Webdesign is getting boring? Frankly, I disagree.
Not the youngest of articles but the same discussion happened on medium the other day. So this comes up again and again and I can very well understand the feeling.
I really get it. We used to have a lot of fun with bevels and fake shiny plastic back in the day. Oh how I enjoyed Winamp skins, noise filters and fake mercury letters. After all it was what got me hooked when I was 14 or so.
We actually aspired to create more user friendly websites for a long while, making fun of animated gifs.. now look where we ended up: the web is (well, mostly) rather user friendly and everybody and their dogs creates animated gifs. hehe. So one problem is solved, the other had some kind of pop culture revival.
Content first, no bullshit design doesn’t need to be boring. Just because Ruder and other typographers established structured and well organised grid layouts (that we all love), print hasn’t become any more boring either. The fact that we have great grid frameworks for the web takes a lot of fiddling away and we can figure out how to use this to still create individual layouts within the constraints and not sacrifice UX and accessibility along the way. It is possible to create visually pleasing editorial content on the web and not sacrifice UX. However, for the latter you need the client, the budget and the coders that don’t try to explain to you about DITA and what not. I’m sure we find a middle ground, friends. 🙂
Like with all things though, that comes with a price. You can’t expect to quote a website template for 600 bucks and be left with creative freedom. Creativity and design processes are rather inefficient by nature and there’s a good chance that the longer an idea boils, the more refining is applied, the better the result. Now if you complain about boring websites and push prices to the bare minimum and change a few lines of a themeforest template, there’s your problem. For a company, 1000$ doesn’t make a difference if they know the value of what they receive will actually improve much, as well. On a side note, I usually suggest to clients that have basically no budget at all to go for that themeforest route but at the same time making it clear to them that while this might work for starters, it scratches only the surface of what’s possible. For some it matters, for some it doesn’t.
If you think Webdesign is boring, maybe stop using premade templates completely, where you initially think you want to change certain things but then forget about it because it’s much more convenient to use what’s already there. And then there’s a deadline. And the guy liked that photo of a pasture in the hero area that ships with it. Why bother. But if you succumb to this workflow, you’re bound to be bored.
Accept that you are always designing for an audience. If this audience is supposed to find their way and information quickly, there’s only so much options. And that is a good thing for everyone! But there are times where an audience is different, where you are completely in charge of things.
This doesn’t mean that you have to get bored. Drop (or rethink) your dribbble and make a kick ass weird portfolio site that shows off the freaky, non mainstream side of you. Without the hero images and the sidebar and the sexy smiling lady with a headset..
Or make a graphically wild mobile app using Ionic and Cordova just for the heck of it.
Or anything, really.
I know, because I made the same mistake a few years ago and it took me a while to realise what has happened. If you get bored, quality drops, money becomes the main focus and all the love is gone before you know it. If you’re like me, maybe you need to look for contrast to restore balance, thus maybe even discovering new things in the process.
We design for clients, we are bound to budgets and opinions and corporate identities. But we can also design for ourselves from time to time. I did this way too rarely in the past couple of years and I have to rediscover, for example, my love for bold typographic minimalism and noisy collages.
Question design trends, be skeptic. I was never a big fan of jumping on the bandwagon. And I have a hard time connecting to the so called design community because the weight of egos is pushing too hard for my taste. There’s enough kids running after (insert latest design trend here). At least that’s how I feel about it, anyways. There’s things to consider and then there’s the funky gradient everybody uses for their icon backdrop I don’t give a fuck about.