Design Shifts in 2013
From an interactive perspective, design is alive and well in 2013 and will continue to play a key role in digital marketing. However, brand expression will see the greatest shifts in 2013 from previous years.
For many years we have seen Skeuomorphic design principles influencing digital brand expression. Skeuomorphic design, made popular by Apple, is best known when digital elements are designed to resemble familiar, real-world visual mnemonics. Faux glass buttons, soft gradients, corners and shadows, nature-inspired textures like water or leather and icons based on real-world objects are used to make digital feel normal and warm. All of these visual cues allow us, as designers, to make otherwise complex digital experiences more comfortable and recognizable to our audiences. But most importantly, all of these elements could be adapted to support a client’s brand look and feel in appropriate and human ways. This trend is especially appropriate for CPG and entertainment clients.
2012 saw the rapid growth of Microsoft’s Windows 8 “Authentically Digital” look nicknamed “Metro.” Known for its bold solid color blocks, sharp edges and corners, and overall minimalistic approach, Metro is all about the content, dropping brand expression down to secondary, if not tertiary, in the visual language hierarchy. In the Metro approach, Skeuomorphic influences get in the way of the user tasks and the content itself. They are simply design for design’s sake. Great examples of this outside of Microsoft include Pinterest, Facebook and Google.
Finally, we have to acknowledge the massive technology movement of responsive and adaptive design. 2013 will see more brands trying to find their own, unique brand expressions within the ultra-clean limitations of Metro because it naturally works well with this technology. And designers will solve these brand expression challenges side by side with the user experience architects and developers.
Thanks to ever evolving, device-driven content consumption, the economy of interactive design is healthier than ever in 2013. And it is anything but boring.