This led to some fascinating digital developments as millions adapted to remote working, video conferencing, and online services while experiencing some of the greatest cultural changes in modern history. So what can we expect in 2021? We partnered with Editor X, the advanced website building platform for designers and agencies, to take a look at the biggest trends in web design for the coming year.
Entirely based on Editor X, the newly released web design trend report is an interactive exploration of the main topics that will dominate the digital design industry for the next 12 months.
If you’re a designer or developer, you’ve seen firsthand how quickly Covid-19 has changed things and how this has affected websites, apps and digital products: not just how we communicate, shop or surf the web, but also how we deal with our mental health, fighting injustices and even how we take care of each other in an (increasingly) insecure world.
We’re going to share a few examples of websites curated by Editor X that are showing the following trends. And we asked you, the creative community, to make your own predictions about what web design should look like for 2021.
1. Life on the screen: immersive digital experiences replace ‘IRL’
If the coronavirus puts “normal” on hold, we will see more of our lives on screen. But the digital community will keep us going by creating engaging, immersive experiences that are almost as good as reality. “Robust platforms blur the lines between real and virtual by creating hands-on experience,” says Editor X Report. “Like a concert or a lecture – that is spatial and rich in elaborate visual effects.”
A good example of this is Prada’s Spring Summer 2021 catwalk show, which went fully online with no live audience. It was presented as a video with complementary materials including a 3D VR experience. Ok, so it’s not like sitting in the front row – but how many of us experience that anyway?
Deroy Peraza, partner and creative director at Hyperakt, also predicts that website designs will have more personality and quirkiness, with haunted experiences leading the way: “This unexpectedly digital first year was a defining moment for websites as platforms for immersive digital design to accomplish.” Worlds that show unique perspectives. Expect custom cursors, big and funky fonts, organic shapes and orderly chaos, plus big flat swatches of color, animated transitions and surprising color combinations, “he says.
From Editor X’s web design trend report for 2021
2. Your user interface from you: Fully customizable user interfaces reflect the style and identity of the users
It was something that crept in over the years, but now we’re seeing the personalized user interface become a regular feature. Editor X predicts this trend will explode in 2021 as designers create modular and modifiable assets and interfaces that accommodate different types of users and how different UI options could be of use to them. It’s a personalized web experience, if you will.
Interfaces are likely to become more unique to each of us, reflecting our tastes, style, and identity. This is a wonderful thing, of course, as customizable interfaces also result in a more comprehensive design. “Users can adapt the user interfaces to their different requirements,” says the X-Report editor. “From enlarging fonts to choosing a high-contrast palette for better readability.”
Angela Roche, Founder of Manchester Design By Day, believes that 2021 will be “all accessibility” and that “as awareness of digital accessibility increases, more brands will take accessibility seriously”. She adds, “Good designers know that accessibility doesn’t come at the expense of visual design.”
A current fun example is Spotify 2020 Wrapped, where we received a personalized overview of our listening habits over the past 12 months. Or maybe personalizing Netflix artwork. This year we also have more control over our interfaces with options like “light” or “dark” on our devices. Even the instant messaging from Facebook and Instagram now allows us to choose between different color themes.
London-based web design studio KOTA agrees that dark themes are an increasing trend, especially when it comes to applications. “The dark mode is not only elegant and elegant, but by reducing the blue light exposure it is also much better for our vision,” says Matt Elmer, digital designer at KOTA. “It helps reduce headaches and eye strain. Many brands have already started adding this to their sites like Apple, and we expect this trend to flourish in 2021.”
3. Design activism: Designers use bold, iconic images to fight injustice
It’s been a year of cultural change, and while we still have a long way to go, we’re all the better for it. As we’ve seen over the past 12 months at Creative Boom, designers have put their weight behind the causes they believe in, creating everything from protest graphics to campaigns calling for racial, environmental, and political justice. According to Editor X, design will continue to serve as a tool to educate, empower and raise awareness on these issues in 2021.
“The need to convey a strong, radical message in the hope of making change will lead designers to create bespoke design elements such as bespoke fonts, illustrations and icon sets,” the Editor X report reads.
Good Glyphs is a good example of this: it’s a dingbat font created by 32 designers. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. There is also Greenlist, a “simple in-house tool that companies can use to embark on a sustainable office lifestyle while driving change in ways that feel natural”. Personally, we’ve always said that design has the power to change the world, and we’ll see a lot more of it in action next year.
Nick Lewis, creative technologist at Bristol’s Fiasco Design, believes more websites will resonate with environmental movements as well. “As the climate crisis is ubiquitous and the internet is an even bigger contributor to 2020 CO2 emissions, I think more designers and developers will take it upon themselves to make their websites greener,” he says, pointing out to us to Ecover and Bulb as shining examples.
From Editor X’s web design trend report for 2021
4. Happy and Healthy: Designers place a high value on health and mental health and use positive visual language
2020 really reminded us of the importance of health care and why we must also prioritize our mental health. No wonder, then, that one of Editor X’s predictions for the next year is how we’ll approach these issues through design. “Covid-19 led to a major health crisis followed by a similar state of emergency in mental health,” the report said. “Designers address the severity of these problems by prioritizing health care and emotional well-being.”
We’ll see softer, happier, and even funnier graphics to replace the familiar “clinical looking” ones. The use of illustrations and vibrant, energetic color palettes will “send a friendly, positive message to patients who need it” and encourage a sense of optimism and wellbeing.
Recent examples include a neon orange website design by Studio Freight and Basement Studio for Boost aimed at simplifying health: it provides vitamins for the immune system and helps people get sick less often. We also love Feels FM, an “emoji jukebox” operated by See Me that targets our sanity. And there is SquadEasy, which makes us happier through more exercise, better nutrition and “full harmony”. It features a bright green design and a happy, rotating pup on its website. The next year is definitely looking better.
5. Hope through design: Optimistic pictures paint a picture we can look forward to
If there is one word that we hear and see over and over again on design and digital platforms, it is “hope” – a feeling that is dear to all of us in 2021 and which Editor X expects to be a big trend next year. “As we work towards a healthier, more stable society, design becomes a source of inspiration and confidence in the future,” says Editor X’s report. “Optimistic images of blue skies, open landscapes, and other natural elements become ours Fill designs with hope and opportunity. “
A prominent use of soft pastels or bright, vibrant colors is expected to “enliven the monotony of our days” while “dreamy webs” (see Zeus Jones’ website) and playful typography (like Giggling) increase in Monkey Studio’s new website ) brings fun to our screens. “That joyful aesthetic will be a reminder that if we’re so lucky, the future can definitely look bright,” adds Editor X.
Graeme McGowan of the Jamhot creative studio in Glasgow agrees: “We believe the world needs more fun, more playfulness and a touch of humor, along with some interesting considerations that go beyond the pandemic. Ultimately, the only sure prediction for 2021.” is that it won’t be 2020 – and that will be fine for us. “
Giggling Monkey Studio, an example from Editor X-Report
For more information and inspiration, check out Editor X’s full web trends report for 2021.