Leading UI trends in 2021

Let’s start with some numbers. At the moment, there are 4.66 billion users and 1.88 billion websites crowded on the internet. So, many people are surfing the web, and there’s a great choice of places to visit. And if you want your site to catch your visitors eye, it needs to be interesting. You must go the extra mile and put in the maximum of creativity to make it stand out.

However, that isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and knowing what works is a big help. Of course, this year is well on its way, so we know for sure what the leading UI trends in 2021 are, and by the end of this article, you’ll know as well.

The good thing with UI design is that it adds value a lot more quickly than cost. On the other hand, similar to the UX for enterprise, the best practices are changing all the time, which means that you must make frequent changes to your site. It’s not the most straightforward job, but it sure is fun.
Without further ado, let’s look at all the things you should implement to your site this year and see why people love them so much.

Interesting illustrations and Animations

Many successful sites have been using unique animations for a couple of years now, so they’re not really a new thing. However, free forms, asymmetry, and unaligned elements are what draw people to websites. They create an inviting environment, and it seems that users enjoy spending time on such sites. Add some motion design into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a hit.
The more dynamic you can make your site, the easier you’ll catch the user’s attention. You can use the animation to explain what your brand is all about, and with illustrations, you can give your site some personality and make it more memorable.
Of course, you should always keep feedback in mind, as well. You might make a change that doesn’t go that well with your visitors, and if that happens, you should revert it. Keep a close look at your conversion and the bounce rate at all times. If you change something and see the results worsen, something isn’t right, necessitating a timely intervention.

Unique illustrations are one of the leading UI trends in 2021

Scroll-triggered animation that tells a story

Your site has all the chances for success if you can tell great stories with the digital experience it offers. Pay as much attention as you can to typography, as it can build a strong presence and a great user experience on its own. However, you’ll must do a bit more to make it work.
Text styling captures the user’s attention, but good copywriting will keep them engaged and make them a part of the story. Create an exciting journey for your visitors, and they won’t just skim through your content. They’ll pay attention and read what you must say, and that’s what you’re after.

Web Usability

Since Google introduced new user experience metrics called Core Web Vitals, usability has become one of the leading UI trends in 2021. If you want to rank well, you should do everything you can to identify the usability flaws of your site and improve its performance. There are lots of audits that will give you results that you can trust. But if you want to see how things really stand, be sure to do some usability testing with actual users.
One thing leads to another, and as it turns out, the focus isn’t on pretty UI anymore. Instead, it shifts to user-friendliness. On top of that, Google will be very fond of your site if you make it ADA compliant. As they see it, you’ll have a website everyone can enjoy, and that’s worth promoting. Now, the only thing you need to do is to add something unique to your pages. If they stand out from the crowd, visitors will remember them, and your brand will make a better imprint on their memory.
On the other hand, you have to be careful when trying to make your site special. If you push it too far, people won’t be able to navigate through it, and that won’t bring you any good. What you should stream towards is an interesting-looking site that anyone can use. If you manage to get that, you won’t have anything to worry about.

Interesting UI Approach

Augmented Reality

This year, the internet makes us think outside the box. UIs restricted to screens are becoming a thing of the past. Today, interactions that feel like they’re happening in the real world are a hit. Of course, we’re talking about augmented reality, and Google and Apple have already started using it. AR is one of the hottest up-and-coming technology trends worth checking. There are a few types of AR you should know:

  • Object-related. Real-world objects that you can interact with
  • Fixed to screen space. Here, the user must position the camera in a way so they can see what they intended
  • Real-world related. This AR approach uses the surrounding physical world and inserts new objects into it

Apple and Google promise us that their glasses will be out very soon. So, as a designer, you should work on your knowledge about the function and use of new AR UI kits. We must prepare for the things that are coming. The sooner you learn all the unique quirks about this exciting new tech, the more advanced your AR-powered web store could be once it turns mainstream.


Who can forget all the frosted glass effects that we saw in Windows Vista and iOS 7? They were such a big deal back then, and then they somehow got left behind. But it seems they are making a comeback this year.
You see, in 2020, it seemed that everyone was casting a hopeful glance at neomorphic elements. Neomorphic items have scarce colors use and are very easy on the eye. However, just like most 3D elements in design, neomorphics have many problems, and one of the biggest ones was poor accessibility. With glassmorphic features, you get an impressive effect, but it’s much more user-oriented. So, if you wish to design an award-winning e-commerce website, this style is a good bet.
With glassmorphism you get a well-defined hierarchy, and thanks to the elements mimicking depth, you can easily see what’s in the front and what’s in the back of the screen. It looks modern and yet not overwhelming. And if we know that the new macOS Big Sur uses this style and that Windows 11 will use it, we can promise you that frosted glass will be one of the leading UI trends in 2021.

Glassmorphism - upcoming UI Trend

Caption: We’ll see more and more sites with glassmorphic elements in the following years.

3D is crossing to mainstream

We’ve seen 3D elements everywhere on the internet in the last few years. However, this is the year when they finally cross to the mainstream. The reasons behind this are that there’s a lot of development in the device capabilities and software optimization. So, even lower-end devices nowadays can deal with complex visuals without issues.
It seems that Adobe XD also influenced the design of 3D elements. They added a new feature called 3D Transforms, and it allows designers to manipulate an object in three-dimensional space. So, your logo can tilt, rotate, or move to another place on the page when a user clicks on it.
As a designer, you get a lot more canvas, and you get incredible experience as a user, so it works out in everyone’s favor.

Icons are starting to all look alike

It’s not unusual for companies to rethink and redesign their logos and icons now and then. It happens pretty much every time there’s a shift in what people like to see online. However, this time it seems that they made a mess. All the big companies rushed to join the trend of flat geometric design and vibrant gradients, and they all ended up with logos that look similar.
If you’re considering a new logo and icon design, be sure to do it with all the care in the world. Put the accessibility in front of pretty UI, keep important psychology principles in mind, and stick to that promise no matter what. Only this way will you end up with a logo that’s recognizable in less than a second.

If you're redesigning your icons, don't fall into the trap of staying in trend but losing your uniqueness.

Retro aesthetic

As in the last few years, retro aesthetics have continued their popularity among users. Some designers and site owners decided to go back to the 80s with asymmetry, big and bold typography, and funky colors. On the other hand, some seek inspiration from the 90s. It seems that attributes from constructivism and brutalism are met with a good response as more and more sites use them.
But even if retro aesthetics are one of the leading UI trends in 2021, you must keep the website’s purpose in mind. It only makes sense to go for something if users like it and it helps them convert.


Mariya Videva | UX Strategist  | UI/UX Designer

Mariya is an experienced User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) expert, with a strong tendency toward improving Customer Experience (CX). After a successful brainstorming session, she implements the user experiences used by millions of users thereafter.
There is no problem big enough for her not to tackle a solution to sometimes sophisticated user flows. User Experience Strategy sits at the heart of her actions, making her think ahead of time and beyond implementation.