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7 Leading UI/UX Design Trends in 2021

Nena Vuckovic

Digital trends are always evolving, and while many have been forgotten, others have completely changed the playing field in UX and UI design. With over 1.6 billion websites online, it can be challenging to make your business or project stand out and attract new customers. First impressions are crucial, and you can gain or lose visitors in a matter of seconds. Since mobile and web users’ first experiences are mainly driven by UI/UX design, developers need to be brushing up their UX knowledge and on a constant lookout for new trends. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, you have to go with the flow of innovation and see how you can make your products stand out. Also, an entrepreneur, developer, or website design company should keep up with the trends to develop user-friendly and aesthetic solutions that look good and provide superior functionality. That way, you can beat your competition while renewing the interest of your users and creating something truly extraordinary. 

We have already talked about trends in technology for 2021, and here’s our rundown of top UI/UX trends in 2021! 

1. 3D Elements 

For starters, flat design has been the staple of apps, websites, and operating systems for a long time now. Some trends, like neomorphic design, have tried to modify traditional flat design solutions. Yet, they were not so successful on a grand scale. Instead, it seems that 3D elements are on the rise right now. One obvious example is the new 3D icons in BigSur, the latest macOS. 

Generally, 3D components can create an immersive visual experience that takes flat design to a whole other level. Such solutions can challenge developers and designers to create an innovative and unique visual experience for the user. That can increase the session time and keep visitors on your site for longer. 

Of course, 3D isn’t a new trend, but it has rarely been implemented into mainstream UI/UX design. Users are eager to see some fresh ideas that will shift the boundary between the digital world and real life. What’s more, this trend might get even bigger in 2021 due to new VR and AR technologies that rely on hyper-realistic animations and graphics. 

With 3D components, you can grab your users’ attention quickly, create dynamic interactions, and leave memorable impressions. Some examples of sites that use 3D elements are A-0 Design, Blue Receipt, and Pitch. 

However, 3D content and graphics could pose some performance challenges. Not all users have platforms that can support the high-performance requirements for 3D, and your platform could suffer from low response times, lag, etc.

2. Voice User Interface (VUI)

VUIs (voice user interfaces) enable us to communicate and interact with a platform via speech. That allows users to engage with a product without using their hands or eyes. VUIs have been incredibly popular in virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri, but designers have started to implement the technology into websites and mobile apps. This tech has the potential to change how we look for information online. 

For instance, you can also use a VUI to send emails, set alarms, track your schedule, and so on. It’s a human-centered design solution, and it can reshape the way your customers or users interact with your platform. 

Another VUI example is chatbots that can create a two-way conversation between the user and the system. Other mobile apps such as Cortana, Hound, and Google Now merge auditory and visual information, while voice-only devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo are quickly becoming a part of everyday life. 

If you are thinking about implementing a VUI into your platform, note that designing one is completely different from creating a graphical interface. It is not focused on visual properties but rather on VUI actions and interactions. You could use a platform like Dialogflow to integrate a VUI into your interface. 

3. VR and AR

Could 2021 be the year in which VR, AR, and AI finally have their moment? Those technologies are not entirely new, but many examples like Google’s Daydream and Facebook’s Oculus never truly managed to take off. However, we see more and more examples of successful VR tech that could open up new markets and shake up the world of design. 

Released in 2020, the blockbuster game “Half-Life Alyx” was praised for its VR-exclusive interface. Many critics have called it the greatest VR game so far, and its popularity could give rise to many more VR titles in gaming. Data shows that the market for those games could reach nearly $23 billion by 2021. On the other hand, it’s rumored that Apple is developing two AR projects and that the company may release a VR headset soon. That could also include the release of a new VR App Store. Can you imagine the avalanche of new VR apps, products, and design elements that could follow? 

