Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Design à la Web - What's Hot. What's Not.

(A design forecast for 2008)

The following is a list of trends that I think we are going to see more of in the next year and a few I hope we don't see again for a long time.

"Ouch, this design is soo SMOKIN' HOT I burned my hand!"
Below is my list of favorite up-and-coming trends.

Crafts are big in a major way offline and online. There's no doubt about it. Adding colorful patterns, collage-y graphics, handwritten fonts, and elements that look 'hand drawn' or 'handmade' can be the perfect way to visually offset techy 2.0 designs and bring an eclectic quality to your site.

Some Examples:




From sunbursts to slanty lines, stripes are all the rage right now.

Some Examples:



"Vector Birds"
Call me crazy but I've been seeing a lot of colorful, simple vector bird art. I'm even thinking about incorporating some birdies into my portfolio site.

Some Examples:


"Dark Colors"
"Barbie Pink" and her "Rainbow Bright" friends are (thankfully) on the way out. It would appear that Brown is the new Black. Hey, even Maroon is making a comeback. Web 2.0 has been dominated by ultra bright color schemes but I think we will see shift back to darker, richer palettes in the future.

Some Examples:




"Got Wood?"
Wood panel elements are popping up everywhere. I think it's part of an overall trend to incorporate organic elements into web designs. Like handmade looking elements, it's a trend I predict we will see more of in the future of the web - since it serves as an effective means of humanizing a medium (digital) that be can often be perceived as cold and alienating.

Some Examples:




"This crap is sooo 5 minutes ago."
Say goodbye to design trends that have overstayed their welcome. Here's the list of what's soon to be going...going...gone!


Glossy buttons and text have been the scourge of web 2.0 but even Apple (who inspired this design hurricane) has opted for muted, polished buttons in lieu of the gel-glassy buttons that were once a design staple of their website navigation.

Digg.com has also recently upgraded their popular techy news site with a new 'flat' design (sans beveled logo and buttons). Hopefully this means we are seeing an end to the shiny-glassy-glossy button for good. Everyone stand up and cheer and throw out your 'how to make crap shiny' tutorials!

"Gradients, Gradients, Gradients!"
Someone once told me that a designer uses gradients and drop shadows to disguise a poor design. And while I do think that gradients have their place I also think they should be used sparingly. I believe we will see a design shift away from heavy gradient use in the upcoming year (at least by good designers).


Enough already with the reflections. Like Gradients they should be used sparingly. Hopefully we'll see less of these in the coming months.

"Floral Vines"

Did everyone and their dog buy the same 'vector floral-vine' clipart? You've seen it (or some iteration of it) in a thousand places and the whoever who drew it is a millionaire now. But enough is enough. It's almost 2008 and I'm so over the 'web is a garden' metaphor.

"Stock Photography"

I'm pretty certain that the handful of designers that didn't get the "stock photography is lame." memo when web 2.0 design started dominating the scene must have surely clued in by now. Icons and Cartoony clipart are all the rage (just ask the cool kids). So get with the program, lame-designer-guy. I'm sorry you spent a $100 bucks on a high-res photo of two guys shaking hands. Have a good cry about it. Maybe you can make a poster out of it and mount it on your wall so that it's not a total loss.

Don't worry. Someday stock photos of corporate guys in suits smiling and shaking hands will be back in style. Good thing I have a big stack of (now worthless) stock photo discs I burned onto cds before I left my last job. No, I'm not bitter. Globes and corporate suits are sooo making a comeback... around the same time animated gifs do.

"Our love is here to stay."
These trends are sticking around. And I'm glad.

"BIG Text"

Yes. I love it. I wear glasses so what do you expect? Tiny pixel text be damned.

"BIG Buttons"

I need big buttons. You need big buttons. Everyone knows that usability is all about the BIG button. Well, in theory, anyway. Personally, I just think they are more fun to click.

"Vector Paper Clipart & Illustrated People/Animals"

From photo frames, to notepad paper, to paper with curled edges and paper with torn edges - vector paper clipart is here to stay.

Designs with illustrated elements of people and cutesy animals also seem to be a favorite with designers and won't be going away any time soon. It almost makes me wish I could draw. I'd make a fortune selling stock illustration.

"Bright Blue Hyperlinks"

Flickr and Delicous just wouldn't be the same without them. Jacob Nielson must be so happy (and probably smug) about this one. I just don't think the pesky blue hyperlink is ever going away.

So concludes my list. Now tell me, what are some of your favorite up-and-coming trends?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking to my site :-)

Anonymous said...

Sites like LoveBitesandBruises.com are pretty mad too, like all the cartoons and colours. Good Blog! Thanks for linking to my site.

Brightspark Dublin said...

On the wood front, check out www.nayd.ie - we did that inspired by 'treading the boards'

Marc said...

I think you've been a little bit hard on stock photography, maybe you could change the title to "really cheesy corporate stock photography of people wearing suits attempting to create a vision of success".

I think (hope!) you we're right about the aqua buttons, I think we'll start to see a lot more of Apple's Leopard interface creeping into sites next year. Subtle, simple gradients and dark transparencies.

You've actually inspired me to get off my ar$e and write a 08 prediction list myself! Cheers! ...I think

Kara said...


Sounds great. I look forward to reading it. I'm thinking of following up with a more specific color trend forecast when I get a chance. I've also recently found a great resource for trend examples. You should check out: http://designmeltdown.com

Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

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- Juan

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I still notice these trends today. Actually, I didn't know at first that the post was dated 2007, so all along I thought it was a showcase of current trends. I asked my buddy who's a web designer (Toronto design company) if their clients still ask for stripes and dark colors, and he said yes. Although the handmade style is no longer too much of a hit, according to him. I wonder if you'll come up with a design forecast for 2011.

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