The field of web design is ever-evolving. As technology advances and aesthetic tastes change, websites need to not only inform audiences, but also create a visually-pleasing, immersive experience.

User experience has always been important in web design, but it’s becoming even more relevant now as a good quality user experience is a large portion of how Google constructs search rankings. Onpage SEO in combination with traditional design elements is integral for improving search rankings, regardless of the size of your business or your industry.

In 2021, designers are seeing many trends that focus on making a visit to the website memorable. It’s no longer enough to have an informative website — many brands are now turning to responsive animations and custom text to leave a lasting impression on their users.

  1. Emphasis on Copy

    The growing emphasis on website aesthetics doesn’t mean that copy is less important. In fact, well-written copy is in the forefront of the minds of designers and clients alike. The key is that the copy be well integrated into the design of the website. Many website owners are looking for high-quality copy that not only informs, but enhances the visual experience of the website.

    Redesigning a website now more frequently involves retooling existing copy as well, rather than simply slotting old copy into a new website.

  2. Custom Fonts

    Compared to just a few years ago, we are seeing website owners much more willing to pay a little extra for a custom font that really captures the feeling of their brand. Many clients want a custom font that not only works well with the overall look of the site, but that also suits their industry and their customer base.

    Playful, retro styles of typography are quite popular these days, and there are hundreds of variations on these themes. Using a beautiful, unique typeface for key headings and blocks of content on a site can not only create a more engaging visual experience, but can also be a way to keep a website’s branding consistent. A custom font designed to compliment your business’ colours or logo is an elegant branding solution that feels highly professional.

    A website should always be representative of your business’ brand, so we don’t recommend relegating custom fonts to just the website. An ideal custom font should be visually appealing and memorable, but also accessible enough that you can apply it to things like letterheads, business cards, whitepapers, and brochures.

  3. Responsive Text

    Along with custom fonts, animated and responsive text is gaining popularity. Blocks of text that scroll, expand, or change colour when hovered over with a cursor can work in tandem with unique fonts to enhance branding and create a more interesting experience for users. Responsive animations, used sparingly, can give users a sense of agency, or control over their own experience, when visiting the site.

    As with any type of animation, we recommend using responsive text strategically, to err on the side of “engaging,” without shifting into “overwhelming.” Responsive text is a great way to call attention to key content and links.

  4. Animations

    Outside of the realm of text, animations can be applied to a variety of elements on a website to build a dynamic visual experience. Recently, we’ve seen a lot of demand for animations in image galleries and menus. For example, small transformations such as animated borders that appear when a user hovers their cursor over a thumbnail image in a gallery. Similar to responsive text, hover animations like this are a great way to keep the user engaged and provide a greater sense of control.

  5. More Varied Colour Schemes

    Usability and accessibility are important aspects of web design. We always want to think about how we can create an experience that is not only aesthetically pleasing and interesting for the average user, but also easy for everyone to read and interact with, regardless of ability. Over the past decade, websites have tended toward solid black or white backgrounds, with high-contrast text. Such high-contrast colour schemes can be taxing in the long term, so many web designers are now embracing more muted colour schemes, featuring soft pastel or neutral hued palettes.

    The emphasis now is on colours that are comfortable, and pleasing to the eye. Colours can also be used to emphasize the tone of page content. Many website owners are choosing a single bold colour as a background across multiple pages.

  6. Textured Backgrounds

    Softer, more comfortable palettes open up the option to leave behind flat expanses of colour, and introduce some texture and tactility into the appearance of a website. A textured background need not be obtrusive, but we’re seeing increased interest in subtle textured elements to help break up flat planes of colour and draw the user’s eye across the entire webpage. Subtle textures and artistic elements can make a website feel more “real” and more welcoming.

  7. Scrolling Transformations

    Scrolling transformations are another great way to make a user feel more in control of their website experience. With a scrolling transformation, the act of scrolling doesn’t simply guide a user down a long page of content — instead, the visual information within the fixed frame “transforms” as the user scrolls. The website becomes an animation that the user can control by scrolling forward or backward in time. We’re seeing scrolling transformations used on home pages, with content presented in bold, impactful typefaces. The result is a website experience that feels more akin to viewing a film than reading an article.

  8. Grid Layouts

    For all sorts of websites, grid layouts are a popular way to organize content on a page. Content underpinned by a grid looks clean and is easy to follow. This type of layout is ideal for websites that are designed to be highly informative. A grid layout is also a great way to present an image gallery, or a set of links to related content pages.

In Summary

As of the publishing of this article in October 2021, website design is emphasizing websites as an interactive, user-led experience. At this point, having an online presence is a prerequisite for doing almost any kind of business. Now that everyone has a website, website owners need to create a memorable visit for their customers in order to retain traffic and draw in leads.

Custom fonts, responsive elements, and softer, more artistic colour schemes are helping reach an increasingly tech-savvy public, and leave a lasting impression in user’s minds. We’re also seeing a shift away from the heavy use of stock photography — for website clients and businesses that don’t have a lot of their own images, an abstract, copy-focused design is often preferable to stock photography. These types of designs also often have the side effect of loading faster, and being more accessible for users with slower internet connections.

Web design, and by extension, digital marketing, is much more than just making the logo bigger! Is your website in need of a refresh? Contact Yardstick today — we’re happy to discuss options and help you develop a website that will make an impact with your audience.