Top 10 popular web design trends of 2021

Website alert illustration

Catching up on the latest design trends is always fun homework when starting a website redesign. Though different preferred treatments may come and go, one thing never goes out of style: the best site designs always put function first and solve the problem in the most effective, efficient way.

Doing all of this while making a site modern by using current trends simultaneously is a surefire way to build a website your target audience loves to use and that helps you stand out from the competition.

Read on to get website redesign inspiration, and see examples of what’s popular right now.

2021’s most popular web design trends

  1.   Statues
  2.   Plants
  3.   Interactivity
  4.   Brutalism
  5.   Distortion
  6.   Vintage/retro styles
  7.   Neumorphism
  8.   Beige/comfort colors
  9.   Simple geometric shapes
  10.   3D elements

Note: I didn’t include minimalism, illustration, and video—not to mention boldness, high contrast, and high saturation—on this list because these styles will always be important in modern web design. Instead, this article focuses on the newest web design trends of 2021.

I also haven’t covered dark mode. Like with your devices, some web designs go the dark route or even give the visitor the option to switch to dark mode in navigation. This is not only easier on your eyes, but your device’s battery life as well.


example of the statue web design trend, Halo UI/UX, by Halo LabHalo UI/UX example by Halo Lab
1

Statues

I’ve seen really cool uses of 3D statues, especially in interactive websites.

This could have fallen under the 3D category or the interactive category, but I felt it deserved its own. 

Go ahead and unleash your inner Michelangelo in your next design.

Design inspiration: Statues
 


3D interaction example by Matthew Hall


ancient art museum landing page by Kevin Pham

2

Plants

Using nature photos and illustrations in design isn’t really that new, but I have seen a recent emergence of designers incorporating plants in web design layouts.

Plants especially pair nicely as a design element when you are creating a website for selling furniture.

Design inspiration: Plants
 

three examples of the plants web design trend
L–R: furniture landing page design by Ghulam Rasool, furniture website UI by QClay, and Plantainable homepage design by Pat Johnson

3

Interactivity

In the most basic terms, every website is actually interactive.

With this label, I am specifically referring to when a website features something in the hero background area that moves with the user’s mouse as they drag their cursor around that space.

Some other great examples are this web design functionality include Awesome Mirror Effect and Exploding 3D Objects over at Codrops.

Design inspiration: Interactivity
 


Superlist by Nathan Riley


Bento Matte 3D: Medicine by Anna Novikova


Senko-Holographic by BestServedBold


Christmas Collisions by BestServedBold

example of the brutalism web design trendPresentation Layouts by Marko Cvijetic
4

Brutalism

Brutalism is sometimes referred to as “anti-design” because it isn’t concerned with looking good, and it sometimes even evokes a feeling of discomfort. I can’t say that this is my favorite trend, but interesting because it’s popping up everywhere right now.

If you like this trend, Brutalist Websites is a great resource to explore the trend.

Design inspiration: Brutalism
 


Guide to Europe website design animation by Levon Saribekyan

5

Distortion

No, your monitor is not broken.

Lately, web designers have been intentionally making text and photos look glitched or distorted. This style can add another level of creativity to a website design. Though unexpected and interesting, it isn’t one of my favorite trends because of its limited potential for use (e.g., it probably wouldn’t work well for a corporate site. Somewhat similar to the brutalism trend, but it’s not the most functional trend.

Design inspiration: Distortion
 

example of the text distortion web design trend
an example of a text distortion effect using Blotter.js by Manoela Ilic

example of the motion hover distortion web design trend
an example of a motion hover distortion effect by Niccolò Miranda

example of the webgl distortion web design trend
an example of a distortion webgl by Alex


Archives experimental animation by Hrvoje Grubisic

6

Vintage/retro styles

Who doesn’t crave a bit of nostalgia now and then?

Bring back the serif fonts and retro colors because, as they say, “style is cyclical.” You can still have a modern UI and layout, but add a splash of vintage aesthetics to achieve a look that sets you apart from other websites.

Design inspiration: Vintage/retro styles
 

three examples of the vintage/retro web design trend
L–R: event listing webpage design by Izmahsa, Sony VHS case-inspired layout by Nicholas.design, and website product detail page concept for BMW Classic by Francesco Prisco

example of neumorphic iconsBig Sur icons
7

Neumorphism

First, we had skeuomorphism (think the icons on the original first-generation iPhone), and then everything went flat. 

Neumorphism is like a hybrid of the two. You can see this trend reflected in the macOS Big Sur icons (at right). It gives a sense of depth and often uses an embossed look with UI elements.

Design inspiration: Neumorphism
 

three examples of the neumorphism web design trend
L–R: landing page example for Adidas by George Tang, example of contour mapping neumorphic webpage by Samson Vowles, and Form Factory by Peter Tarka


example of a neumorphic button animation by Vadim Demenko


example of a neumorphic UI kit by Samson Vowles

8

Beige/comfort colors

Beige is the new white. Using muted and soothing colors gives the design a human touch while making you feel like the colors are metaphorically hugging you.

Design inspiration: Beige/comfort colors
 

three examples of beige/comfort colors web design trend
L–R: furniture landing page design by Ghulam Rasool, Bioshe homepage design by Halo UI/UX, and Rook homepage design by Pat Johnson


user experience design concept by 00.032


Chungi folio website by Zhenya Rynzhuk

9

Simple geometric shapes

Simplicity is timeless.

It is pleasing to the eye when simple shapes are used in design. Web designers today are doing inventive things to integrate abstract geometric shapes and patterns into their website redesign projects.

Design inspiration: Simple geometric shapes
 

three examples of the simple geometric shapes web design trend
L–R: DSM hero header, v3 by Tran Mau Tri Tam, One Spark layout by Steve Wolf, and visual identity webpage layout by Vladimir Gruev

example of 3D elements used for web design3D branding elements by Peter Tarka
10

3D elements

From 3D isometrics and satisfying loops to abstract 3D renderings and 3D visuals representing different people, more and more web designers are making 3D elements a part of their website designs.

I have been using a program called Blender to create 3D visuals to go with my projects.

Design inspiration: 3D elements
 

three examples of the 3D elements web design trend
L–R: Bento illustration builder concept by Tran Mau Tri Tam, Form Factory, v2 by Peter Tarka, and Timescope by Peter Tarka

three examples of the 3D elements web design trend
L–R: cryptocurrency landing page by S. Mostafa Esmaeili, Geome by Tran Mau Tri Tam, and Vita Kopa by Pat Johnson


3D character pack and elements by Anton Tkachev


As a web designer, it’s always a lot of fun to browse through inspiration websites like dribbble to see what is popular right now (and what’s about to take off). But, you always have to keep in mind that a design trend that might be good for a museum web redesign client might not necessarily work for your healthcare website design client and vice versa.

As an experienced web designer, it’s my job to balance my expertise with what is shared in the redesign project creative brief to figure out which solution will work best to help each client reach their website marketing goals. Designing websites your customers can’t ignore is more important than following the latest trends.

Though popular website design trends change over time, if you want a website that feels cutting-edge in 2021, consider which of these popular web design trends of 2021 might be the best fit as you start your next website redesign project—or maybe, just maybe, work with your web designer to get jumpstart the next trend!


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Pat

About the author | Pat Johnson

Pat is a web designer, and he loves creating outside-the-box solutions for clients to make their brand stand out in the crowd. Pat enjoys blogging about the creative process in web design and the importance of building a solution based on requirements and research.

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