Top Web Design Trends for 2020 and 2021

Staying current on the top web design trends is crucial to the success of your website. Here are the latest web design trends for 2020 and 2021.

Like most things, what’s hot in web design changes over the years. Certain design trends and elements can instantly make your site look like a relic from the days of internet past. Keeping up with web design trends will help you keep your site looking modern and professional.

Not sure where to find website design trends for 2020-2021? We’ve got you. Our team keeps up with the latest design and development changes to create the best websites possible. We love sharing this information, so you know what to look for in a new website!

The Latest Web Design Trends

In 2020-2021, web design trends will be all about micro animations, organic features, minimalism, and thumb-friendly navigation, all while being extremely user-friendly.

Nineteen Website Design Trends for 2020 and Predictions for 2021

A few things are always in style, like quick load speed and responsive (mobile-friendly) design. However, the elements below are modern and set to be significant trends in 2020-2021.

1. Micro Animation

As you might have guessed from the name, micro animations are small animations. But in this case, small doesn’t mean insignificant. Micro animations are extremely helpful when it comes to guiding users through their interactions with your website. They can also add an element of playfulness to your site like Smashmallow did with the micro animations in their hero image:

Web Design Trend Example: Micro Animation

Micro animations have been popular for a few years, but in 2020, it’ll be about using them organically. As our UI/production designer explained, we’ll be thinking about how things move, if they’re on a curve or wheel instead of on a flat plane.

One of the latest web design trends for e-commerce sites is using micro animations to enhance user experience and give shoppers a taste of their products. This yoga clothing store is already using micro animations to show shoppers how their clothes fit and move on real people:

Website Design Trends Example: Micro Animation for an Ecommerce Site

2. Organic Shapes

Geometric shapes were a big website design trend in 2019, but in 2020-2021, it’s all about organic shapes. Organic or fluid shapes are anything that doesn’t involve straight lines. Think of the shapes that happen in nature, like hills, the edges of a lake or river, and how they are asymmetrical and winding.

Fluid shapes are a great way to break up sections of a website without harsh lines or angles. They’re also great to use in the background, like how Android uses circles behind products on their homepage:

Web Design Trends Example: Organic Shapes

3. Minimalism (Flat Design)

Minimalism, sometimes called “flat design” isn’t a new trend in web design. Still, it has typically been associated with a lot of white space (think Apple.) In 2020-2021, we expect people will be experimenting with colorful minimalism. It doesn’t have to be all white to be minimalist.

A great example of a site that does colorful minimalism well is Shopify. Each page of their website features a bold background color with clean text and minimal design elements to create an attention-grabbing and easy-on-the-eyes page. They’re proof that minimalism doesn’t have to be stark or boring.

Web Design Trends Example: Minimalism (Flat Design)

4. Bold Color

Colorful minimalism goes hand-in-hand with one of 2020-2021’s most prominent web design trends: color! Bold, bright, saturated colors help your brand stand out from the soft neutrals that many companies have chosen over the past few years.

bubly, the sparkling water company, is an excellent example of how a site can use bold, saturated color without overwhelming the eye. Their branding is all about colorful cans, and their website is an extension of that:

Web Design Trends Example: Bold Color

They’re checking off a few 2020-2021 web design trends: organic shapes, minimalism, and bold color!

5. Color to Evoke Certain Moods

Along with bold color, we think using color mindfully to evoke certain moods will be significant in 2020-2021. Color psychology, the study of color’s impact on human behavior, has been around for centuries, and marketers have used it to help sell for nearly as long.

While the way we interpret colors has a lot to do with our perceptions, some general feelings are associated with colors. For example, green typically denotes nature and natural products while red symbolizes energy and passion.

In 2020-2021, we think web designers will focus on using color mindfully to evoke the mood(s) and feeling(s) a site is meant to elicit.

