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The Top 10 Stand-Out Web Design Trends of 2021

Does your site get an amazing amount of traffic only to be canceled out by an equally astronomical bounce rate? Brace yourself for the hard truth: you’ve got an ugly website.

With your excellent content and expert SEO skills, you’re reeling in the virtual masses like a champ. But one look at your offputting site design sends them running for the digital hills.

We’re sorry. We’re not trying to be mean. We’re only telling you because we love you.

And because we love you, we’re going to help you do something about it. We’ll show you the top web design trends of 2021 that you can use to pimp your site.

Use these digital beauty tips to change your website from “butterface” to “bombshell”. Give your website the makeover it deserves with these 2021 web design trends.

1. Anything But Squares

There’s one thing web design hates more than anything these days: 90-degree angles. We’re seeing a plethora of parallelograms, triangles, and all sorts of other geometric shapes rising in popularity. We’re also seeing formless, non-shapes: amoeboid blobs that resemble potatoes or puddles.

But straightforward squares and rectangles seem to be off limits.

When we do see them, usually as text boxes or buttons, they have severely rounded corners. Often times, they round these boxes completely, replacing the squarish ends of a rectangle with half circles.

The only exceptions to the “no square” rule are when squares and rectangles are incorporated into these next two design trends.

2. Asymmetry and Misalignment: The Broken Grid Layout

One way it seems fine to use squares and rectangles is when they’re skewed, misaligned, or otherwise out of place. Their sharp corners provide an unmissable juxtaposition when they’re not lined up properly. We’re also seeing a lot of angular, geometric shapes overlapping in asymmetrical ways.

The basic idea behind most trends on this list is that the established “normal” has become cliche. Web designers are now doing everything they can to upgrade away from normal.

Abnormal is the new normal. So asymmetry and misalignment seem to be the leading web design trends of 2021. We call this a “broken grid” layout, as elements don’t line up as they would on a grid.

This applies not only to shapes but words, too. Words of various fonts and sizes are peppered across a landing page, seemingly at random.

Some text is broken in half with an image in the middle. Some is displayed sideways or skewed.

Many sites even opt for full-on, jarring brutalism. This “art first” approach is where designers throw out all the rules and design however they want.

3. Semi-Flat is Here to Stay

The original, flat web design, that simply looks like a printed flyer, was upgraded around 2017 to “semi-flat.” This takes a fully flat site and adds simple movement and shadow effects to give an appearance of depth.

Many popular sites of 2021 have proven that this simple design is still effective today. Semi-flat is not going away any time soon.

4. Mobile Vs Desktop Contrast

Web design started shifting towards a “mobile first” approach as early as 2016. By now, it’s a given.

But what we’re seeing recently is a sharp contrast between the simple mobile version and complex desktop version of a site. The device-specific versions are becoming even more specific and cater more deeply to the unique features and audience of each device.

Mobile sites are no longer just a watered-down version of the desktop site. They aggressively seek to add more unique, mobile-specific features, like voice-activated search.

Meanwhile, desktop sites are taking full advantage of the complexity afforded to them. This is evidenced in many of the trends listed below.

5. Fancy Fonts

No more are the days of squinting to read words on low-definition screens. With the advent of high definition, designers are free to get artsy-fartsy with typography without fear of decreasing readability.

We’re seeing many unique fonts, blending of different fonts, and a lot of serifs. A step up from this that we’re seeing is variable fonts.

Variable fonts are customizable fonts you tweak yourself. For example, rather than the traditional two grades of boldness (bold or not bold), a variable font could have 100 grades in between.

6. Bold Color Comeback

Not using bright, bold colors is one of the first lessons web designers ever learned. And that’s because the jarring clash of bright, bold colors spewed across early websites in the 1990s made many a web-surfing pioneer gag.

But we’ve come a long way since then. Now, people are getting bored with, and blind to, the softened colors we’re all accustomed to.

So web designers are once again branching out with attention-grabbing bold colors. Since modern web designers are far more skilled at creating aesthetically-pleasing color schemes, this looks significantly better than it used to.

Gradients, a gradual blend from one color to another, are one prominent way designers are using bold colors today.

7. Illustrations are Becoming More Popular

High-quality photo images are more available and less expensive than they’ve ever been. And we all post about 2 billion more every day.

Now that photos are so common, they don’t exactly wow today’s audience. So web designers are finding more unique alternatives.

One that’s becoming more popular is illustration. We’ve probably seen over 5,000 photos of people eating burgers or pizza. But we’ve seen significantly fewer illustrations of it.

Web designers are picking up on this trend and using unique artwork to grab attention and set websites apart.

8. Video Trumps Images

Obviously, video has been a common web design element for some time. But more often, we’re seeing autoplay videos used in place of images.

And we’re not talking about YouTube embeds, branded with the distracting YouTube logo. These are logo-free, site-hosted videos that appear as much a part of the site as any other background element.

Simple, eye-catching video loops are used as a background image on landing pages. Or they’re used to illustrate a point in the text, seamlessly incorporated where an image would normally be.

9. Animation Trumps Images and Video

Taking the above point a step further, many sites use animation where the example above uses video. The advantage to this is that a simple javascript animation takes less time to load than an HD video. It’s also more unique.

Websites are using animation more for other web design elements as well. For example, see how getprepd.com uses animation as a page transition when you click on a link.

10. Rise of the Bots

Since AI has become quite advanced, it’s not just popular, it’s the new standard. AI technology, such as virtual assistants and chatbots, have become an expected part of web design. Apps and websites alike are prioritizing making AI technology available.

2021 Web Design Trends

Take a look at your favorite websites and you’re sure to see these web design trends. Which ones will you use for your website?

For more examples of these trends, and to see what we could do for your website, check out some of our web design work.

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