Web design in 2021 relies on mobile functionality. As of January 2021, there were 4.32 billion active mobile internet users in the world. Now, mobile functionality isn’t a trend (it’s here to stay) but it is the baseline for all the trends we’re seeing in 2021. This year, brands are focusing on how to make mobile websites even more convenient for users and their habits. Plus, we’re seeing new and exciting uses of color, space, and interactive storytelling. Here at PRIME, we’re exploring these trends for our clients to keep them up-to-date on the latest and greatest.
Afraid you’re falling behind? Read up on these six web design trends for 2021.
We’ve seen a growing trend in designers telling stories through web experiences with a method called scrollytelling. One of the earliest examples of this is the New York Times project called “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.” It’s a compelling piece of journalism that exists on a scrolling website, incorporating interactive, multimedia elements like videos and gifs, charts and graphs, and photography. Since its publication, this trend has evolved and is used in marketing applications frequently. If done wrong, this type of design has the potential to look messy, distracting and confusing. The best applications practice strict restraint and set parameters that keep the viewer focused on the story and provide interactions on the user’s terms.
2. Dark Mode
Dark mode became a big deal when it was released as part of the iPhone iOS 13 update in 2019, and since then, many websites and apps engines are offering the feature on their individual platforms. Dark mode web designs serve both practical and aesthetic functions for the user. Dark mode reduces glare and blue light, which can reduce eye strain and promote better sleep for those who stare at their phone while in bed (and let’s admit, that’s most of us). This has become a concern for many as we spend more and more time looking at screens, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. On the aesthetic end, dark mode offers something new and different, appearing more modern and cutting-edge. Plus, it can help design elements pop in a whole new way, bringing freshness to your website.
3. White Space
White space, also called negative space, is all about creating room for graphical elements to breathe. Instead of trying to cram lots of graphics and text into view, select just one or two items to focus on. Using ample white space creates a more relaxing experience for users, especially as they have an overload of information being thrown at them throughout the day. It also tends to look more modern and increases readability for your users. Note that “white” space doesn’t have to be white at all (take dark mode, for example). Looking for examples and inspiration? Apple continues to do this well, in addition to Pocket Penguins.
4. Thumb-Friendly Mobile
In 2021, most of the interaction we have with the web (outside of work) is on our smartphones. And since most of us are scrolling through mobile using solely our thumbs, it makes sense that websites would begin to accommodate this. It’s not just about responsive design anymore – designing for desktops in a way that can also work for mobile (often in a clunky, inconvenient way). Thumb-friendly mobile means putting all of the essential buttons, like the navigation bar, within reach of your thumb. Because expecting anyone to use more than one finger would be preposterous, obviously. It sounds silly, by that’s the reality we’re living in, and it’s the level of convenience people expect. If you’re looking for more detail, this Medium blog offers some cool tips and insights.
5. Bold Colors
In 2021, people are falling for color. And not just any color – bold, happy, exciting colors! Maybe it’s because we’ve all been trapped in our homes for the past year and need some optimism. Regardless of why, we’re seeing this trend take off in clothing, interior design, packaging and more. Note that bold doesn’t necessarily mean loud or busy – the best brands like bubly sparkling water use bold colors minimally, creating a sophisticated, but playful look.
6. Blending Photos + Graphical Elements
The trend of overlaying photos with graphical elements is adding fresh visual intrigue to websites. It’s a playful technique, combining copy, photographs, and graphic elements to catch your viewer’s eye, providing a new way to visualize your product or service. This trend gives you unlimited opportunity, but like many design trends, it’s best executed with thoughtful restraint. With so many elements to work with, this kind of design can get overwhelming quickly. Remember to limit yourself. Challenge yourself to just one word or symbol and one photo, thinking of all the ways you can put the two together.
Not every trend is right for every brand, and chasing down trends that may not last can waste time and resources. Be smart about what’s worth the effort and what you think will have a lasting impact on your business. If you’re not sure what’s the next best move for your company’s website, talk to us at PRIME. We’ve helped hundreds of clients move their websites forward and keep up with the competition.
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