Web Design Trends Example: Color to Evoke Certain Moods

6. Thumb-Friendly Mobile Navigation

Responsive design isn’t an option anymore. Your site should work well and be easy to use on mobile devices. But in 2020-2021, web design will continue to be focused on creating websites that are thumb-friendly.

What exactly is “thumb-friendly”?

We’re talking about the way we use our phones. If you’re reading this on your phone right now, look at how you’re holding it. Your fingers are probably wrapped around the back of your phone (or around a phone grip), leaving your thumb to do all the work. You probably look like this.

Web Design Trends Example: Thumb-Friendly Mobile Navigation

Spooky, huh?

Not really. That’s how most of us use our smartphones, and that’s why thumb-friendly navigation is essential. Putting the navigation bar, menu, and even contact buttons in the space your thumb can reach (the center of the screen) makes your site more comfortable to use and improves your UX tenfold.

Here is a great graph showing the thumb-friendly areas of a phone screen:

Web Design Trends Example: thumb-friendly areas of a phone screen

7. Smart Video

Video has long been touted as a must-have for websites. People love videos! Video is engaging! It’s the most effective online marketing tool!

While video is great, it needs to be thought out. That’s what smart video is about: video with a purpose and meaning. Gone are the days of embedding a YouTube video on your site just to have one. One well-thought-out, high-quality video is better than a dozen haphazardly assembled ones.

The way CEI uses video in their hero image is eye-catching but not intrusive. It is also a fun visual representation of what they do: provide affordable printers and copiers to businesses in Raleigh.

Web Design Trends Example: Smart Video

8. Material Design

Material design is a design language that was introduced by Google back in 2014. Traditional web design looks flat. Material design is about using color and shadows to mimic the physical world and its textures.

Google’s icons for its software suite is an excellent example of material design:

Web Design Trends Example: Material Design

The shadows on the Gmail envelope and the calendar are especially good examples of material design. It’s very subtle but goes a long way in making the icons look three-dimensional. We expect to see a lot more material design in 2020-2021!

9. Text-Only Hero Images

Newspapers always put their most eye-catching, important information “above the fold” to increase sales. The website equivalent of this is at the top of a page and is called the “hero section.” A current trend to catch internet users’ attention who are bombarded by different web pages every day is removing the typical background image in the hero section and replacing it with eye-catching typography. A bold, unique font could be just the thing to get a user’s attention quickly.

Web Design Trends Example: Text-Only Hero Images

10. Vintage-Inspired Colors & Typography

It’s true that the older we get, the more we look to the past as a time that was simpler and better. Tapping into an audience’s sense of nostalgia doesn’t merely create a throwback on the webpage; it mixes vintage pieces with modern style. Try mixing vintage-inspired fonts and colors with contemporary imagery for an ultra-trendy look.

Web Design Trends Example: Vintage-Inspired Colors & Typography

11. Bold Fonts

Visiting a lot of websites for leading corporations will show you that bold typography is on-trend. With heavy, bold fonts, the reader is instantly aware of the message, not necessarily the imagery. Combining these large fonts with neutral colors further emphasizes the headlines, quickly becoming an “image” of their own.

Web Design Trends Example: Bold Fonts

12. Data Visualization

Communicating data in an engaging way is a struggle. But the struggle is worth it, because using data visualization takes advantage of the fact that humans are visual creatures, and still conveys the message you need to get across. Data visualization creates images out of your data that engage your reader and makes them want to learn more about your brand. Infographics and graphs are some of the most popular ways to bring data to life.

Web Design Trends Example: Data Visualization

13. Dark Mode

Dark mode web designs serve a couple of different functions. On the practical end, they help reduce eye strain, a concern for many as we are spending more and more time looking at screens. On the aesthetic end, dark mode easily creates an ultra-modern look for your website while giving you the ability to highlight other design elements just by darkening the elements that surround it.

