Website UX Trends for 2021/22

Users visit hundreds of websites every day, even more so while we’ve been staying safe at home. Whether it’s for work or pleasure, we spend a lot of time staring at our screens! With so much competition out there, and users focus being pulled in so many directions, it has become even harder to keep your audiences’ interest in your webpage.  

We have collated a list of the biggest website UX trends for 2021, which will hopefully inspire you to revamp your site and keep hold of your user's attention!

Anthropomorphic animations

As we said before, we spend a lot of time looking at our screens, so it was only a matter of time before our screens started looking back! No, we’re not talking about some Black Mirror-esque, sci-fi, horror story; we're talking about anthropomorphic animations! These animations mimic human movements located within your webpage, think blinking eyes, head tilts and hand movements.  

They are much more subtle than flashier cartoon animations that seem to be on the rise at the moment and can become quite distracting (not what you need when browsing a website). It's the subtlety in the anthropomorphic animations that make them so popular; you want your user to be engrossed in your webpage's content before they notice the blinking eyes staring back at them!  

This animation style can be used in a variety of different contexts, be it creepy or cool; the key bit is that it draws the user in, that the application is limitless, and they'll be popular for a while!  

Micro-interactions

There's nothing better than performing an action and getting an instant result, right?  

This is where micro-interactions come into a world of their own! Designers use them to gain instant tactile satisfaction from the user whilst browsing a webpage. By the simple act of clicking on a button, the page responds to the user. It could be something as simple as a segment of the web page changing colour, all the way up to the web page completely reshuffling itself!  

With web design, less has always been more, but as these micro-interactions are becoming popular, it doesn't feel intrusive as the web user is causing them to happen, all with a click of their mouse! The result is that the user’s connection with a page is maximised, causing them to stay on the page for longer and improving their overall experience!

Unique aspects coming from the user interface

For many years websites have focussed on having the “perfect” design, with everything being precise and well thought out. Well, that no longer seems to be the case! Unique design is becoming more and more popular as a design movement. It focuses on designers making something that looks incomplete, yet professional and appealing to the user!

Unorthodox layouts, colours and fonts will help your webpage to stand out amongst the symmetrical grid-built websites that everyone else seems to offer to the world. By having something unique, that no one else has thought of, your webpage will show more character and personality, helping it to attract web page users and convey your overall brand experience in the process!  

Unorthodox scroll is also another exciting design concept that looks like it will be popular in 2021. It means creating navigational tools that don't work as standard. It could range from triggering an animation sequence by scrolling, slideshows activated by mouse movement or even using a drag effect to explore into your webpage (think how you would use Presta)! Ok, this may not work for more conventional projects, but for those webpages that a bit more out there, it’s a fun way to add content that users can interact with, it increases the time-on-site, and it improves their perception of the brand and overall experience.

Minimalism

On the flip side of a lot of design trends mentioned in this list, we have minimalism! Minimalism has become very popular recently in the world of UX design. Everyday users are faced with over-the-top web pages trying to capture their attention, flashing advertisements for discount deals and endless notifications. Sometimes you want a slice of peace and quiet; that's what minimalist design offers. Web users have begun to realise that with web design, more doesn't necessarily equal better.  

With the physical minimalist movement becoming increasingly popular, especially in the United States, people have begun applying these values to all parts of their lives. Great web design doesn't always have to be about flashy gimmicks - sometimes, it's about highlighting the great content and letting it speak for itself.

Strip back those popup banners (there are already too many to access most websites now, with even more aggressive cookie popups having to be deployed). Then there is the media elements, no more auto-play videos and especially audio, while it makes for an immersive experience, does it improve your user experience? If the answer is no. Then stop!

Mobile-first approach

Would we shock you if we told you that nearly half of searches come from mobile devices? We doubt it, it’s nothing new, but still, it gets forgotten about. Many people use their mobile devices for a variety of things while out and about, such as googling pub quiz answers, booking a table for dinner, and shopping for food! When everyone has a computer in their back pocket, why are websites designed for the computer first and not for the phone? True, some sites are predominately visited by desktop users. It is less necessary for those types of sites and in those industries to opt for a mobile-first design, but still should be a heavy consideration.

It's also worth noting that most websites still aren't optimised for mobile. If they aren't, web users are more likely to click away from your web page to find one that will work for them on their mobile device website – I have done this myself plenty of times, and it’s incredibly frustrating! By designing your website for the mobile browser first, you’re guaranteed to be prepared and keep users on your page! With the next core algorithm change coming from Google around Core Web Vitals, this is something that you should not be ignoring.

Hyper Personalisation

We’ve all seen it, websites that are personalised to us once we have logged in, based on web history, or setting your location, so you get somewhat localised content.  

Let’s take that further though. Your browser already knows where you are in the world; you could have real, local content delivered into your website and improve your users' overall experience, so they have the right information at hand.  

We mentioned cookie popups above, but are you maximising your return visitor's experience based on their past activity or just tracking them to advertise to them when they are somewhere else. Use your users’ past interactions to build on their experience the next time they visit to make the journey more personalised.

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