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 second installment of the two-part blog (read part 1 here) with Envoc designers Lynsey Gwin and Aaron Landry.
Web templates are the subject of lifelong battle for designers. Likely one that will rage on for many more years. I have had my fair share of run-ins with templates and very rarely have they turned into a positive experience. From a designer’s perspective, templates are unpredictable and most times unscalable. When you buy a template, you are never really sure what you are about to get. In my experience, altering templates can sometimes be just as labor-intensive as implementing a custom design. You also find yourself making concessions on user experience decisions to make the content fit into the template.
I understand businesses who only have a small amount to spend and use a template as a starting off point (If they don’t mind hundreds of other companies with the same exact design). But as that business evolves and grows, that template will no longer suit their needs. If a tailor-fitted solution becomes needed as part of that evolution, a template is not the best route to take. The goal of a successful final product is to provide the best possible solution for the company. Shoe-horning a custom solution in bits of pre-made images and code is fitting the solution to the template instead of the other way around. Ultimately, this falls short of the goal of creating what we call “a better reality” for the company.
Nothing nerds me out like seeing an awesome website that integrates fresh web animation techniques, features 3D elements, harnesses hardware like your computer’s webcam or adds a level of interactivity that has never been seen on the web. I love the use of the web to build a virtual playground. Rapidly up and coming technologies like WebGL, HTML5 Canvas and SVG are being used to create mind-blowing experiences. Although, I’m probably way ahead of myself. A lot of this is still pretty experimental, and you probably don’t want to view some of these in Internet Explorer.
My favorite thing about these new web experiences is the high level of integration between design, code, animation and video. I love seeing all of these different disciplines come together into a well-planned and executed final product. Honestly, a lot of it is over my head, but I certainly aspire to learn more about it.
Want to see more? I understand. Here are some more examples to enjoy.
In 2013 there was an epic battle between Flat Design and Realism. Since then, websites have changed, creating a trend that I think is worth thinking about a little more than usual. One thing I've noticed over the past year or so is that there are a lot of websites that are beginning to look the same. The flat design trend is somewhat an homage to the origins of website design and development because it provides a method for removing bulky images,which helps with website speed, and forces developers to use code to create design elements. So it’s not all bad. However, many developers and designers use this design trend to effectively stop designing. Any developer can use bootstrap to spin up a website, and while bootstrap was designed for quickly creating standard website features and structures, it doesn’t mean it’s a one size fits all solution for design. The greatness of a design can be found in the details and the way it was thought out. The styles, patterns, typography, layouts, textures, and pictures are a few things that make up a design. These things can enhance and create depth in a design, but ultimately it’s the way a designer puts these things together and the understanding of why they were used that makes a design successful and unique.
I believe the screen is a medium that requires depth. As we get deeper into interaction, animation, and motion, the feeling of real interaction and motion require true-to-life visuals that need to be well thought out. Not all flat design fits into this trend of "design" though. Google recently released Material Design and although the recommended design styles are mostly flat, they include some subtle shading and shadows along with specific color choice and organization that creates minor details and depth for the user to associate the onscreen elements with things in the real world. It’s the way the colors are used that create the depth.
Ultimately, its not really the flatness that I’m over. It’s the laziness that this design trend seems to be creating. It is my belief that if we allow ourselves to stop thinking and use only the flat designs we are given through things like bootstrap, we will eventually stop designing all together and rely completely on the tools and frameworks we use to design our websites and software without allowing it to be truly designed.
The idea of responsive isn't really a new thing. However, the way it’s now being used is not only changing the way we look at web, but also changing the way users interact with anything online. It’s the beginning of the new world of web design. It’s an idea that has turned the standards of web design on its head. With responsive design we can now begin to change what users are used to and start creating experiences that users will learn to love. As it grows, I think the structures and designs that are created will grow more innovative and complex in the interactions and have the potential to create a better online experience for all users. It will create new reasons for many designers to design interfaces that are outside the website box and will give developers an opportunity to find ways to streamline these interactions and code for speed and performance.
Responsive Design is creating a world where designers and developers have to work together to create better user experiences and it’s providing an avenue to really think about why we design what we design.