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Web Design Trends 2021

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In this article we’ll list ten innovative web design trends that will dominate in 2021. Select one of them to launch your project to meet the users’ current demands and to reduce the costs, time, and complexity of web development.


1. Dark website interface


Dark theme with the insertion of bright blue elements. Created by Samsy

Website and app developers have begun popularizing dark interface back in 2019, but this trend will become really mass one only in 2021. Telegram, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Duolingo, and Apple are just a few of the large brands that offer the visitors dark themes to browse their sites and apps. Thereat some platforms; for example, Apple, allow choosing at what time to turn the dark mode on.

Here are several advantages of the dark interface:

  • Improves the visibility of other accent colors.
  • Reduces eye strain in low-light conditions.
  • Saves power and extends screen lifespans for OLED screens.
  • Stands out among other interfaces.

2. Variable web fonts 2.0

Demonstration of a part of the capabilities of an adaptive font on axis-praxis.org
Very few people talk about it, but the world is experiencing very interesting events, which concern the fonts. Firstly, all large players (companies, organizations, web services, programs) are introducing a single unified standard of font rendering. Secondly, web developers have learnt how to make fonts with responsive design, i.e. those, which automatically adapt to the user’s screen size. In addition, the adaptation is smooth.

This technology isn’t a newcomer: Multiple master fonts were there 20 years ago and then there was Trutape GX by Apple. But their scope of applications was restricted because large players were using their own standards only. Now it’s becoming unified and that is why the OpenType 1.8 + standard has emerged, which allows creating variable fonts that adapt to the size and colored background.

3. Unusual screen scrolling  


Polygon Design website with the capture of the scrolling and interactive elements

Some websites use a non-standard screen scrolling – a horizontal one or in all spatial scales at once like in video games – to engage the visitors. As a rule, there is a possibility to interact with separate details of a web page design; for instance, elements of the interior like on Polygon Design. It’s possible to create a transition to the page with the information about the product and the «Buy» button.

Other sites use the capture of the screen scrolling to tell the user more about their products by highlighting the key elements of their construction and showing what their advantage is and why they are useful. For example, you can use such a way to demonstrate the items, real estate, choose ingredients for cooking, or demonstrate exhibits in a museum.

4. Realistic and bright 3D animation


Website of a company, which is engaged in the construction of eco houses, combines a 3D visualization of their product in the daytime and in the nighttime

Some things are easier to show than tell; for example, how great the design of a Gucci bag is or what layers planet Earth consists of. In this case, 3D models come to help, as they are able to demonstrate complex things in an understandable way. Thereat, this web design tool had been previously used for educational purposes and now it will help to sell goods because it boosts sales. For example, a 3D model of the item has increased the conversion by 10-40% on Golfsmith and by 27% on DueMaternity. 

With the rising popularity of virtual and augmented realities (VR and AR) the use of 3D objects in web design will become a mass trend since these technologies are interrelated. We can also expect that there will be versions of websites created specifically for VR devices in the near future.

5. Video as the main design element

Hellomonday.com website smartly attracts attention by using sketch videos
The next web design trend that will be dominating in 2021 is self-playing full-screen videos. Web designers had used them before, but mainly as a background image. Nowadays bright videos are put on the first screen and aren’t covered with anything. Although this approach is useful only for separate categories of websites such as:
  • Demonstration of expensive goods: automobiles, equipment, luxury brands.
  • Presentation of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, and other events.
  • Presentation of people: performers, lawyers, politicians, sportsmen.
  • The ones that explain difficult things and how something works.
  • Promotion of movies, series, video games.

6. Imperfections that add personality

Original broken design of the website by Zhenya Rynzhuk
Imperfect or incomplete hand-drawn web design elements attract attention and elicit positive emotions. They make design unique, authentic, and different from the others. It’s good for an online journal, people’s personal pages, and information projects. And it’s not suitable at all for marketplaces and corporate websites, which people visit not to admire a beautiful design, but to quickly buy something.

7. Voice User Interface (VUI)

Voxpow offers a simple solution to integrate voice control into any website
Voice control over apps and equipment is extremely common due to the widespread integration of virtual assistants such as Google Now, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana. This trend will expand to websites as well in 2021, which will make online search and shopping easier and more convenient.

Furthermore, voice control over websites is likely to become a general standard in the long run.

8. Ultra-minimalist navigation


An example of simple navigation through the site by Alt * CEVA

The rise of smartphones and gadgets with relatively small screens such as the Apple Watch has become a reason for the simplification of many web design elements. The area most affected by this is navigation, which leaders of industry have cut to several buttons on the screen or to a landing, where you need just to scroll down.

Thanks to that, it has become possible to eliminate most of the problems related to usability. The less a user has to think about moving around, the more time he spends immersed in the site, actually moving around instead of wondering how. For this reason, there is very minimalistic navigation on Amazon — it just boosts sales.

At the same time, the simpler the navigation is, the more important photos and images are, so the main web design trends of recent years are related to high-quality illustrations, photos, and videos.

9. Layers, shadows, and floating elements


An example of web design with a pseudo-3D effect by JP Design

Floating design elements with visible, but soft shadows create a pseudo-3D effect («3D lite»), which adds depth and makes the design more layered and interesting. Thereat, unlike the usual 3D, this approach mitigates the perception of space and elicits more emotions that are positive. This, in turn, facilitates the interest in the website and the brand and raises awareness and sales in this way.

The problem of the usual 3D is that it has not yet reached a necessary level of quality and speed of work, which is why 3D models and animation on websites don’t look impressive. When the technologies improve, the web design trend – a nice pseudo-3D effect – will fade away.

10. Gradient color schemes


Inverse.com is a great example of web design with a gradient color scheme

Instagram made gradient color schemes fashionable in web design in 2016 when this social network changed its logo and logos of several related apps (Boomerang, Hyperlapse, and Layout). A new logo design trend has become easier and more gradient. Since Instagram has become one of the most popular social networks in the world, their decision has influenced web design in general.

This web design trend will become one of the main trends in 2021, which is noticeable based on the emergence of such projects as ColorSpace, due to which anyone can create gradients and color schemes for one’s website that makes the website development easier, faster, and cheaper.

A nice example of web design with color gradients is the Inverse.com website, which properly uses gradients in headlines, illustrations, background images, and some design elements. Herewith the website uses various color palettes for posts, due to which it stands out among the competitors.

We also recommend reading - TOP GRAPHIC TRENDS IN WEB DEVELOPMENT 2022.


Web Design Trends 2021 key takeaways:

#1. 1. Dark website interface
#2. 2. Variable web fonts 2.0
#3. 3. Unusual screen scrolling  
#4. 4. Realistic and bright 3D animation
#5. 5. Video as the main design element
#6. 6. Imperfections that add personality
#7. 7. Voice User Interface (VUI)
#8. 8. Ultra-minimalist navigation
#9. 9. Layers, shadows, and floating elements
#10. 10. Gradient color schemes

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Yuri Musienko
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