Next stop: no design

The january theme at Media Evolution is Strategic Design. Read more about the theme and our events tied to it here:
One piece of the puzzle strategic design is of course the website. We asked Emilia Blom, head of design at Foap to give us her view on the most important aspects of web design in 2014. 

Six months ago I posted a tweet (in swedish) saying something like: “The next trend after flat design: no design”. I was kind of joking around, since I’ve never found it very interesting to talk about trends, let alone predicting them. I guess what I was trying to express at that point was a general feeling of “hey, this is boring – something needs to happen”.

Since then I’m glad to say many things have changed. Mainly because I’ve made some big changes to the way I work. Not only have I switched (or ditched) a large part of my work tools and processes. I have also regained some hope that my field of work (digital design) has not completely turned into a closed circle of navel gazers. I’m actually looking forward to taking my work to “the next level”. And to give you an idea of what I mean by that I have written down four challenges for myself (and all digital designers out there – let’s join hands and sing Kumbaya) to take on in 2014:

1. Stop breaking things

This sums it up pretty well: “… all the problems we have with websites are ones we create ourselves. Websites aren’t broken by default, they are functional, high-performing, and accessible. You break them. You son-of-a-bitch.”

I’m really sorry for all the time I’ve wasted trying to force a design upon something already working. The frameworks and tools at our disposal (for example Bootstrap, Foundation or Flat UI Pro) are already working tremendously well and are doing a large part of the design work for us. Could it be: there is no need for design anymore?

Okay, so what’s left then. The answer is (and alway was): content.

2. Start making things

Designing a website is creating content. There is no way around it when you want to make something out of nothing. We have to roll up our sleeves and learn how to: tell stories, write copy (inspiration for aspiring UI-copy writers: ), snap photos, edit film, create illustrations, animate graphics, make your illustrations responsive. In other words: take content to the next level.

The content we create can’t rely on shiny buttons and fluffy containers anymore. It has to work by its own because chances are people will never even consume it where we first intended them to. In other words: the content itself will in some way be the user interface. Here are two neat examples of services that celebrate content, who’s user interfaces consist of almost only content:

3. Be in between

Being just a designer hasn’t been enough for some time now. We finally have to face that whatever skillset we possess we are increasingly going to have to stand comfortably between roles. So pick your second strongest skill and turn it into that nice horizontal arm of your T-shaped self.

Good news: this gives us great opportunities to work with the spaces in between. Because digital design is also about creating and defining transitions and breaking points. If you haven’t done so already: it’s definitely time to leave Photoshop behind and start using tools that were made for the creation of moving user interfaces. Here are a few:

Macaw  Currently in closed beta
Google Webdesigner  Free!
Adobe Edge Reflow
Adobe Edge Animate

4. Be friendly!

I’m sad to say there is still a lot of bashing, ranting and making-fun-of going on in the design community. My wish for 2014 it that it will be the year of friendly and constructive design critique. This goes for me aswell:

  • Let go of perfectionism. Already.

  • Embrace the fact that our work is and should be subject to constant change – it will never be finished so we might as well show others what we have created and gather feedback early on.

  • If your’re not brave enough to do so: at least be nice to the ones who are.