Updating your business’ website is on your to-do list—but, you're not sure where to start. Didn't you just update your website? How are you supposed to sort through it all of the noise to find out what’s trendy?
In this post, we'll walk through what the latest trends are—and what makes a good website.
What are the latest trends in web design?
Like fashion, web design trends change over time. Some stick around for a long time due to their ease of implementation and positive user experience. And some don’t—and it’s not always easy to predict which ones will prevail. So we’re going to cover our observations of what’s hot in web design in 2021. And hopefully that provides you with the insight and inspiration to make your website amazing.
From scrolling animation to neumorphism, there are a number of design trends to take note of (and implement). Focus on one or two of these trends—as all can't (and shouldn't) be used simultaneously.
1. Type-dominant hero sections
Bold, sans-serif fonts have been popular for a few years now, but the trend keeps evolving.
Now we’re seeing more type-dominant hero sections where the hero image or video is replaced entirely with bold text.
From logos with brand names to homepage headings where the text dominates the screen, here are some real-life examples of type-dominant hero sections:
- Basic Space
- Leadpages - "Fitness Membership Page"
2. Layered elements and cutout photography
Layering elements with partial overlap and asymmetrical layouts is another big web design theme of 2021. This approach features staggered grids with semi-overlapping of elements like text, photography, and background shapes. It's a more elegant form of Brutalism, that prioritizes raw, bold design—and it’s growing in popularity because it creates a dynamic and practical experience for website visitors.
A common layering method involves the incorporation of photography that seemingly breaks through its frame. This trend is unique because it creates an illusion of depth and dimension with overlapping layers. Try layering the icons, images, text, and even video to create that sense of depth.
This technique works well when you have multiple elements you'd like to feature on your website. It turns a busy page into a well-orchestrated arrangement with an undisturbed flow.
To make sure you apply this design theme well, you can choose to phase out elements through disappearing or fading. You can also implement drop shadows to fortify particular design elements.
Here are some examples in real life:
- Leadpages - "Interior Designer"
- Rudolph Care
Bonus content: Here's a portfolio chock-full of examples of asymmetrical and layered designs on Pinterest.
3 . Scroll animations
Dynamic design elements are used frequently in the web design world to draw a visitor's eye in, like scroll animations.
Various motions, effects, and element transitions can show up when a visitor scrolls down the page. This is called scroll-triggered animation. "They're not only beautiful to look at but can also help create user engagement and make a website more memorable," says Qode Magazine.
Designers like telling stories through web experiences. Scrolling as a form of interaction—providing visual feedback to a user by letting a story visually unfold as the user scrolls—will be a popular trend for web designers in 2021.
You don't need an entire animation studio behind you to make this work. Bits and pieces of animation scattered across your landing page will help support your text and imagery—and set you apart from the passive visuals of your competition.
The best applications of scroll animation practice restraint:
- Keep motion within a small area.
- Provide interactions on the user’s terms: provide obvious playback controls to play / pause / stop interactions and motions.
- Make sure that any animated elements help to emphasize the story, rather than distracting from important text.
Here are a few gorgeous examples of scroll-triggered animation:
4. Pastel and earth-tone palettes
Source: Modern Citizen
This design trend draws parallels to the fashion world, where muted colors are in full force. Pastel and earth-tone website color palettes will be a common design trend in this year.
Softer, natural color palettes are easy on the eyes and evoke a sense of calm. Lifestyle, beauty, natural living, home, and wellness brands should especially pay attention to this trend.
Businesses in these industries are often trying to create a feeling of good health and making smarter, natural choices, and these organic and muted colors help facilitate those sentiments. Take, for instance, these examples:
- Humes Supernatural
- Leadpages - "Consultation Scheduling Page"
- Leadpages - "Write Way Copy"
- Monastery Made
5. Minimalistic elements
The term "less is more" applies more than ever to the design world in 2021. People have a lot on their plates in 2021, from home to work-life (and the merging of the two), so a simplistic design experience can create a sense of lightness and simplicity.
Pair this with ever-shortening attention spans, and you'll find that site speed is key to getting your message across quickly. To ensure your load times stay low, keep your design minimal and choose a website builder that offers built-in quick-loading webpages.
Consider supplementing a clean layout with unique details—think either small bursts of hand-drawn type and patterns, brief animation, or quick dashes of bright color. Need some free and quick design resources? Look no further:
6. Organic elements and doodles
"Human-centered approach in design has seen something of a renaissance lately, and no better example of that than hand-drawn elements," says PopArt Studio in a post on Medium.com. "Whether it's cartoonish illustrations, drawn icons, or handwritten lettering, technology in recent years is all about bringing emotions, humanity, and personal touch."
This trend bespeaks authenticity, creativity, and imagination.
Here are some examples of this design trend in the wild:
- Leadpages - "Free Guide"
- Leadpages - "Simple Insta Links"
7. Showcase user-generated content
Heard of user-generated content? As the name implies (UGC for short), it’s content generated completely from your user-base or customers.
"In today's time, top brands of the world are increasingly running User Generated Content campaigns to secure the effectiveness of their campaigns in order to market their products," says wedevs.com.
UGC is social proof at its finest—and it's an excellent way to showcase reviews or photos and videos of customers using products.
