Now 2020 has come to an end, out with the old and in with the new has never been more relevant. Last year, people and businesses had to adapt quicker than ever before. And as always in periods of dramatic change, technology and designs trends have to reflect the needs of the customer.

Last year saw new innovate ways to approach UX and UI web designs. Such as immersive 3D elements, soft shadows and floating elements. However, there are certain designs that are here to stay. As the new year kicks off, we want to explore the design trends brands should look out for in 2021.

1) User interface (UI) is taken over by minimalism

A screenshot of an iPhone with an app interface.

UI design has taken the past few years by storm. Although it is here to stay, marketers are looking to make it more sleek and sharp. More website users are looking to see simple and easy to use interfaces. Due to having little patience for lots of pop-up windows and irrelevant notifications. Minimalistic UI design will also allow web users to process and understand relevant information without having distractions.

Marketers usually assess websites by using eye-tracking tests. This is an effective way to make relevant changes to a website and optimise it. The eye-tracking test shows which parts of the website users look at and interact with the most.

Once you have this data, you can then remove any excess information and any text that isn’t directly relevant to the content shown. Also, make sure no unnecessary pop-ups and notifications are included in the design. Which would limit easy and straightforward navigation of the website.

Ensure the user journey is purposeful by opting for simple and time-saving design features. So they can easily search for items of interest.

2) Product design focuses on storytelling

Two cans of CocaCola with a glass.

We have all seen brands delivering personalised content to consumers. For example, Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign launched in 2014, which replaced its iconic brand name with one of the 250 most popular American names on the labels of 20-ounce bottles.

This is also true for user experience (UX) designers and products since more than ever, consumers are looking to buy from brands they can relate to, that feel approachable, trustworthy and authentic. To achieve a genuine personal connection, designers and marketers should use storytelling to drive sales.

Creating stories for campaigns allows your brand to connect with customers on a more personal and emotional level. It draws in the consumer and leaves a lasting, captivating impression. When thinking about your designs, consider the following points:

  • Personalisation- Utilising the digital tools currently available will allow you to create personalised campaigns. Take some time to really understand your target audience and deliver personalised content that they can connect with
  • Value- Customer engagement and customer retention will increase if you focus on the value that your product/service delivers to the consumer.
  • Videography- Storytelling through videography is extremely effective. Whether this is an advert or a short film it is a great way to connect with your audience and get them talking. It is arguably one of the most engaging content formats in the digital world.

3) Mobile-first design is the future

An iPhone on a wooden desk that is rebooting with the "hello" text appearing over a white background.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If you said check your phone, then you’re most likely checking social media, replying to texts or browsing the Internet. In fact, on average millennial’s check their phone 150 times per day!

Nearly 95% of Internet searches on mobile are performed via Google. So, if you haven’t already prioritised a mobile-first approach to your business, it’s time to get the ball rolling as this the new way forward.

Over the years, a mobile-first approach has seen incredible growth for many reasons. In July 2019, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing. According to Google, mobile-first indexing means “Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.” Historically, the index used the desktop version to evaluate the relevance of a webpage to a visitor. Since the majority of users now access Google Search via a mobile device, Googlebot now primarily crawls and indexes pages via the smartphone agent.

4) Dark Mode is here to stay

A dark room with a neon instagram like sign displaying zero likes.

Dark mode has been a popular trend in 2020 and it’s not going anywhere in 2021. Many mobile users have made the switch to dark mode, sharing screenshots of their phones with black backgrounds. Many more websites have begun to offer this popular feature, as well as big social media apps, such as Instagram and Twitter who have also allowed users to switch to dark mode.

There are some benefits of dark mode:

  • Dark mode is modern, sleek, sophisticated and allows designers to be creative and explore new options that would not have worked in the regular light mode.
  • Designers can test their creativity with different elements using a dark background as opposed to the original white background.
  • It can also save battery power depending on the screen being used.
  • Some users prefer it because it is less harsh to the eyes at night, and it may be better for people with visual impairments.

5) Hand-drawn adds character

A baby's hand holding the finger of a parent.

With technology constantly evolving, it is always good to go back to simple yet effective designs that add character and a more personal touch. As designers, it’s great to consider ways to bring a little warmth into someone’s day.

In today’s society, everything is digital, with texting, emails and social media. It is very rare to get a handwritten note from someone, so when we do it feels extra special and personal.

Therefore, adding handwritten elements into designs will add character, originality and personality. It will allow your customers to feel a sense of warmth, which is sometimes lost in digital design trends.

What you can expect to see from Castle in 2021?

In the same way, design trends are evolving and changing, so is Castle. 2020 has been a challenging year for many, but here at Castle, we are always looking to push the boundaries. Our team of designers work hard to bring new innovative ideas to each client and test and learn with new technologies to optimise each business.

We are a marketing, web development and design agency that has become one of the fastest-growing agencies in the UK. We are experts in all aspects of marketing and have helped build success for businesses from a variety of industries.

To find out more about how Castle can help you push boundaries, tap into the latest design trends and excel your marketing strategy, visit our graphic design page or contact us on 0330 107 5344 or