When it comes to augmented reality, some estimates even state that the total revenue of consumer-enabled apps will exceed $7 billion by 2025. AR can remove physical barriers to create user engagement. Therefore, it can change the nature of our interaction with brands. That offers a lot of potential in retail, e-commerce, entertainment, media, real estate, education, etc. 

4. Dark Mode

In the past few years, the dark mode has become one of the most-utilized features in web/app design. It provides an alternative visual theme, and many of the major players like Instagram, Facebook, Apple, Android offer it. Will it be a leading UI/UX design trend in 2021? 

Well, the dark mode allows any user to customize the design of the platform they are using. It also has an ultra-modern look while being easy on the eyes. On top of that, it saves a lot of battery life on mobile devices. When we first designed our Casi and Apego Wallet, we opted for darker tones due to its many advantages.

If you’re an Apple fan, you surely remember the day that the company made the dark mode available on OSX Mojave. And if you happen to spend a lot of time on YouTube, you know that the dark mode was a long-awaited feature. Currently, it’s also available on Facebook Messenger, Gmail, Reddit, and many other apps. It’s an incredibly simple yet effective solution that has grown into a major trend, so website development companies should definitely think about adding it to their sites or other products.

5. Mobile-First Design 

With Google’s “mobile-first” algorithm update, we learned that the company prioritizes mobile searches. That’s not surprising since over 50% of all web searches are carried out on smartphones or tablets. Google’s Bot primarily uses the mobile version of your site for indexing. 

The company even stated that website traffic could suffer if the mobile version of your site has less content than the desktop version. In a nutshell, responsive design and mobile design are not optional anymore. A mobile-first approach will definitely be a requirement in 2021!

6. UX Writing 

It seems that formalized dialogue is on its way out, and most of the major companies have already changed their style of communication. You may not have noticed it, but websites and apps are full of microcopies and UX writing that matches regular or everyday dialogue. 

If you know your target audience, you can base your communication style around it. In fact, it’s advisable to use humor and many other means of informal communication to improve UX.

What’s more, microcopies are a rising trend. They offer many effective ways to tell the story of your brand, product, or services. The goal is to capture the “vibe” of your business and tell a compelling story through innovative copywriting and marketing. So, in 2021, be prepared to create a highly individualized brand identity and tell your unique story through original writing. 

7. Outside-the-Box Visual Tricks

Finally, design toolkits are constantly expanding, and new tech is allowing us to experiment with various innovative design techniques. There are simply too many to mention, but several of them have turned into major trends. Some UI/UX design trends that are big in 2020/2021 include the use of eyecatching bold fonts, full-screen visuals, and blended graphics/images. Those techniques can set the right tone and look for your platform. They can also allow you to express your brand’s seriousness/playfulness.

When it comes to unique visual elements, the leading trends right now are realistic textures, unique color combinations, hand-drawn visuals, soft shadows, asymmetrical layouts, and floating elements. 

How to Design My Website to Attract Visitors in 2021?

If you want to increase your traffic, definitely try to follow some of the UI/UX design trends we’ve mentioned. They can allow you to create intuitive web solutions that communicate your message clearly. Remember, just because your website is live, it doesn’t mean that it will attract visitors. So think about mobile-first design, quality UX writing, unique features like Dark Mode or VUI, etc. If you need expert help on designing your future web solution, you can read through our range of expertise in the web development segment.

What Is the Best UI/UX Design Trend in 2021?

There are a few other trends that we haven’t looked into so far. Some include minimalistic UI, over-the-top product photos, abstract data visualization, logging in without passwords, air gesture controls, custom navigation, etc. Right now, it’s hard to tell which trend will take over the UI/UX scene, but the ones we’ve mentioned are certainly the biggest contenders. A better approach to answering this question would be to focus on the trend that will suit your business/website/app and your target audience the most. 


Which trend did you like the most? Try to explore it even further, use it on your project, and hopefully, you’ll be on your way to reinventing the world of UI/UX! 


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We can build on your idea and provide solutions to take your business to the next level.
Please fill in this form to start the process.