Web Design Trends Example: Dark Mode

14. White Space

The use of white space is about giving content room to breathe, not trying to cram the most information possible on the screen. The experience is more relaxing for your website visitors, the content stands out better, and readability is improved.

White space is just the term for the spacing we give between elements. It does not have to be white, as long as the area is empty. This is why it’s also known as “negative space.”

Web Design Trends Example: White Space

15. Illustrations

Sometimes browsing the web feels like seeing the same stock photo used across many websites. It can make a website feel generic and bland.

Custom illustrations can help your website stand out and feel like something fresh to website visitors. Since you will be creating illustrations from scratch, they can more accurately represent your company and branding, and enhance the page’s subject matter.

Web Design Trends Example: Illustrations

16. Full Height Homepage Hero

Like a giant billboard, making your homepage hero section full-height can focus your users’ attention and serve as distraction-free messaging.

Think of full-screen hero sections as an opportunity for great storytelling. Just keep in mind that images will crop differently based on browser dimensions. You should use an image that will accommodate accordingly.

Web Design Trends Example: Full Height Homepage Hero

17. Blending Photos with Graphical Elements

You might have noticed overlapping graphics on images in your social media feed. This mixing technique brings a level of creativity and fun to a typical image.

The trend is also catching on with websites. Mixing photography with graphics can reinforce your company branding and keep website visitors engaged with your content.

Web Design Trends Example: Blending Photos with Graphical Elements

18. Gradients

Gradients are a long time trend that has evolved from subtle color overlays to eye-catching backgrounds.

Gradients can be used to add depth, serve as a striking background, or subtly to add texture to an illustration. We increasingly see it used in bigger and bolder typography.

This trend has staying power. We’re excited to see the continual evolution of its use on websites.

Web Design Trends Example: Gradients

19. Interactive and Static 3D Content

Thanks to maturing web technology and web designers wanting to stand out from the average webpage, 3D elements that users can interact with have been increasingly used.

The results can be breathtaking – like the use of interactive 3D content on the Campo Alle Comete website.

Web Design Trends Example: Interactive and Static 3D Content

Ongoing Web Design Trends and Website Development Standards

There are a few popular trends from the past few years that will continue to be significant in the upcoming years.

1. Load Speed

Quick loading times have been essential factors in UX and SEO for years. Akamai and Gomez.com have done studies on how people interact with different load speeds and found that 50% of users expect a site to load in two seconds or less. If it takes more than three seconds to load, they’ll leave. (And it’s not likely they’ll be back!)

2. Mobile First Design

We mentioned that responsive/mobile-friendly web design isn’t optional anymore. Your site should be designed with mobile in mind first. Mobile searches overtook desktop searches way back in 2015. Since the beginning of 2017, mobile traffic has accounted for nearly half of all web traffic worldwide. More than good UX, Google has ranked mobile-friendly sites more favorably since 2018. Yep, mobile-first design is another drop in your SEO bucket.

3. Chatbots

Chatbots are another feature that has been popular for a few years and will continue to be relevant in 2020-2021. As artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to get more sophisticated, we expect to see chatbots become the norm for simple customer service requests and “personal shopping.”

4. SSL Certificates

SSL certificates are less a trend and more of a standard security measure for websites. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and the certificate is installed on your web server. It serves two purposes: it authenticates the website’s identity, which guarantees visitors that they’re not on a bogus site, and it encrypts the data being transmitted.

This ensures a private “conversation” between your website and your visitors. If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, getting one should be a priority in 2020-2021, especially if you own an e-commerce site!

The Latest Web Design Trends for 2020 and 2021 in Three Words: Clean and Eye-Catching

In 2020 and 2021, we expect to see a slew of clean, bright, eye-catching websites that use animation and video to enhance the user experience. And our thumbs should get a break with thumb-friendly design! Updating your website’s design can positively impact your brand and revenue. If you want a modern and user-friendly (and thumb-friendly!) website, contact our team today. Call 919-341-8901 or schedule a consultation today!