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Communication Design

Web Design Trends for 2014

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 26, 2014

It’s the first month of the year, and all our favorite web gurus and resources have been issuing their predictions for 2014. The opinions range, of course. An expert in responsive design, for example, is going to identify different innovative trends than a developer working on creating a new content management system. While reading through the slew of advice, certain predictions kept cropping up. Below are the most frequently mentioned trends taken from an informal survey of webdesign blogs:

Flat design: 
Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Apple’s iOS7 dropped skeumorphism, and the design world celebrated. Almost every blog predicts that flat design will continue to be popular in web design, permitting the focus to be on the website text, with fewer and less distracting images. Web designer Joseph Howard of Pencil Scoop speculates that flat design will evolve into layered design as a way of creating more textured, distinctive layouts. Envato’s CEO Collis Ta’eed sees an upswing on trends such as long shadows, and also predicts layering and gradients applied subtly so as not to detract from the flat sensibility.

Video and motion:
Almost every web design trend article predicted an upsurge in the use of video.  Chris Lake, Director of Content of Econsultancy, and Matt Hall of Web Ascender see video backgrounds becoming more prevalent as newer browsers and faster page load speed enables their use. (For a beautiful example, Lake points to The Guardian’s online article, “The Firestorm.”)  Amber Leigh Turner on The Next Web predicts video will be utilized more often as a hero graphic in lieu of a banner image or slide show, while Howard sees room for video use to grow in blogging, Google hangouts, and news services. While parallax effects (slideshows and scrolling) have been around for a while, both Howard and Webascender predict their usage will continue to grow and become more mainstream in the websites of more prominent, established companies. Front-end designer Jonathan Cutrell on Webdesign Tuts+ sees a rise in animated and responsive icons, creating a new trend in user experience.

Design for mobile devices / increased scrolling:
It’s not a surprise that web design gurus see design for mobile devices continuing to increase in importance. Craig Butler, Director of OptimalWorks Ltd, predicts that from 2013 to 21014, mobile access will increase from one in five web visits to one in four.  Both Benjie Moss of Wedesigner Depot and Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite, predict the long-anticipated death of the mobile web, the development of a secondary website designed to work exclusively on mobile devices. Moss doesn’t see this as an entirely good thing, pointing out that some businesses (such as restaurants) may prefer to direct content differently for desktop versus mobile viewers. The increased viewing on mobile devices has re-familiarized website visitors with scrolling, which is facilitated by swiping. As a result, Hall, Turner, and Lake all see longer scrolling sites becoming acceptable again, and outdated terminology such as “above the fold” being finally dropped.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics):
Another prevalent prediction is the increased use of SVG, in part driven by the popularity of icons. As Moss points out, SVG icons have a huge advantage, in that they are more efficient than icon font files, are responsive, and fit with the popular flat design sensibility. Animated SVGs, already popular as icons, will become more prevalent; Howard cites a number of tools and sources which ease their implementation.  (Howard also predicts the death of the raster icon, in part because of the availability of SVG and icon fonts.)   Cutrell highlights a beautiful example of SVG created by fixate.it, and sees the development of accessible tools for the creation of infovis (graphical representations of data).

Other web design trends include the increased use of CSS to generate imagery, the prevalence of larger images, both as hero images (replacing slide shows) and as backgrounds, the integration of more interesting typography, and the use of fixed headers. Check out our list of references below to read the predictions in full:

Fizz or Fame: 10 Design Trend Predictions For 2014, Joseph Howard, Pencil Scoop

2014 Predictions for Web Design, Collis Ta'eed, Envato

18 pivotal web design trends for 2014, Chris Lake, Econsultancy

14 Website Trends for 2014, Matt Hall, Web Ascender

10 Web design trends you can expect to see in 2014, Amber Leigh Turner, The Next Web

Web Design 2014: What to Watch Out For, Jonathon Cutrell, Webdesign Tuts+

10 Web Predictions for 2014, Craig Bulter, sitepoint

7 web design trends you’ll actually see this year (and how to survive them), Benjie Moss, Webdesigner Depot

In 2014, The Mobile Web Will Die—And Other Mobile Predictions, Dan Rowinski, ReadWrite

Too Close for Comfort: the Pitfalls of Designing your Own Identity

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 27, 2013

Jord Riekwel, the proprietor of the design firm Larkef in the Netherlands, has written a thought-provoking article on the pitfalls of designing your own logo. Although he is a logo designer by trade, Jord discovered that he was at an impasse in designing his own identity. His own designs were lackluster, and he felt he needed another pair of eyes. So he hired “lettering artist” Sergey Shapiro, who created the warm, flowing Larkef logo.

