2021 web design trends banner image

This is an age old saying that never stops becoming true. First impressions open the door for opportunities, and this is why making a good first impression is crucial in any field - but especially for your website. Web design has been integral in the digital age and making an internet presence with good innovation web design can convert your visitors into returning clients.

Now that we’re almost at the end of the year, let’s start going through the web design trends that became popular in 2020 and will most probably carry over as part of the web design trends in 2021.

In 2020, we saw a lot of designers playing with extremes, breaking boundaries and reinventing old styles for websites that span from art and photography blogs to business and personal portfolios. Here at Strikingly, our own team of web designers are constantly putting design rules to the test, coming out with new web design templates that keep up with the rapidly changing trends. We are all about empowering individuals, startups and other business through unique ecommerce websites that enable them to compete with bigger brands in their niche.

If you’re looking for web design ideas, here are some of the most popular and innovative design trends dominating the web this year:

1. Bold Color Schemes and Stylized Typography

Before you start developing your website, you must first have an idea of your branding or at least the kind of aesthetics you would want to have. In the earlier months of 2020, old trends made a huge comeback in a lot of industries ranging from music to fashion and even to graphic design. 70’s and 80’s vintage retro styles in color schemes and typography were very popular throughout the year. These web designs combine modern aesthetics with retro elements to create a feeling of nostalgia. Glitch art, pixelated graphics and other elements that are reminiscent of the 1920s to the 1990s have become quite popular in 2020.

Aunt Nelly's Website Powered by Strikingly
Aunt Nelly

Choosing color schemes that really pop out of the screen also became a very popular web design trend and will most probably carry over to 2021. More of the recurring styles of web design this year were unafraid to choose very vibrant and bold colors like magenta, neon pink, or orange, and a lot of innovative web designers were not afraid to mix and match these colors.

Huffpost Life Webpage
Huffpost Life

Huffpost Life won 2 Webby Awards in 2020 for being the best Lifestyle Website.

2. Text Only Heroes

Over the years web designers have experimented with heroes or the above the fold area in the landing page of a web design template. This is an area that is very crucial to attracting conversions or fulfilling site objectives because it is the first thing that a user sees upon landing on a website. Hero areas usually contained different elements including an image, a video background or graphics. However, throughout the year, we are seeing a growing number of websites whose heroes are devoid of any other visual elements apart from text and typography usually on a solid color background. It is very effective in its simplicity especially if you craft your message properly with good copy. This became a crucial web design trend for statement websites that try to convey a very direct message to an audience.

OOO Graphic Design Powered by Strikingly
OOO Graphic Design

3. Eye-catching Graphic Illustrations

Graphic illustrations are fundamental elements in any field of design. Before the birth of the world wide web, graphic illustrations were used to draw people’s attention to certain things - may it be an ad for a product through posters or a propaganda for political issues. Graphic design at its heart is a form of art, a way for people to express themselves, and when the digital age came, it surely made its way with the same purpose.

While the style of graphic illustrations changed throughout the years, 2020 showed how web designers became more creative with well-executed, detailed and customized illustrations that can be interactive and fun.

Borisz on Strikingly

Abstract shapes also made its way to the web design trend by being very eye-catching while being simple. These abstract shapes are usually paired with the bold color schemes to create a feeling of simplicity with a hint of sophistication.

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4. Dynamic Scrolling and Parallax Animation

The most creative web designs are usually the most dynamic and interactive ones. However, these innovations and creativity should not hinder the experience of a swift and snappy navigation. Being “dynamic” means that there are elements that move as the user interacts with the website. The elements you see are not just in a single plane. Dynamic scrolling is a web design trend where the moment the user scrolls, different elements move. The way these elements move usually follow a parallax.

Parallax animation is the way of separating different elements in different layers that would seem that they are certain distances apart so that when they move, they have different displacements and creates a really nice concept of depth on a digital space.

In the award winning website Swabtheworld for example, you are immediately greeted with a hero that has a couple of moving parts. The moment you scroll down, different elements move in different ways. The parallax effect is beautifully shown in a horizontal scrolling Amsterdam website dedicated to their canals. The way the text element scrolls is at a different speed and position as when the image scrolls, creating the illusion of depth.

Swab the World Website
These Dynamic elements in websites will surely carry over on the web design trends 2021.

5. Minimalism (Simplicity in Looks and Navigation)

Despite all the wild and bold design choices this year, one web design trend that has been going on for almost a decade now that doesn’t seem to be slowing down is the concept of Minimalism. From personal blogs to professional brands, Minimalism has always been a great way to have a successful website through a simplified, no-nonsense approach to communicating their value to their clients.

Negative space or most often referred to as white space, is an essential key to having a minimalistic aesthetic. Usually, only two colors are involved in the color scheme with one being the dominant color and the other being the highlight. Having these minimalistic elements makes the viewer more immersed in what your content is really about.

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However, Minimalism isn’t just about the aesthetics of your website. It is also about function and simplicity of navigation. We have been more immersed in smaller screens now than any other time in the past. We spend most of our digital life on our smartphones rather than our computers. Hence, it is very crucial that we find ways to simplify and be minimal enough with our design choices that viewing our websites through our smartphones will have the same ease in user experience to that of viewing through bigger screens. User experience is always going to be a complimentary function to web design.

6. Dark Mode

Last but surely not the least, Dark Mode has been an integral part of 2020. Tech giants like Apple and Google officially introduced a system-wide dark mode toggle in the latter half of 2019. Because of this, multiple app developers and other software developers rushed to make sure their apps can adapt to the system wide dark mode in most of our mobile phones. Dark mode became not just popular but also essential when OLED screens finally took over as the standard screens in the mobile phone industry. Android phones have been using OLED for a while, but when Apple finally released its first OLED phone back in 2017 (the iPhone X), everyone followed suit.

Why is OLED special? OLED, short for Organic Light-emitting Diodes, are game changers for the way they can display really deep black levels. Unlike regular LEDs, OLED displays work without a backlight because they emit visible light themselves. Thus, a deep black level is achieved by just turning that part of the OLED - whichever pixel needs to be black - off. This meant that deeper blacks and more uniform dark colors can easily be achieved and thus the digital design world was rocked and everyone went into creative mode.

Now, a lot of websites can easily shift between light mode and dark mode, depending on the preferences of the user’s device. Some web designs maintain a really beautiful and sophisticated dark theme because they are confident that OLEDs will make the viewing experience of their websites better.

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Trends come and go, but style is forever. Even with these web design trends in 2020, what's truly important is you have your own style that represents your brand or your content. You can refer to the inspirations mentioned above, start from scratch, or mix and match the elements described above to capture your visual branding. Strikingly will help you find your style with its free web designs that are fresh and updated according to the trends. You can also find inspiration in beautiful blogs and websites here and elsewhere online, but you can start building your own website right here.