15 Modern Website Design Trends for 2021

15 Modern Website Design Trends for 2021

Remember the pioneers of the early World Wide Web that shaped the 90s web design? It almost feels like the plain website design dominated by text and hyperlinks comes from a different lifetime — especially when you compare it to today’s graphics-heavy websites. 

Of course, it wasn’t an overnight change but rather a long evolution that’s not about to end anytime soon. This means that if you want to create a website that’s on par with the latest standards, you need to be aware of modern website design trends that are influencing the market. 

Stay with us to discuss the biggest modern web design trends, see their real-life applications with examples, and find tips as well as templates for creating your own web design.

  • 15 Modern Website Design Trends With Examples
  • 5 Tips for Modern Website Design

 

15 Modern Website Design Trends With Examples

2021 is no different from any other year in that it comes with its unique set of web design trends that define and characterize it. Now let’s learn what those trends are!

 

  1. No Shortage of White Space

White space is by no means a new concept in design, but more and more web designers are starting to experiment with it and use it in creative ways. The minimalist movement has penetrated the world of web design as well, bringing with it a new appreciation for white space and clean designs. 

Note that white space doesn’t necessarily have to be white; in fact, it often isn’t. It can be any empty space that’s void of design elements and acts as a separator between sections. Empty space removes clutter, gives the design room to breathe, and guides the users’ attention to the right parts of a website.

white space on Apple website

Source: Apple

Apple is known for its unyielding love for simple design and plenty of white space. Notice how in the example above, the Apple website creatively uses white space to separate the iPads, leaving a bit of air between them. Certainly a smart move for a page presenting the iPad Air.

 

  1. Dynamic Headers

A lot of modern websites stand out with attractive headers that instantly grab the viewer’s attention and encourage them to stay on the website. The current design trend is to have full-page headers that balance visuals on one side and text with CTA buttons on the other. 

Benefit’s website header is a perfect combination of colorful images and informative text that’s followed by a CTA button.

Benefit website header

Source: Benefit Cosmetics

Another big trend that’s picking up its pace is using videos or motion graphics as headers. A background video that moves at the right pace and is coherent with the rest of the web design brings dynamism to the website. Some sites autoplay videos while others allow users playback control, especially if the video plays with sound or conveys essential information.  

The website template shown below uses a short clip for its header. Click on the button to view the template.

video for website header Renderforest template

View Template

 

  1. Custom Graphics

With graphic design becoming more available thanks to online graphic makers, it’s now more common for companies to have branded graphics on their websites. Custom illustrations help to build a recognizable visual identity for the brand, giving the latter more character than regular stock images would.

Graphic styles can range from line art to 3D, cartoonish to photorealistic, and so on. Take a look at the Duolingo website: The on-brand graphics follow the visitor along from the home page all the way to the about, blog, and careers page.

Duolingo website graphics

Source: Duolingo

 

  1. Unique Cursors

There are many ways for web designers to express their imagination, and unique, unconventional cursors are one of them. We continue to see more creative takes on custom cursors in modern web design. 

Of course, unusual cursors will not be suitable for all types of websites; for example, legal sites will be better off with the conventional arrow. However, the more creative and free-spirited brands can benefit from designing an interesting cursor that creates more excitement for their users. 

The website below found a creative way of using a custom cursor that paints beautiful images when you click and drag it.

custom cursor that draws shapes

Source: Sssolitaire

 

  1. Scrolling Effects

The ongoing movement toward a more dynamic website design has popularized different scrolling effects such as parallax scrolling. This technique uses a still or slowly moving background and a faster-moving foreground to create an illusion of movement.

The trend of alternative scrolling keeps growing, and more techniques continue to revive, such as horizontal scrolling or scrolling cards. As these scrolling effects might be unintuitive for some users, it’s important to keep the website navigation as clear and logical as possible. Some websites use arrows or similar icons to indicate the direction of the scroll.

See how Vogue implements horizontal scrolling for its landing page dedicated to 80s fashion.

horizontal scrolling on Vogue website

Source: Vogue España

 

  1. Dark Mode

“The darker, the dearer” seems to be the unofficial motto of modern web design. Almost all major web platforms have incorporated a dark mode to appeal to the lovers of the night. And some websites have entirely submitted to the dark side.

Netflix is well known for its dark-themed website that resembles the pitch-black environment of the cinema, fully engulfing the visitors in the watching experience.

Netflix dark-themed website

Source: Netflix

What makes dark backgrounds so enticing is not only their aesthetic appeal but also the ability to make other design elements pop. Look how much stronger bright-colored CTAs and white text appear against a black backdrop!

dark-themed website template

Use Template

 

  1. Trending Color Schemes

There are several color schemes trending this year that will likely continue holding their relevance in the upcoming years. Some of those modern color palettes are pastel colors, nature-inspired tones, and vivid color combinations that catch the eye.

Firefox website color scheme

The color choices of companies will vary from industry to industry depending on the audience they’re intended to attract. For example, medical or financial businesses rely on blues and grays to convey trust and security, while creative agencies apply brighter, bolder colors. But what’s consistent across all industries is the use of a color scheme that looks modern and is relevant to the business.

