Digital marketing & design trends that will dominate in 2021

Web design is changing every single day, what’s new tomorrow, could very well be outdated by the time the year is over. Just like everything in the world, things change, and in order for us to keep up to date with everything, we need to beat it to the punch. 

For example, the world of typography has expanded exponentially in the last few years alone – years ago, you were limited to only a few fonts, and if you wanted to use anything other than Arial, Helvetica, and Times New Roman, you’d needed to create the text as an image – which really wasn’t good for usability.

Arial Helvetica Times New Roman Fonts

Today, we’re here to let you know exactly what trends lie ahead, so keep on reading to find out how to jump on board and get your website not only looking good, but keeping people interested in what you have to say!

Marketing for charitable causes

The internet has become a refuge for a lot of people today. Not only have virtual conferences become the new norm for social gatherings and team meetings, but giving back to local communities and charities has also become the new norm, with businesses donating more now than ever before. 

In 2021, activism will become even more integrated into our daily lives through professionalised branding, more compelling websites and more sophisticated virtual and physical event identities.

Far from the commercialisation of activism, these design-supported movements will help to move causes into the mainstream, allowing them to connect with larger audiences.

Most supermarket retail chains have increased their charity contributions by donating more food and money. Tesco is donating £15 million in extra food plus £1 million in cash to food organisations: Trussell Trust and FareShare. Asda has also donated £5 million to the Trussell Trust and FareShare, and Co-op is also giving £1.5 million in extra food to FareShare as well as £2.5 million in airtime.

Co-op’s Easter ad campaign, that was meant to advertise its chocolate eggs, has been replaced by an ad encouraging customers to support food banks at this difficult time.

The best “back to the new normal” digital ad campaigns by brands in 2020

Here are some of the most memorable “back to the new normal” digital ad campaigns by brands for the post-COVID-19 era:

  • Burger King | Restaurant of Tomorrow
  • McDonald’s | Contactless Order & Pay
  • Apple | Working-From-Home Thing
  • Coca Cola | Open Like Never Before
  • Hyundai | Safety with everyone in mind
  • Budweiser | Reunited With Buds
  • Starbucks | Welcome Back
  • Durex | Let’s Not Go Back To Normal
  • Amazon Prime | 2-Hour Grocery Delivery

A nation in isolation is coming together

10 million people across the UK are volunteering in their local communities during the COVID-19 crisis – 78% of people have said that they will keep doing so even after the lockdown. 64% of people say community ties have strengthened during the crisis, which is where web design for charitable causes comes in.

“In 2021, we’ll see more designs and imagery resonating with a movement, or social & environmental issues. I’ve seen more and more brands rallying around issues and connecting with their users on a deeper level.”  – Tristan Le Breton, Creative Director at 99designs

According to the research from insurer Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, one in five UK adults (19%) have volunteered for community activities since the start of the lockdown (March 2020). With each person giving an average of three hours of their time – the work this ‘volunteer army’ is doing has estimated to have an equal economic value of more than £350m a week!

“We have become a nation of volunteers during the COVID crisis. And – judging by the millions who plan to continue after the lockdown – it is a change that is here to stay. Coronavirus has changed our behaviour and our priorities. More of us are giving up our time and savings to support local communities and businesses. People are paying for services they knew they would never be able to use due to the lockdown – but which made a difference to people’s lives and finances. These generous, vital gestures make a positive difference to the lives of others in the isolation economy.” – Nigel Wilson

Scrolling to replicate how you read a book

In 2021, we are expecting a huge change in the way users scroll through a website. Previously regarded as a web design faux-pas, horizontal scroll is having a comeback. Say goodbye to scrolling up and down, and hello to scrolling left and right. 

When a user is scrolling through your website, it is a form of interacting. Interaction is a form of participation, and when users are involved in things that are happening, they are more likely to be interested and engaged more, resulting in them staying on your website and exploring what you have to offer further.

Horizontal scrolling almost replicates the way we read books, flipping pages, which could be a very clever way of psychologically making us feel as though we’re interacting more intimately with the website, rather than simply scrolling up and down, it becomes a much more interactive experience.

Things to consider:

  • Don’t force it: Give your users different ways to navigate, like arrows or buttons with clear labels
  • Be thoughtful about what content would benefit from being displayed in a horizontal scroll. For example, a photo gallery would show users a small preview and allow them the option to view more if they were interested
  • Avoid using horizontal scroll for text, as that would only cause a huge headache

Art meets illustration

Web design has evolved a very long way from websites full of plain text with a few images or graphics to jazz up the page. Designers are now creating work that connects with people on a more personal level. Realism and illustrations must be intertwined so that the effect has an intentional feel to it.

People love pictures. One thing we can all agree on: being a child and always feeling disappointed when the book we were reading had no pictures. Pictures bring personality to the page, and that’s exactly what illustrations do for digital projects that lack the warmth that can be found in the real world. They enrich user experience without ruining the content.

Cartoon illustrations have gained popularity as a way of transforming websites with a healthy dash of humanity. There are so many sources out there and artists crafting fantastic cartoon illustrations. Mixing both photography and art together definitely creates a beautiful combination of real life and digital – when done well can create a stunning aesthetic that is highly engaging and delightful.

Candy Shop Illustration Pack
Illustration example

Voice user interface/Audio

By offering audio as part of your web design, it aids those with visual impairments, and also benefits those who simply prefer listening over reading text on a website. Afterall, there’s a reason podcasts do so well…

Voice chatbots and virtual assistants definitely became one of the biggest technology trends in 2020, since they change the way we search for information, take notes etc. Huge brands like Apple, Android, and Google have implemented the trend in their UI/UX design process. 

You can take a step further with this human-centered design tendency. Implement a voice user interface design trend to become a leader in your niche and stand out from competitors. It is a new technology that is expected to become hot in 2020.

We’re hoping to see more audio options on websites in the future, giving people a choice in how they want to experience content.

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