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Is following design trends good or bad for business?

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Design, like most everything else, changes with the times. There are landmark art and design movements that we are taught about in school. These come about as there are massive shifts in technology and popular culture.

There are also more fleeting, yearly and even monthly design trends that can be a lot tougher to keep up with.

So should you even try to keep up with the latest trends?

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Keeping up can be a very positive thing. It makes the work you do seem cutting edge. This in turn keeps your clients on trend which will no doubt keep them happy.

That being said there are a few things to keep in mind before trying your hand at the latest and greatest design trend.


A note from Preston: As a reminder, Ben (the author of this post) has just joined the Millo writing team and will be contributing regularly. Please join me in giving him a warm welcome by leaving a comment on this post.

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Get the basics down.

There are golden rules to design. These are basic principles to build off of and work from as a foundation for all of your work.

These fundamentals are what make timeless designs.

If you jump on a trend, ignoring the fundamentals of design, you will end up with a finished product that lacks substance. Once that trend is over, the design has no

more value and just looks dated.

Use the fundamental design principles as a foundation, and particular trends only where they are appropriate and you will end up with work that looks good, and up to date even once the trend is on its way out.

Do what’s natural.

Most people have a specific style, so work within yours. Just because a certain aesthetic is very popular doesn’t mean you should try it.

A smashing design, in a less popular style will beat a forced design in a popular one, every time.

This isn’t to say that if a trend is different than your normal style you will be bad at it.

You might be amazing at it, so by all means give it a try.

If it feels forced and phony though, it may be best to avoid it.

Know what’s worth paying attention to.

It can be overwhelming to keep tabs on all of the different trends going on at one time.

Try and differentiate between styles that are likely to be a flash in the pan, and ones that have some staying power. No one wants their work to be out of style before it’s even finished.

Flat design, and striped down simplistic looks are very popular currently, but have their roots in the broader Minimalism and Functionalism movements that have been around for decades.

Trends that stem from established and well liked movements are more likely to stick around and be successful.

Consider your timeline.

Depending on what you’re working on, it’s not unheard of for a lot of time to pass before it will see the light of day.

If you think this may be the case, it may be best to avoid really on trend styles, in favor of something a little more classic.

On the other side of this, a lot of work for the web has a short life span and can be designed without worry of it sticking around long after a trend is over.

What about you?

How close an eye do you keep on the latest design trends? Leave a comment on this post and let’s talk more about how you balance following trends with building your business.

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About Ben Brush

Ben Brush is a graphic designer working and living in Nova Scotia. You can view his work on his website. Find more posts by Ben on his graphic design blog Design Puffin or connect with him on twitter.

Leave a Comment



  1. I am not really a huge fan of trends… More often than not they are just flash in a pan. But yeap! I experiment alot and it greatly helps me expand my ‘creative capacity’… Gotta push that comfort zone 😀
    And yeah welcome Ben hope to read more from you.

    • I could not agree more about pushing yourself to always try something new and break out of the comfort zone.

      Thanks for commenting, and your warm welcome!

      I can’t wait to write more and interact with this community.

  2. I believe a designer must first of all KNOW the new trends.
    When a client says something about long shadows or ribbons or what not, it can be very un-cool to not have a clue about what he’s talking about.

    Then, it can be good to take into account the new existing trends while working on something. A designer can use certain trends very mildly, only in icons, for example, to give the website a cool trendy look, but still with a unique touch.
    Only when it suits, and only when it has a good reason behind.

    Welcome to the crew Ben, waiting to read more of your posts.

  3. Great point Vivian!

    I fully support staying aware and up to date with the latest in the design world. Then combine that with the discretion to know when and how to use them.

    Thanks for that thought!

  4. I would also add the latest in technology. The one that comes to mind at the moment are single page parallax websites. They are cool, but I see them everywhere now and I think more people should be asking themselves why they are choosing something like this. Because it’s new and cool or because the site will function better/serve a purpose etc.

    Great post Ben!

    • I think you make a super good point Aaron.

      I have seen some Single page parallax sites that used the effect super well. On the other side of that I’ve seen some that just made the site annoying to navigate.

      Great comparison between the latest tech, and the latest trends!

      Thanks Aaron

  5. I think everything has its place when it comes to trends, If a client wants the latest trendy stile of design, then that’s what they want. At the end of the day the customer isn’t wrong, but it doesn’t mean they are wright!

    • True enough Matthew!

      It’s important to listen to what the client wants, even if you don’t necessarily think it’s the best approach. That makes it easier to find a compromise you are both happy with.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. It looks like you’ve jumped on the flat bandwagon whiich I like also but in the process you’ve sacrificed the typography of your site and it’s practically unreadable in Chrome anyways. Ouch my eyes.


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