2021 Design Trends
Table of contents:
What will not happen (probably)
Before we dive into the most promising visual trends, we have to analyze what won’t be “the thing” in the upcoming months.
2021 will not be the year of Neuomorphism
While neuomorphic designs have been quite popular in 2020. It will not become a trend next year. Why? Neuomorphism looks modern, but it does not work well when it comes to accessibility. Gray material, where the interactive objects are distinguished from the background only by the light and shadow bevels are not enough when it comes to good usability for people with disabilities. For me, the accessibility flaws are enough to make the following statement: Neumophorfic design will remain a small niche.
Flat design will not return as a major trend
I remember a discussion with designers I made 3 years ago. This was a time when I was trying to convince everyone that flat, minimalistic design may look pretty but is overrated. It didn’t give enough clues to user to make interaction with fresh digital products natural. Now, look at what happened in 2020. New macOS Big Sur is beautiful: minimalistic & modern, but not flat. It also introduces some skeuomorphic elements like App Icons. This makes me almost sure that pure flat design will not return soon.
Glassmorphism is not the trend!
I know that there are already some articles with the next “[…]morphism” style. But to be honest — it is nothing new. We have already seen lots of glass in Windows Vista and it was not so good idea then 😉. Now in the modern digital design era, you might have noticed the principles of Fluent Design. They were announced almost 3 years ago, but the concept that you may see in the Microsoft’s showreel still look very modern. As you may see, the Glass elevation from Glassmorphism in the context of Fluent Design is just one of the materials that designers may use to build UI of a digital solution. Glass is with us for many years, and I do not think that it is a new trend. We just started to use it more wisely.
What I expect to happen in 2021
Materials present in macOS or Fluent Design System makes UI feels more natural to the user. This is the new, better skeuomorphism. We use paper, glass & metal in the real world. Now they have some digital alternatives. They help to build depth and visual architecture, so it is much easier to browse a familiar environment. Where materials are not enough to ensure good visual architecture, there is a place for shadows. In 2020 the popularity of the modern shadows is rising, it will continue in the next year. I already made a tutorial how to make better shadows.
Colors & Gradients plays a huge role in the recognition of the UI elements. This will not change in the future. Neuomorphic style won’t become a major trend, so all users will still enjoy colorful apps.
Digital Materials, Shadows & Colors — their combinations will shape the trend in 2021. They ensure not only a modern look but also good affordance, accessibility, and usability.
Skeuomorphism come back?
Everybody loves the new macOS App Icons. I see it as a new trend. Many talented designers have prepared alternatives to many popular apps.
I think that we are all tired of the too simple or primitive symbols. Our minds wait for something more, the little pieces of art. App Icons are a perfect occasion to make it real!
I think that more and more designers will even try to introduce even more skeuomorphic elements. I have already seen experiments with some 3D toggles and switches…
Speaking of 3D, it will be an important part of the future…
More 3D elements instead of photos
In 2021 we will see even more 3D elements instead of traditional illustrations or stock photos.
They will shape brand personality. We may already see how even a personal brand may benefit from the 3D works. Just look at how Dann Petty’s brand is changing:
What’s more, getting started in the world of the simple 3D world has just become a bit easier. The new tool called Spline has been introduced, and I think that it will help to shape the 3D trend for 2021.
While nobody knows how exactly 2021 trends will look like, we may already predict that Digital Materials with Shadows & Modern Gradients will shape the modern visual styles. 3D will also be an important part.
Source article: medium