Web Design Trends – 2021
Get Up with the Website Design Trends for 2021
Technology changes fast, and website design trends are no different. Design elements and website features that were once modern and innovative may have become tired, overdone, and cliched in recent years. The last thing you want as people arrive at your site is to lose conversion because your website looks outdated or ignores critical web standards.
Fortunately, our award-winning web design team keeps up with all the latest website design and development trends to create highly functional, easy-to-use websites that perform well and look fantastic. We want to share some of the latest innovations, digital technology trends, standards, and forecasts for 2021.
1. Retro fonts
We’ve seen many old things become cool again, and then in turn become even more uncool. Think handlebar mustaches and mom jeans. Irony has a short shelf life.
Retro fonts have experienced this same ebb and flow in their popularity, and many designs featuring vintage typography haven’t aged well.
However, throwback typography has gone through a bit of a resurgence. We’re not seeing the same tired fonts. Rather, stylization and a bit of artistry are reimagining what retro fonts can be.
We see this merging of old and new on the page for Spotify’s Carnival promotion. Instead of feeling stale and cliche, they breathe new life into traditional bold fonts with a bit of experimentation. This is a good example of taking traditional fonts and giving them a bit of a cool and modern spin, while maintaining legibility.
There’s a sense of retro-futurism here on this website for the event planning company Goliath Entertainment. The bold typography gives a nod to the past while still feeling very of the moment.
As 2021 unfolds, we’re looking forward to seeing more creative typographic reimagining.
Parallax scroll effects have been a trend in website design for years, and in 2021 we hope to see more subtle and creative explorations of what can be accomplished with parallax.
Remember that too much movement in parallax effects can be harmful to people with vestibular disorders because the illusion of depth and movement can cause disorientation and dizziness. Here are some guidelines we see more designers taking into account to ensure they incorporate parallax minimally and without causing harm:
- Don’t let parallax effects distract from important information
- Don’t make it harder for the user to complete an important task
- Keep the number of parallax effects to a minimum
- Minimize the amount of parallax movement within each instance
- Constraining parallax effects within a small area of the screen
- Include an option for users to turn off parallax effects
Alice Lee’s portfolio site uses parallax effects that respond to mouse position to bring her illustration to life. The amount of movement is small and contained within the bounds of the hero. This is a great example of using parallax with constraint and intention.
Not every parallax animation has to make grand gestures across the screen. We’ve also seen more subtle applications. In this web design for Green Meadow, one could almost miss this effect entirely. But this gentle unveiling of text creates enough of a juxtaposition to bring attention to each block of text as it appears.
Next year we’re excited to see parallax scroll used subtly, not for flashy effect but as a tool to emphasize or highlight important bits of content.
Previously regarded as a web design faux-pas, horizontal scroll is having a comeback.
We’re seeing more web designers continuing to experiment with horizontal scroll. Those who do it best break the pattern not for the sake of being different but as a practical way to disclose secondary information progressively, like in an image gallery.
Designers employing horizontal scroll successfully in 2021 will keep in mind these considerations:
- Don’t force users to navigate through horizontal content: allow alternate ways to navigate, like arrow buttons with clear labels
- Use clear visual cues to indicate where content uses horizontal scroll, and don’t hide these cues behind hovers
- Be thoughtful about what content would benefit from being displayed in a horizontal scroll — a photo gallery is a good contender as horizontal scroll would show users a small preview, and allow them the option to view more or keep moving down the page
- Avoid requiring horizontal scroll for text that needs to be read
On our own Designer feature page, we’ve used a small amount of horizontal scroll to zoom in on a large image, and show more relevant bits of the image at a bigger size, to accompany the relevant content.
Momento Design Studio’s home page includes a clear cue next to the primary button that also acts as a link, slowly sliding you over to the featured works on click. The scroll motion is well-paced and not too long, letting the featured images shine.
McBride Design uses horizontal scroll to showcase large photos of their work without taking up too much space on the page. They also include a clear indicator in the bottom right that sets the expectation that the page will scroll horizontally.
4. Elegant Serif Fonts
The old belief of using sans serif fonts as the go-to font style for web design has been changing with the times. Indeed, sans serif fonts have always been loved by web designers for their sleek legibility and simple structure.
Fast forward to 2021: screen sizes and resolutions are larger and clearer than they once were. Contrary to their “outdated” predecessors, such as CRT monitors of the 1980s, the screens we now design for are more inviting to decorated, heavier serif fonts. Larger screens, for example, enable serif fonts to appear less cluttered and more readable — thanks to increased space around the words. Likewise, the higher resolution makes the heavier or more illustrious letters look clearer.
