Modern Web Design Trends = Bad Results
- David Puffenberger
- General, Web/Graphic Design
How and why proven user-centered web design principles are being blatantly ignored.
Have you ever used a computing device or visited a website and had a really hard time figuring out how to navigate through it to find the information you're looking for?
We’ve encountered many of these situations and they all have one thing in common, their creators ignore the user-centered principles of design in favor of following the trend of making everything appear "beautiful."
Design trends start by following a leader. Even if the trend is destructive.
Apple started a destructive and disruptive design trend in 2007 when it launched the iPhone. It was beautifully designed device, but that beauty came at a great price.
Back in the day, Apple was a champion of the graphical user interface, but they threw out their own meticulously researched, well-known and well-established design principles in favor of a trendy simplistic design that was (and still is) lacking in function. This great article “How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name” states it perfectly.
“Gone are the fundamental principles of good design: discoverability, feedback, recovery, and so on. Instead, Apple has, in striving for beauty, created fonts that are so small or thin, coupled with low contrast, that they are difficult or impossible for many people with normal vision to read.”
Trends like this is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty. Which is fundamentally false. The article goes on to state:
“Design is a way of thinking, of determining people’s true, underlying needs, and then delivering products and services that help them. Design combines an understanding of people, technology, society, and business. The production of beautiful objects is only one small component of modern design: Designers today work on such problems as the design of cities, of transportation systems, of health care. Apple is reinforcing the old, discredited idea that the designer’s sole job is to make things beautiful, even at the expense of providing the right functions, aiding understandability, and ensuring ease of use.”
We couldn’t agree more. Apple was once a user-centered design leader but now they are setting some of the worst examples that companies, organizations, and individuals alike mindlessly follow in every product or creative media content they produce all because they have fallen for the old discredited idea that everything must be made beautiful no matter the cost.
Proper design requires form FOLLOWING function. Not form OVER function.
You may have heard the old saying “form follows function”. That simple phrase originated from an 20th century principle where the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose. This old saying can also apply to creative content design where the content being created should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose. But too often, modern web designers focus on putting “form over function” where the intended function or purpose of the content becomes secondary and how the content looks takes precedence.
There are many design firms, production houses and even individuals promoting services that adhere to this “form over function” mentality. The sad part about them is they’re usually more focused on gaining industry recognition then they are about your needs.
At Advent Media, Inc, our web design philosophy is “form follows function”. We first and foremost make sure the content we’re creating will achieve the results you’re looking for within the environment or wrapper you will be using. Then we apply styles that beautify the content without hindering the function. You can see the results from all our services in our project portfolio.
We have often been criticized over not being “trendy” or “modern” enough because of our stance on adhering to time-honored user-centered design principles. But that doesn’t mean that we’re against beauty. We know the trends, but we also know the pitfalls and if our experience is anything to go by, we have a proven track record.
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