Web Design Trends of 2021: The Year of Polarities

Each new year comes with a multitude of new design trends. See where 2021 is taking UI/UX, typography, scrolling, visual art, and more.

2021 Web Design Trends Embracing Every End of the Spectrum

Web design is a fast-evolving and ever-changing facet of e-commerce, with trends that move in and out of popularity much like fringe does in our wardrobes and open concept layouts do in our homes. While many years bring about a relatively straightforward set of design trends, this upcoming year will be a little different. The year of 2021 will likely bring about opposite ends of the spectrum, and such is to be expected after such a tumultuous year.

In every aspect of web design, we’re gearing up to observe trends that go one of each way: bold versus subtle, vibrant versus muted, and retro versus modern. As we get ready for a year of even more change, new year’s resolutions, and the end of a crazy era, it’s vital to see how design will embrace our current world and further the artistic status quo through their innovative trends

Overall Layout

For 2021, you can expect to see a focus on simplicity and print-inspired layouts. One design trend is geometric designs with grid-like structures. Even if asymmetrical in layout, right angles and boxy designs communicate clarity and improve user experience. Similarly, magazine-style layouts with bold headers and natural read flow are in. This print influence is an effort to bring physicality back into digital design, and quite frankly, we’re all here for it! The trendy hybrid of concepts helps ground overall site layouts in reality and evokes a very human sensation during web navigation — something somewhat lost in recent years’ imaginative and hyperrealistic designs.

Fonts & Typography

With a new year on the forefront, fonts and typography are actually going back in time. Upcoming trends for typography include taking it back to the past, embracing both traditional and retro fonts. Serifs are back, as are bold titles, both of which tie back into the print-focused design trend. The catch with these traditional types making a return is that a cool and modern spin is necessary. Some brands have taken to embracing bold fonts with a singular letter that always occurs in a retro or unique fashion.


Scrolling is an innate feature of websites that most users don’t tend to think twice about, but if design is your focus, then scrolling should be at the forefront. All of these effects allow each scroll to feel like a new page — if not an entirely new website — without refreshing or reloading. It’s a ginormous user experience encapsulated in a singularly-formatted web page.

“Scrollytelling” is in — the process of animating a story through changing visual aspects as a user scrolls through a web page. Scrollytelling may create a sensation of stillness with exterior changing aspects, or may bring the user through a movement-oriented landscape. The latter often refers to parallax scrolling, where background content is moved at a different speed or velocity than foreground content. Parallax scrolling has been popular in recent years, and will only continue its upward trend due to its ability to create depth in a 2D scene.

While most scrollytelling is in parallax form, scrolling cards are gaining in trendiness too. Scrolling cards that index or expand based on interaction are a great way to keep web designs clean without sacrificing the population of information. Similarly, a scrolling feature gaining in popularity is interactive scrolling, with transformations that change based on user participation.

Once a faux pas, horizontal scrolling is re-entering the world of design. Note it must be used carefully, as inappropriate use can make it appear as though a layout is ill-calculated for the current screen size. However, horizontal scrolling is incredibly beneficial for showcasing content, especially in the form of scrolling pictures.

Lastly: custom cursors! (Did someone say Myspace?) Custom cursors are back from their pre-2010 era. Custom cursors also add a layer of user participation to scrolling, either being charismatic in themselves or acting as responsive objects based on site element interactions.

Visual & Graphic Design

Visuals make up the most user-focused aspects of a site, in that the visual components are quite literally eye-catching. Unlike layouts or typography, visual design is something most users can quickly identify and also have opinions on, and it tends to change more rapidly than other design features.

Neumorphism, a modern derivative of skeuomorphism, is taking graphic design by storm, thought it’s better known as simply “3D design.” Design is embracing photorealistic art design complete with selective object drop shadows paired with semi-flat colors. THe end result is an embossing or debossing design in the digital realm, which offers a more tactile experience that has since been lost in this era of flat design. Multimedia experiences and augmented reality represent the trend’s further ends of the spectrum, where designers reach for a fully-immersive visual component.

On the other end of the spectrum is the more natural design trend. Some designers are embracing muted colors, grainy textures, and Gaussian blurs for dreamy, ethereal, and organic looks. These designs are more geared towards users that spend much time looking at screens, and the visual components are meant to underwhelm the user to encourage more time on the site or platform.

Design Within Shopify

A spectrum of design trends is one of the most beautiful things the e-commerce community can behold. This upcoming year will certainly be one prioritising innovative design, and the variety of sites we’ll likely see is endless.

At Radiant, we’re so happy to be a part of a creative industry that empowers people to achieve their personal business goals. Much like the designers whose trends we analysed today, we know that embodying tradition and modern appeal simultaneously is an art. Our web designers and developers are skilled in their respective professions and creative in their efforts, which is why our clients’ web pages always convert as they capture.

Get in touch today to see how the specialists of our Shopify agency can improve your design, or add marketing elements that ensure your visuals are productive!