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Another year, another mystery box full of trends – some new, others returning – and website fashions for designers to familiarize themselves with.

Since the advent of the World Wide Web, the aesthetics that have dominated our PCs, phones, and tablets have been determined by off-screen trends, technological advances, the creative juices of thousands of developers around the world, and of course, these mysterious forces that appear to be after Generate and destroy your mood and Internet-wide movements.

Professional design, code-free

Until recently, it seemed like anyone looking to build and publish their own website would have to make a choice between website builders dedicated to individuals or the requirements for coding a website from scratch.

When it came to allowing designers to be creative and push their own limits in terms of performance, graphics, and layout, what made it onto the World Wide Web was often limited to what was in their abilities and what sacrifices had to be made to ensure functionality.

However, a professional standard for website building has now been set. If you’re looking for ways to explore dynamic and responsive design – and better yet, being able to write as much or as little of your own HTML and CSS code as you want – now Editor X is the way to get your website up and running to adjust. This is powerful enough to saddle up the weight of a modern, scalable site without sacrificing its fluidity and responsiveness. The complexity of the website is now in the hands of the designers. For professionals, simple operation does not have to mean non-demanding functions.

Dimension, done differently

Of course, with so much more power ensuring our websites can withstand more design and adaptability, creators have more options than ever to combine innovative design with excellence in engineering.

In the early days of web design, we seemingly fell in love with three-dimensional objects en masse. In a now very limited sense, designers could add depth to buttons and other areas of the page with shadows and gradients. Of course, like all once-appealing fashions, this fashion eventually died – mainly because designers quickly reached the parameters of the technology of the time – and for many years it was replaced by flat design.

Leading company logos like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have switched to flat designs. With the iOS 7 update in 2013, Apple’s entire inventory of pre-installed apps fell by a whole dimension and lay flat on the user interface, signaling a global shift in favor of a simple and minimalist aesthetic.

All of this doesn’t mean the world is finally going back to the old, shiny, bubble-like symbols of the late 2000s and early 2010s, but that designers now have the technology on hand to explore three-dimensional design without running up against a wall of gradients and shades.

Parallax scrolling, for example, creates a hypnotic dimensional feel that makes a user’s journey around a web page much smoother and more compelling. Similarly, animations that are far more advanced than the wobbly icons of the mid-1990s – precursors to the now over 30-year-old GIF – are redesigning the way we design web pages to create more intriguing “showcases” for our brands.

Activism inherent in design

Consumers are putting more pressure than ever on publicly available brands to be more humanitarian. You will no longer settle for semi-annual charities that appear as footnotes in email newsletters or the occasional altruïsm seizure. Increasingly, consumers are disconnecting from relationships with brands that do not take a proactive, purpose-driven approach to social issues.

In short, the majority of consumers want brands to take a stand and act as vessels for positive change instead of sitting on the sidelines offering the world’s activists an occasional wave of encouragement.

As a result, the socio-political stance of these brands is becoming more and more central to their publicly accessible activities – namely their website. For many, the design of their most famous pages will be incomplete if it doesn’t convey the position they take on broader issues – especially when those issues are closely related to the company’s trading. Arguably one of the most obvious examples of this is the fast fashion industry, where manufacturing, sourcing, and significant lack of environmental concerns continue to surface, discouraging once loyal customers who prefer to openly fund sustainable fashion practices. As fast fashion brands change their practices to suit higher consumer expectations, they need to make sure they tie these new humanitarian and environmental concerns together in all aspects of their branding.

We can expect many new trends and movements to further advance web design in 2021. From the technical aspects of the website to new and exciting aesthetics, this is an area where you should look for more innovations across the web.