Fashion and design trends are ever-changing and web design is no exception. Just look back at the text-heavy design preferences of the early 2000s or the HTML-inspired bright colours and tables of the 90s to realise how far we’ve come.
In 2021, website trends are fast evolving and savvy consumers will be quick to spot outdated features and unresponsive plugins that make a site appear archaic or difficult to navigate. If you’re due for a website upgrade, here are the top website design trends of 2021 to consider.
These days, more people are spending the majority of their time staring at a computer screen. Apps like Dark Mode have been introduced to help combat eye strain and this year we’ll be seeing more websites being specifically designed with low-intensity colours for the same reason.
In 2021, web designers will be moving away from extreme darks and brights to focus on soft colour palettes like neutrals, natural greens, pastel blues, warm browns and light pinks. These hues are not only easier on the eyes, but they also induce calm and relaxation – which could be an added benefit for your brand.
As mobile devices improve with higher-resolution displays, typography is also evolving to make an impact on new screens. In 2021, typography will be centred around extra-crisp styles and more serif fonts. While fancy serif fonts are still not ideal for blog sections or any large areas of text (they are much harder to read in blocks), they are an unconventional and enjoyable addition to banners, headlines and other large texts.
Take a look at this banner on the main landing page of the Commonwealth Bank website for example. While they are gaining popularity, it is traditionally uncommon to see serifs used in both the key header and in the blurb.
Interestingly, further down the page, Commonwealth Bank switches to a non-serif font for information and links to the rest of the site.
The parallax effect.
The parallax effect is when the background of a page moves at a slower rate than the foreground, creating the illusion of depth. We see this effect in everyday life – such as when viewing scenery while driving – but viewed on webpages it makes for a particularly immersive experience.
This year, more websites will be utilising parallax templates to create an engaging, unique user experience that stands out from the pack.
Videos are being used more and more as engaging background visuals to make homepages stand out, as well as to help explain the features and benefits of a product or service without the user having to click through the website to find key information.
These can be short clips that replay on a loop or a longer video, which can be particularly effective when a visual narrative helps to present the story and journey of a brand.
Screen Australia offers the perfect example of this on their homepage. A short but engaging rolling video offers snippets of films and programs, introducing the visitor to both the site and the content and branding of the organisation with just five words on screen.
In the past five years or so, gif animations and moving components reached their peak. In the mobile age, however, less is more. Simple, flat designs are replacing gifs and dynamic elements to provide a faster load time and better user experience.
You can see examples of this popping up with internet giants like Google:
Minimalism is definitely still going strong in all forms of design – just think about Marie Kondo’s meteoric rise to fame with her ‘tidying up’ guidance and dedication to jettisoning anything that doesn’t bring you ‘joy’.
It is no wonder that minimalism has made its way into the world of website design, which is why we are seeing this trend come through in a variety of forms.
In the case of the National Gallery of Australia, their homepage doesn’t feature very much at all. In fact, above the fold, all you see is a slowly rotating series of images, a small amount of text, and a toolbar across the top. This is a far cry from the busy and crowded pages of just a decade ago, which often offered as much information as possible in this introductory space.
Faster load times.
A speedy website is not something that most visitors will spot right away, but it is an essential element of the back end of website design, and is absolutely vital in 2021.
That’s because your audience certainly expects your site to load quickly, and if it doesn’t, they may simply give up and click through to a competitor’s page. One study by Kissmetrics even found that roughly half of all internet users expect a page to load within two seconds or less, so you can’t afford to waste their time and see them click away before your header even shows up.
Firstly, to test the speed of a website you can use Google’s Page Speed tool, which will give you an overall score and traffic light result to tell you if your site is slow, average or fast compared with other pages.
Fortunately, there are ways to speed up your website, from optimising images to making the most of external hosting platforms for large files. Learn more with our article on 5 ways to improve your website speed.
Anyone who has spent time on the internet lately will have experienced being welcomed on by a friendly chatbot.
Usually found in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, a chatbot is designed to offer users a more personalised experience. Rather than browsing through the pages in search for information, a user can simply type in their question, and wait for a response.
A chatbot can either be programmed with responses for common questions (and improved over time with updated responses), or the bot can connect to a real life company employee who can organically interact with the customer to answer queries. One option is also for the chatbot to automatically respond with canned answers to common questions, but if the bot does not have the answer, the query can be redirected to a human – making the most of AI, but also cutting down on the workload for real life workers.
This feature offers next-level service to customers, and can help them feel attended to without having to visit a store or pick up a phone.
They say that content is king, and in 2021, designers are making that beyond clear with page-filling, oversized text.
Filling a page – especially above the fold on homepages – with text is a bold statement that puts the content at the heart of the browsing experience. While imagery is still clearly present and important, it is the words that take centre stage.
This allows a brand to show just what is most vital, and to ideally meet the needs and wants of a curious visitor.
On the South Australia tourism website the homepage is dominated by a ‘reward your wonder’ headline, which takes up the entire above-the-fold space. It is also presented in uppercase bold letters to really ‘drive’ home the current focus of the page.
A similar font size and bold style is used on the Australian Wildlife Conservancy website, which uses the entire home page to declare who they are and what they do. Again, even though the rotating video background offers some beautiful visuals, it is the oversized text that dominates the screen and first grabs the attention of the user.
Does your website feature any of these current trends? Or has it been an Internet age since you last made updates? It’s easy to let updates fall by the wayside when there’s so much else to do, which is why a professional web design company can be a huge help in ensuring your site stays relevant, without taking up all of your time.
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