Every year, we see new trends in digital marketing. Creativity and technology are two of the fastest evolving industries on the planet, and web design sits right at the intersection, which is why it’s no surprise that we are constantly seeing new web design trends emerging every year. This year is no different, with a lot of new trends taking the web design space by storm.
It’s important to keep up with these latest trends because web design impacts the way your audience perceives your brand. It can be a huge factor in determining whether leads remain on your page or bounce away to a competitor’s website.
In today’s fast and saturated online world, though, how do you know which trends to follow and which ones are just fads? To help you answer that question, here are the 7 unique web design trends set to dominate in 2021.
1. Simple web design
Simple never goes out of style. A clean, minimal design with lots of white space is pleasing to look at and offers a streamlined experience for website visitors.
In the remainder of 2021, there will be competition for simplifying designs with the use of subtle, cool colours so users can focus more on the actual website design. Fortunately, there are tools that make it super-easy to build a stunning website even for those with no coding knowledge or experience.
We’re already seeing a lot of websites with designs that exhibit modern minimalism, such as this example from AYR, which is a popular fashion brand.
As you can see, this design is aesthetically pleasing to look at, and the page offers a simple, streamlined experience for users.
The minimal design shows off the elegance of the brand. There aren’t any flashy features that are likely to distract visitors from the main goal, which, in this case, is to discover more about the current collection.
This web design tactic works for any type of website, and it’s great for creating professional-looking landing pages that make it easy for visitors to discover more information, book an appointment, or take any other action that you want.
Preply is another website that uses a simple, minimalistic design to make it easy for users to search for and find relevant information. When opting for this type of design trend, however, consider your mobile UX web design.
Choose an appropriate navigation style, such as a variation of the hamburger navigation, that suits both desktop and mobile websites, while enhancing the minimalist effect of your website. And remember, simple doesn’t have to be boring. For instance, you can use various scrolling techniques, such as the horizontal scrolling in the example below, to create a unique user experience on your website.
Unlike the typical scrolling experience, which is vertical, horizontal scrolling is disruptive in a great way. It catches the user’s attention while still maintaining your website’s simplicity and functionality.
2. Embedded video
Video consumption is on the rise, and so is the design trend for including a video on the homepage to grab the visitors’ attention and share some important information before they continue scrolling down the page.
This is one of the fastest-growing web design trends for this year, and embedding video on your homepage makes it a lot more engaging, thus helping keep visitors on your page for longer.
You can include videos showcasing your business, products, services, employees, equipment, projects, etc. — basically, anything that your target audience will find interesting. For instance, a site like this one that focuses on CRM software might include an embedded video on their homepage about how a CRM with a predictive dialer works.
A construction website might give its audience a sneak peek into what their typical day is like. These types of behind-the-scenes videos are great for grabbing the attention of your audience and boosting engagement.
You can also use informative videos that educate your customers about your brand before they start scrolling down the page.
Brands like Xbox, Coca-Cola, and Warner Bros. are skilled at using embedded videos as a way to immerse visitors into their world. However, this strategy works for all types of websites, including food blogs, sports blogs, and gaming blogs. It even works for potentially drab corporate websites like the one below:
This company removed all the text-heavy mission statements on its home page and, instead, embedded a video example of the company’s work. This instantly transformed their corporate website and made it a lot more exciting, resulting in higher engagement and conversions almost instantaneously.
This website that sells empty gel capsules of all sizes is yet another site that could potentially benefit from having an embedded video on its homepage showcasing how they make the gel capsules.
3. Parallax animation
More and more websites are set to use parallax to create depth and increase immersion for a more engaging homepage.
Parallax animation refers to the optical illusion created when objects closer to the viewer seem to be moving faster than those farther away. It’s an optical illusion that we see in everyday life, such as when looking at passing scenery while driving. This type of effect is easy to achieve thanks to today’s video and image editing apps.
On web pages, parallax animation creates an effect that is both real and surreal. The use of foreground and background creates depth that increases immersion and engagement. As users scroll down the page, their focus is drawn to parallax as if by magic.
However, parallax doesn’t have to be simply about catching the user’s attention; it can also be used as a way to share helpful information, as in the example below from TimeSlot:
TimeSlot uses horizontal parallax to tell a story of how its app works. There’s a layered stack of photos at the top of the page. As you scroll down, these are then pulled together onto the screen of a smartphone. This makes it easy for users to get a general idea of how the app works.
It’s a strong visual that represents a great metaphor of what the app seeks to do in connecting individuals. This type of web design trend is perfect for any kind of website that wants to bring more depth and action to its pages.
You can find the tools for creating parallax effects on website builders like Wix and Shopify. If you don’t know how to achieve that yourself, you can hire a WordPress web developer to take care of all the hard work.
However, it’s important to note that adding too much movement within the parallax scrolling effect can be harmful to viewers with vestibular disorders. An illusion of depth and movement can cause disorientation or dizziness, so remember to follow best practices for parallax effect design that is accessible.
4. Low-light and dark mode
For the longest time, screen-based media was dominated by overwhelming whiteness. That time is now gone and web designers are focusing more on low-light and dark web design.
In 2021, more companies are expected to start offering dark mode versions of their websites, as well as night-shift and low-light user interface options to allow users to toggle between light and dark versions while scrolling through different pages.
Just keep in mind, though, that this web trend may not be ideal for all websites. For instance, if you’re trying to get people to book a vacation, buy insurance, or invest in real estate, then dark themes may not serve you well.
However, they’re great for anyone selling luxury products, as evidenced by brands like Nike, Channel, Rolex, etc. Dark themes may also work well for websites like this eCommerce store that sells lingerie.
