Is it a trend, or is it a movement?
“Trends” is a touchy word in the design industry. As a self-taught designer, I owe a lot of my skill set to attempts to keep up with the latest web styles, technology, popular illustration styles, etc. Basically, I would see something I liked or wanted to do, and attempt to reproduce it. That’s how I learned to use Photoshop, then Illustrator, and then InDesign.
It’s also why I learned the basics of HTML, CSS techniques, and even enough PHP to modify WordPress themes. If I hadn’t spent 10 years chasing the latest fads, I’m positive that I wouldn’t have the skill set or discerning eye that I do today.
You can’t stop the trendy trends.
Like I said, the word “trend” is a really touchy one in the design industry. A design trend happens when a group of people adopt a similar technique or style — usually one they consider novel or cool — until enough people start adopting it and it’s no longer cool by the early adopters. Again, like the chevron craze; that’s mostly over now. It’s everywhere!
Where visual trends are concerned, a lot of clients are afraid that the trend will pass and leave them looking outdated. That’s a real possibility, unless you are going to update to try to be on-trend all the time, like some fashion websites do.
Trends in design and technology aren’t going to stop. The trick is to choose a philosophy: either commit and be an early adopter, or wait it out and play it safe. There are in-betweens, of course, but that’s a much harder path to choose.
You can stay on top of trends by making small updates to your site all the time. It will feel different to your existing traffic and look on-trend to your new traffic. The worst thing is to build it and let it sit for years.
Fear not fonts on the web, trends are here.
Trends aren’t really something to be afraid of either, they’re something you can use to your advantage. On the web, type is (now) one of the easiest things to manipulate. In the recent past, we used images for most headline and button type, changing out a font took a lot of time to re-slice in photoshop and re-save the image. Doing that was also really bad for SEO, but if style trumped search, then you did it.
Now, thanks to web fonts, it’s really easy to manipulate type on our sites by switching out a bit of code. I wouldn’t have advocated using trendy fonts in web designs in the past (also grunge type was in then—yuck) but I do now, when appropriate. If making things look current is one of your goals, keeping up with type trends is a great way to do it and it’s way easier to change frequently now.
Grunge type died in 2011. Thankfully.
Trends vs. Movements
Movements don’t come and go, movements come and stay until they’re no longer needed because the world has totally changed, or because technology no longer requires them. Movements happen because a group of people is working toward a change. Restaurants putting bacon on EVERYTHING was a trend (a delicious trend) but the adoption of healthier, sustainable, more responsible food sourcing is a movement.
The design industry is changing before your very eyes.
We’re in the middle of a movement to use technology as part of the design instead of as a framework to design around. This movement is changing everything about the way we interact with technology.
There used to be two standard processes we used to create sites and software. Creative teams would either design first, then build —or build first, then try to add design. Many creative firms (like us!) have brought these two chunks of the process together — we design and build at the same time.
Everyone is involved in the whole process, not just certain groups at certain times. In our case, this design/build period follows an extensive planning period in which everyone is also involved. I believe that this seemingly small change has breathed a new life into the design community. For the first time, we truly work together. Developers and designers need not fear each other. Our goals have always been the same, but now we walk the same path to get there.