Following "Trends"?

Hello All.

I’m “new” to web design [I’m a graphic designer]…studying it at a community college to get a “certification.” (I know, I know…I can hear the groans…). Anyhoo, I’ve had previous classes on HTML5/CSS3, etc. This semester we are researching “current trends” and we are being shown design styles that were in my previous classes…taboo! Things like intro pages (don’t do that, people want to get right to the nitty gritty), large images (takes too long to download), large videos (same, download time), etc. And also newer design trends like parallax and flat card design that you see all over the web. So it’s kind of confusing have spent so much time being told “don’t do that” and now its ok, “do that”!

So my question is…how important IS it as a web designer to follow “current trends?” I see tons of websites now using flat color card design. When websites start following certain trends, doesn’t it kind of take away from being unique to the company or personal image? Does using new trends apply more to large websites for corporations rather than the smaller website for individuals or small companies?

Are design trends changing so fast it’s not worth trying to keep with the Jones and just do your own thing? Or do you keep redesigning web sites to keep current with changing times so you are always reflecting contemporary tastes?

I do understand that things with the web are ALWAYS changing as technology and code standards evolve. But is it a good idea to jump on current trends and ride the wave or try to stand out by NOT looking like other web sites?

Web design is a lot like fashion or graphic design in their is always a sense of trends and being relevant. It’s why massive companies like Coca Cola and Apple and other massive conglomerates tweak their approaches on a regular basis.

If a company can’t be seen as being relevant, then people start to worry about how reliable the company is, and how long it’s going to stay around. Just like any marketing tool, perception drives business to and away from companies all the time.

The key is to build your site and content as flexibly as possible so that design elements like flat designs are simply a matter of tweaking the css, with as little html changes as possible. Otherwise the massive rebuilding efforts will kill your business.

There was a great article a couple years ago about tweaking vs rebuilding, but I can’t find it in my links right now. I’ll have to see if I can dig it up because it’s a great read…

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Not that I’m a designer but I’ve heard many feed back like “That section is too big!”. “The font is too ugly, small, or whatever”. With a single design, you can’t please 100% of the users. For me, I think beyond designs. For example, say you have a wizard like shopping car w/ payment system. I may provide a ‘1 click’ button that would bypass the shopping car and just go straight to billing page. I don’t care about the trends. All I care is to make the site as ‘intuitive’ as possible. If the new trends helps that then definitely use it!

Web design is funny in that you sort of do have to follow trends, or like @DaveMaxwell said you lose relevancy. If you’re too innovative or you lag too far behind then you end up being unintuitive.

But that’s ok because it means we’ll never be out of work :smile:

Thanks everyone for the input! I can see where the mega companies have the money to keep redesigning their websites but for the smaller entity…maybe not so much. But like OzRamos said, it means you’d never be out of work. lol Hmm…some things to think about for my projects.

You’ll notice that most companies will tweak their looks, not go for whole scale redesigns. Keeping up with trends is one thing, totally changing marketing approaches is a whole other animal. Too much change is never a good thing - it’s often a sign of desperation.

Keeping up with trends is essential if you want to stay up to date. It’s not limited to the web either, most trades are ever changing.

Now, whether you choose to use any current “trend” in your work is really up to you. Of course the current popular look is flat, but just a few years ago it was all drop shadows and glossy stuff - build something like that and it could look a bit old fashioned.

Most designers/developers often find their own style of design, and keep tweaking/evolving it with current trends so keep on designing and you should find your own style.

What did Steve Jobs do?

Did he “follow”?

Was Steve Jobs a web designer?


And how well would that have worked if dealing with just the web? Or get exempted from the Microsoft rules against monopolies?

Not saying that he didn’t lead a good chase (don’t forget the 1000’s of apple employees), but that’s a real edge case who got very lucky that the federal regulators didn’t pay too much attention to the business practices.

Follow the newest trends! Look at this perfectly done website with no flaws at all -

Edit-I should say I’m being sarcastic :wink: .

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Okay, so I’m going to come at this from a different angle. Build a site that serves your target audience.

Trends do not matter. What matters is that your audience is targeted and able to utilize the site you built that doesn’t make them want to chuck their laptop, phone, or computer across the room. If you are able to use current trends and still accomplish that goal, you’re fine! Good job!

Success isn’t measured by what trends you follow or choose not to follow but rather by user experience and usability. If those two things falter, your site is a failure. If you are able to handle those two aspects perfectly, your site will succeed (provided there is an audience for it).

Forget about trends. Learn to build usable sites that your users will enjoy experiencing and the trends will follow you.


No, he was a Software Designer, a Hardware Designer, a Platform Designer, and a Company Designer, and he went down in history for not doing what everyone else does…

My point is that the Internet - and even SitePoint - is littered with people asking…

  • How can I get rich quick?

  • How can I get rich quick doing the same thing that everyone else is?

  • How can I keep all of my warm, fuzzy “security”, and still get rich quick doing the same thing as everyone else?

(I just love it when people come here and post, “I have this cutting edge idea - it’s sorta like FaceBook but much more innovative. BTW, does anyone know if there is a WordPress plug-in that will do _____?”)

Obviously any educated IT person keeps up on trends, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a dope and always follow them…

Aren’t designers supposed to be “creative”?? :wink:

That’s not really following trends though, that’s like what is doing. Only that wings place did a way better job lol

I should clarify that when I say follow trends I mean from a UX perspective, not literally the design - that would be silly. As far as UX/usability goes, you want to be as intuitive as you can. The link Ryan posted is a perfect example of not sticking to the [usability] trend.

For example, if you start stuffing your menu hamburger on the bottom right of the screen, or the search widget is on the bottom left you’ll confuse users. It’s like if you got into a car and suddenly the ignition was on the left (or wherever it normally is if your outside the US)

They tried making a “new” trend. That was my point. There’s more examples of horizontal scrolling websites that IMO are just garbage and should be stopped. That’s an example of a trend that is horrible.

Not every trend is automatically “good” :slight_smile: .The stupid lead the stupider.

I believe that web design should be about giving the user or visitor to the web site a better experience. If a web site does not give the user a good experience then what is the point of following web design trends. There are allot of new trends out there so I say follow the ones that gives your users the best experience.

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Exactly. And the OP asked specifically about web design.

Come on TechnoBear… I never knew you were a “Me-To” kind of person?!

As I see it, the original question boils down to…

Should I FOLLOW, and I say “No”, I think you should LEAD.

Being aware of trends is not the same thing as perpetually following trends.

There is a difference.

I encourage the OP to think out of the box and push the limits of current trends and trends unknown and create things which meet the client’s needs and exceed their expectations because you are doing creative, original work and NOT just following what everyone else is doing!

In my opinion, it is better to stick on your Original style than following trends :slight_smile: