In an industry that is awash with stock-standard imagery, being ahead of design trends and finding ways to break from the mould will not only ensure your content gets seen but also support the impact of its message. The Dubs senior digital designer, Tom Bradshaw shares the design trends he plans to put to use in 2021.
Top 5 design trends for 2021
A trend we saw coming through in 2020 was Neumorphism – which is best described as minimalist realism. It merges recent trends such as minimal flat design (eg: Google’s Material Design) and combines it with the kind of tactile, realism design we saw in the early 2010s, known as Skeumorphism. Neumorphism allows designers to use a tactile approach to enhance the user experience, while also benefitting from being able to convey ideas quickly through minimalist design.
Abstract editorial design
A trend I enjoyed using myself in 2020 and I expect to continue to evolve in 2021 is editorial design. Most commonly used in blog article imagery and YouTube explainer videos, it’s a great way to ditch bland stock photography and replace it with editorial style collages that not only look great, they also better convey the idea. It allows you to mix different images from various sources to illustrate an idea that would be hard to do through one photograph. Adding abstract shapes and vibrant colours to this collage approach will make your website, blog or video really come alive.
“ Abstract editorial design is a great way to ditch bland stock photography and replace it with editorial style collages that not only look great, they also better convey the idea.”
As we’re spending more and more time on computers, designers are increasingly thinking about eyestrain and how they can use more muted, pastel colours in their design. This was tackled last year in the dark mode trend, where users would be given an option to swap between a white interface or a black one. This year I expect we’ll see designers trying to find a balance by using colours that are easy on the eye and less harsh than pure black and white. Pantone’s colours for 2021 reflect this trend, going for the soft yellow of ‘Illuminating’ and the neutral ‘Ultimate Gray’.
3D is a medium that’s increasingly coming into its own. With further advances in technology, designers are able to achieve the kind of results they could previously only imagine. As a result, 3D design is becoming more imaginative, bold and colourful – while illustrating its subject better than ever. 3D design is practical for a variety of uses, in particular when illustrating products. Adobe Dimensions is a great app for those who aren’t 3D design experts, allowing you to select from a range of 3D product templates and simply skin them with your own design – rendering a professional final image.
Design that reflects social issues
2020 was a year where issues such as inclusion and human rights continued to come to the forefront of discussion, most notably through the Black Lives Matter protests. In response, we’ve seen designers using their skills to get behind causes they believe in – creating everything from websites to protest graphics. A trend that has continued in my work, but has taken on more emphasis this year is that of inclusion. Companies are more pragmatic in wanting to reflect the diversity of their audience and this is reflected in the imagery and language we use in campaigns to reflect race, gender, sexuality and ability.
At The Dubs we place a huge emphasis on strong, creative and arresting design that elevates content and ensures it stands out. Get in touch.