As a UX/UI Designer working in a software house, I can say that graphic design trends have a huge impact on the app development process. Some UI design trends can last with us for several years, while others quickly become old-fashioned and useless. No doubt, the competition on the app market is ambitious nowadays. Our priority is to always be up to date and focus on distinguishing the client's application from the crowd.

If you are thinking about your own application, there is one main advice I can give you. It is crucial to building your unique brand that will stick in the users' memory. Company branding is important, and one of our clients knows it well. A few weeks ago, we had implemented the branded documents feature in the James Marketing Amplifier project. This web application is dedicated to small law firms and shares high-value law content through files. Every document is marked with subscribers' data and logo, which positively affects brand image. I do not doubt that branding and graphic design have a significant impact on business success.

Railwaymen portfolio - James Marketing Amplifier case study

As I mentioned above, UX/UI design process is an integral part of every app development. It cannot be ignored. How does it look like? At Railwaymen, it consists of 5 steps, and we already have the whole article about it. Whether UX/UI Designer works on mobile or web applications, his/her main goal is to concentrate on a target group and design a project that will meet users' expectations. 

Let's focus on the graphic design trends. Why do Designers need to follow it? Well, there are a few main reasons:

  • every year brings us some new, exciting graphic design trends,
  • delivering high-quality apps requires the latest graphic knowledge,
  • clients expect that we can advise them on the best design solutions,
  • new graphic design trends can boost the application success,
  • every Graphic Designer that wants to be competitive in the job market has to be familiar with the latest trends.

Are you convinced that it is worth watching the latest graphic design trends? Great! In this article, I will present you 10 top UI trends that will be essential in 2021 and help your website or application stand out of the crowd.

10 top graphic design trends that will impact app development in 2021:


The main aim of every UX/UI designer is to deliver stunning digital products. Trends stimulus us to develop our skills and improve apps user experience. What will be trending in 2021? Let's check top graphic design trends!

Trend 01 - Dark mode

This trend is one of the most important trends of 2020, and it will continue to be relevant. Many users prefer dark mode because it is much more pleasing for the eyes and does not tire them out. Dark mode makes the users want to use the application longer.

In 2013, only 16.2% of application traffic came from mobile devices, while in 2020, it is already 50.21%. More and more people are using their favorite services through a smartphone. The dark mode also takes care of the device battery because the apps with a darker style consume much less energy.

Recently such brands as Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Apple, and Android have introduced dark mode to their applications. It is no surprise for me because research shows 82.7% of people prefer dark mode to light mode. I am sure that this graphic trend will stay with us in 2021 and the coming years.

Graphic design trends 2021 - Dark Mode

Trend 02 - Light shadows, floating elements

The use of light shadows was already popular in 2019 and 2020. This trend will not change, and we will continue to see more and more of it in applications in the upcoming 2021 year. This graphic trend focuses on giving lightness and modernization to the site. Using light shadows in the project, designers can distinguish the elements that should focus the user's attention.

Most importantly, we can apply them to many application elements, such as text, videos, images, buttons, and cards. Thanks to them, we will add a slight 3d effect on the website. This graphic trend will prevail in 2021. Take a look at the example:

Graphic design trends for 2021 - Light shadows and floating elements

Trend 03 - Minimalism

Minimalistic application interfaces usually look simple, aesthetic, and professional. How to achieve such an effect? The designer should apply a large amount of whitespace but can not forget about keeping the correct proportions. It is important to remember that typography is crucial in this style, and we should pay special attention to it.

Minimalism is a graphic design trend that does not contain non-functional decorative elements. Simplicity is the key. We do not want to distract the user's attention from such important CTAs or content on which they should focus. The use of a simple color palette will also help in this. Designers who design minimalistic interfaces most often apply a monochrome color palette. They use colors to highlight the most critical elements.

Top graphic design trends - Minimalism

Trend 04 - Motion design and small interactions

Motion design will be used even more widely in the next year. It will be used in small interactions, illustrations, and even logos. The 3d illustrations, which are also gaining in popularity, are an inseparable part of motion design. The combination of these two elements will allow us to attract user attention more efficiently.

However, designers need to remember that motion design must go hand in hand with a positive user experience. Animations cannot be too long and should be triggered by user interaction with the application. Thanks to this, we will increase the client retention rate with the application.

Revolut Widgets

Trend 05 - Neumorphism in UI design

Neumorphism is a completely new style in UI design. This graphic design trend has become popular because of services such as Dribbble and Behance. It involves the use of a simple color scheme, with adding shadows and lights.

