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Aug 01, 2021

Top 10 Web Design Trends in 2021

Article brought to you by Nilead, a website builder platform with fully managed design and build service.

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The first half of 2021 marked a paradigm shift for culture and lifestyle due to COVID-19. A lot of businesses shut their doors due to quarantine during the pandemic. The companies that survive will have to look for new ways to remain profitable.

There is a saying that every problem is an opportunity in disguise. In these trying times, we can look beyond the conventional ways of doing business. Today, more businesses are moving their offices and storefronts online than ever before. There is a renewed interest in creating and growing an online presence.

In this article, we will discover the current website design trends in 2021-2022 and how businesses should use them to assist user discovery through visual communication. If you are interested in building a website, we have an article on the Website building process and 15 tips to build a successful website.

Minimalism

Minimalism has taken the throne and become a new trend in modern life and website design is no exception. Humans pay attention only to certain details in designs, so web designs with minimalist details are easy to recognize and easily remembered.

Minimalism has a very simple philosophy - "less is more". When it comes to website design, using "less is more" means using only the elements that are necessary for users to focus on the content. You must remember that adding more features to your design does not necessarily equate to adding more value.

Websites designed in a minimalistic style follow the following rules:

  • The user interface should be simple and intuitive.

  • The design should make liberal use of negative space

  • Minimalist font

  • Images in large size

  • No more than three colors at once on the minimalism website

  • No excessive details (such as color transitions, textures, or shadows).

  • No extra button

NuRo-Web-design
Source: NU:RO Website

The NU:RO design uses only two main colors, white and black, and only includes the watch, which is the company's product, as the main image and two important information at the top of the homepage. The original website can be viewed at http://nuro.co

The Pros and Cons of Minimalistic Websites

You won't find many (if any) pop-up videos, tabs, or drop-down menus on minimalist websites. There's nothing that you think stands out to attract viewers. You may find yourself asking: "How will this design help me achieve the goals of the website?"

However, there are many reasons why individuals and organizations choose this style. Minimalist design is timeless and it never goes out of fashion over time. Apple has been following this trend since 1999 and they have not gone out of style yet.

Besides, the benefits that this design style brings include:

  • Effective at Converting Consumers: The generous use of negative space directs the user's attention to the text and CTAs. Conversion paths are clear when clutter or excessive information is not distracting users.

  • Faster loading speed: It's become common knowledge that the speed at which pages load is an important part of the user experience, and recently page speed has been gaining popularity. You have users who are on the go. People are more likely to head somewhere else rather than waiting for a site to load. Minimalist websites with minimal effects and uncluttered elements always load quickly.

  • SEO Friendly: In order to index a website's information, search engines use bots to crawl it. Minimalist design is easy for search engine bots to crawl. There’s not a lot of clutter on the front end or in the back, stored in code. For a bot, the simpler the site, the easier it is to crawl. This means the website will have a greater chance at high search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

It's important to realize there's no one design style that fits all, and everything has two sides. A minimalist design might not be able to keep users engaged for some industries. Minimalism has the following two main disadvantages:

  • Difficulty Conveying Value: With the design's main focus on using fewer words, more images, and less detail, it will be difficult to convey all the information about the products and services. In the case of a content-rich website, another design may be more appropriate.

  • Too Blank: Minimalism can sometimes be taken too far, and the website appears sparse, as though it's incomplete. Certain industries, products, and services may require a more vibrant, dynamic design.

  • Lastly, the minimalist design style is more suitable for certain cultures. For example, the Japanese and Scandinavian cultures embrace minimalist design. Other cultures may find this design trend boring.

3D Illustrations

The use of three-dimensional webpage design (3D) has grown rapidly, thanks in part to its emergence in the film and gaming industries, as well as the growth of operating systems and mobile apps. 3D elements add a sense of uniqueness and dimensionality to any webpage.

Customers will feel the difference and be attracted by those realistic images. As 2021 unfolds, we expect more immersive 3D web designs that engage users and visually break the boundaries between digital and real spaces.

This is a perfect example of how 3D can make a big impression.

3D-web-design-Algoan
Source: Algona website

The home page of the Algona website is completely made up of 3D images. All look like a chain of factories to make their products. Click the image to view the original website https://www.algoan.com

The Pros and Cons of 3D Websites

The depth and sheer immersion created by 3D objects attract users to the website. The use of rich gradient colors, shading effects, and shadows keep users interested longer on a page. This is the biggest benefit of websites with a 3D design, particularly 3D illustration. Here are some other advantages this trend can bring:

  • Enhance user experience: The 3D web design is not just an addition to a two-dimensional space but also involves sound, vibrant colors, and a highly interactive user experience. Users can feel as if they are experiencing reality.

