11 WordPress Web Design Trends to Pay Attention to

Every year, web design trends subtly shift and 2021 is no exception. While there aren’t often radical changes on a year-to-year basis, 2020 ushered in plenty of new design trends to experiment with. Now it’s time to take a look at how they’ll evolve this time around.

WordPress sites have followed close behind the popular trends, with a few unique ones to reflect its users’ interests. For example, you’ll be surprised to learn how the theme building community is changing.

Look out for these popular trends, as they’re already in full effect or soon to come to many WordPress sites.

Simplicity Wins

As far as web design trends go, one thing almost always stays the same: more minimal websites are the consistent winners each year. Simple palettes, lots of whitespace, and one-page sites are quite popular. That’s because they’re both easy to make and because users are more likely to spend time on them.

twenty twenty one theme general design

They also load much faster, which online, is a big deal. Users won’t wait longer than two or three seconds before clicking off your site. And minimal themes naturally lend themselves to quicker loading speeds. Plus, a minimal design puts the focus on your content, which is why it’s the favored choice for simple websites.

You can find this trend in many of the top-selling WordPress themes on Themeforest, for instance Impreza, Salient, and Enfold. The popularity of minimalism is also reflected in high-traffic websites like Instagram and even WordPress itself. Its official yearly themes, Twenty Twenty and Twenty Twenty One, have all embraced minimalism.

Experiment With Designs

While the safe option will likely always be the most popular, experimentation also has its rewards. People get tired of seeing essentially the same website over and over again. And with minimalism frequently dominating the trends, something new is just what people need. Mixing it up with asymmetrical, broken grid, and split screen designs can be a good way to capture interest.

tetriz theme example for experimental layout web design trend

Also, simplicity and more experimental design aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. It’s still possible to create a site that’s minimalistic and appealing while using these more visually interesting layouts.

If you ever want to try out something new, feel free to give it a go. Even the most experimental designs like brutalism and abstract web design can thrive despite their unconventional nature. Risk-taking can be dangerous, but it can also draw more interested eyes.

brutalism web design example
Image source: Nelson Heinemann

Multi-Purpose Themes Over Niche

The issue with niche premium themes is that they cost just as much more gneral themes. At the same time, they can only be used to create a single type of website. So if you purchase a highly specialized theme, there’s no using it for something else if you decide to switch up your design later. You’ll just have to buy an entirely new theme.

WordPress users have caught on, and multi-purpose themes have exploded in popularity the past year. These themes cost about as much as any other premium theme. But they come with a variety of features and templates that make them suitable for almost any type of website.

If you take a look at ThemeForest’s top themes of 2021, you’ll see this WordPress web design trend in action with a vast majority of themes labeled as multi-purpose.

multi purpose themes in envato market

So if you’re a theme designer yourself, you may want to think about designing for a wider audience rather than creating extremely niche themes. It could result in more purchases and better ratings. It can be difficult to create a theme that’s general enough to work in any situation while still making it unique enough to attract attention. Yet, the challenge may just be worth it.

Template Kits

Last year, Elementor released template kits, a brand new spin on the traditional way of building themes. Essentially, you build a website with modular blocks of elements and even entire pre-made pages, all without using any code. The result of this mix and matching is a fully unique website that looks like the work of a professional.

elementor template kits example

Premium template kits are now popping up all over sites like ThemeForest and Envato Elements. If you’re a theme designer, you can join in and sell your template kits on Envato. It’s definitely something worth considering, as these kits are very popular and it could be a good way to earn a lot of money.

Page Builders Ever More Popular

Though many WordPress users didn’t like it at first, Gutenberg has improved since its rocky initial release. To the point that it’s now present on a majority of WordPress sites.

gutenberg plugin install growth graph
Active install growth of the Gutenberg plugin.

While it’s no replacement for a good site builder, the editor has brought the ease of drag and drop page building to WordPress users’ consciousness. As a consequence, it has directed a lot of traffic to plugins like Divi, Elementor, and Avada (the latter of which is by far the most popular item on ThemeForest this year).

These plugins have had to strive to innovate and improve themselves to prove they’re a viable alternative to Gutenberg. The aforementioned release of template kits is one such attempt.

Theme designers may want to consider partnering with these plugins to create compatible themes if possible as they’re only getting more popular.

Look Out for AR

AR, Augmented Reality, is a stunning new way to bring your website and especially your eCommerce store to life. Many top brands have plunged their products from the screen into nearly the real world with this revolutionary technology.

Apps such as Ikea Place allow you to try furniture in your own home before you buy. Other examples of AR might let you try on makeup or clothes. Here’s one you can try on your browser or phone: ModiFace. This brand has partnered with companies like Sephora to let you try on makeup in your own home.

Granted, this is not the easiest of 2021 web design trends to put into practice. Setting up AR for your products will take a lot of work and a big investment. It’s not something just anyone can do. But if you can afford it, jumping on this bandwagon could peak customer interest and result in more purchases.

There aren’t very many AR WordPress plugins available at this time, but one does exist for WooCommerce users: CartMagician Augmented Reality.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps are growing in popularity, as they fill a niche current technology previously couldn’t. In essence, PWAs are like a combination of native mobile apps or desktop applications, and web apps which run in the browser.

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