As digital designers we make design decisions all the time, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we just imitate trends in order to make something look cool instead of reflecting or thinking.
In our pursuit to make jaw-dropping designs we turn to the stuff that make us drop our own jaws and then we copy it.
Is this even a problem?
It depends on how you look at what you are doing as a ux designer, but if you are working professionally for clients or in a product team within an organization, copying design trends has at least two serious pitfalls.
First of all, it jeopardizes your design strategy – if you have one. It also potentially jeopardizes strategic business goals, the visual identity of your brand and last, but not least: the overall user experience that you set out to craft in the first place.
Secondly, it makes a lot of contemporary ux design look the same, which is a shame if you (like me) feel that digital design should strive to constantly challenge itself.
Why do we copy design trends then?
So why do we do it then? A good colleague of mine said it quite well: we do it because it makes things look “right” according to the aesthetics that are predominant right now.
If you make something that looks a bit like, let’s say Medium.com, Spotify or Airbnb you will have confidence in your design. Not because it fits into your design strategy or the business goals you are designing for, but simply because it looks a bit like something that you consider to be cool. Which makes you and your design cool too. And so on.
A side note that might emphasize the overall argument of this post is that the three major ux players I mentioned above, all use some of the same trends: large background images, full width background video and outlined ghost buttons.
The point of this post
But we need to wisely reflect on how we use them or how we are inspired by them instead of just blindly reproducing them, because this is what looks cool just now.
However, the problem might be that they look so good that we’re sometimes intrigued to do exactly that. At least I sometimes do. Which is why I have created a list of alluring design trends to be critically aware of. It goes without saying that none of these design trends are inherently bad. They just need to be used wisely.
A hopefully useful list of current digital design trends to be critically aware of
- The full width “cover image” with some neat typography on top
- Full width video as backgrounds
- Ghost buttons: The outlined and often transparent call to action buttons
- The omnipresent hamburger menu
- Parallax effects
- Long one page designs
- Sticky headers
- Flat design
- Modal boxes
- This or that nifty CSS transition
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