March 01 2021

2021 Web Design Trends

Several website design trends have emerged in 2021 which website owners and marketers will need to pay close attention to. The worldwide pandemic has made digital the only option for businesses in many cases, so creating an effective website experience is paramount. 2021 web design trends will include a strong focus on page speed and user-centered design, leveraging more multimedia, prioritizing inclusivity, a shift in how brands represent themselves and an increased spotlight on website security. To help you determine what is just a trend and what is here to stay, we have evaluated the top 10 web design trends for 2021 and their predicted impact on website designs and redesigns.  

A site experience that puts users first

We have long seen an upward trend of websites putting the needs and wants of the user first. Google has reinforced the importance of the site experience by announcing that they will be taking experience into consideration for determining page ranking starting in May of 2021. Factors such as page speed, usability and mobile-friendliness will play a part. Separately, opportunities to deliver personalized and relevant content will play a large role in 2021 website design. Users are increasingly looking for products and promotion that speak directly to their unique goals and interests. Consider incorporating a personalization strategy into your site and offering easy access to tailored content through simplified navigation, a solution finder and self-guided tools.

Accessibility and inclusivity

Making sure your site is conformant to WCAG 2.1 standards and accessible to all visitors, including those with a disability, should be a priority for your business. Creating a space inclusive for all visitors will continue to be a big trend this year and into the future. Expect to see more diverse and inclusive representation in photography, illustration and voices. Invest in choosing the appropriate visuals to serve your audience and evaluate your messaging to ensure it aligns with your brand mission. Now is the time to adjust your marketing and website strategy to reflect a diverse audience and create inclusive experience for all.

Optimized images

How quickly your website loads on desktop and mobile devices not only affects how your site ranks in search engines, but it is also a key factor in user satisfaction. One in four visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Poor page speed reflects negatively on your brand and reputation. Because of these reasons it is so important that all images on your site are optimized – balancing image quality with low file size. Also look for a more common use of WebP images once Internet Explorer is phased out this summer.

optimized image vs non-optimized image

Increased interactivity with access to digital tools and support

2020 shined a spotlight on the digital experience and services provided to a large population of people stuck at home. While strengthening digital support to meet this need is a trend based on necessity, we do not expect this to be going away any time soon. Businesses and organizations will look to add interactivity and support to their websites through chat, calculators, appointment booking, enhanced search and other self-service tools. Meeting the needs of your audience with online tools that mimic the experience of being in physical locations will strengthen your brand and visitor retention.

Retro fonts

The past few years has shown the emergence of using big, bold typography in website design. The beginning of 2021 has shown an increase in the use of large retro and serif fonts into key areas such as main banners and headlines. While this points to a shift in visual and brand trends, we caution against incorporating retro fonts just for the sake of using them. Choosing a font for your website should reflect your brand and be consistent with your marketing materials. Make the choice based on what is right for your brand and not what is on trend.

retro fonts 2021 design trendMultimedia

With access to faster internet speeds, expect websites to bring together more multimedia experiences such as video, audio and moving visuals. While this trend has a ton of opportunity for enriching the website experience, be sure to consider page speed when adding multimedia content. You will also want to ensure you are following best practices for ADA accessible video and audio content by using closed captioning and transcripts, avoiding auto playing video and ensuring all text on images is HTML text.

Micro interactions and animations

Incorporating micro interactions into your website improves the user experience by encouraging an action or providing feedback that an action was completed. A red border with an error message, for example, is a micro interaction that occurs when a form requirement is not met. Simple animations such as color changes, transition effects or hover interactions encourage engagement and add delight. Adding animation to an icon or transition effects on a piece of content lets the information stand out and provides navigational cues. Used sparingly and with intent, the attention to detail that these interactions provide will separate your website from the competition.

Emphasis on safe web spaces

With the increased use of digital platforms also unfortunately comes increased opportunities for spammers and hackers. While your technical team should be on top of ensuring your site is adhering to security and privacy requirements, your design and user experience should visually illustrate this to visitors to make them feel comfortable. Small details like including a lock symbol next to a login can go a long way to making visitors feel better about the information they are sharing.

Horizontal scrolling

As web designers continue to look for ways to balance simplicity with enough space for promotional content, horizontal scrolling has made a comeback as a practical way to include secondary information without adding vertical height (similar to a carousel). To successfully introduce horizontal scrolling on your site – be sure to use it very minimally, require a clear action (such as clicking an arrow or button) as opposed to automatically scrolling, and to avoid forcing a scroll to read text.

Blend photography, graphic elements and typography

2020 brought a cleaner aesthetic to web design – the perfect back drop for making a bold statement in 2021 by bringing together photography, graphic elements and typography. Look for photos to be manipulated and blend in colorful shapes and textures. Color will have a moment, as will fun gradients and large typography. When used in harmony with white space, minimal content and subtle animation – we expect these visuals to pack a punch.

blending typography and photography

Ones to watch

While they did not make our 2021 list, there are a couple of upcoming trends that we are excited about for the future. We do expect more of a shift to ‘thumb-friendly’ navigation on mobile devices in recognition of how users interact with their phones on larger screens to access key navigation and information at the top of the screen. Another one we are following is embracing the dark mode aesthetic to ease eye strain, increase visibility in low lighting and preserve battery life.
Staying ahead of website design trends in a market that is increasingly dependent on the digital experience will ensure a high-quality product for years to come. If you are ready to start the conversation of redesigning your website, contact us.

  • Branding
  • Website

posted by
Jennifer Buccini
Jennifer Buccini
Creative Director

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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