Graphic Design Trends: What We’re Focusing on in 2021

It doesn’t take a sophisticated art connoisseur to tell the difference between a gorgeous website design and a terrible one. Even if you can’t put your finger on why exactly, you KNOW an ugly website when you see it. And you might not be surprised to know that nothing is going to drive visitors away from your site faster than a poor design.

The problem that we all face in this industry is that design trends, by definition, come and go all too quickly. Your site may have been sleek and cutting edge when it launched back in 2017, but time moves awfully expeditiously in the realm of digital marketing. When it comes to design, there’s a fine line between what’s “in” and what’s painfully outdated.

So that got us thinking about what top design trends are going to be all the rage in 2021. And to find out, we asked the experts—the supremely creative and extraordinarily talented design team of Timmermann Group (who else?)—what trends they are most excited about for the coming year. Here’s what they had to say:

Neumorphism with 3D Illustration or Interactive Elements

Neumorphism is a new design trend that uses a minimalist approach while giving a sense of three-dimensional UI elements. It’s also known as “soft UI”, and draws from both skeuomorphism, flat design, and other popular styles.

Keep in mind, however, that since this trend typically uses a single color (or multiple colors with very low contrast) that it may not be ideal for users with visual impairments or users with low-quality screens.

While there are accessibility issues with neumorphism, there are appropriate ways to incorporate this popular trend into your designs. Use this style sparingly and avoid using it on the most important parts of your site like buttons and CTAs. Keep these types of callouts prominent by using high contrast. Consider neumorphism for areas such as module cards or icons.

Use of Micro-Interactions

Micro-interactions allow designers the opportunity to create unique and memorable interactive experiences for users. Micro-interactions give users the feedback they need to see their actions were successful. Just as feedback is important for interactions in everyday life, it is equally as important in website design and digital media. Now more than ever, websites are becoming more and more communicative with their audiences, doing so in creative ways that resonate with their respective brands. Examples of micro-interactions include hover effects over clickable items, carousel indicators, progress bars, and confirmation indicators after forms are submitted. In order for our websites to be more user-friendly, they must communicate with the user when they take specific actions.

Dark Mode Interface Options

Dark mode isn’t a brand new trend to web design, but it will become an even bigger one in 2021. It will be a very important part of digital design moving forward because it will help conserve the energy of digital devices as well as enhance accessibility. Designers will have the opportunity to give a user a more custom experience since users will have the ability to choose between light and dark modes. This customization will let the user decide what works best for them and create a more positive experience.

Dark mode shouldn’t just be considered as an alternative though. Since it reduces eye strain for the user and helps focus the user’s attention, designers should highly consider dark mode for the basis of their design instead of just an alternative mode.

Inclusive Design and Social Awareness

Inclusive design will be a heavy focus moving forward as social awareness moves more and more into the societal forefront. Users will want to make sure they are fairly represented and considered. This means making sure we show real people with all their uniqueness.

A brand itself can be looked at as a sum of all the experiences that its user/consumer has. Users want to feel included, heard, and catered to (more than they want to buy your product or service in many cases). Therefore, brand values need to reflect those of the people it is meant to serve. Imagery and illustration should be thoughtfully customized and designed in order to better resonate with the audience, as opposed to the use of generic visuals that lack a personal connection. Authenticity and transparency are key. A great example of a brand encompassing this mentality is hims.

Are we suggesting that you go out and start tweaking your current site to adhere to these trends right away? Of course not (it’s not that simple). Your website is the centerpiece of your marketing efforts and if you’re just changing aesthetic features for the sake of “staying modern”, then you’re missing the mark dramatically. The perfect website design isn’t necessarily one that forces in every posh design trend; the perfect website design captivates your audience and drives leads. And knowing how to bring this to life is not something you’re going to learn from a YouTube video, free app, or blog post (sorry).

So how do you know if it’s time to reach out to a B2C or B2B website design agency for a refresh? Essentially it comes down to this: if your website isn’t getting the job done, no longer aligns with your branding, or just leaves a lot to be desired in terms of visuals, it might be time for an upgrade.