  • Enhancing Brand Product Marketing: With the help of virtualized interfaces of 3D technology, customers can view the full dimensions of the products with the most realistic detail. By improving customer experience, conversation rates can increase significantly.

However, it takes specific skills to blend such graphics with user interfaces. Additionally, it is very time-consuming (and thus can be rather costly). Another disadvantage of the 3D design is that it often increases the overall download size of a web page and requires complex effects that decrease overall performance. You should think about ROI before using this web design style.

Parallax Scrolling

The parallax effect was a buzz when it first appeared and became a website design trend for many years. We believe that website designers will continue to add more creative flair to this effect in 2021.

Applied properly, parallax can create fantastic experiences that will make visitors thoroughly impressed with the website. If not engineered well, this effect can create a website that is cluttered, making it more irritating for users, effectively reducing the page's purpose.

There are some guidelines that more designers are following to ensure parallax is not overused and doesn't damage the experience:

  • Keep parallax effects from distracting the user from the important details

  • Make sure that you are using the parallax effects in a minimal way

  • Provide the option for the user to turn off the parallax

Parallax-Scrolling-website
Source: Ubank

Using parallax scrolling, UBank shows the many different areas and functions of their application on their website. Various images of the application appear and disappear as you scroll from one section to another.

What About The Pros and Cons of Using Parallax Scrolling?

Pros:

  • Brand Story Telling: This type of scrolling is perfect for websites telling stories through single-page scrolling (or dynamic scrolling).

  • Create A Dynamic, Interactive User Experience: Scrolling in parallax looks outstanding in action. With such an engaging approach, the reader is compelled to explore further and further this fascinating journey. As it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain users' attention on one website for a long period of time, parallax web design can do that. Why? This type of design keeps users immersed until the end of a story, keeping them scrolling down the page to find out what happens next.

Cons:

  • A Long Time to Load: Due to the heavy animation of parallax scrolling, it may take some time for pages to load, and it may not work smoothly across all browsers.

  • Difficult To Convert To A Mobile-Friendly Version: There will be a difference between how the site looks on a mobile device and on a PC. This isn't too difficult, but the designer should know how to convert the effect correctly so that it is compatible with mobile devices. Sometimes you may have to turn off the parallax effect on the mobile version of your site, or you may need to create a completely different mobile version of your site (since responsive may not work well in this case).

  • Not SEO-friendly: The parallax effect is often used with a single-page design style (every single web page is combined and put in one page). Your whole website is displayed on a single page and there are several H1 headers on a single page. Unlike multi-page sites, these websites are extremely difficult to optimize, posing a challenge to your search engine optimization.

Retro Fonts

Could a little blast from the past be a creative idea? In the 1990s, retro designs failed to focus on user experience, and they gradually degraded and disappeared. However, there are several old-school trends making a comeback in web design today. Web designers have taken inspiration from this 'primitive design' and added a little style. The change began when traditional bold fonts became blended with a bit of experimentation to produce websites that are both stylish and user-friendly.

It can be said, however, that these are not easy to create websites. Between the 1990s and 2021, the design rules used are so different, sometimes they don't make sense. A retro website follows this trend, as well as its design rules, which are very different from those we're used to (for example, its layout, color, and typography).

retro-website-style
Source: BLDR Boards

The combination of images and fonts of the early years of Internet development makes users feel a bit nostalgic but still combines the bright colors of the past decades to give the feeling of the past while still feeling very of the moment. Click the link to view the original website https://boards.boldare.com/

Let's consider some advantages and disadvantages of using retro fonts

Pros:

  • Colorful elements and shapes attract attention

  • Black and white photos, pixels allow visitors to dive into their childhood memories; give them a positive feeling

  • It reflects the spirit of the era instantly

Cons:

  • Some people may not understand what retro designs are, and some people may not like them;

  • Overusing fonts, shapes, and color schemes makes the style look cluttered;

How Do You Make The Retro Web Design?

  • Use buttons in the form of signs, badges, buttons you find on old-fashioned equipment.

  • Consider serif fonts, angular fonts of large sizes, and boldly combined with bent fonts.

