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Design is constantly evolving. Though the principles of design remain timeless, there are always trends that come and go. That's why certain styles look dated (web 2.0, anyone?) and newer, fresher techniques look AWESOME. We asked our design team to share what trends they were tired of seeing, and the trends they can't get enough of—at least for now. Read the first installment of the two-part blog with Envoc designers Christine Maggi and Rebecca Kelt.
The rotating slider at the top of a homepage trend began long before mobile browsing was as prominent as it is today. The reason for it was the thought that you needed to grab a reader immediately, before they would even THINK about scrolling down the page. There was heavy emphasis on keeping key content "Above the Fold," a term that stemmed from the newspaper industry. Since newspapers were folded in half, it was believed that if anyone was going to read that newspaper, you had to grab them by those headlines and stories that were immediately visible. When the term transferred to the web world, it meant that the content at the very top of a desktop browser screen had to be immediately compelling. But guess what: the fold is dead! Mobile browsing has killed the fold and cramming multiple messages in a rotating slider is no longer necessary.
Even so, sliders can be used effectively, but seldom are. They serve as an easy way to put multiple messages into one area, but the problem is most people don't even stop to see, or click, past the first slide. If a slider is on a timer, a user probably will have scrolled down to view the rest of the page long before those 5 seconds have expired—especially if there is no call to action. Don't make your users wait for another slide to get what they need, or read what you want them to know. Lack of clickable content and slow-moving slides render your slider, as stated, pretty pointless. Plus, poorly designed sliders tend to be confined to awkward rectangles that work against most text and images you put inside of them, which doesn’t help anyone!
It’s high time to break out of the restrictive slider box and embrace full-width imagery, more open layouts, and streamlined content to get our messages across. When designed well, these images help you and your user—not cause unnecessary lag time. Rotating header images have a purpose, but there is no need to keep them confined to tight, timed boxes. Let your content live and breathe!
When the flat design trend emerged, I was all about it. It was just so beautiful, so minimal, and perfect…like almost too perfect (which I am still okay with). However, there's a new minimalist sheriff in town, thanks to the designers from Google (hello... where have you been hiding this whole time?). They unveiled their new design system, Material Design, at this year's Google I/O event. At first glance, it looks very much like flat design with a gorgeous color palette, but it is so much more. Whereas flat design kicked any sort of drop shadow to the curb as a reaction to overly-stylized skeuomorphic design trend, Material Design is embracing it in a very subtle, unobtrusive way. Where skeuomorphic design was an attempt to replicate materials and depth digitally through lots of gradients, highlights, and shadows, Material Design is similarly rooted in reality—only this time through actual space, tactility, motion, and weight. Not only is it beautifully minimalistic like flat design, but it is inherently understood by us humans because the elements give a nod to materials we are actually used to handling in the real world, like paper, for instance. I see Material Design as a perfect union of simplicity and realism, with the added bonus of fun, quirky animations to bring it all to life.
To Learn More, watch this video about Material Design.
Websites have grown to be more visual than text heavy. Because of this, good photography is an important component to design. Unfortunately, some designers don’t have access to a photographer or just don’t feel like investing the time or money into custom photography. So, stock photos are the defacto goto. This is unfortunate because really good photography can spruce up any design. It can make it genuine and trustworthy, artistic, and moving. Stock Photos do the exact opposite. They are unrelatable and too perfect. Users pick up on this. We may think they can’t tell the stock from the real deal. However, seeing the posed models makes them realize what they’re seeing is fake or illegitimate. And the sad thing is, most stock photos are ridiculous! So, please, if you are using a ton of stock photos in your work, consider hiring a local photographer. If you can’t, then maybe create some illustrations as replacement. It could mean the salvation of your authenticity.
Simple geometric shapes are widely used in design to draw attention to important elements. A trend that I have noticed lately is the combination of these shapes with more organic subjects. WPAP-style illustration and design is part of this trend. WPAP (Wedha's Pop Art Portrait) is an Indonesian genre of art that uses a mosaic of flat colors broken up into facets to illustrate an organic form (usually a celebrity portrait). This style forces us to reimagine what we already know into a warped version that is still recognizable, and it portrays the idea: “The sum of the parts make up the whole.” This trend has begun to move from simple flat colors to photos and other mediums. I have seen a lot of photography layered with shapes that mimic or compliment the subject. It’s a nice alternative to a plain photo, and it heightens attention, which is the ultimate goal of any design.