2020 brought a plethora of changes to consumer behavior. Many of these changes will serve as inspiration for new product ideas and functions that will help businesses better serve their customers in the year ahead.
In many cases, serving customers better begins with great design. This applies not only to the design of physical products, but to the user experience and interface of digital products. To provide their own expert insight, a group of entrepreneurs shared some design trends they expect to see in 2021 and why these trends will be so impactful.
1. Designs with a human touch
As 2020 forced people away from each other, 2021’s designs will attempt to bring them back together. Matthew Podolsky, managing attorney at Florida Law Advisers, P.A., predicts we will see products designed with a personal connection in mind.
“Hand-drawn elements on websites, brand logos or products add a human touch that will connect more with consumers,” Podolsky explains. “Given the difficulty of 2020, many people are looking for more warmth, affection, and connection through the design elements of a product or product component.”
2. Increased personalization
Personalized experiences have become a top priority for many businesses in recent years, and some predict this trend to continue growing as data-driven tools become more accessible and sophisticated.
“AI and personalization tools are becoming more democratized and cheaper for companies to leverage in their digital experiences,” says Rishi Sharma, founder and CEO of Mallama. “This will allow us to have apps and workflows that will be tailored to your habits, which will remove friction and make digital products more engaging and productive.”
3. Multidirectional layouts for better UX/UI design
According to Stephanie Wells, co-founder and CTO of Formidable Forms, 2021 will bring more multidirectional layouts on e-commerce sites, and with them, a greater focus on UX/UI design.
“This intuitive navigation allows users to view content in different ways, such as back and forth, diagonally, left and right and more,” says Wells. “This gives users more freedom in terms of how they want to browse content and use navigation.”
4. Emphasized safety and transparency
One of the biggest hurdles in 2020 was the increased need for cleanliness and sanitation. According to Josh Kohlbach, founder and CEO of Wholesale Suite, new product designs in 2021 will be a direct response to that need.
“The 2020 pandemic has shaken the world and buyers haven’t yet recovered from the shock,” Kohlbach states. “In 2021, they’ll be more conscious about their health than ever before, so marketers will try and keep things transparent and highlight how safe and hygienic their products are. Food will be packed in transparent packages, clothing will come with complimentary masks and so on.”
5. Speed and functionality for smart home devices
Many home-bound consumers have recently invested in connected smart home devices that can be operated from their smartphones or through voice activation. This demand will likely influence product design and ideas in 2021.
“People are spending more time at home and are looking for convenient and efficient ways to operate everything from entertainment to temperature control to home security systems,” says Kalin Kassabov, founder and CEO of ProTexting. “Speed and functionality will be the key in the coming years.”
6. Safe and sustainable packaging and ingredients
The eco-friendly and health-conscious movements have been growing in tandem in recent years. Today’s consumers are placing a premium on sustainable products and packaging that incorporate safe, healthy ingredients.
“They are now more after reusability, so containers and packaging are going to be a priority,” notes Daisy Jing, founder of Banish. “Plus, ingredients will be magnified and checked thoroughly to promote fewer worries in terms of health.”
7. Streamlined design for more affordability
Pandemic restrictions and social distancing have placed major limitations on businesses and have negatively impacted household budgets, says Blair Thomas, co-founder of eMerchantBroker. Moving into 2021, Thomas predicts a huge emphasis on functionality and affordability in product design.
“The products consumers are turning to will need to streamline tasks and make life simpler, all at a good value for the money,” Thomas concludes.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.