In an industry that is constantly in flux, web designers must evolve with it. If you don’t have a passion for learning new technologies and applying new techniques you risk falling behind your competition.
But with new web design trends emerging one after another, how do you determine which trends are worth adopting, and which are fads that will soon be old news?
As a new player in the industry, it will take some time for you to fine-tune your filter. But the sooner you get a feel for it, the more likely you’ll be to stand out from the pack.
We’ve asked a few experts in the field to weigh in on the subject to help get you started.
Be on the Lookout for the Next Big Thing
It’s crucial for web designers to keep abreast of changes in order to stay at the top of their game, says Dan Chircop, head of design at the digital marketing firm Colewood.
One example of why it’s important to adapt to new web design trends is the sudden popularity of tablets and mobile devices. By ignoring this growing market, you’re throwing away business, says Thomas Buck, founder of web development consultancy TBB Polska.
“You don’t want to wake up one morning and suddenly find yourself irrelevant,” says Buck.
Similar to any other industry, getting too comfortable in old habits often results in new talent and technology passing you by. Always remember that your number one priority is your client. So if you can offer new, innovative ideas and techniques that will help them stand out from their competitors, you will stand out as well.
Don’t Be Too Quick to Jump on the Bandwagon
While it is important to stay aware of the latest trends in web design, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to implement them. It’s easy to become infatuated with every shiny new toy that comes your way, but Buck warns young designers against jumping ship too soon.
Successful designers are able to take a step back and assess whether or not a new trend is worth adopting. If you spend too much time dabbling in several different techniques, you run the risk of mastering none of them, says Mike Walker, CEO of WalkerTek Interactive Marketing.
“Quality work is better than showing off the latest technology,” he says.
Walker encourages young designers to focus on the core elements of web design. He believes that once a designer excels at the basics, then he or she can experiment with new techniques.
Always Keep the Client in Mind
Everyone likes to play with new toys, but that’s not what will get you to the top—you need to be cutting-edge.
But in doing so, you need to remember that the needs of your client come before your need to try out new technology. So before testing out new techniques, be sure you’ve done your homework.
If you learn about a new web design trend from tech giants Apple, Microsoft or Amazon, you can be pretty confident it’s worthwhile, says Chircop. He says designers become vulnerable when they start applying the latest trends regardless of whether or not they fit with the client’s needs.
"You don't want to wake up one morning and suddenly find yourself irrelevant."
When a client pays for a new website, there’s a good chance they plan on using it for a few years, says Chircop. Those trendy techniques that are all the rage in 2013 may result in a site that looks outdated the following year.
Because of this, he says, longevity is often more important than the latest and greatest web design trends.
Ideally, Chircop says designers should take note of the latest trends and integrate them into their own style, rather than simply replicating someone else’s work. This allows the work to demonstrate the perfect balance between practicality and innovation.
How Do You Decide Which Trends are Worth Your Time?
Experts agree that the key to success in this industry is being able to determine which web design trends are worth adopting.
Before pulling the trigger on a new trend, Walker encourages designers to ask themselves a few questions:
- How reliable is this new technology?
- How well is it supported?
- Will it save me time or make my job easier?
- Will I use it enough to justify learning it?
- Will the user experience improve because of it?
The answers to these questions will allow you to gauge whether or not the new trend is practical to your work or worth developing as a new skill. As you gain more experience, you will develop a better instinct for which trends are worth pursuing and which are a waste of your time.
There are two basic ways of thinking about new trends, according to Buck. You can say, “Wow, this is cool! How can I use this in my next project?” Or you can say, “Wow! This would have made my last project so much cooler, easier or more reliable.” Buck advises students to focus on the latter.
What he’s saying is that students shouldn’t force new web design trends into a project simply for the sake of looking trendy. Instead, implement new techniques as a way to improve the functionality or user experience.
So as you get closer to earning your degree in web design, remember this expert advice. Paying attention to these tips could help you win clients and distinguish yourself in the field.
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