Morgane, thanks for such a great post on modern design. Your comments are spot on with regard to homogeneity but things haven’t changed that much, even though it is worse. It used to be people copied the One Show or CA; now you’ve got people dribbbling all over the page.

Barbara Lee said it perfectly about bad clients whose lack of understanding or respect for good ideas has always been a major factor in homogeous and uninspired design. And the rise of data driven marketing has made good creative even less important today.

I think the biggest factors that have hurt modern design the most are instant access to information, social media and crowd sourcing.

Think about the design process in the old days. We would get little dribs and drabs from design books, magazine and TV ads, album covers, etc., and then process many seemingly unrelated input to influence our design. Some designers might do deeper research, while others would call upon their specific life experience to find design inspirations no one else had (like the guy who designed a CD cover based on Russian revolutionary art from the 30’s, or the wave of digital air brush illustrations inspired by those old art deco travel posters). Today, everyone can do a search on any subject and find the same resources. So while the playing field is more level, there can be more repetition

Social media, in the form of dribbble, is the modern version of the cool kids’ table in the high school cafeteria — you’ve got to be invited to join and once you’re in, everything is about getting positive feedback. I’m glad I came up in the design world when I did, because I didn’t feel the same pressures. Just being on Medium, one gets seduced by and addicted to the game play quality of positive feedback. I can’t even imagine how you might feel when you see one of the Daves with 70,000 followers and countless views that end up translating into more client work.

Finally, crowd sourcing is the biggest blight in the world of design, because it removes so much of the relationship between designer and client. The only way to get a killer idea is when you understand the unique story that a client wants, but is unable to tell. There are so many subtle preferences, experiences and market realities that only the client really knows. If we can’t get into his head, a big pat of the genius from collaboration is lost. But the client doesn’t understand this. They think they’re getting great stuff from all the human resources available, and don’t have the taste, education or experience to know they are getting mounds of homogenous and often terrible design.

BTW, I love the random rhomboid shapes for your photos. You found a way to make Medium’s structured format unique to your own expression.

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store