Last year was chaotic, to say the least. As a result, 2021 will most likely see a return to design basics that evoke a sense of calm and positivity. This year, consumers are craving simplicity and consistency while companies will continue to be faced with the challenge of doing more with less. Expert predictions suggest that designers will rely on old, proven design principles. Here are some of the biggest graphic design trends for 2021:

Graphic Design Trends

1. Calm and Positive Colors

Muted color palettes that promote feelings of calm and safety will be popular this year. Because they can also feel natural and organic, many health and wellness have already been using these.

In early December the folks at Pantone announced two Colors of the Year for 2021. Together, Ultimate Gray (PANTONE 17-5104)  and Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647) “convey a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.” 

PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is described as a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power. PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray is described as emblematic of solid and dependable elements that are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. The colors of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Gray quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

Benjamin Moore also announced their (interior design) color trends for 2021. Curated by their color and design experts, the palette of 12 hues includes their Color of the Year (Aegean Teal 2136-40). You may see similar colors appear in branding and graphic design. 

2. Simple Data Visualizations

Consumers have been inundated with data and complex information. Simple data visualizations, like infographics, help make communicating a lot of information more clear and effective. Expect to see more of these in 2021. 

3. Social Media Slide Decks / Carousels

This is a time where a lot of information is being communicated so businesses are having to use their social platforms to their advantage. Slide decks have grown in popularity on Instagram and Linkedin as a way to share longer messages in a single image post. Additionally, the algorithms on these platforms seem to promote slide decks and multi-image carousels more than single images. Incorporating these types of designs into your content calendar can help expand your company’s reach and improve engagement. 

4. Text Heavy Videos / Motion Graphics

With health and safety protocols still in place, many people continue to work remotely in 2021 which can make video content difficult to produce. Expect to see a continued increase in the use of text heavy videos and motion graphics on social media, on websites and in advertisements. These take less time and use less production resources while still generating great results. 

5. Geometric Shapes

Geometric shapes and patterns with hard lines will help serve as a contrast to the muted color trend. Gone are the days of flowing and abstract shapes in designs…at least for now. 

6. Classic Serif Fonts

Serif fonts, with small lines at the ends of characters, date back to the 15th century. They’re one of the oldest fonts still in use which means they’re often portrayed by readers as classic, elegant and trustworthy. That’s why many in the financial services sector use serif fonts in their marketing collateral. They can also evoke feelings of nostalgia, something many consumers are craving since our worlds were turned upside down last year. 

Web Design Trends

7. Dark Mode

Dark mode was one of the hottest web design trends for 2020, and one you can expect to see stick around this year. Brands such as Instagram, Apple and Android offer alternative themes for their products and others have followed suit. The reasons for the trend’s popularity include that it: 

  • Looks ultra-modern
  • Allows highlighting and popping other design elements
  • Saves your user’s device battery (which also create a better user experience for your audience)
  • Reduces screen fatigue and eye strain in low-light conditions
  • Stays optimally legible even in dark environments

8. Real-Life Pictures

Last year, illustrations and 3D graphics grew increasingly popular due to the shift to remote work. While they’ll still continue to be popular, particularly on social media, real-life photos are expected to make a huge comeback when it comes to product design. It’s undeniable that real people and real items make a bigger impact on users so if there were ever a time to invest in professional product images, 2021 is it! 

9. Further Simplification of User Experience

There is an ongoing demand from users for one-step action. Designers are charged with the task of cutting down the elements and fields that need filling out to the minimum. The same applies to the number of steps a user has to take to reach the desired result. One of the latest UX trends, for example, is placing the whole checkout in a single step.

10. Dynamic Design Elements

Flat, minimalistic design was a big trend for many years. It may look pretty but is overrated. Expect to see an increase in dynamic design elements that not only look modern, but also offer improved accessibility, usability and user experience. These elements might include: gradients, 3-D imagery, floating elements, soft shadows, realistic textures and layers. 

Not sure how to incorporate these design trends for 2021 into your marketing? Don’t worry! Our team of creative graphic and web designers are ready to help. 

We will work with you to identify what visual design and message you should be using to convey the value of your company to potential customers. Then, we will create a unique brand identity and use it as a filter to ensure that your image is both cohesive and consistent across all print and digital media platforms. Contact us today to get started! 

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