Design Trends vs. Great Design
Definition of “Trend”
The general course or prevailing tendency.” We all know what design trends are and that many of us fall into them each and every day. What many designers don’t know, or don’t realize, is that these trends will come and go and eventually you will look dated if you stay in that rut for too long. I’m not against using them at all, I use them often.
It’s excellent practice and helps to mold us into the designers we will become in the future. My only problem with trends is that they can cause problems for people if not used correctly.
They Cause Complacency
Using trends can be great because they can help to push your limits to learn new things. The problem is that they can be counter-effective if you rely on them too much. What I mean is that they can make us complacent designers who never try anything else new because we already know how to design something a particular way.
They Create Copycats
Trends also create copycats very easily. You will find this all over the internet these days. People find a designer they like and then decide they’re going to rip off designs in the portfolio for their own projects…or worse, they steal the work for themselves.
They Mean Less Creativity
This could probably go both ways. I can see where it could force designers to come up with a better way to do something, meaning the trend has helped us along in our quest for awesome design. It’s good enough, eventually a popular designer will pick it up and then it gets pushed through the industry like wildfire. So my point here is that we need to make sure the trends don’t limit our designs but rather cause us to come up with new ways to achieve the results we desire.
They Can Be Less Effective
This works great for the design they have going on and the amount of information they want to put in front of the customer immediately. But it may or may not work for the next project you work on. Maybe they don’t need a drop menu at all or maybe there’s only a few links to drop down.
Great Design is Usable
Great design is…well…great. It’s all the things we hope for when we start a project. It’s user-friendly. It’s pretty. It’s functional. It solves problems that sometimes the user didn’t even know they had. It creates a good experience. It establishes or furthers a brand. It just works in every sense of the word. If a design isn’t doing all these things and more, it’s not great. Great design cannot create problems and still remain great. Lets look at a few things that are encompassed in this term.
It Solves a Problem
Everyone out there has had problems using a website at some point or another. It could be something as simple as the navigation not working properly. Maybe you weren’t able to find something or came across a site that requires an updated Flash player. What great design does is solve problems, not create them. Instead of making users search for information for ten minutes before they finally stumble across it, it shows them exactly how to get there in just a few clicks. This could be an incredible new search function or a well thought out drop down menu.
Keep these things in mind when designing as they will make or break your design no matter how beautiful it is.
It Invites Users to Find Information
Instead of confusing the user with a mess of content they don’t care to read, great design shows them exactly where to go to find what they want. It’s like dropping little breadcrumbs along the way to the exact content they’re looking for.
It’s Beautiful & Effective
It doesn’t have to be beautiful, but that certainly helps. And most of the time when I come across truly great design, it’s beautiful too because if you really know how to design, you understand usability. Most designer’s websites are a reflection of what they can do for clients so take this as a hint to work on your own if you feel inclined to do so. The visual part of a site is becoming more and more necessary anyway due to things like Google’s new search feature that pops up an image of the site upon rollover.
The notorious effective website. The website that actually does something. It’s not stagnant. It’s constantly updated. It’s never boring. It’s never useless. This is the day and age we live inhe notorious effective website. The website that actually does something. It’s not stagnant. It’s constantly updated. It’s never boring. It’s never useless. This is the day and age we live in. We live in a time where information is immediately at our fingertips and there’s a website or web app to do just about anything you want. A great design is completely and utterly pointless even if it has everything else we’ve mentioned but fails to be effective.