2021. (Doesn’t it feel good to add that “1?!”) 

While the world adjusts to a new year, so too are designers embracing a new year of design. After a year of so many unknowns, we’re beginning to see trends that take us back to a comfortable past while emphasizing future-focused user experience. 

From working online to buying online to socializing online, people are interacting with the internet more than ever before, and designers are embracing bold designs to push the boundaries of what we can experience together.

While this is by no means exhaustive, here are 11 of the top web design trends we’re seeing for 2021:

  1. Page layouts with a horizontal scroll
  2. Custom cursors
  3. 3d objects
  4. Excellent eCommerce experiences
  5. Visible grid lines with thick line weights
  6. User preference options on sites (not just apps) 
  7. A shift from building websites to building solutions
  8. Playful illustrations
  9. Typography as design, not just words
  10. Geometric shapes as background elements
  11. WordPress as a CMS

1. Page layouts with a horizontal scroll

Long scrolling websites and parallax designs have been popular for several years now. As we head into 2021, we’re starting to see an orientation shift of designers using horizontal movement to “decrease” the length of the page. 

While the physical experience isn’t different for the user (you usually still scroll the mouse up and down), the visual experience provides something unexpected and interesting. It creates a journey across the website in which the user doesn’t quite know where it’s going to take them, which is rare now that we’ve developed such normal patterns for websites. 

2021 web design trends 1
2021 web design trends 61

This website for Jony Guedj, a freelance film director, uses a horizontal scroll for the primary section of her site to display her work. The colorful bar at the bottom moves along with your mouse, as a helpful way to orient “where” you are on the page.

1625577331 350 2021 web design trends
2021 web design trends 62

LinkSture, an agency focused on design and eCommerce solutions, uses a horizontal scroll to display their portfolio on their homepage as well. It’s further down the page, however, using a combination of both vertical and horizontal motions while you scroll.

1625577331 274 2021 web design trends
2021 web design trends 63

We Virtually Are, a virtual reality studio, uses horizontal movement to actually make you feel like you’re staying in the same place on their site, while all the content changes. It’s completely different than what you expect from most websites, a fitting experience for a VR company that specializes in creating new realities.

2. Custom cursors

I especially love this trend because it feels both familiar and new. A nod to custom cursors of the mid-2000s (admit it, you used one on your Myspace profile!), custom cursors are making an elegant comeback. 

From minimal geometric shapes to fully interactive web page experiences, customizing the mouse cursor is becoming a small way to add some repetition to your branding. Many agencies are using it to repeat shapes or colors from their logos, or as a way to engage users with the site.