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Top design trends for 2014

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› Top design trends for 2014
  • Published on February 21, 2014

With 2014 well under way, designers are taking the innovations of the past and blending them with new, improved digital elements that are quickly becoming this year's top trends. While this does not necessarily mean that your burgeoning skills need to be completely revamped to keep pace, the overall timbre of these updates do suggest that you might want to consider taking a refresher course in some of the industry's leading pagination and illustration software. 

Taking courses through the American Graphics Institute could help you acquire the skills you will need to lay a solid design foundation, which will put you in a much better position to tackle some of 2014's hottest design trends. 

A little bit of levity
According to Biz Community, humor is becoming one of the most sought after elements in marketing materials. Now that the U.S. economy is starting to move past the recession, new designs are starting to reflect a lighter side of the same material. For instance, in an ad campaign that once featured shades of gray and dark blue, 2014 would see this strategy swapped out for brighter hues. Additionally, if you peruse the pages of any number of magazines, the source noted that some of the more complex designs are beginning to feature an airy, humorous tone, featuring the same content, but with a much more creative and light-hearted tone. 

Blast from the past
At the same time, this paradigm shift from the dull and dreary to a more positive vibe also includes a retrofitting of some design elements that are, for all intents and purposes, over. However, manufacturers are setting a new precedent in some of the appliances that are being featured in 2014. Kitchenware, such as refrigerators and coffee makers, are hearkening back to older models for their sturdiness, reprising what was considered clunky just a few years ago. As such, design elements are bringing back a genre of advertisements that would have been modern in the late 1990s - grunge, rockabilly and punk elements, featuring colorful pops and stylish silvers, are in. iStock Photo also reported that hand drawn vectors and images that appear intentionally low-grade are also part of this phenomenon. 

Beards and realistic women
Trends in fashion continue to influence design throughout 2014, and now that men all over the country are sporting all manner of facial hair again, beards are making a big comeback in illustrations. Where clean-shaven models were popularized in the 1990s and early 2000s, this year carries over the scruffiness of 2013. Images in everything from educational materials featuring professors to commercials about family values include beards, and from a design standpoint, this makes sense - if you're attempting to craft something that has realistic qualities, it's important to reference what the consumers are seeing around them. Thus, the beard. 

A paradigm shift in the way women are viewed is also being reflected in design. Rather than featuring models whose figures represent an extremely thin and unrealistic ideal, everything from the beauty industry to the world of modern art is beginning to reflect new facets of the female form. 

Flat images and photo apps
Now that services like Instagram and Picstitch have made it easier for individuals to try their hands at editing photography, the resulting images, altered and changed by basic filters and very few graphics options, have inspired professional designers to adopt this style in marketing campaigns and other public-facing visuals. Why? Because it's recognizable. While applying changes to an image on one of these apps is relatively simple, using InDesign to mimic these changes can be complex by comparison. In an effort to draw in a younger crowd, this is a trend that shouldn't go unnoticed. With just a few Adobe classes, you can transform any image into an Instagram classic. 

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.