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We can all agree that 2020 was pretty wild. Thanks to COVID-19, more people than ever worked, shopped and socialised online, meaning web design had to quickly adapt as we dived deeper into our digital worlds.

In many ways, web design trends for 2021 are a continuation of the themes we saw last year. Websites are now driven by user interaction, prioritising features that encourage increased levels of engagement. Additionally, designers are recreating real-life experiences online through dynamic media.

Read on as we highlight some of our favourite features set to dominate 2021, including:

  • 3D visuals and simulations
  • Illustration
  • Emojis
  • Visually pleasing colours
  • Accessibility
  • Questionnaires
  • Microinteractions

1.   3D visuals and simulations

Our digital and real-life worlds have never been more intertwined. Consequently, web designers want to blur the edges, so the transition between the two feels seamless and natural.

3D visuals and simulations add depth and dimension to static websites. Alongside being entertaining, engaging and exciting, they replicate in-person experiences (something we sorely missed in 2020).

3D videos and images showcase products better than flat 2D versions and mimic actual shopping trips – it’s almost like you’re holding the item in your hands. Then, estate agents, museums and music venues use compelling virtual tours to bring their physical offerings to life digitally.

To fully appreciate how effective this can be, check out The Open Garden by Weleda. They created a fully immersive online garden to celebrate their centenary year and connect communities worldwide to nature.

2.   Illustration

Somewhat contradictory, we’ve also seen a shift away from realism in favour of creative illustrations and hand-drawn elements. Perhaps, this is because we’re craving a little escapism and nostalgia in 2021.

Striking sketches and line-art look wonderfully retro, reminding us of simpler and sunnier times. Even better, they capture a business’s personality and uniqueness better than generic stock photography.

Let’s take Handwrytten as an example – a company that specialises in, you guessed it, handwritten notes. They use moving doodles to play on their ethos and bring their services to life.

3.   Emojis

To emoji or not to emoji is the question on every web designer’s mind. Once upon a time, we thought they were frivolous and flippant, not suitable for serious ecommerce websites. However, much like the playful illustrations above, we now crave their informality.

A few carefully chosen and placed emojis can break the ice between businesses and customers. Plus, they effectively convey thoughts and feelings, saving you space on bucket loads of copy.

Many websites use them instead of traditional icons because they’re universally recognised and part of the current culture. With that said, remember interpretations vary depending on location (👋 means “goodbye” in the West, and “we’re not friends anymore” in China).

4.   Visually pleasing colours

Lockdowns left us spending more time than ever in front of a computer, which is why designers are trying to make websites more visually comfortable and pleasing.

Instead of harsh colours and abrasive black or white schemes, they’re moving towards softer palettes brimming with pastels, neutrals and warm undertones in the hope of minimising eye strain.

Subtle colours inspire calm and embody minimalism (a popular design trend in itself). Most importantly, they’re less jarring and more accessible to those with vision loss.

5.   Accessibility

Accessibility shouldn’t really be on a trend list because it’s necessary (it’s a requirement outlined by the Equality Act 2010). However, tragically, it’s been an afterthought that prevents many people from using and enjoying a website until now.

2020 demonstrated the importance of accessible design because so many of us lived online, spurring businesses to make their websites inclusive to all. Moving forward, designers are building easy to read and navigate pages that cater to everyone, including those with disabilities.

Successful websites in 2021 focus on simplicity and clarity. They provide closed captioning and transcripts for media, as well as alt and descriptive text for images. Wacky, experimental design gives way to adequate contrast, legible fonts and large buttons for enhanced usability.

6.   Questionnaires

Spending so much time alone has retaught us the value of communication. As a result, we’re searching for friendliness and humanity in every exchange.

Questionnaires and quizzes are excellent ways to make your customers feel heard. Feedback forms prove you genuinely care about providing the best digital experience possible, whereas “get to know you” quizzes create tailored product and service recommendations.

Make-up maestros Maybelline use online quizzes to help people find their perfect shade of foundation or mascara. It’s a fuss-free and simple to implement method that meaningfully engages users.

7.   Microinteractions

Microinteractions are subtle animations that pop up when the user and design interact. Some of the most famous examples include the thumbs up on Facebook, typing indicator in Messenger and pull-to-refresh action on most social media platforms.

They are so powerful in web design because they’re utterly delightful, lending visual interest when users are waiting for an action to complete. Then, they signal a conclusion (for instance, you might get a flashy thank you after making a purchase), so people know when it’s safe to leave a page.

Above all else, they encourage sharing, liking and commenting so your web content reaches broad audiences.

Ready to implement the latest web design trends?

At Bing Digital, we take ecommerce design seriously and adhere to the most current, on-trend practices. Every member of our expert team brings years of experience and knowledge to the table, meaning you’ll have a sleek, modern and user-friendly site in no time.

We know website design or redesign can feel insurmountable, but we’re here to help you with your vision every step of the way. We promise superior mobile-friendly UX design, as well as speedy page loads, bug-free functionality and unbeatable aesthetics to make your business stand out from the crowd.

If you’d like to revolutionise your website, please contact us today to arrange a free consultation. Alternatively, expert support is just a phone call away on 020 8242 1954.

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