The top graphic design trends 2021 look like a mix of traditional design elements and modern technology. No matter what type of business you run, expect them to have some sort of impact on your website, social media pages and anywhere your company uses design.
The annual growth rate for the design industry is 3.5 percent. The industry itself is in a growth pattern, so it isn’t surprising that the graphic design trends 2021 are as varied and unique as the individuals who create them. Keep in mind, however, that these trends are simply a barometer of where the rest of the design world is. You must bring your own personality and design style to any project.
For several years, designs were flat and lacked the depth of three-dimensional graphics. However, with the rise in popularity of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products, graphic design tends for 2021 point to 3D. The designs pop off the page and are much more interactive with VR glasses or devices such as smartphones, combined with an app, that turns a website into a game.
Your small business can get on the VR bandwagon by adding an app that takes your store signs to the next level or takes users on a tour of their own homes, adding in your products and how they’d look in different settings.
2. Open Composition
One trend we’ve noticed in 2021 is the open composition look. Instead of framed edges and a grid layout, websites are more fluid than they’ve ever been before. Imagine an image where the side of it turns into smoke and fades into the background. Business owners may not yet be ready to make their site open composition, but awareness of it allows you to add a few elements of this design trend.
3. Geometric Patterns
Geometric patterns have been around for a while, and they aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. One of the graphic design trends 2021 involves adding in geometric patterns in unexpected places, such as a website background or as part of a logo. Does the geometric look work for your business? It creates a modern edge, but if your company is more traditional, one of the other graphic design trends 2021 might work better for your brand.
4. Serif Fonts
In recent years, there’s been a move toward sans-serif fonts for a plain look. However, without the serifs and details, a font becomes boring. In 2021, expect to see personality hit the forefront and more serif-based fonts hit the design industry. Keep in mind that you want whatever style you use to be readable from different-sized devices.
5. Eco-Friendly Packages
People are more concerned about the environment than ever before. About 74 percent of Americans feel the government should do more to protect our planet. Although some regulations are already in place, business owners can work toward a more eco-friendly environment without government intervention. If you sell a product that comes in some type of packaging, use recycled or renewable materials.
6. Parallax Scrolling
You’ve likely noticed the trend toward parallax scrolling in graphic design trends 2021. One part of the screen stays static while the rest moves. Placing various elements on different time-lapse panels creates a modern, edgy look that works well for most business models. Implementing parallax scrolling does require a bit of coding savvy, but is well worth the extra effort involved to keep users engaged and on your website.
7. Bold Colors
The use of bold colors never goes out of style and gives your designs a unique edge. Whether you use multiple bright hues or one shade to grab interest, bold colors look modern and fresh to the average user. Businesses should choose one that taps into the emotions of their customers.
8. Asymmetrical Design
One of the graphic design trends 2021 is a shift to asymmetrical designs, where everything on the page doesn’t line up perfectly. By going off the grid, you can push the user through a funnel. Think about the natural patterns and the way people look at a page. Most readers start in the upper right corner, skip diagonally down and so on, in a Z pattern. Think about the elements you most want users engaging with and place them accordingly.
Gradients have been around for a while, but they’ve grown more complex as one of the digital design trends for 2021. For example, it might contain more than two colors and go vertical rather than horizontal. Play around with different designs and see which gradient works best with your brand.
10. Other Humans
People connect best with other human beings. One of the current trends is adding people to all types of designs. For example, a company might add an image of a person using their product. Readers relate to that individual and want to try the item as well. When you add humans to your designs, make sure the images are relevant to your business.
11. Cutout Typography
Graphic design trends 2021 include experimentation with typography. The type on a page is the designer’s chance to make one brand stand out from another. Adding typographical elements that are a bit unexpected grabs user interest. You can use a cutout that either shows the background through the letters or paste type with unique features on a layer over the rest of your design. Cutout typography generates excitement among customers.
12. Wave Effect
With a wave effect, the image looks like it’s broken or damaged. However, when created intentionally, it serves a purpose. Business owners can use the wave effect to draw the user’s eye to something specific on a page, such as a new product unveiling. Utilize this element sparsely, as it is a powerful design technique.
13. Hand-Drawn Illustrations
Hand-drawn images have become more popular as the online world moves toward personalization. Users today are savvier than ever before. To reach them, you have to offer something unique. Depending upon the personality of your brand, a hand-sketched image might be just the ticket. Think about what makes your business unique and how you can summarize that in an illustration. Apply the picture to your home page or your logo for a unique, fun look.
14. Futuristic Elements
As we move into the future, with an eye toward technology, more futuristic-looking elements make their way into design. Using silver or metallic colors may put you in mind of the 1980s, or it might make you think of the future. Hard edges, bold colors, splashes of metallic and even an unconventional layout all work together to create a future-looking website. If your business is technology or on the cutting edge of societal changes, a futuristic look is perfect for you.
15. Light and Dark
Have you noticed that many companies have added both light and dark color schemes to their offerings? For example, Apple now offers a dark mode for its Macs. Allowing users to define their experience personalizes their interactions with your brand. Even e-commerce stores can utilize the light and dark model for those who download their apps. Let the user choose which color palette works best for their device.
16. Branded Images
Graphic design trends 2021 urge designers to stay away from stock photos and go with branded images instead. Stock pictures lack the authenticity of personalized ones. Showing a generic photo of a pretty girl isn’t nearly as effective as showing the image of your founder. Highlight your products and employees over generic ones, and you’ll gain user trust and position yourself as a strong brand.
Although familiarity with the current graphic design trends gives you an edge, don’t be so tied into them that you overlook techniques that work well for your business. It’s OK to pull an old idea out of your toolbox if it makes sense for the overall aesthetic. With a little attention to detail and a lot of hard work, your designs will stand the test of time and grab user interest.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.