Top web design trends for 2021

Web design trends are the talk of the industry at the beginning of every year, predicting futuristic and game-changing ideas. Our 2021 predictions sort the fads from the must-haves.

Web design trends seem to express a different tone than usual this year. Rather than focusing on high-tech, complex concepts, strategists are taking a step back and re-evaluating what’s important. After last year’s unpredictability combined with a focus on social issues and communities, there is predicted to be a cohesion between web design and personalised marketing that has never been seen before.  

Experimental graphics

As can be seen with platform designs like Mailchimp, there has been a rise in the use of abstract, minimalist shapes within web design in recent years. This has been building up for a long time with interfaces like Microsoft’s release of Windows 8 in 2011 and Apple’s revamp to iOS7 in 2013, increasing the popularity of flatter, more minimal designs.

Last year’s lockdowns put millennials at the forefront of content creation with the likes of TikTok. Over a quarter of UK smartphone users aged between 18 and 24 were using this incredibly popular platform. Therefore, this more simplistic, modern design is destined to take centre-stage in 2021 as ideas of the younger generation feed through to the digital design space. The use of abstract shapes, geometric designs and freehand visuals breaks out of the restrictive squares and circles into a new, freeing concept. So it might be time to replace potentially tired stock imagery.

Innovative colourways

Given the increase in working from home, people are spending more time in front of screens. And many of us may be using the ‘night mode’ settings on our devices a lot more often to avoid too much blue light. Web designers are likely to listen to this demand and avoid pages with overwhelming colours, instead going for more muted hues that cause less eye strain. This is likely to encourage designers to go for gentle colour schemes.

As we saw when we explored colour theory in one of our previous blogs, the types of colours used in a webpage can have an impressive impact on how your customers navigate your website. For example, as this study shows, pastels can naturally induce calm and relaxation.

With the prominence of burnout and Zoom fatigue during 2020, it’s possible that we will see a stripped back approach to web visuals in the new year. A poll by networking community Blind found that some people feel Zoom ‘zaps’ their mental energy, so it’s expected that platform designs in 2021 will encourage visitors to focus on the project at hand to promote a more enjoyable customer journey.

Web designers stepped up to their social responsibilities in 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic, not only have virtual conferences become the norm for social gatherings and entertainment, many retail brands and charities have turned to websites to keep their operations going. This was a mighty task that web designers were a part of, streamlining business’s offerings with innovative online profiles and striking imagery. For example, when the story of Sir Captain Tom Moore gained popularity, NHS Charities Together had to undergo a revamping and strategising of their online efforts to handle the influx of donations and support.

In 2021, we are likely to see more designs promoting important movements, like social and environmental issues. Web designers continue to excel in their role in helping the world through troubled times.

This means that brands will be more likely to focus their web designs around their values, such as sustainability efforts and the importance of community. So expect to see a rise in digital spaces bringing awareness to social causes through interactive means.

Intelligent content loading for an optimised web experience

A lot of websites lean a little too much on graphical elements which can ultimately slow websites down. According to website performance monitors Pingdom, the average size of a website increased by over 900kB from 2016 and the amount of video content alone grew by over 300%. The development of smart sites that only download the content that the user needs to see, and improved optimisation are likely to come to the forefront in 2021.

We’re excited to see what 2021 holds for a new year of web design, and how it will unfold against expectations. With page speed and user experience still at the forefront, we also hope to see more web designers taking on social awareness projects and thinking outside the box with imagery.