2021 Design Trends (Timeless Web & Digital Strategies)
As we approach another new year, as designers we often seek to “stay on trend” with the latest strategies and implementations typically for a few reasons: Career advancement, competitive edge, and passion. While passion for design and evergreen learning in the field are arguably the most acceptable reasons for testing new waters, and staying current, annual trends are problematic, and no one seems to be talking about it.
With growing competition in the blog space for visual and digital design, annual trend posts are becoming a “right of passage” for new bloggers, and a “must write” cornerstone for existing blogs. The BIG PROBLEM is that trends come and go. Oftentimes, year after year close to 50% of the most written about design trends come to pass with little traction and implementation.
Many times these “trends” are better categorized as “schemes,” or “new things to try.” With many of the examples listed in these posts their rarely are websites that have data supporting their claims for Increased UX and conversion. Many of these sites have data that would lend itself against the trends listed. That’s Why I wrote this post.
I wanted to provide a list of visual design trends (mostly for web design, UI and UX) that are timeless in nature, and are not being utilized on a large scale across the web as much as you’d like to think. The truth is when it comes to visual design, especially on the internet, conversion matters. Everyone is selling something, even if it’s free.
Ideas are sold, whether that is an exchange of time or money is insignificant. So when you are designing something, heck anything that requires interaction, certain strategies are critical to implement in order to create compelling visual content.
This post was written to give web designers and visual creators alike, an evergreen checklist or “go-to” style guide for digital implementation of design that actually converts.
Website Speed and Load Time Optimization Design Trends
Just because google likes fast websites (yes I know this is an over-simplification), doesn’t mean it should be the only reason you keep your load time to a minimum. Website speed has more to do with ranking, it is a user experience (UX) necessity. And Guess What???? Unless your web page is for yourself only, UX is everything.
The future of web (this is a prediction) will be grounded in lean web architecture with super targeted content and small (front, back and integrated) stacks. Websites of today, and “tomorrow” should focus on their target market. As designers, we like to design for other designers, this is in a way a career designer mis-step and also just a bad habit.
We often like to push the limits of design and make websites that stand out from all the rest. While this is great from an innovation standpoint it bears little weight in the realm of efficiency and longevity.
Speed is an essential component of a website. It is no longer a tactic for SEO ranking, nor should it ever be. Speed helps you make a connection with your users and ultimately represents your business, brand, and product(s).
While there are many forms of content, written, visual, infographic, video, animated, etc., the only type of content that you need to worry about is the type of content best suited for your market. The argument is easily made that the type of content you use should be indicative of the point you’re trying to make, but websites are not created to support arguments, they are created as a vessel for “arguments.”
In other words the content is the foundation, and the website (architecture) are the walls.
In order to create an effective website (one that converts) you must first create content that will connect with your target customer. The website surrounding that content is supported by the content’s purpose.
The visual information (can also be content, or supporting graphics/visuals) used should also exist as part of the content, even if it is only there to create a visual connection. Simply put, everything in a website is content.
Content accuracy is not as much about targeting as it is about connecting. Targeting should be handled in your marketing strategy, connecting with your customer starts at your website as it is often the first (if organic) point of contact. Every year you’ll find many websites boasting new visual design trends to use in web design that are “all the rage.”
What happens when we, as designers fall trap to these “design trends” is that we miss the point of visualization completely. We tend to look at visualization as supporting content, part of this is because SEO practices such as Alt Tags are more effective if they are relevant to the words on the page.
While this SEO practice is essential it is more of a utility framework for design implementation, meaning it is necessary to do but should not imply that what is being tagged is separate from the content (words in this case) itself.
The websites of today and of the future will rely on the success of how accurately their content is curated, created, and displayed. Designing content to connect to users is and will continue to be a key component of achieving low bounce rates, high SEO ranking, and consistent conversions.
Contrary to its name, Negative Space is a very positive thing, and will always be. While may designers will boast about the use of “dark mode” and “layered Photos,” the space opposite your content (often called white space) defines your site in its entirety.
Negative space gives life to positive space which is the subject of the space. This contrast is an essential and basic characteristic of visualization and is a key aspect of effective marketing.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a website that isn’t overwhelmed with sporadically placed content, even if its uniform in style, without it being deemed “minimalist” or “modern.” The truth is negative space creates focus. Negative space creates contrast. Regardless of the color scheme used or other “design trends” implemented, negative space gives light to what is most important, you’re content.
When you’re designing a website to be evergreen and user friendly, leading, padding, and framing are crucial principles to understand. Knowing that negative space is important is not enough. You must use space on the page to create focus of the subject.
Websites of today and beyond will likely be narrow margined, content focused “solutions.” What I mean by this is that the mentality of web design, and visual design trends will change from element driven (multiple factors, one goal) to result driven (conversion focused, integrated elements).
The best example of a timeless website that will always convert no matter what happens with google, is Jonathan Stark’s website, which has barely changed over the last few years, and likely won’t need to.
Design Trends – Conclusion
While there are more “design trends” that will likely last the test of time, the three I’ve briefly mentioned are crucial to understand and implement. If you can focus your content, leverage negative space while keeping page speed down you’ll be ahead of most designers no matter what year it is.
If your interested in getting a large variety of “timeless” design assets to help keep you up to par with the current design trends – Click Here