There's a bubble about to pop, and it has nothing to do with the housing market (for once)
The last five years have certainly seen an influx of "one size fits all" web design. For that matter, media design seems to be stagnant all over the place, with product labeling, music, and just about anything else suffering from the same repetitive, uninspiring methodology. If you've ever mistaken one generic brand for another or couldn't tell the difference between one pop artist on the radio from another, you're certainly not alone.
It seems economy has taken place of quality.
Well, there's certainly nothing wrong with using time-saving methods such as templates in a design if the source material is good. But the ever-increasing emphasis on efficiency and quick fixes has left the market saturated with noticeably bland and unremarkable designs, in every last genre of the media industry.
We're absolutely saturated in graphics, video, music, apps, and products, but all too often there's just not enough substance. This is becoming more and more common of course. When everything tries to catch your eye the same way, nothing catches your eye. When everything is bold, nothing is bold.
However, there's good reason to believe this trend is about to change. Insiders are talking, and word is that time is short for this wave of generic design. The bubble, in other words, is about to burst.
For the better part of the last few years, minimalism and mass cookie-cutter media has been all the rage. Websites and apps have scaled back and focused on flat design, simple options, fewer choices, and an excessively streamlined interface. A couple years back this was hailed as the future of web design and of media in general. However, this hard pull toward "less-is-more" has left the industry with much less than they might have bargained for. The market is simply too over-saturated, and design is quite frankly getting lazy.
That's not to say that designers haven't seen success in the last couple of years. Quite the contrary in fact. However, that is the way bubbles work. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon and produces reams of similar content that lack innovation, and before you know it, momentum is lost and there is no longer any change. When there is no change, there is no longer any new product with which to work with. That is when the bubble pops.
Surely, the web needed to evolve past the cacophony of the 90s style of design, which often boiled down to, "how many links and ad banners can we cram onto one page while still retaining some modicum of legibility." This was the Internet in its infancy, struggling to find a coherent means of conveying its many and varied messages. Still, there was evidence of ingenuity and artistic license everywhere you looked. Every new website you ventured to was another opportunity to see something cool or innovative that you had never seen before, a new message.
The message of the web in 2016 is resoundingly bland, despite its functionality. Very few sites dare to travel outside the minimalist box for fear they will either be shunned or not considered professional or modern enough. A call for a return of 90s web design is never going to happen, nor would any self-respecting designer want such a thing (cringing here just thinking about it), but anyone who is interested in the industry should look out for complexity and innovation to once again start creeping into designs all over the web over the next couple of years.
Web design has been stuck in a stuffy phase and is about to see a renaissance of visual aesthetics and user-focused elements. Custom typography is already making a comeback, and video is being incorporated more into the core of page designs, finally filling the void Flash left when its usage for such purposes dwindled. The only way we're going to get to the next era of design is to break out of this mentality that everything on the web has to look virtually the same in order to be functional.
Usability is the primary focus for any website, but it's also proven that visitors like the aesthetics of a website just as much, if not more than the usability factor. Will fancy graphics save a malfunctioning website? No chance. But if you want to deliver a great experience for your visitors, the aesthetics can't be ignored. There's evidence that part of the reason why attention spans are waning more by the day when it comes to web browsing, is simply due to the fact that we're experiencing a massive case of "been there done that." Why stick around if you've seen the same content a dozen different websites?
Hence the popularity of social media, because it is ever changing. The dynamic nature of social media keeps people coming back for more. The social media recipe should be kept in mind both when building a website for your target audience, as well as when analyzing future web design trends. Look for more dynamic capabilities integrated into web design in the near future, as usability must align with aesthetics in order to truly deliver a solid "user experience."
There's a huge need for better design out there, as more and more businesses scramble to make their websites stand out with the same boring templates and generic industry-standard ideas. Take advantage of this upcoming shift and look into ways to cater more toward your audience rather than the "web status quo." Give your visitors the sense that when they come to your page, their getting something they can't get anywhere else, even if it's just a fun little graphic. The extra effort and artistic quality will pay off.
Want to learn more about how aesthetics play a role in quality design? Check out the Standford Web Credibility Research Project.