Are trends just the lazy way to design? Each new wave of “cool” brings a new wave of cookie-cutter designs. Is the art of design so fickle that originality is shunned for the “do what works” mentality?
It’s understandable that a specific designer has a style or a signature. However, it is bizarre that an entire culture will follow a design trend almost unwittingly. For the case of Web 2.0, we’ve definitely struck a design nerve and a style for this generation of the web. I don’t have to show you the design similarities between websites vastly different in content from each other, as I’m sure you’re inundated with them every minute you spend online.
There have been tons of Web 2.0 design tutorials and style guides written. In fact, there are Web 2.0 design generators. Anything this automated and monotonous cannot possibly the direction for fresh and original design. Yet, there are new sources of design building upon Web 2.0 principles every day. Just look at any of the numerous CSS galleries (or should I say, Web 2.0 galleries).
The copycat design trending doesn’t stop on the web, unfortunately. Let’s take a few more tangible examples.
Notice anything? Each poster houses a very different movie, yet, the composition of each is strikingly similar. I didn’t delve into past movies (as I guarantee these aren’t the first to have this composition) but instead looked at the current movies in the theatres. It’s almost scary how similar they look.
How to design your own:
- Take the main character, or the most significant person in the movie and place their silhouette in the middle of the poster.
- Have the character in an emotional pose with their back towards you. Note: Make sure that the pose shows a visual diagonal through the character from upper-right to bottom-left.
- Surround the character with dramatic imagery vaguely hinting to the movie’s content.
- Add typography and you’re done.
There’s no secret here that the design of these magazines is meant for attention-grabbing purposes only. The design gets less attention than the stories do, which is saying something.
I’m sure most of the design for these covers is based on sticking the most ridiculous text on the cover to sucker the reader in, and for some reason it must work. The layout has not only been copied by each magazine, but they haven’t changed the layout for a long time. The “stick to what works” mentality can sometimes work, and other times make you a dinosaur.
How to design your own:
- Yellow text. Nothing says “read me” like big yellow text.
- Anything important should be in white text with a color block behind it.
- Anything REALLY important should be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
- Make sure the pictures of the celebrities are the worst possible photos you can find. Photoshop them to look worse, if necessary.
- The layout should always follow this format: One big block on the left, and a sidebar with smaller blocks on the right.
- The closer your letters are in your logo, the better.
The best magazine cover designs are fairly similar as well, but in a good way. Simplicity, cleanliness, and intelligent design.
Wait a minute, I thought we were talking about good design
We’re talking about what the majority of people consider “good” design. That is, the design that makes money. Whether it’s pretty or not, if it makes people buy into it, it’s designed to do it’s job.
The function of design is to make the product more usable and improve the usability of the product’s function. Yet, as we all know, great design is innovative and different. The simpler and better the design can be, the more enjoyable and easier it makes our lives.
Even though the cookie-cutter designs work for a while, the truly good designs are the original and fresh concepts that change the way we look at things.Now go own the world.
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