The web industry is constantly changing. Here are the trends to watch out for in 2021.
Predicting web design trends is always tricky. Get it right and you are praised for being ahead of the curve; get it wrong and you are met with a flood of I-told-you-sos. That said, with 2021 now in full force, I’m going to provide some insight into the trends that will define web design throughout this year and beyond.
We’ve seen some vast changes in the past decade: the HTML5 revolution, mobile-first app development and now native features in web apps, plus more new web design tools than you could imagine. With the increasing use of machine learning, cross-platform frameworks and a more diverse developer base building everything, there’s going to be some exciting changes in our industry. These are my continuing predictions for the biggest web design trends in 2021.
1. AI gets personal
Artificial intelligence is too hot to not bring up. While it might not be as flashy as a self-driving car, the web can certainly connect to AI. Machine learning is going to take analytics to the next level. In the past, analytics offered more of a reactive approach: log the data and then use it for your next release. 2021 and onwards should continue to be about capturing data about how your app is used and improving the user experience by driving the website to change and adapt to this by itself.
This means that, depending on the data available on a user, the application will be able to act like a chameleon and change itself to provide the ideal UX for them. This will create truly personalized sites that behave differently and show different features depending on the individual using it.
2. Voice interfaces take over
With the explosion of voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri, conversational interfaces are bound to become a natural part of an application’s fabric. As more users become accustomed to interacting with the web using their voice, developers will need to ensure they can offer a seamless experience, even in web applications. Imagine having users sit on their couch and view their social media feed or tell their favourite voice assistant to pull up and read a news article for them – all without traditional inputs.
3. Accessibility becomes a requirement
Accessibility is no longer a luxury; it should be an absolute requirement. We’re seeing this pop up more and more, and this trend will just continue next year. Some have pushed hard with Progress Kendo UI to follow common accessibility guidelines like WCAG 2.1 and WAI-ARIA, to ensure web components follow accessibility requirements out of the box.
This positive trend in accessibility focus will continue in the web. Whether this comes from development practices naturally emphasising accessibility, or governments and legislature stepping in to enforce adherence, we will have more accessible applications.
4. Web apps get an AR makeover
Augmented reality will take the web by storm in 2021. AR is already commonplace in scenarios like Snapchat filters or Pokémon Go, but its use of AR will only expand to cover not only social media and games, but also everyday applications.
The beauty of AR is that it does not require full immersion via a clunky headset, as with VR. Instead, it can be used with the phones that we walk around with in our pockets today. Why should AR be limited to just the native mobile applications on a device? Why not use it on the web? Offering AR services through your web application without needing it to be installed as a native app can have huge benefits from a UX perspective.
Imagine being in a grocery store and doing a quick web search for a recipe. AR integration could provide users with turn-by-turn navigation through their mobile device to find all the ingredients within that store – all within a web app.
5. Developers flock to the web
Frameworks such as NativeScript and React Native will also play a big part in bringing more developers to web technologies, since they provide a single codebase for web and native mobile applications.
Additionally, concepts like progressive web applications (PWAs) will continue to blur the line between native mobile apps and web. Developers will then be able to purely focus on the user experience without worrying about specific platform choices.
Web Assembly is another technology that is bringing more developers to the web. Thanks to Web Assembly, C++, C#, Rust and other programming languages can now target the web. Projects like Blazor, which leverages .NET in the web, take advantage of the promise of Web Assembly and will help open the web to even more languages. This means that in the future, all developers can be web developers, regardless of programming language.