Every year, web design trends subtly shift and 2021 is no exception. While there aren’t often radical changes on a year-to-year basis, 2020 ushered in plenty of new design trends to experiment with. Now it’s time to take a look at how they’ll evolve this time around.
WordPress sites have followed close behind the popular trends, with a few unique ones to reflect its users’ interests. For example, you’ll be surprised to learn how the theme building community is changing.
Look out for these popular trends, as they’re already in full effect or soon to come to many WordPress sites.
As far as web design trends go, one thing almost always stays the same: more minimal websites are the consistent winners each year. Simple palettes, lots of whitespace, and one-page sites are quite popular. That’s because they’re both easy to make and because users are more likely to spend time on them.
They also load much faster, which online, is a big deal. Users won’t wait longer than two or three seconds before clicking off your site. And minimal themes naturally lend themselves to quicker loading speeds. Plus, a minimal design puts the focus on your content, which is why it’s the favored choice for simple websites.
You can find this trend in many of the top-selling WordPress themes on Themeforest, for instance Impreza, Salient, and Enfold. The popularity of minimalism is also reflected in high-traffic websites like Instagram and even WordPress itself. Its official yearly themes, Twenty Twenty and Twenty Twenty One, have all embraced minimalism.
Experiment With Designs
While the safe option will likely always be the most popular, experimentation also has its rewards. People get tired of seeing essentially the same website over and over again. And with minimalism frequently dominating the trends, something new is just what people need. Mixing it up with asymmetrical, broken grid, and split screen designs can be a good way to capture interest.
Also, simplicity and more experimental design aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. It’s still possible to create a site that’s minimalistic and appealing while using these more visually interesting layouts.
If you ever want to try out something new, feel free to give it a go. Even the most experimental designs like brutalism and abstract web design can thrive despite their unconventional nature. Risk-taking can be dangerous, but it can also draw more interested eyes.
Multi-Purpose Themes Over Niche
The issue with niche premium themes is that they cost just as much more gneral themes. At the same time, they can only be used to create a single type of website. So if you purchase a highly specialized theme, there’s no using it for something else if you decide to switch up your design later. You’ll just have to buy an entirely new theme.
WordPress users have caught on, and multi-purpose themes have exploded in popularity the past year. These themes cost about as much as any other premium theme. But they come with a variety of features and templates that make them suitable for almost any type of website.
If you take a look at ThemeForest’s top themes of 2021, you’ll see this WordPress web design trend in action with a vast majority of themes labeled as multi-purpose.
So if you’re a theme designer yourself, you may want to think about designing for a wider audience rather than creating extremely niche themes. It could result in more purchases and better ratings. It can be difficult to create a theme that’s general enough to work in any situation while still making it unique enough to attract attention. Yet, the challenge may just be worth it.
Last year, Elementor released template kits, a brand new spin on the traditional way of building themes. Essentially, you build a website with modular blocks of elements and even entire pre-made pages, all without using any code. The result of this mix and matching is a fully unique website that looks like the work of a professional.
Premium template kits are now popping up all over sites like ThemeForest and Envato Elements. If you’re a theme designer, you can join in and sell your template kits on Envato. It’s definitely something worth considering, as these kits are very popular and it could be a good way to earn a lot of money.
Page Builders Ever More Popular
While it’s no replacement for a good site builder, the editor has brought the ease of drag and drop page building to WordPress users’ consciousness. As a consequence, it has directed a lot of traffic to plugins like Divi, Elementor, and Avada (the latter of which is by far the most popular item on ThemeForest this year).
These plugins have had to strive to innovate and improve themselves to prove they’re a viable alternative to Gutenberg. The aforementioned release of template kits is one such attempt.
Theme designers may want to consider partnering with these plugins to create compatible themes if possible as they’re only getting more popular.
Look Out for AR
AR, Augmented Reality, is a stunning new way to bring your website and especially your eCommerce store to life. Many top brands have plunged their products from the screen into nearly the real world with this revolutionary technology.