There are actually specific serif font families that designers have come to love, where we’ve noticed a pronounced preference for “elegant”-style fonts. Examples of such include the well-known font families Georgia or Times (both found in Google Fonts). Less well-known fonts have also become popular — such as Portrait or Noe Display.
As we see in the example above, ferdu.be (who by the way, was a winner for our August 2020 Showcase), uses Noe Display for their hero text, which is without a doubt highly legible and clear upon its dark background. There is a plentiful amount of space around the text so that each letter is clearly carved and distinguishable.
Protein bar company Lupii features animated typographic elements that use a sentence or collection of words for decorative purposes. This creative design trend differs to type-related techniques we’re used to seeing, such as creating a custom font or using clever font pairing.
An animated string of words will often be structured as a particular shape, contrary to the standard horizontal, left-to-right sentence format. Ultimately, the element’s role will always be for decorative purposes and not solely as a text to be read. Designers will typically use this technique to convey a branding or marketing objective, creating a desired vibe or visual theme.
Lupii combines the traditional with the unconventional. On the left side, you’ll find the product’s value proposition as an H1, a short description, and a call to action button. On the right, there’s an animated swirl composed of words, elaborating on the product’s added value in a more informal, customer-centric tone of voice.
Another August 2020 showcase winner, Diangelo Santos is a Brazilian branding and digital designer who works both as a freelancer and at GeekHunter, a job marketplace for programmers and developers.
It’s no news to us that worldwide communication has embraced digital interaction. Whether 5,000 miles apart or 5 meters apart within one house, people are constantly interacting through their keyboards. This includes emails, messaging applications, group forums, and so on. Things have grown far beyond words — alphanumeric characters accompanied by playful emojis in written text elements are now an integral part of our digital lexicon.
The rising popularity of emojis has made its way to the web designer’s tool box, too. Web creators have taken to the playful, endearing language of emojis, using them as part of their website content itself. Leveraging these illustrated gestures is now an effective, simple way to illustrate brand sentiment and non-verbal messaging in a language familiar to users of all backgrounds. Communicating with target audiences of all languages and dialects thrives on this technique — your brand voice can now be heard in a visual, non-verbal way.
Using light colors in web and interface design represents one of the biggest differences between print and web design. The quality and visibility of light colors often get compromised when used in print design — losing their richness and appearing as more opaque and turbid.
Light colors have the opposite effect on-screen, and may even be preferred over dark, bolder colors. The screen’s sharpness and clarity can actually cause such colors to be overbearing and even stressful for the human eye to look at. Designers have now embraced the advantage of using light colors in order to avoid the latter. In fact, the added value of using light colors in web design extends beyond the visitor’s visual experience — light colors are also conducive to user engagement.
The soothing effect of light colors often encourages users to stay on the page for longer, enjoying the color palette’s tranquility and warmth. On Dockyard Social’s homepage, the pale mustard-like yellow and faded maroon-like red resemble a faded sunset, creating an ambiance of calming peace of mind.
Once upon a time in the journalism industry, printing in color was not an option. To add artistic effects to their content, newspapers would feature black and white, hand-drawn designs created by cartoonists. This unique, cartoon-inspired style compensated for the lack of colored visuals and imagery.
Cartoonists also began using black, texture-based illustrations to supplement the large amount of text that a newspaper or similar publication is bound to include. The virtuosity of these graphical elements is how they balance out textual articles by alleviating the reader’s cognitive load with simple, engaging imagery.
All that being said, texture-based illustrations are now created digitally, which inevitably causes them to look slightly different to their hand-drawn predecessors. This subtle change has minor design implications, such as a more uniform shade of black, and more precise symmetry and alignment. Mailchimp’s homepage illustrates this dichotomy, as their hero image style differs slightly to the three-column section with three black digital illustrations.
Whether identical to the original style of texture-based illustrations or not, it’s exciting to see this design trend reappear in 2021 and conquer the digital design world.
Take Your Web Design to the Next Level
We encourage you to explore bluecompass.com for more modern website inspiration! Our Iowa web design and development team created an engaging and function design that incorporates many of the latest web design trends. On our homepage, you’ll find an embedded video at the top, scroll animation, diagonal design and other examples of 2021 website design trends throughout the site.
If your business is ready to take your web design to new heights, reach out to our team of experts. Blue Compass is an award-winning design and development company with UX research consultants who can take your design and conversions to new heights! Contact Blue Compass today.