With the new year coming up, it might feel a little early to start making resolutions. That being said, it’s certainly not too early to start thinking about what new trends 2021 will bring to BtoB web design.
What changes can we expect to see? Which trends will last the test of time? Which will be passing fads? Here at Pixel Tie, we’ve been staying on top of the trends, and here’s our list of top web design trends for 2021.
Page Speed and Load Time
Already one of the important web design standards, load time will only become more important in 2021. Search engines like Google—and, more importantly, users—penalize websites that take a long time to load.
Take Pinterest as an example. They managed to reduce their perceived wait times by 40%, thereby increasing search engine traffic and sign-ups by 15%. A study by Akamai found that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load, and that something as seemingly small as a 100-millisecond delay in load time can hurt conversion rates by 7%.
In a world where everyone wants things faster and faster, it’s important that your website is optimized to keep up with user expectations. A method to achieve this is to make sure your page utilizes smart content load—why waste resources loading content the user isn’t seeing yet? Ways to take advantage of this include lazy-loading, which defers loading of non-critical information, and infinite scroll, which long page websites and social media apps like Instagram and Twitter use to their advantage to increase dwell time. These technologies aren’t necessarily new, but they will become increasingly popular in 2021 as expectations for website load times grow.
Having relevant data regarding your product can help build your user’s trust in your business.
The only thing better than data is data that can be interpreted easily. Dumping those numbers in a table isn’t going to cut it; the importance of your stats will only come through if they’re presented properly. Humans read visual data better, so proper data visualization will engage your users, making them want to hear more about your business.
Micro-Interactions and Micro-Animations
Micro-interactions are exactly what they sound like: small moments where the user and your website interact, like when you hover over a link and it changes color. Similarly, micro-animations are a small animation of graphic elements on your site which can add playfulness and interest to your front page.
Both of these elements can add a lot of interest to your website without unnecessarily dragging out your load time. These elements can draw attention to certain features and communicate feedback in a subtle, sophisticated way. That being said, 2021 will be about incorporating these elements naturally—you don’t want to bore your user, but you don’t want to distract them either.
Chatbots have been around for a while and will continue to be relevant in 2021. Their appeal is that they give instant support, something a human customer service team can’t always provide—speed is becoming increasingly important in the digital world, as we mentioned earlier. As artificial intelligence and neural networks become more sophisticated, so will these chatbots. Indeed, 67% of consumers worldwide used a chatbot for support in 2018, and that number will only grow as chatbots become more human-like.
Negative space and Breathability
Negative space, also known as white space, has been used well before the advent of websites—it’s an element of design that has stood the test of time. Basically, it’s any space on a website that doesn’t have content.
Negative space serves as a breather for the user. It allows them to rest their eyes and take information in slowly, which is especially handy for dynamic scrolling layouts. Negative space comes in two varieties: macro and micro. Macro white space is the space between bigger elements like text columns and graphics, and micro white space is the space between individual letters and lines of text. Both of these are important to consider when constructing an aesthetic for your website.
The bottom line? Negative space creates a more relaxing and inviting user experience, a valuable thing to consider moving into 2021.
Dark themes are on the rise for a couple of (very good) reasons.
In a more practical sense, dark mode can reduce eye strain from screen glare and reduce blue light exposure. Research has increasingly shown that strain and blue light exposure can affect our eye health and sleep patterns respectively, and people are becoming more and more conscious of how the way they consume digital media is influencing their body.
Aesthetically speaking, dark mode increases contrast and according to Apple, puts the focus on your content rather than on background noise. In general, a dark theme gives you the ability to emphasize the most important parts of your page while simultaneously creating an ultra-modern look.
Either way, having a toggleable dark theme on your website has a growing appeal that will become more and more influential in the new year.
Making content accessible is much more than a trend, but there is growing support for web design to support those with disabilities. In September 2020, the EU required all public sector bodies to adhere to certain web accessibility requirements and with good reason—these requirements will eventually look like the worldwide norm in 2021 and beyond. 15% of the world population has a disability—for reference, that’s over two times the population of the continent of North America. There is no reason for websites to be designed without these users in mind.
A few of the many ways to ensure your website is accessible is to ensure strong color contrast between text, backgrounds, and hyperlinks, adding subtitles to any embedded videos, and using alt tags for images. The great thing about these changes is that they can have other benefits too—even users without any visual impairment can appreciate contrast in a color scheme, and alt tags function as a free additional SEO boost.
According to CNBC, nearly 75% of people worldwide will exclusively use their phones to access the internet by 2025. Clearly, the importance of having a website that works well on mobile will only increase with time. In 2021, thumb-friendly design will be the focus.
Most mobile users will wrap four fingers around the back of their phone and interact with content on their screen with their thumb (or thumbs, if they’re using both hands). Thumb-friendly design takes into account the natural reach of a person’s thumb when on their phone. The most important parts of your website should ideally be in the green zone of the graphic below.
No matter what happens in 2021, one thing’s for sure—as the world relies more and more on digital communication, the importance of a good user interface will only go up. Any trend that comes and goes will ultimately be a reflection of the fact that websites are targeted at users.
Interested in staying ahead of the curve with B2B web design trends in 2021? Contact us to find out how we can help.