Creatives seem to have a love/hate relationship with graphic design trends. On one hand, they’re a good indicator of what’s popular, relevant and groundbreaking—at least when they first start to emerge. On the other hand, it’s not necessarily flattering for your work to be viewed as trendy lest you be labeled a follower rather than an innovator.
Whether you’re a fan of current graphic design trends or not, most designers agree that it’s important to pay attention to them, not just as they relate to your own niche, but in other graphic design disciplines, as well. Often, clients are drawn to trends and may ask you to take cues from them, so you’ll want to be knowledgeable enough to discuss their requests. It’s also natural to want to know how your own work fits into the current creative landscape.
With that in mind, we reached out to industry pros to find out what graphic design trends they love—and hate—when it comes to five different graphic design disciplines. Part 1 features packaging design trends, web design trends and logo design trends, while part 2 covers poster design trends and infographic design trends.
What graphic design trends are you loving and hating right now? Let us know in the comments section.
Logo Design Trends
Thoughts from Jim Krause, Owner, Jim Krause Design
Logo Design Trends I Love: One logo design trend that I really love is a movement that seems to be giving designers unprecedented permission to seek solutions in drastically different aesthetic realms. Lately, for instance, logos defined by their sleek geometric precision appear to be no more—and no less—likely to be in-step with current trends than logos that are presented as if they were drawn by the left hand of a right-handed grade-schooler, and icons that convey subtle and attractive hints of dimensional magic seem no more—and no less—likely to be accepted by the viewing public than icons that look to have been flattened to the page with a spatula. Naturally, a designer needs to figure out what approach(es) best suit the projects they’re working on, but I think it’s nice to know that a wider range of solutions seems available to creative professionals than ever before.
Logo Design Trends I Hate: The usual suspects: anything involving crowdsourcing, contests or starvation wages for designers.
Packaging Design Trends
Thoughts from Clark Goolsby, Creative Director, Chase Design Group
Packaging Design Trends I Love: I’m a huge fan of the more graphic, flatter graphic design coming back into fashion. We work on some large brands, and those types of brands have been historically the most notorious for overly wrought designs. Your typical big brand is loaded with bevels, drop shadows, gradients, etc. I’m excited that many brands are moving away from this type of design and moving back to a simpler, more graphic approach.
This case study for Mack Trucks is a great example of an overly rendered logo being simplified to a more graphic approach.
Packaging Design Trends I Hate: I think the packaging design trend I dislike right now is what I would call “Ye Olde Brooklyn.” I actually very much love the renewed interest in artisanal and handcrafted goods, but I’m getting tired of so many of these goods being packaged in packaging that looks like it’s from the 1800s.
I understand the desire to do this, especially when the handcrafted idea was new. It’s obviously an easy way to let consumers know that your product is not mass-produced. However, I think now it seems entirely overdone, and in many cases a force fit. Brooklyn happens to be an epicenter for these types of products and designs, so living there makes me particularly aware of this trend. I think this design style has become a crutch, and I’m interested in seeing a new way to articulate artisanal quality come to life.
During the past 15 years, Clark Goolsby has worked in a variety of fields within the creative industry. With experience in print, multimedia and illustration, he brings a unique breadth of skills and insightful strategic thinking to Chase Design Group. A natural creative leader with a penchant for innovation and a “question everything” approach to design, Goolsby has helped some of the world’s largest brands achieve their goals.
Web Design Trends
Thoughts from Jenn Lukas, Freelance Front-End Consultant
Web Design Trends I Love: I am totally digging thoughtful, responsive design. As mobile use continues to rise, how we tackle our content and designs for smaller screens is a top priority. Often, we see sites that attempt to solve this challenge by simply shrinking everything down a few notches and squishing the design into a smaller viewport.
As we become more accustomed to responsive design techniques, I’ve enjoyed seeing how sites are tackling different screen sizes with a more thoughtful approach that chooses different layouts as well as edits images and text to be more appropriate for audiences using different devices. We have to ask ourselves the tough questions about how our visitors on small screens versus large screens actually want their information delivered. Often, these exercises in examining our user experiences will lead to choices that put our content first over superfluous aesthetic decisions.
While change sometimes can be tough, creating slimmed down mobile-first designs can allow what’s really important—our content and products—to really shine.
Web Design Trends I Hate: I don’t care for the large hero image trend that is only in place for the sake of filling screen real estate or following templates made popular by front-end frameworks such as Twitter Bootstrap. Large images can be taxing on our site load times if handled poorly. We have to constantly ask ourselves if the images and aesthetic flourishes we add to our site are actually helping the visitor experience, or adding unnecessary page weight that leads to longer load times on our devices. Large imagery can be great for the appropriate subject matter. On the other hand, images added only for the sake of adding images just leads to our users searching harder for the content they really want to find and can add frustration to their visit.
Jenn Lukas is a multi-talented front-end consultant and freelance developer in Philadelphia and is the founder of Ladies in Tech. She has spoken at a variety of conferences and writes for publications such as The Nerdary, .net magazine, 24 Ways and The Pastry Box Project. Lukas’ past experiences range from creating Navy training simulations to leading the front-end team at Happy Cog as interactive development director. She was named one of Mashable’s 15 Developer/Hacker Women to Follow on Twitter, and you can find her on Twitter posting development and cat-related news. When she’s not crafting sites with the finest of web standards, Lukas is the co-host of the Ladies in Tech Podcast and teaches HTML and CSS for GirlDevelopIt and Skillshare.