From your favorite small-time, local podcast to the mocha-peddling monolith you frequent for non-fat cinnaspice lattes, every brand relies on design. Regardless of size, industry or language, the visual medium never loses its importance, and it’s something that we, as creatives, pay special attention to at every opportunity. Yes, we’re the annoying people who overanalyze every website page, direct-mail piece and email we receive.
Though you may not be as obsessed with it as we are, chances are, you know good design when you see it. You can’t quite place what makes a website “cool” or an e-mail design compelling, but it has that unmistakable quality; it just works. 2016 was full of design trends that made it work all year long, but we’ve got a new year coming and with a new year comes new beginnings (that’s the saying, right?). So let’s take a look back so we can go forward in new and inspiring ways.
Design Trends Looking a Bit Long in the Tooth
Some designs are timeless; others, not so much. When trying to come up with a list of “bad” design trends, it’s actually a bit of a tall order. The truth is, what we may deem “bad” is actually just a style that’s become so ubiquitous it’s become tired.
Here are a few design choices that we may want to put to bed:
- Hipster Design: If it feels like it should live in the rugged outdoors it should probably stay there in 2017. The “Hipster Aesthetic” has crept its way into many areas of design in recent years and let’s be honest — it was fun for awhile. Badges, crests, and the playful use of classic words like “established,” “authentic” and “handcrafted” were all great ways of looking serious while not taking yourself seriously. Ah, Williamsburg… some of us will miss you.
- The “Default” Sans Serif: Sans serifs will never go out of style and when done well and for the right purpose their use is classy, clean and impactful. But typography, particularly in the digital space, is vastly different today. There was once a time when quality serif fonts were rare jewels in digital design. That time is over. So let’s celebrate and make inspired choices rather than defaulting to routine.
- Chalkboards: Often home to words like “handcrafted” or “farm-to-table,” the coffee shop/pub chalkboard should be wiped clean unless of course it’s actually in a pub or coffee shop.
- Handwritten/Brushstroke Typography: Hand-scripted or brushed typography can be an appealing addition to many designs and is very much “having a moment,” but be careful when and how you use it as it’s rooted in the same earth from which hipster chic grew. What’s trendy today can quickly look dated tomorrow when people pack up their watercolors and move on.
- The Template: Template website designs are simple and convenient, we get it. Especially for the startup business owner who needs a clean, quick design to get their digital storefront up and running. But when the number of sites out there starts to look more and more like “Attack of the Clones,” it may be time to skip the template for something a little more custom–something that is inherently “your business.” Trust us, it’s worth the investment to create a web presence that differentiates you from the crowd.
Again, none of the above are inherently bad–just something we’ve seen a lot of over the last year or two. Let’s go into 2017 with a fresh eye, and some new approaches.
Design Trends That Leave Us Hungry for More
These trends are either new additions or older favorites making a comeback in 2017.
- Irregular Grids: Though the perfectionists among us may beg to disagree, switching from a very rigid, mathematically measured grid design may actually be a clever move. Instead, a perfectly imperfect grid design on a website or ad can breathe life into the page and command attention.
- Retro Design Made Modern: Specifically 70s and 80s style is seeping back into the public consciousness, pushing past the more “classic,” early 1900s-1960s aesthetics we’ve seen in the past. Don’t worry, though–mullets and mustaches haven’t come back (yet).
- Negative Space: An oldie but a goodie. A page that properly uses negative space to cleanly convey a message without clutter is almost always preferred for maximum, highly efficient impact.
- Serif Fonts: As mentioned in our list of design trends to avoid in 2017, serif fonts are making a comeback in the digital realm. For years, designers avoided serifs simply out of necessity. There was a lack of quality serif fonts available to digital designers, which led to a natural preference for sans serifs. Over the years, however, a solid stable of high-quality serifs have been designed and are ready to mix up print ads, websites and branding well into the new year.
Like synthesizers and vinyl, today’s played out design trends may just resurface in a few short years, renewed for a new generation to make them their own. Until then, we suggest you take on 2017 with some fresh design inspiration and willingness to try something a little outside the box. What comes out may just surprise you.