Multimedia Experiences

Multimedia websites gradually become popular when internet speed allows users to experience more. You can spice up your website by using multimedia. Rather than bombarding users with text, you're providing them with a visual option.

In addition, website designs in 2021 will be expected to experience multimedia while maintaining the following rules:

  • Blends motion and sound without being distracting

  • Make sure you include alt text to describe your images, as well as longer descriptions if the images are complex.

  • Provides users with the ability to customize the playback of video/motion content.

multimedia-website-example
Source: Sally

The Sally website is a combination of multimedia experiences with texts. The layout is divided into two different columns to help show the main message. They also allow users to choose whether to watch the video or not. https://new.drivesally.com/

Multimedia Experiences: What Can You Gain and Lose?

Pros:

  • Decrease Bounce Rate: For users with short attention spans, large blocks of text may be difficult to read. With the latest streaming technology, the website uses short videos to inform its visitors. This will increase user engagement and retention.

  • Better at Convey Information: In the absence of multimedia, a website will most likely look like a wall of text. Users may feel intimidated by this, and they may leave your site to find information elsewhere. Multimedia enables businesses to better convey information/products. For instance, a site that sells CDs can't convey the essence of the song just through text, but rather can use MP3 and video samples as well as music videos.

Cons:

  • Slow Loading Time: Loading times are the quickest for sites with a lot of text and small images. The addition of large photos and videos can cause the site to load more slowly on slow devices and networks. This can lead to users leaving your website as they are not willing to wait for it to fully load.

  • Extra hosting cost: The bandwidth allocated to your site may be limited by many factors, including server issues and high traffic levels. You may have to pay extra hosting costs if your large videos/audios are viewed more than you expected since you only have a certain amount of bandwidth per month.

Asymmetrical Style

Asymmetrical design in a website sounds like it will cause clutter and imbalance. If done correctly, elements in unorthodox locations create a sense of tension and chaos that attracts website visitors immediately. This is the main advantage of this trend. In 2021, these themes are expected to become website trends because they make a strong impression, add a sense of allure, and offer an uncommon experience.

Asymmetrical-design
Source: New Flight

New Flight used diagonal lines to divide the composition in half and used different blocks in succession but created the feeling of pieces standing next to each other creatively. The original website: https://newflight.co/

What Factors Do You Need To Pay Attention To When Designing An Asymmetrical Website?

It is challenging and rewarding to design a website with asymmetry. Balance is difficult to achieve with asymmetrical visual elements. There are many ways, however, to create an asymmetrical balance.

  • Asymmetrical Balance: For example, we can place many small elements on one side and a significant element on the other side to balance.

  • Using Space: It is important to create contrast between white space, or negative space, and design elements. This allows the eye to move through the design.

  • Think of the grid: Asymmetricity can be achieved by creating an odd number of columns in a column grid. You can also create elements equal to one side's column width and doubling the width on the other.

Neumorphism

Neumorphism began trending at the beginning of 2019 and has been widely embraced by the web design community. Neumorphism is predicted to be one of the key trends in 2021 that will guide designers.

Neumorphism (also known as neo-skeuomorphism) is a type of design that focuses on how light will move. This trend is often characterized by utilizing selective drop shadows to simulate physicality overlaid with semi-flat colors and create a natural 3D feel.

This effect is similar to digital embossing or debossing in many ways. Designing with tactile elements allows designers to regain the tactile experience they lost when designing flat surfaces. Thus, it strengthens the emotional connection between the user and the design they are interacting with.

Neumorphism-design
Source: Sara Salehi via Dribbble

Sara's designs are typical of the Neumorphism trend with designs that mimic physicality through selective drop shadows while being overlaid with semi-flat colors.

Here are some pros and cons of using the Neumorphism style

Pros:

The biggest advantage of this design is its visual freshness. No doubt, neumorphism provides a fresh, intuitive overall look with its life-like components.

Cons:

  • Neumorphism's cons include accessibility and space limitations. The entire design style is based on lights and shadows. Creating contrast can be challenging, and inexperienced designers can easily make mistakes that hurt the design.

  • Take time for design: Each element needs to be designed manually, which takes more time to design. Depending on what they are simulating, some elements will require more work.

  • Neumorphism kills intuitiveness: Its smooth corners, convex shapes, and other elements make one lose themselves in actions. "Have I pressed the button or not? Is there even a button there?" That's right, these are bad Call To Action questions.