It all comes down to consumer trust. A report from Forrester revealed that 70% of U.S. adults trust recommendations from each other (online) far more than statements from brands.
So, UGC takes loyal and enthusiastic consumers and builds engagement with others. It also instills a sense of community by putting customers at the forefront of a website to plug a product or service.
Here are some benefits of user-generated content:
- It's entirely unique – No other company will have that same content because customers make it themselves.
- It shows openness to the community – UGC opens up the feedback loop and shows that your business cares about your customers. Your customers are the stars!
- You often don't have to pay for it (or it's cheaper) – Overhead costs of creating custom images are gone.
- It's trustworthy – Customers trust what other people say.
- You add social proof – In using UGC, you're proving that your product or service is "liked" by the public, in real life.
So how do you get—or create—UGC?
You could publish customer images or videos on your website like Shein.com, you can feature testimonials like this example on HarvestHosts.com, or highlight customer reviews like TheDyrt.com.
8. 3D illustrations
Another exciting web design trend for 2021 is including 3D elements on your page. Obviously, this isn’t for every company or brand. But if yours is a bit more adventurous, using 3D elements can captivates audiences—and ultimately that helps keep visitors on your pages.
"Depth adds to the sense of realism, a quality that can be especially beneficial for e-commerce, where 3D imagery can be utilized in presenting products from various perspectives or in practical use," says NYC Design via Medium.com.
A word of caution: don't go overboard with 3D elements. Moderately used, these fun pops of design can captivate audiences and improve your SEO efforts. Here are a few examples:
Loving this trend? Try your hand at generating your own CSS code!
Neumorphism or neo-skuomorphism... heard of it?
It's a newer take on interface design, but can be applied to elements on your website, too. It’s marked by minimal design, a white background, drop shadows, and pops of color.
It draws from skeuomorphic design, which is when mobile apps mimic real-world objects. "Its aesthetic is marked by minimal and real-looking U.I. that's sort of a new take on skeuomorphism—hence the name," says CSSdesign.com.
It's a cool design technique because it brings a webpage to life with softer realistic elements. You can apply a few ways, like:
- Making drop shadows on text elements that you want spotlighted on your website pages
- Highlighting call to action buttons with a drop shadow
- Making hero images pop by adding a drop shadow on a white background
Here are a few examples of neumorphism at work:
- Twitter header of Popular Youtuber Marques Brownlee
- Work by David Ofiare
- Web Design Ledger
Beyond the trends: what makes a great website 2020 and 2021?
"Great websites literally require users to think less," says tech.co. "They do this by ensuring they understand and meet their users' needs in a clear, easy, and efficient way."
Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to.
There are so many design principles that set apart good websites from great ones, but you can actually narrow them down to a few ideas. In fact, here are some ways to permit visitors to "think less":
1 . A clear purpose
Every visitor should be able to understand exactly who you are and what you do within 2 seconds of visiting your website. They should be able to find the information they are looking for easily, whether that’s a blog post or your pricing page. And every element of your design needs to support that purpose in one way or another.
2. Intuitive navigation
All important information about your business should be a click or scroll away. A visitor shouldn't have to click any more than a few times to find the information they need. Having intuitive navigation is the key to that. Visible, breadcrumb navigation and a hierarchical website structure is the key to this.
3. Responsiveness and speed
While 50% of website traffic comes from handheld devices like smartphones or tablets, many small businesses just don’t design for it. If you think about how many times you’ve bounced from a website because it didn’t work well on your phone, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a huge missed opportunity.
To find out if your small business website is mobile responsive or needs a little work, use Google's mobile-friendly test tool. All you have to do is enter your URL, and Google will rate your website's mobile-friendliness using handy color-coded guides. It ranks everything from mobile page speed to screen capacity.
Remember: a web page looks excellent on a desktop computer may not communicate effectively on a smaller mobile device. To design responsively, make sure your visual assets can scale on any device.
4. Adhering to the best design principles:
Text, colors, design elements, scrolls, illustrations, and photography all affect the overall "feel" of your website. Adhering to the proper design principles is more important than following trends.
Ensure your site is inclusive to every type of visitor, regardless of their abilities. Proper contrast enhances your site's accessibility for people of all visual abilities. Adding alt text to images can help visitors using screen readers get an audible description of your visuals (it can help boost SEO too!) Be sure to consider all contexts of your visitors, and your designs are sure to be more accessible and inclusive.
Not sure where to start? Check out these fabulous tools to get a jump start on optimizing your website and landing pages for accessibility:
Some of the trends above might seem intimidating or even appropriate for your brand. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean that your company isn’t following trends. In fact, sometimes, it’s better if they don’t. And you can still have beautiful, modern, and high-converting landing pages without employing these trends.
Thousands of business owners and operators create and manage their websites using website builders like Leadpages. We’re mindful of current design trends and weave the best web design practices for 2021 (where it makes sense) into our templates, so you don't have to start from square one.
Ready to get started? Check us out for 14 days at no cost! Easily create your website and landing pages with the only platform engineered by marketing nerds. Start a free trial now.
Wondering what to read next?
Here's what we suggest:
→ How to Create a Video Landing Page in 6 Easy Steps
→ 12 Homepage Design Trends to Make a Splash in 2021
→ How Laurie Wang Uses Leadpages to Achieve 60%+ Conversion Rates