Should designers follow the trends at the expense of their designs?
I am noticing that some modern designs have less and less visual aspects associated with them and are rather focusing on very minimal, basic shape integration. Notably the new Apple IOS 7, which I personally don’t really appreciate. I get the feeling that they took the lazy route with the new cleaner design. Saying that, I don’t have anything against minimal design, which can be very versatile in certain situations. I just couldn’t help but think that the new design was not groundbreaking but more backtracking and replicating the other systems out there. Google and Windows have been using the minimal look for their products for a while now and I don’t see any reason for apple to follow in their wake when they used to cause the wake for others to follow.
Apple always used to push the boundaries with their design of both products and interfaces and I think they’ve taken a step back. I read an article that tried to say that the simple design was complex and clever because they had used a grid system to lay out all their very simple icons. This seems like a cop-out, as with anything, you would use a grid system to create uniformity behind the icons and I doubt very much that they did not use a very similar grid system for the old icons. Previously they would have actually put some work into making each one visually appealing and unique though.
Luckily app developers are not forced to embrace the new style, although it may be beneficial to adhere to certain visual functions after the launch of iOS7 to portray the fact that the apps are up to date and working well on the new system. I personally hope that app developers continue to produce visually stunning icons to portray their work.
Does functionality have to equal lazy or uninspired design?
I can’t see how such a simple design is sustainable when you think about the shear number of apps available. Inevitably apps are going to start looking very uniform and I doubt that as time goes on they will be as easily recogniseable or individual as the old more detailed ones.
I could understand it if there was a massive performance boost by using a much more basic system design. In some cases it is important to use less visual elements, like in web design where the pages need to load as quickly as possible. In circumstances like this, the use of some cleverly designed elements will drastically improve the users experience by making the site load quickly and reduce waiting time.
Saying that, I still think that there should be some unique elements in every design, to mark it as an individual work that belongs to or is linked to a certain brand identity.
Are design trends killing creativity?
In the past there have been some massive trends in using a particular shape in designs. Triangles and circles being the main ones. Even though a lot of the triangular designs were implemented in a way that was visually interesting (in some cases anyway), they still became horribly cliche and dull after a short space of time, because everyone jumped on the band wagon and began creating the same artwork over and over again.
The newer circular trend is somewhat worse because it looks like it started as an easy way to highlight products or info without the use of squares as layout elements but not a lot else was done to make the designs unique. I’m all for finding new ways to highlight sections in a design rather than having squares or rectangles but I just wish designers would not always follow the trends and try something new for themselves. It may require some experimentation and there are no guarantees your idea will work the first time round but it would still be preferable to simply copying a tried and tested rule that looks the same as a vast array of other designs currently circulating (pun intended).
Be a trendsetter. Not a trend follower.
I would feel very privileged if designers were to use some ideas or elements of my designs as inspiration for their work. I would not be happy if they were used for plagiarism rather than inspiration though.
I know that sometimes designers struggle to get inspired, which could be likened to writers block. This is a natural part of being a designer and we should strive to experiment and push the boundaries when we feel like this. Simply replicating someone else’s work may teach us a few new techniques, which is good, but we should always add our own personal flourish to make it our own. I’m sure in the process we may come up with our own individual artwork, that will be all the better for it, in the end.
Possibly the most important thing to remember is to have fun with our designs and enjoy what we do. I’m sure the passion and enjoyment of our work will come across in the finished product and hopefully garner more attention than creating a proficient piece of artwork that looks like everything else.
Be inspired, be creative, experiment and design!