Should Web Designers Follow Trends?

Posted by Ryan Gittings

I’m quite active in the web design community and there’s always lots of discussions about trends. I’ll attempt to breakdown why trends happen and what that means for us web designers.

Why do trends happen?

Trends appear in web design on a yearly basis, that’s a fact. Sometimes trends are just purely aesthetic, for example the flat design trend, but sometimes they’re structural, going from a main column and sidebar layout, to more sectional based design for a better “flow” through a site. They tend to happen because designers are always open to ideas, they do hours of research for self-improvement, to try introduce new ideas into their own ideas and take inspiration. When a bulk of designers all see a revolutionary idea, which improves a website, they’ll try introduce it into their own projects, and therefore this trend starts to gather momentum.

Should we follow trends?

There’s a massive divide between some web designers, some designers really discourage the following of trends, as it causes many websites to look and work quite similarly, but is that really a bad thing?

Take the revolution in sectional design. A vast majority of websites use a sectional/flow type layout, rather than a main column and sidebar layout used a few years a go. Why I hear you ask…

The way we use and filter through content is changing. With every year that passes by, users have no time. They want everything on demand, right now. Users certainly won’t spend minutes reading through copy, they need to get to the information they need quickly. A sectioned based site breaks up content, introduces smaller paragraphs and heading for the users to scan and find the content the need much quicker, as well as working much better responsively across mobiles and tablets. Sectional design has become more than a trend though, it’s here to stay.

When a trend becomes more than a trend?

Flat design is easily the most popular design technique used in websites these days. It emphasises minimum use of drop shadows, gradients, textures etc. The web took inspiration from the Metro UI, coincidently when responsive design started to take off. It was far easier for designers and developers to easily design for mobile, tablet and desktop. It also removed clutter and bloat from designs, to allow users on smaller devices to focus on the content, which is the most important thing in terms of user experience. It revolutionised the web and it’s here to stay.