Apps such as Ikea Place allow you to try furniture in your own home before you buy. Other examples of AR might let you try on makeup or clothes. Here’s one you can try on your browser or phone: ModiFace. This brand has partnered with companies like Sephora to let you try on makeup in your own home.
Granted, this is not the easiest of 2021 web design trends to put into practice. Setting up AR for your products will take a lot of work and a big investment. It’s not something just anyone can do. But if you can afford it, jumping on this bandwagon could peak customer interest and result in more purchases.
There aren’t very many AR WordPress plugins available at this time, but one does exist for WooCommerce users: CartMagician Augmented Reality.
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps are growing in popularity, as they fill a niche current technology previously couldn’t. In essence, PWAs are like a combination of native mobile apps or desktop applications, and web apps which run in the browser.
Twitter Lite is a PWA that functions similarly to the app but takes up far less space. Uber also released a PWA which makes getting in contact with a driver far faster and easier. It might be something for you to try too.
Video Backgrounds Back in Style
Video backgrounds have always been an issue in web design. There’s only so much you can do to optimize a video without making the quality look terrible. That means you’re needlessly increasing load times, especially for mobile users.
But there is something definitively stylish about a full-screen video background. For example, take a look at the Wild Renfew site; a video background is just perfect for travel sites such as this one.
As Internet connections around the world continues to get faster, web designers can take more risks. 5G is rolling out to more and more cities in the USA, which means everything loads faster, including video backgrounds.
If you want to try a video background on your WordPress site, the easiest way is to choose any page builder plugin. Popular ones like Elementor or WPBakery are sure to support it. You can also add it manually with code.
Get Creative With Typography
In the whirl of deciding on layout style, color palettes, and background images, many designers neglect to consider typography. But when well integrated into a design, typography can be the deciding factor between a boring website and an inspiring one.
It’s not just about careful choice of typography. Many websites are making the typography the focal point of the homepage. This can be through huge letters or text that’s so interwoven into the layout that something would be missing without it.
Check out these examples of typography in web design if you need some inspiration. These sort of font-focused websites are very popular these days and can really show off your expertise as a web designer.
Gradients, bold colors, lighter palettes, and bright contrasts are also part of web design trends in 2021. People are tired of plain white websites and they’re showing it by giving their attention to designs that experiment with color.
Designers know all about color palettes and branding colors. But a monochrome website with a few colors here and there isn’t enough. People want to see more hues and more creative uses of color in their designs. Experiment with them and try something that you may have avoided before.
If you need an example from the WordPress community, look at sites like WP Engine or Elegant Themes. While these sites use a white base, their gradients and bright palettes pop against the background and increase visual interest. Also check out Awwwards’ best colorful websites.
While somewhat the opposite of color, dark mode is another popular trend to keep in mind. It really surged in 2019 and 2020 and many apps and websites added a dark mode or even switched over their primary design. Yet, a black and gray palette can still help you stand out from the sea of white if bright colors don’t fit your brand.
Be More Casual
There’s a time and place for casual language, but the days of businesses needing to be cold and formal or risk driving away customers is over. Many people prefer being spoken to like friends. Consequently, playful web design, use of emojis, and more casual wording can all work well.
If your brand is elegant and serious, this may not be the time to rewrite your website. And casual language can definitely come off as less professional. But by using informal wording on your site, you establish a more personal connection. This can work well with younger demographics.
If you need a good example of a casual, personal tone, look to popular brands’ social media, especially on Twitter. Many companies are adopting this witty yet friendly tone across all their branding, including their websites.
In a Nutshell: WordPress Web Design Trends 2021
Whether you’re a full-time WordPress web designer whose job relies on keeping up with the trends, or just a website owner trying to keep your site stylish, watching out for changes in web design is always a good idea. It could help you make your site more beautiful, easier to work with, or appealing to your visitors.
Here’s the consensus on the trends this year: It may seem like they aren’t changing very much at all. Most popular sites still rely on minimalism, and it’s the safe choice for a majority of them. But creativity is well rewarded. And as technology evolves, features like AR and new ways of working with WordPress themes will dominate the web.
What are your favorite trends in web design and WordPress for 2021? Let us know in the comments.