A Great Design Is Only Half The Battle Won: Design Trends 2021by@sadiamehmood
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A Great Design Is Only Half The Battle Won: Design Trends 2021

by Sadia MehmoodJanuary 22nd, 2021
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The graphic design industry is expected to grow by 3% from 2018 to 2028. 2021 is all about embracing new ideas. It’s a year of pop art, seamless surrealism, and cool illustrations. Muted colors are all about muted colors that make the design look more natural. Emojis, emojis are becoming a popular design element to get the message across. Companies that encourage creativity achieve 1.5 times greater market share. 2021 is the year of the best art and surrealism.
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Each year brings new challenges and… design trends! 

With so many design options available, designing visually engaging content is crucial for making your audience sigh with awe. I am not even sure if ‘sigh(ing) with awe’ is even a thing but.. you get it right? 

So as I was saying… design trends of 2020 were definitely driven by innovation but those past innovations will be even more promising in 2021. 

The graphic design industry is expected to grow by 3% from 2018 to 2028.

A good design is significant for today’s modern and competitive business landscape. Nowadays, companies are all about innovating and turning imaginative ideas into reality.

Almost 40% of digital marketers prefer visual graphics over plain text because they are ranked as the best-performing element used in marketing activities.

No matter the industry, powerful marketing materials are important if you want to ‘stand out from the crowd’ and engage your ideal audience. Either its’ a simple social media post or your company’s website, exceptional design helps you build your brand and connect with your customers. 

Staying on top of the latest trends can help you transform your business and 2021 is all about embracing new ideas. It’s a year of pop art, seamless surrealism, and cool illustrations. 

So let's see what 2021 has in store for us in terms of design.

3D: Look Alive! 

It isn’t new but definitely the coolest. 3D design trends certainly have a lot of capabilities. Due to the AR and virtual reality technologies, 3D designs are bringing endless possibilities for both mobile and website design every year. We can see brands implementing 3D in their graphic design projects as well.

Designers believe that 3D is one of the most creative design trends that seem to be causing ripples in the world of design, and I can’t agree more. 

Besides, companies that encourage creativity achieve 1.5 times greater market share.

Talking about 3D website designs, Google cloud next is one of my favorites because it offers such as interactive 3D design for a healthcare industry.

As amazing as it sounds, 3D designs have surely established themselves as consistent design trends over the course of previous years, say since 2019. It provides a more immersive experience when combined with flat illustrations, add a little movement to it… and voila you have got yourself a 3D dancing monkey! As 3D design adepts to realism, it can surely open the door for infinite possibilities in all aspects of graphic design. 

Muted Color Palettes

Gone are the days of bold and bright colors. It’s all about muted colors now. They are desaturated light colors that make the design look more natural. Using light colors in web and interface design gives a rather relaxing feeling.

The sharpness that comes from bright and dark colors are heavy on the eyes and can be overbearing. Therefore designers, moving forward, have embraced the use of muted colors to avoid unpleasantness. If you click on the link given below, you will know what I am talking about.
38% of visitors will stop browsing a website if the layout is unattractive.

The reason why, websites using light colors are much more engaging. It enhances the entire visual experience and the calming effect encourages visitors to stay on the website for longer, which minimizes the bounce rate, improving website performance all in all. 

Emojis, Emojis Everywhere

Adding a little fun to design always helps get user's attention, hence we can expect a more creative use of emojis dominating the design in 2021. Designers are finding newer ways to incorporate emojis as a design element to get the message across.

Almost everyone in the world is familiar with emoticons, therefore people can associate with them much quicker than random images. 

92% of the online population uses emojis daily.

Icons for HuaJiao/ Dribble

They are fun visuals that give a playful vibe to the seriousness of the content and make it sound simple and friendly. Besides, emojis evoke emotions. Add a wink to the end of the sentence and you got yourself a ten!

Emojis fuel light feelings and encourage users to interact with your brand.

Land Really is the Best Art

Designs inspired by nature are gaining popularity among the community of designers. Brands are using elements of nature such as wood textures, leafy patterns including soft earthy colors, and gradients in their designs. In short, nature is making its way into designs this year 2021.

Dilara İsis Yavuz/ Dribble

One of the many reasons for inclination towards nature is due to self-isolation during the global Pandemic. Everyone wants to spend time with nature and looking at nature-inspired designs brings a calming and soothing effect. The main idea behind such designs is that ‘If you can not go out to the beach, let the beach come to you.’

Icon-ic Illustrations

Illustrations only evolve but can never go out of style if you ask me. They make the entire design stand out and give websites a rather subtle, clean, and minimalistic look. Illustrations themselves have a lot more variations such as custom cartoon creations. Just like emojis, they add playfulness to the entire design.

Also, hand drawn and black & white illustrations over muted colors call for engaging imagery.  Either you want to tell a story, or visualize a data, illustrations make complex information easier.

Speaking of icons, graphic design trends are cyclic. For example, we have seen flat icons gaining attention some five years ago, it was outplayed by the glyph and outlined icons. But they are back to being classy and trendy again. Doesn’t mean glyph, outlined, or colored icons are out of style, no. We can see many designers using the combination of one or two styles for maximum effect. 

Icons are considered powerful tools for visual representation. They are self-explanatory. Just by glimpsing at icons, users can tell the context of the content. 

Invozone - A software outsourcing company is one of the great examples of using hand drawn illustrations in their blog section and a combination of icons in their website design.

Geometric Shapes 

Mhm, we saw them coming! Using variations of geometrical shapes to construct a design is set to peak in 2021. Simple shapes when placed together randomly can form amazing designs. Geometric shapes are reshaping design trends. We don’t need noise to stand out; delicate geometric shapes can do the trick, they are as functional as the loud ones.

48% of users believe website design is the #1 factor when judging a business’s credibility.

Geometric design not only looks clean but beautiful and professional. They can compliment business cards, webpages, and social media posts, just the same. 

I absolutely love Invision's Design blog. Perfect example of using geometric design.

Micro Animations

They are small animations but significant. These tiny interactions guide and keep the users engaged. Adding micro animations to hero headers is more practical since it has a navigation bar.

Micro animations have been exceedingly used in web design in recent years. The possibilities of using micro interactive animations are endless. It enhances the entire user experience.

Animations either big or small leaves a striking impression when visitors first land on the website due to their eye-catching properties. They can entice users and draw their attention to exactly where you want them to. Such as upon hovering, icons alter their color or appearance. 

 Stripe and Invision both have some amazing micro-interactions on their websites.


Yes, I am talking about typography here. Classic serif fonts are quite old but they are still going strong. Serif fonts are classy, elegant, and super professional. But not all serif typefaces can go with your brand, therefore you must choose the one that sits well with your design. Serif and San Serif fonts are favored among brands mostly because of their readability value.

Use serif fonts and see people start taking your brand seriously. Concerning design, then your choice of font indicates your company’s personality which is why it is important to choose the right typeface. My personal favorite is Georgia.

Look at Mailchimp's typography.

The Bottom Line

Predictions may not always be accurate but they are still useful. The design trends don't stop here. 2021 will be the year of exciting innovations. The graphic design community is growing at an unprecedented rate, where everyone wants to be at the top of their game. According to web design statistics, 94% of first impressions are design-related. So to take the front seat, keeping in touch with changing trends is a step in the right direction.

This article was orginally published on Linked-In.