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Design & Dev Ramblings
Instagrammers, bloggers. They really, really want to share their stuff with you. They want to display it really neatly for you. They really want to do the corporations’ ad work for them. They want to flat lay.
So what does this conspicuous product display trend in social media photography say about us? Are we becoming mini brand-ambassadors/corporate slaves, James Franco’s Alien, or is there something inherently attractive about pretty items and packaging arranged just so?
Personally I think it works well for fashion mag spreads or email campaigns, Instagram not so much.
We will always have minimalism – the reason it keeps coming back in vogue is because it is so clean, classic and purifying, but in the increasingly present world of design – you can have too much of a good thing, and at this moment, many designers seem to feel that indulgence is minimalism – or it’s web-cousins: flat design and material design.
For sure flat design isn’t going away anytime soon, rather we are needing elements that give visual interest to it – sharp patterns and geometric elements are one big trend. The other is more organic and analog.
The Matisse “Cut-out” Look
It seems appropriate, in this time of austerity (in design and in general) that Matisse’s exhibit of bold irreverent and joyful “cut-outs” should bring the largest crowds ever (to London Tate and also the MoMA). Similarly in graphic design we see, if not direct references to Matisse’s cutouts then similar handmade crafty bits placed whimsically in layouts – letters even, out of traditional formation.
With the rise of flat design comes the need for elements to add visual interest. Sharp geometric patterns are a great way of achieving this within the lexicon, so expect to see them adding depth to flat designed interfaces, especially in those vibrant 80s colours. This trend cracks me up a bit because it feels like we are rebelling against a digital machine minimalism with a quirky style that really took hold in the desktop revolution of the 80s, an era, that many in the profession argued was the worst. A design era that many railed against for the cheap reproducible look of computer generated shapes.
Where is that design pendulum now?
We are at that point again in the design pendulum (from cool minimalism to warm decoration) where analog crafts make their way back into design portfolios, and patterns are playing a big role in that. Whether they’re geometric or more organic, these non-repetitive and quirky patterns break the overly digital or flat-designed mould to emphasize a human element.
This pendulum has been swaying back and forth between extreme minimalism to decorative display (even to the point of an outright rejection of the form) since the beginning of modern design. Which is why you could easily see similarities right now with these quirky arrangements that play with a rigid modern canvas to dada, the bauhaus/neue typographie and even the deconstructed style of David Carson.
What’s up with that “scroll-hole” you can get stuck in when the map is full-width and longer than the device window and you keep panning around the map, rather than scrolling down the rest of the site? Well it’s not one of the most common settings in the documentation, but it is simple. When you initialize your map, just add this one setting:
The other common oversight, is those custom map markers. You know the pretty icons you make to brand the map (instead of those fugly off-red stock ones). You create your pretty retina-sized image so it looks great on the latest devices, but it render huge on the map. Well you can set it to the right size in your image settings when you add the marker image to your map (replace WIDTH and HEIGHT with the sizes you’d like – which is half your original image’s – without the trailing “px”).
var myMapImage = new google.maps.MarkerImage("images/marker-icon.png", null, null, null, new google.maps.Size(WIDTH,HEIGHT));
Hopefully this helps out, ’cause you want your maps to be a help not a hindrance!
Hanging out in the Pinterest same-o-sphere can send a designer running from the herd, however I wouldn’t desert the realm of industrial chic interiors and bespoke hand-lettered inspo quotes just yet. This is why Pinterest helps my design process:
That ordering algorithm is sick. Sure, it’s temporally ordered by recency, but look closer you’ll see that it organizes by colour and tone, and look even closer and you’ll see it accounts for structure as well. This means you can view groupings of images that are not from the same category at all, right against each other. For example a type layout for a book cover, next to a bauhaus building from the 30s next to some textile pattern from a far away land all speaking a similar language. This really helps you look outside the narrow discipline of “web design” for inspiration.
You can distinguish between the trends and the timeless. Take it from someone who told her SO not to invest in UGGS in the early 00’s – it pays to know when a trend is not just a trend! Of course no one has a crystal ball that will tell you if cool ideas won’t run their course by the next quarter, but looking back on your pins will definitely show which elements have stood the test of time, and may even regenerate into the next trends. For example, Are full screen overlay menus a pain in the arse now, or on their way to defining a new mobile navigation experience?
So there you go, you can waste away hours in a Pinterest hole, safe in the knowledge that you are polishing your design sensibility, and arming your clients with the sharpest design and UI prowess around!