The most important thing is that the application elements are in the same color as its background. It should give the impression that the components are coming out of the background of the application.

Graphic design trends - 2021 - Neumorphism in UI design

Trend 06 - Illustrations

Why do we use illustrations in UI design? They allow us to capture the user's attention and provide key information faster. They are also comprehensible to all people regardless of the language they communicate in.

They have been an integral part of UI design for a very long time. However, the development of this area over recent years has been impressive. 3d and isometric illustrations are becoming more and more popular, and it will be the most significant graphic design trend. Adding motion design to these illustrations will bring the application to life and make it stand out from the crowd.

Graphic design trends - 2021 - Illustrations

Trend 07 - Iconography

Icons are almost everywhere. Nowadays, it is hard to find an application without them. Which icon styles will be popular in the coming 2021?

Simply icons

Popular sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube are changing their complex icons and simplifying them. The whole industry is now following this trend. Instead of complicated icons, we increasingly come across simplicity with a clear message.

Graphic design trends - 2021 - Simply icons

Linear icons with offset background

Linear icons have always been popular. However, if you want to catch the user's attention, it is worth adding a color to them. It will relate to the branding and will also result in their uniforming.

Top graphic design trends for 2021 - Linear icons

Trend 08 - Bold Typography

Bold fonts have already gained popularity in 2020. This trend will not be forgotten, and we will meet it at every turn. Why? Most visitors of the site or application check the header first. To interest the header section efficiency, I recommend using a large, bold font with a short, catchy slogan. Bold fonts can also be very useful in highlighting the most significant elements on a website, such as a product, service, or category.

Trend 09 - Voice search 

Voice search is becoming more and more popular every year, and many technology giants already implemented it in their own applications. According to statistics, in 2018, 36% of people born after 1981 used voice search, in 2019, it was nearly 40%, and in 2020 it was almost 50%!

This trend will continue, and many people will make use of voice assistants in the future. Voice searching was most often used to make restaurant reservations, check prices of products in the area, or book an appointment with a doctor. Of course, this is not necessary for every application. However, it is worth analyzing this and, if necessary, implementing it.

Trend 10 - 3D Elements

More and more companies in 2020 started to use 3D elements on their websites and applications. They have been delightful for years, but recently they have been gaining even more popularity thanks to the development of AR and VR. They can attract client's attention and also encourage them to spend more time on our application. Thanks to this solution, the use of such elements will increase sales results.

However, we should remember not to overdo with 3d elements and not distract the user from such important CTA buttons. So it is extremely important to position such elements correctly. A financial giant such as Revolut presents an excellent example of this in their application.

Top graphic design trends for 2021 - 3D Elements

Is graphic design still in demand?

Yes, of course! My experience and observations show that users strongly pay attention to the application interface and willingly choose those with a user-friendly design. In my opinion, poor design can ruin the project. Competition in the app market is quite strong nowadays, so we have to take care of users' experience precisely.

It is all about keeping the balance between functionality and UI/UX design of an application. It is not an easy task, but knowing the latest graphic design trends for 2021 helps us designers face the challenge. Why is good graphic design important during the app development process? A well-designed user journey has a significant impact on application success because:

  • helps attract the users and keeps their loyalty,
  • has a positive effect on the company image and creates a good first impression,
  • allow knowing better the target audience of the app,
  • extends the time users spend in the application,
  • increases the chance of receiving positive opinions in the App Stores,
  • facilitates monetization of the application.

Furthermore, we use graphic not only for digital product design but also for everyday business purposes, especially in marketing. We need it to build newsletter, emails, social media graphics, infographics, landing pages, advertising, etc. An important fact is that in this area, trends also evaluate. So I am sure that in the future the design area will thrive.

Final words

It is time for a conclusion. In 2021 many graphic design trends from previous years will continue to be popular, but we will also see many new, interesting solutions on the market. It is essential to choose and combine well what is in fashion in order to create a user-friendly application interface. However, designers should remember that the most important task is to help the user achieve the purpose of using the application. Although there are many tempting graphic design trends available, we can not overdo it with too many of them in one product.

I hope that graphic design trends for 2021, presented in this article, are helpful and will allow you to design stunning web and mobile applications.

Want to know more about UX/UI design? Check the article about 7 books that are worth to read:

7 Books on UX Design That You Have to Read

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