 

  1. Nature-Inspired Look

Whether or not it’s the environmental threat that has pushed consumers to be more eco-aware and appreciative of the Earth, nature-inspired themes are a trend in modern web design. Nature scenery headers, earthy color palettes, nature-themed icons, textures, and other design elements are very common among websites.

nature-inspired look on a website

Source: Calm

Any element of nature produces a calming, harmonizing effect by default, giving the same characteristics to the website design. However, nature-themed designs can be just as lively and energizing when manipulated to be that way. The website template below is a great example of this.

nature=inspired vibrant website template

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  1. 3D Design

3D graphics are now more popular than ever, as they help to create immersive web designs with more realism and depth. 360-degree images and videos, 3D animation, and AR/VR experiences are popular ways to add an extra dimension to 2D website layouts. 

The website below combines striking 3D graphics with a VR experience, allowing users to move the design around by holding and dragging the cursor. It surely creates a unique atmosphere for the website and an enjoyable experience for web visitors.

3D website design

Source: Hulu Pride

 

  1. Geometric Patterns

Simple, symmetric, pleasing — it’s no surprise that geometric designs are so widespread in modern web design. The versatility of these basic shapes makes it easy for designers to spruce them up or tone them down to achieve the desired look.

Flat geometric outlines produce a minimal, elegant design; vibrant, often neon-colored shapes create a retro-futuristic look; and textured 3D shapes give a deeper, richer appearance to a website. The possibilities are endless, and the demand is high for geometric designs.

geometric patterns on Spotify website

Source: Spotify

 

  1. Having Fun With Fonts

In 2021, more brands are branching out to incorporate new, interesting fonts in their web designs. While the modern-looking sans serif type is still standing strong, vintage and old-fashioned fonts are starting to make a comeback.

Big bold letters that command attention are also in trend. They’re mainly used as page headings to portray the company name, tagline, or another important piece of information, as shown in the example below.

large bold letters in website design

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  1. Visual Storytelling

People are not just looking for websites that look pretty: they’re looking for websites that tell stories. Aside from catching the visitor’s eye, a good web design gives them a hook to spark their interest and keep them scrolling for more.

Modern web designers are becoming more aware of the value good storytelling can bring. The copy, the illustrations and videos, and even the minor decorative components of web design should support the story.

Notice how the Nike website doesn’t just advertise athletic wear. It tells the story of people who believe they are stronger than their limitations make it seem.

Nike website storytelling

Source: Nike

 

  1. Gradients

The soft, trendy look created by smooth color blends hasn’t lost its prominence in 2021. As technology progresses, our monitors have the capacity to display deeper and finer gradients. This inspires designers to run more creative experiments with color transitions, incorporating them in more website designs.

gradients on Stripe website

Source: Stripe

Gradients are a great tool to add more appeal to plain websites and create a sense of depth. Through careful shading, they can be used to highlight certain parts of a website.

website template with gradient

Use Template

 

  1. Use of Animation

Animation is invading almost any part of branding — from explainer videos, promos, and social graphics to various website illustrations. Animated characters and cartoon-like environments are very endearing, which is why brands like to use them to appeal to their audiences.

People connect to a company better when it uses a friendly animated mascot to communicate its message. On top of that, our brains also retain more information when it’s presented to us through animation. Look at our adorable mascot Rendy! Don’t you agree he looks charming?

Renderforest's animated mascot Rendy

 

  1. Abstract Art

Abstract art is here to create explosive, inventive, freeing, colorful, fun website designs that, although popular, are still unique in their own ways. The boundaries of art are nonexistent, especially if it’s abstract art. 

Modern art can range from simplistic lines and curves to highly intricate compositions — the choice is entirely yours.

abstract art on Khan Academy website

Source: Khan Academy

 

5 Tips for Modern Website Design

You might be a little overwhelmed with all the web design trends that could complement as well as contradict each other depending on how they’re applied. Of course, you don’t need to use all the trends for your website, as some of them might not be a good fit for your brand.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of modern website design tips that you can use as a quick guide to creating your site. Let’s have a look!

 

  • Make it engaging: When a user first visits your website, they are quick to decide whether to stay or leave. So you need to give them something that piques their curiosity. Have engaging elements right in the header because if you save the best for last, your visitors might not reach there.

 

  • Don’t compromise usability: It’s important to have an engaging website, but if it’s poorly structured and difficult to navigate, all your efforts will go to waste. Always keep the user experience (UX) in mind when mapping out your site. Website usability shouldn’t be compromised for the sake of design.

 

  • Consider your brand personality: Each brand has its distinctive personality shaped by how the company looks, feels, and speaks. Only adopt the trends that are in line with your unique personality. Having cartoon illustrations, for example, will not be suitable for you if your brand identity is strictly formal.

popular brand personalities

  • Keep a consistent tone: Keeping a consistent tone goes hand in hand with knowing and protecting your brand personality. If a client sees one style on your home page and another on your contact page, they’ll be put off by your website. Consistency creates familiarity, so be sure to pick a style and stay consistent with it.

 

  • When in doubt, go for less: If you ever suspect that you might be overloading your website with elements, chances are you are. It’s always better to go with a simpler design that displays what matters than risk stuffing your page with unnecessary distractions. After all, minimalism is in trend in 2021.

 

To Sum Up

Hopefully, now you have all the modern website design inspiration you need to create a stunning site or update your existing one with fresh ideas. As the market shifts, trends keep popping in and out, but some manage to override the waves of change and persist throughout the years.

Be intentional about your website needs and go for trends that will help to bring your vision to life!

Want to browse some modern website designs to build your site or simply find inspiration? Check out our growing library of website templates by clicking the button below:

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