean that computers think more like humans than any other time in history. Coders teach computers how to reason the same way a human would. Chatbots already answer basic questions, but the wording must be programmed or the system doesn’t recognize the query and gives nonsensical replies.
Expect chatbots and computers to overcome this hurdle in the next few years. Look at your current live chat features and pay close attention to discoveries in this realm so you can ramp up your designs to include the latest capabilities.
An Ever-Changing Landscape
Technology creates a continually evolving platform. Today’s trends won’t be the same as tomorrow’s. Pay attention to new possibilities as they emerge and adopt the ones that make the most sense for your clients. Developers who observe what’s new in technology and what other top designers create have the biggest chances of success in this industry.