Interesting article on The Washington Post about a new trend of "bad" web design. This raises questions about the definition of "good" web design. It also shines a light on the general feeling in the industry that we've reached the pinnacle of the craft. Designers seem restless and this might be a product of that.
The always brilliant Jeffrey Zeldman sums up 2015 (and looks into 2016) with some bullet points. Two of my favorite:
90 percent of design is typography. And the other 90 percent is whitespace.
Don’t design to prove you’re clever. Design to make the user think she is.
See the full list here: http://www.zeldman.com/2015/12/24/the-year-in-design/.
While on Designer News today, I stumbled across a good article about Front-end Principles for Design and did a little digging on the author, Jon Yablonski. I quickly found out that he is also an editor of the shockingly comprehensive Web Design Field Manual. I link to several of the resources listed in the Manual every year in class but I've never seen so many, especially all in one place. After a few minutes of browsing the site, I've found several new and useful resources. I'm sure you will too!
Short answer: Microsoft.
Khoi Vinh has a nice rundown of what software designers use today. In every class I teach, I get questions about what software should be used to design websites. The students just want an answer ("go use Photoshop") but, as Khoi has points out, it's much more complicated than that. My own research in this area has very similar findings. Although, I would say that Sketch has taken more of a foothold on the West Coast than he insinuates especially in small shops.
An especially nice quote from the article:
Overall, the visits confirmed to me that the landscape is significantly changing for how we designers do our work and what tools we use, but it seems clear that there’s room for a lot more innovation going forward.
There have been several well-done design guides produced this year (e.g. Google's Material). It seems to be the thing to do these days. Design guides are a great chance for design teams to show off all the detail and thought that went into their work. I especially like them because they arfully show how interconnected and intricate digital experiences are now. The most recent one I've seen is the IBM Design Language. Even though it is tailored for IBM, it can read as a "best practices guide" for many aspects of design work (visual, experiential, technological, etc.). The "Famework" section is the place to be if their navigation options confuse you (as they did me). I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
From Paul Boag's article Why You Should Include Your Developer In The Design Process
“Should designers be able to code? This topic never seems to die, with its endless blog posts, Twitter discussions and conference talks. But the developer’s involvement in the design process seems to be addressed very little. This is a shame, because developers have a huge amount to add to discussions about design.
The unfortunate truth is that many designers have a somewhat elitist attitude towards design. They believe that only they can come up with good design ideas. That is simply not true.”
Boag's article is spot-on. Devs know the medium of code much better than anybody and often have better ideas because of it. Designers—even those working in digital media—still hang on to a legacy understanding of the relationship between design and production. Good digital design comes from well-rounded teams, not individuals. The article is underselling the finer skills that either side provides that the other can't (from design: typography, balance, rhythm, etc) but on a whole, he is right in saying that we need to get away from the elitist "designer knows best" attitude.