We had a heck of a year in 2020. Businesses were forced to pivot in new and creative ways. Consumers had to adjust. As a result, the web needed to change, too.
Before we get too far into 2021, it’s absolutely critical that we reflect on the changes of the past year. Because many of the web design trends that worked for pre-2020 consumers and businesses aren’t going to work anymore.
Today, we’re going to look at what the newest design trends will look like, why they’ve come about, and we’ll also check out examples of websites and BeTheme pre-built sites that are already making good use of them.
Whether you’re designing a site for a new client or you want to pivot an existing client’s site to align with post-2020 design trends, keep reading:
1. Use more comforting color palettes
In years past, web design trends lists favored bolder color palettes and gradient schemes. If you wanted to quickly capture a visitor’s attention and elicit an emotional response, you’d use strong colors to do so.
But with all the drama, panic and fear that dominated 2020, we’re going to see brands tone down their usage of color in 2021.
That doesn’t mean that color can’t still be used to inspire visitors to feel a certain way. It just means that color palettes will inspire feelings of calm, comfort, and safety this year.
Bellroy, for example, is a company that sells carry goods — things like wallets, bags, and phone cases that keep people’s items safe and organized:
Although some of its products come in bright colors, the white space and photo backgrounds used on the website lean towards a more neutral and natural color palette.
The BeSpa pre-built website is another good example of soothing colors done right:
As you can see, a tamer color palette doesn’t have to translate to boring. It’s simply prioritizing a different set of priorities and emotions; namely, security and comfort.
2. Seamlessly blend physical and digital imagery
Many people were stuck at home with very little to do but look at their screens in 2020. This led to a greater blending of their real lives with their digital ones.
In the past, web designers generally focused on creating websites with either photos or illustrations.
Photos allowed brands to depict real world scenarios as well as to show off their actual products. Illustrations, on the other hand, were useful for depicting abstract concepts and to explain highly technical products.
However, now that the line has blurred between the physical and digital worlds, web design can start reflecting this change, too. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.
Here’s an example of this in action from fashion designer Constance Burke:
Her portfolio could’ve gone either way in the past (i.e. real models wearing clothing she’s designed or a lookbook of hand-drawn fashion sketches). But she’s blended the two here in a very creative way.
You might also consider blending the physical and digital similar to how the BeSkipre-built site does:
The homepage starts with a photo of someone skiing. However, notice how the snow in the hero image eventually blends into the next section.
This isn’t just a white background. The top of the section resembles the top of a snow bank.
This section then transitions back to a real world image, only for it to once more go back to the digital design.
3. Create more efficient shopping experiences
With more people shopping online than ever before, ecommerce sites need to be designed for more efficient pathways to conversion.
This is especially important as consumers grow wary of all the time they’re spending online. While they’ll still have to buy things online, they’re going to look for brands that help them get in and out of their online stores in a reasonable amount of time.
From providing add-to-cart shortcuts in product search results to designing more concise product page descriptions, we’re going to see more and more ecommerce sites provide quicker and pain-free shopping experiences.
Walgreens, for example, has a product page design that works well for ecommerce in 2021:
All the pertinent details about the product, special offers, and pickup/shipping options are available above-the-fold.
If anyone wants more information on the product’s specs or reviews, they can scroll to find them. Otherwise, those who are confident in their purchase, are empowered to take the next steps.
BePestControl’s pre-built site takes a similar approach to ecommerce design:
As you can see, the main selling points (i.e. the product name, price, and description) are kept short and sweet. For anyone who needs more information, the description and other specs are readily available beneath the “Add to cart” button.
These well-organized and shorter product pages (among other time-saving ecommerce features) will make online shopping a more enjoyable and satisfying experience for shoppers in 2021.
4. Include more user-controlled video content
There was a time when video was all the rage on websites. Hero background videos would be the first thing people saw on websites. Animated explainer videos introduced complex technologies to prospective customers. And so on.
Thanks to people spending more time on video platforms like Zoom to connect with friends, family, and coworkers, it’s a medium they’re comfortable with right now.
As a result we’re going to see video make a comeback this year. However, there’ll be no auto-play backgrounds or embedded videos. Videos will only appear when visitors want them to.
To do this, web designers will need to include video “play” buttons into their designs. Here’s how Payoneer currently does it:
Notice how the white “play” button stands out amidst all that color. The recognizable icon lets people know the option to watch the testimonial is available if they’re interested.
BeOptics is a pre-built site that subtly interjects a video option into the mix as well:
Again, visitors don’t need to see an actual video player in order to recognize that there’s a video option here. The “play” button and the way it transforms upon hover will let them know they have the option to learn more by watching a video.
5. Spend more time showing off trust builders
Trust has always been an important matter for businesses. But as more people are choosing to shop online instead of in person these days, trust builders are non-negotiable in web design.
As such, web designers will need to make more room for trust builders that increase consumer confidence. Things like:
- Data visualization (e.g. charts, statistic callouts, counters)
- Client, partner, or media logos
- Client testimonials or customer reviews
- Case studies
- Security seals (e.g. Better Business Bureau (BBB), TRUSTe, PayPal Checkout)
- Proof of social good
If you want your website to convince prospective customers, clients, users, readers, or subscribers to take that big leap, consider which trust builders will be the most important for them to see.
Omaze, for instance, is a platform that gives people entries for prizes based on the donations they’ve made. Rather than focus strictly on the prizes, Omaze highlights all the good it and its donors have done:
It also has a space where it shows off reputable publications that have featured Omaze (which brings legitimacy to the organization):
And it uses data visualization and non-profit testimonials to provide further transparency about what’s happening behind the scenes:
Even if you’re designing a site for a much smaller organization (or even yourself), there are impressive trust builders you can put out there for visitors.
BePortfolio, for example, is a great example of how you could do this for your own portfolio site (or for a fellow creative’s site):
The home page has dedicated a lot of space to trust builders:
- Satisfied customer counts
- Case studies
- Portfolio samples
- Client logos
People want to feel safe and secure online and giving them more than enough reasons to trust your brand will go a long way in making that happen.