Jord cautions creatives to not assume they can do it all, but to recognize they are not “polymaths”. After failed attempts at his own website design, and afer producing sloppy, trite copy, he hired a website developer and a professional copywriter to take on those two tasks. His take-away:  “Invest money in good design. Hire a proper logo designer, web designer, copywriter, or photographer. You won’t regret it.”

Below: Larkef logo sketches by designer Sergey Shapiro.

Larkef logo sketches by designer Sergey Shapiro.

Doodle Alley: Sustain Your Creativity

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 26, 2013

Illustrator Stephen McCranie has published a wonderfully illustrated treatise on nourishing your creativity. Brick by Brick, appearing on McCranie's blog Doodle Alley, is a cartoon of advice on developing habits and practices to sustain a creative life. The publication was borne of McCranie’s desire to catalog what he had learned during his first couple years as an illustrator. He soon realized that what he was writing “… wasn’t a book about how to create, it was a book about how to be a creator.” Rather than cover the nuts and bolts of being an illustrator – practical advice on getting published, for example – Brick by Brick seeks to give artists the emotional tools they need to thrive in a difficult career.

Some of the advice is heart-warming and postive. In “Be Friends with Failure,” McCranie cautions artists against becoming harsh self critics, and encourages them to embrace failure as part of the learning process. Other advice is extremely wise: in “You Are Not Your Art,” McCranie warns the artist against deciding “…your life is your art,” cautioning that result could be “You treat the master of your craft like gods…but you could care less about people who aren’t as skilled as you.”

McCranie is working on a print edition of the book. His successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $39,000 – $30,000 more than his stated goal. The book will be a 200-page, full color comic about sustainable creativity, and will feature the cartoons on Doodle Alley. The printed publication will include three additional essays that don’t appear online: “Name it to Wield it,” “Divide and Conquer,” and “Work to Work.”

Artwork courtesy of the artist. © Stephen McCranie


Be Friends with Failure, © Stephen McCranie

The Digital Hearth: Yule Log 2.0

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 24, 2013

Yule Log 2.0 logoThe Yule Log, that broadcast of an endless loop of a crackling fire that first played on WPIX-TV in New York City in the 1960s, has become a beloved holiday cliché.  After having been cancelled for a number of years, the parent company of WPIX, Tribune Broadcasting brought back  the broadcast, and numerous knock-offs have been spawned. The most creative is Yule Log 2.0, a collection of short films and animations submitted by both up-and-coming and well-known artists. The collection is curated by animator and illustrator Daniel Savage, a 2012 ADC Young Gun, who has created work for Comedy Central and Google. The Yule Log 2.0 website was created by Wondersauce, a New York based web design studio.

Yule Log 2.0 showcases a lovely range of illustration styles. Both Frank Chimero and Leta Sobierajski created whimsical flames from wiggling fingers. Josh Parker’s stick-figure embers are reminiscent of early cartoons, and Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva, and Bianca Meier illustrated a hapless marshmallow who sits too close to the fire. Visitors to the website can either view each video in sequence, or, in true Yule Log spirit, set one animation to play over (and over and over and over).

Yule Log 2.0 offerings include submissions by (clockwise from top left) Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva and Bianca Meier; Yussef Cole; Greg Gunn; Matthias Hoegg; Josh Parker; and Frank Chimero. Screenshot courtesy of Yule Log 2.0.

Yule Log 2.0 screenshot

Remembering Mandela: The Mandela Poster Project

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 23, 2013

Icograda Mandela Poster ProjectIn recognition of the passing of Nelson Mandela, we’re revisiting the Mandela Poster Project, and Icograda-endorsed initiative which took place this summer. The project was initiated by South African designers Jacques Lange and Mohammed Jogie. It sought to celebrate Mandela’s 95th birthday by soliciting poster submissions from the global design community. From the outpouring of 700 submissions from 70 countries, 95 posters were selected for exhibition. With the contributors’ permission, limited editions of some posters were printed and sold, with proceeds going to Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust. The funds will assist in the estblishment of a dedicated children’s hospital in Johannesberg – Africa’s third, and a final wish of Nelson Mandela’s.

The poster project submissions highlight Mandela’s influence and impact globally. Many of the designs reference his distinctive features and Africa, combing the shape of the continent with portraits of Mandela, and using the South African national colors. But many designs also incorporate the designer’s native cultural references, incorporating patterns, imagery, and typography unique to that individual’s culture. The overall effect reinforces the universality of Mandela’s message of empowerment, justice, and ultimately, harmony.

More about the Mandela Poster Project can be viewed at Mohammed Jogie's presentation to TEDxSoweto.

Below: Poster designed by Canadian designer Robert L. Peters. Poster © Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust.

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