Neumorphism has potential, despite its many constraints. As a tip, we could suggest that you should focus on neumorphism only on those elements that need to stand out. Additionally, a professional web designer will be able to assist you with this kind of web design.

Photography With Graphics

Next, we'd like to share with you a trend that combines illustration and photography. By combining photography and graphics, website creators will make boring images into something fresh, fun, and interactive to engage visitors and elevate the appearance of a website.

illustration-and-photography-website-idea
Source: Constance Burke's portfolio website

Using photography mixed with illustration on Constance Burke's portfolio website makes the site unique and creates a positive effect on users

Here are tips for mixing photography with graphics:

  • Accentuate your user interface with illustrations. The website design might include illustrated elements of the user interface

  • Before adding photos or videos, sketch out the illustrated elements. You can also create an amazing background image for the design. It's a great way to get the background you want without having to look through tons of premade images.

  • Engage the user by telling a story with real, illustrated images.

  • If you don't have a lot of imagery, use illustrations as you would typography.

AR Experiences

Web AR has become a smash hit on the internet. As marketers, brands, and businesses become more aware of augmented reality technology, they are identifying use-cases within their own organizations.

The aim of website designers is therefore to create AR experiences that are based around websites. In 2021, this website design trend is likely to remain on top of the list of sought-after designs.

AR-experienment-on-vehicle-website
Source: Jeep

Jeep's website allows users to build their custom vehicle before AR experiencing.

By incorporating AR right on the website, users can experience the product at home, but without leaving their chairs.

AR-experienment-on-vehicle-website-2

Try it yourself: www.jeep.com

How Are AR Experiences Beneficial?

Pros:

  • Enhancing real interactions: AR breaks the barrier between reality and digital information by altering our interactions with it. With AR, users are able to interact with virtual objects in a more realistic way than they could with a mouse or touch screen. Industries that need to provide physical interaction with their products (furniture, vehicles, etc...) could benefit greatly from this new technology.

  • Engagement rates increase: The resulting increase in engagement is likely to result in an increase in conversions.

Cons:

  • Needless to say, the execution of such technology demands an equal cost, along with expertise. Developing AR-enabled devices is also very expensive.

  • One of WebAR's biggest challenges is the browser's memory limits, creating poor performance and performance quality.

Dark Mode

White backgrounds have long been the preferred way of creating empty space on a website or app. Designers began incorporating darker themes and elements in their work several years ago, but the Dark Mode trend really began to take hold in 2020, and we expect the dark mode to make a bigger mark in 2021 and beyond.

One of the primary reasons why dark mode became so trendy is that it reduces eye strain. Furthermore, it increases visibility in low ambient lighting. As well as easier on the eyes, dark mode is great for increasing contrast and making the website more sleek, chic. Last but not least, a phone with an OLED screen can save 30% of its battery by switching to dark mode (Business Insider, 2021).

Dark-mode interface design is becoming a popular trend and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. However, for this interface to be really effective, you need to have solid knowledge and skills in design, colors, images, etc.

Here is "The Dos" of the Dark Mode website:

  • Use More Blank Space: It is important to utilize white space effectively for any type of design, but it is especially important for dark backgrounds. The darker the design, the more heaviness it will feel, and cluttering them up can reinforce that. Dark designs need plenty of white space in order to de-clutter the layout, in addition to adding a sense of elegance.

  • Textual White Space: For those who dislike dark backgrounds, readability is the number one concern, so designers must pay extra attention to the text itself. Increasing the paragraph size, kerning, and leading on dark websites can improve readability

  • Contrast: The recommendation from Google Material Design is to use a contrast level between dark surfaces and 100% white body text at least 15.8:1

  • Allow Visitors to Customize Their Experience.: Of course, not everyone likes a black background. If you design a completely dark-mode website, you will not be able to reach customers who prefer light-mode. Instead, let's allow users to flexibly change between these two interfaces. For example, the website from https://johnyvino.com/

Website design trends in 2021 are constantly innovating and we can expect more than that

Website designers have constantly improved and applied many new functions, or refreshed old features to make their designs more eye-catching and attract users' attention. The core of these improvements is to not only increase the user experience and retain them longer but also make the brand or the message of the website stick in the user's memory. It’s always exciting to see how web design continues to change.

2021 sees the return of familiar trends with unique innovations. But while updating new trends is important, we should also pay attention to choosing and applying them appropriately, expressing the spirit of the brand. We have only given you a taste of what is to come with the list of 10 trends. How do you imagine the future of web design trends?