A lot of websites already offer a sticky light-to-dark switch on each of their pages, giving users an easy way to toggle between light and dark versions as they navigate through the website. This growing trend of dark mode switches on pages will likely lead to an increase in more black-and-white web designs in the coming years.
Dark mode also has the added benefit of making it easier for users to look at the screen in low-light environments. For instance, a website like this one that offers HIPAA compliance guides might benefit from this type of web design, especially since people do a lot of actual reading on the site, as opposed to scanning or looking at images or videos.
In addition to increasing visibility in low-ambient lighting, using dark mode also decreases eye strain, saves battery life, and gives an emotional boost.
The way dark mode affects emotions is something that’s worth exploring for marketers who want to improve their results. Here is a great example of a website that uses a beautiful dark-themed web design to amp up the viewers’ emotions:
This website uses dark mode to create a specific emotional response by amplifying an air of mystery and adding a little drama to the web pages.
Low visibility naturally creates curiosity while amplifying emotional tension. That’s why dark mode is the perfect vehicle for brands that need to communicate status, elegance, luxury, mystery, etc.
When implementing this web design trend on your own site, though, remember to get colours that contrast properly so your content isn’t hard to read.
5. Playful cursors
Implementing playful cursors on your website can be a great way to create a unique experience for visitors viewing your pages. This can be as simple as changing the shape of the cursor, or as complex as including cursor-triggered animations.
Either way, a playful cursor will make viewing your pages a new experience for visitors. They will have tons of fun engaging with your unique cursor. As well, this ingenious solution gives you an extra opportunity to strengthen your effect and win users over.
Here is an example of how cute mouse interactions can be a great addition to your web pages:
This twist-hover image effect from GLOB’s website maintains the user’s interest in a fun and playful way.
All types of websites can benefit from using cursor effects in web design. For instance, a website like MoneyMagpie might use a mouse animation with coins or some other money-related element as a way to boost engagement on their landing pages.
Alternatively, a website like this one that offers expertly planned meals might use a playful cursor to help users interact with some of their healthy eating images to make visitors stay on the page longer and increase the likelihood of getting a conversion.
This tiny web design trend is perfect for websites where visitors have to wait. It’s a little trick that is unlikely to be overlooked since visitors will definitely drag their cursor across the screen at one point or another (even if to close the browser tab).
Most tricks like these can turn even the most boring website into an entertaining experience for your audience and help drive more sales and conversions.
6. Dynamic scrolling
This is one of the most exciting upcoming trends for web design. Similar to the parallax effect, dynamic scrolling comes in all shapes and sizes.
One version of it involves setting different scrolling speeds for the foreground and background of the page in order to create a 3D effect. Creative scrolling patterns allow you to adjust the pace, interactivity, and delivery of the content.
Considering how dramatically people’s attention spans have dropped on the web, this can make a great addition to your website pages as a way to prolong user interest.
You can use videos in the background, where the video plays only when users scroll. Dynamic scrolling also lets you trigger animations where images appear on your page like magic. Just remember, when using this type of amusing scrolling, there are certain best practices to follow.
For instance, only use dynamic scrolling when you want users to stay longer on the webpage. It will help intrigue them so they will keep scrolling and explore more.
This type of web design trend is great for breaking content into different sections. You can use it to add a transition to a new section as a way to give the user an interesting visual break cue. Dynamic scrolling is also great for navigating three-dimensionally, as in the example below:
As you can see, this is extremely engaging, and it makes it hard for the viewer to pull their eyes away. Many websites can benefit from this type of dynamic scrolling, particularly those in niches that aren’t considered to be interesting or entertaining.
For example, this Finli website, which offers payments and scheduling tools for businesses, might use this type of dynamic scrolling to show how its tools would benefit different types of businesses.
Another example is this website that offers software for generating barcodes. The same tactic might be used to showcase its features in an exciting and engaging way.
7. Rotating animations
This web design trend is fast gaining popularity. Every time users refresh the page, they are presented with a new branded video. This helps to provide added interest for users and leave them curious for more.
Below is an example of a website that uses fun surprises like this as a way to offer a unique experience to visitors each time they come to their site.
Rotating animations can also be a key ingredient for your brand’s visual storytelling. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to master the art of animation. Thanks to modern technology, it’s easy to add advanced design effects to your website even without any coding knowledge.
With the tools available online, advanced design techniques no longer have to be as intimidating as they were 10 years ago. Things like animated infographics can now be achieved with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Rotating animations are among the trendiest web design effects to watch for this year, and it’s likely that we will be seeing it on a lot of websites, particularly those that like to be on the cutting edge of creativity. You can also use custom illustrations, as in the example below from a mattress review website:
These simple illustrations are easy to create. For those without the necessary skills, however, you can enlist graphic design services from skilled professionals.
Web creators are always looking for ways to update their websites with the trendiest design effects that are at the leading edge of design and also represent their product’s true value.
eCommerce benchmark reports show that web design can greatly impact your ability to earn money online, and that’s why it’s crucial to follow best practices for web design. However, trying to keep up with everything, including colour pallets, responsiveness, typography, content strategy, etc., can be overwhelming for all but the most ardent followers of trends.
So, save yourself the hassle of searching, and pick your favourite from the 7 unique design trends listed in this article, each of which is set to take the industry by storm in 2021.
Over to you. Which of these design trends do you find most appealing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Burkhard Berger is the founder of awesomex™. You can follow him on his journey from 0 to 100,000 monthly visitors on www.awesomex.com. His articles include some of the best growth-hacking strategies and digital-scaling tactics that he has learned from his own successes and failures.