When we take a look at this year’s trends, both the ones we like and the ones we’d like to see go away. Already we are halfway through 2021, which is the ideal time to reflect on what the year has brought us so far in terms of web design.
It’s not that our favourite designs are super-futuristic or accomplishing anything ground-breaking – it’s that they’re practical yet playful, eye-catching yet easy on the eye, and most importantly, user-friendly. When it comes to the trends we don’t like, it’s usually because we see designers getting carried away with the appearance of something without taking into account the poor, befuddled user.
There’s a lot to like here, from abstract shapes and old typography to 3D modelling and creative sounds. So far, these are the finest (and worst) design trends for 2021. Also, don’t forget about these web design tools if you want to make your own designs (or just marvel at these 404 pages for more web fun).
Web-based animation is becoming more popular, and parallax scrolling and transitions are hot in 2021. It’s accomplished by splitting page elements into foreground and background elements, providing the viewer a sense of immersion.
The stark white came first, followed by the inky black of dark mode. Designers are now embracing bold colours, ranging from the intoxicatingly warm to impossible-to-ignore color-clash palettes.
Two-thirds of individuals would prefer read something attractively designed than something plain if they had 15 minutes to digest content. One approach to meet that requirement is to use bold colours in your website’s design.
In addition to bright colours, we’re witnessing a growth in abstract shapes (also brilliantly coloured) as a substitute for photos or artwork. When splashed across a page, nature-inspired structures, lava-lamp blobs, and Pollock-esque splotches express freedom and energy.
Auto-play audio has undoubtedly been one of the most irritating web phenomena of the last decade (with special mention to those commercials that appear out of nowhere), but we’re not ready to dismiss it completely.
Audio may be both welcome and enhance the user’s experience when used selectively, within context, and within the control of the user (i.e. when it activates). In a recent article about mothers in lockdown, the New York Times did an excellent job of illustrating this point. The fact that the music is initially muted is a key design element here, since it is up to the user to decide whether or not to play it.
Another advantage of having audio on your website is that it increases dwell time when done properly. The typical session duration is roughly three minutes, according on recent conversion rate figures. You may simply increase this with audio while your fascinated audience stops to listen.
With drop-shadows and semi-flat colours, three-dimensional graphics add a tactile element to web design, creating an immersive experience for the user.
Technically, this was a trend that started on social media a few years ago, but now we’re seeing it truly take off as designers embrace the dark as a dramatic backdrop to make photographs pop. In 2021, the White House added a dark mode option to its website.
We’ve seen a major comeback of once-cool fonts that had fallen out of favour and have now resurfaced. Designers are reimagining traditional typefaces for 2021, rather than simply reusing the typography of the past: vintage fonts from the 1970s and 1980s have been spruced up with bright fresh colours to provide them with new look.
What we believe looks nice is subjective, as is everything else in life, but when it comes to web design, there is one guiding factor that determines whether something is successful or not, and that is user experience. It’s a thumbs down if the design makes things more difficult for the user. Let us look at certain upcoming trends in 2021.
Is it just us, or are there a lot of these oversized-limb-people illustrations? Illustrations like these win out over stocking images that aren’t as interesting. They bring personality and charm to a blog post or website without a doubt. But – and this is a major one – this particular illustration trend has reached saturation.
If you want something custom-made for your site instead of a stock image, we recommend working with an illustrator or 3D designer. If you’re on a low budget, use a free stock illustration (UnDraw is an excellent alternative) – but only when necessary.
Scroll hijacking is a disaster in terms of usability. It not only violates UX design guidelines, but it’s also quite irritating.
When a designer alters the behaviour of the scroll bar on their website, this is known as scroll hijacking. A revamped bar, fixed scroll points, or scrolling that speeds up or slows down at a certain position on the site are examples of this.
They’re divisive because scroll bars are supposed to act consistently no matter where you use them. When they don’t, it’s jarring, which is one of the reasons they’re so loathed.
When done correctly, minimalist website design is achingly cool, but it’s all too frequently overdone to the point where the user has no idea what to do, where to go, or even what the website is about.
We’ve also noticed it being misused in inappropriate areas. How about this as an example? Zara.com. While the webpage is attractive, it is difficult to tell what it actually sells. To access to the threads, you must first click on that tiny hamburger menu up there in the corner. It’s manageable, but figuring out what you need to do takes a nanosecond longer than it should, making it a UX fail.
It doesn’t get any better on the product pages. While these lifestyle shots are useful for conveying a mood, there are too many of them, which slows down the user’s browsing experience: instead of diving into the grid-view layout we’ve come to expect from low to mid-price clothing sites, you have to scroll through one lifestyle shot after another.
We’re not arguing horizontal scrolling is a fad without merit; nonetheless, you must understand why you’re changing the default scroll behaviour and how it benefits the user experience. You’re purposely going against what your visitor expects when you create a website scroll horizontally, so make sure it has a valid function beyond appearing nice.
This site has a lot of things to like: beautiful font, parallax scrolling, strong colours, and crisp images. The site’s sideways scrolling serves a purpose: the goal is to make it feel like you’re flicking through a high-end coffee table book, which it accomplishes. In a nutshell, this is how horizontal scrolling should be done.
The iPad Pro product page has a lot to like: it’s tidy, there are scrolling transitions, there’s parallax design… But it just keeps going and going.
Websites that scroll save the user from having to click through to get information – but there should be a limit to how much scrolling the user has to do. If you go beyond that point, the viewer will be losing out on potentially vital website content.
The key is to be succinct. Keep things short and to the point. You only have around 7 seconds to hold a website visitor’s attention.
It’s important to note that near-endless scrolling isn’t the same as infinite scrolling, which allows visitors to access fresh material by scrolling rather than clicking.
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