9 stunning web design trends for 2021
Nine web design trends that will be huge in 2021
Abstract art compositions
Web design for causes
Digital interpretations of physical products
1. Parallax animation
We’ve witnessed the rising popularity of web-based animation trends from micro-interactions to particle backgrounds year after year. 2021’s web animations are getting more complex by separating page elements into foreground and background extremes, creating a parallax effect.
Parallax is the optical illusion that happens when objects near the viewer appear to move faster than things farther away. Although we see this in everyday life—when viewing passing scenery while driving, for instance—the effect on web pages comes across as equal parts authentic and surreal.
The depth created through foreground and background also has the added benefit of immersion, transforming the computer screen into something closer to a theater stage. As users navigate the web page, they are drawn into its convincing performance as if by magic. And at the end of the day, isn’t magic what the internet is supposed to feel like?
Neumorphism has been gaining incredible traction this past year, and in 2021 it promises to usher us into the paradoxical age of minimalist realism. The style is a successor to skeuomorphism—a design approach incorporating renderings of familiar, outdated materials into current designs. It had its heyday on app icons everywhere in the early 2010s. However, this trend was primarily supplanted by flat design, which simplified icons and colors less realistically but more uniform and easily identifiable.
3. Abstract art compositions
Abstract shapes, especially geometric primitives like squares and circles, can be superficial, minimalist, and restrictive. However, in 2021, web designers are incorporating them into complex, sprawling compositions that exude freedom.
In 2021, abstract art elements will be used as an alternative to photography in web design for startups, tech products and apps. - Tristan Le Breton, Creative Director at 99designs
In most cases, these abstract art arrangements take the place of stock photography and figure illustrations. While they can include images of people, they still evoke emotion without them. Their bursting, Pollock-Esque compositions feel energetic, and their many vibrant colors are infectiously warm. The result is web pages that feel expressive and alive, even without familiar human faces.
4. Comfortable colors
Given the increasingly digital nature of the job market these days, most people spend most of their time on computers. Because of this, it is not uncommon for users to experience eye strain after staring at screens for long periods. Web designers have been taking this into account with color schemes focused on being easier on the eyes.
Our worlds are noisy, Zoom fatigue is a thing. In 2021, web design will be stripped back to “one job at a time” to avoid distraction and make interactions more comfortable. - Claire Taylor, Senior Product Designer at 99designs
This somewhat explains the popularity of last year’s dark mode trend, which counteracted the overwhelming whiteness that dominates screen-based media.
In 2021, web designers will be thinking outside the two extremes of dark and light. Instead, they find a middle ground in soft color palettes, like wholesome greens, pastel blues, warm browns, or light pinks. These not only make website colors less jarring than pure black or pure white, they naturally induce calm and relaxation.
Overall, this trend is a hopeful sign that web designers of the future may be more concerned with accessibility and comfort than dramatic innovation.
5. Web design for causes
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the various shelter-in-place orders that followed, the internet has become a refuge. Not only have virtual conferences become the norm for social gatherings and entertainment, but many brick-and-mortar brands have also turned to websites to keep their businesses afloat. And web designers were up to the task, creating meaningful and impactful designs.
6. Scrolling transformations
When users scroll, they are doing more than navigating the page: they’re interacting. The physical actions they perform in real life—flicking their fingers over the mouse—cause a response on the screen. Interaction is a form of participation, and when users are involved in things that are happening, they are more likely to be interested and engaged.
Scrolling is one of the most subtle forms of interaction, and as such, 2021’s web designers are ramping up the visual feedback users get when they scroll. This can range from full-color scheme changes to complex animated transitions to wholesale shifts in the layout. All in all, web designers are taking the time to make
each scroll feels like a new page—sometimes even a new website.
7. Digital interpretations of physical products
Products are often at the heart of websites, and 2021’s web pages have their hearts on their sleeves. Specifically, products are inspiring literal design elements through creative, digital interpretations of physical media.
This might come in the form of color smeared across a page like a nail polish or images cropped in rounded rectangles like smartphones. Not only does this approach create visual synergy between the product and its website, but it also makes web pages feel more organic and unexpected.
With websites becoming an increasingly common part of everyday life, this trend of blending the natural world and the digital feels like it was made for our moment in time.
8. Captivating questionnaires
The onboarding process—the window of time in which a user visits a landing page—is perhaps the most critical moment of a user’s journey. They stand on a knife’s edge between intrigue and apathy, and the quality of his experience here will send them toppling firmly to one side.
Rather than having the user read product descriptions and make decisions on their own, more and more brands are using questionnaires to foster an interactive experience. These quizzes ask personable multiple-choice questions that are focused on the visitors’ likes and dislikes in order to subtly cater products to them.
9. Three-dimensional colors
Color schemes in web design have been trending towards gradients for a while now, and this year’s trend feels like the next evolution, with color transitions becoming more lifelike than ever. Taking their cue from Apple’s Big Sur OS, we expect colors that are saturated and three-dimensional, almost like fruit you can pluck right out of the screen.
This trend is accomplished through fine shading that gives a rounded feel to the flat icons of yesteryear. While we do anticipate it to appear most commonly on app icons, web designers are also abandoning the neat transitions of gradients for background blended colors that come across as more imperfect and natural. Two colors side by side might abruptly smear together or they may retain the shadows and depth of painted objects. All in all, this trend suggests that the web design colors of 2021 are aspiring to higher realms of realism.