Start a Style Movement by Designing a Flaw

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You’ve created the greatest design of your career. That’s a lot to be said considering you’ve been in the industry for so long. You’ve studied so hard throughout the years and made so many sacrifices in the name of design. That determination has placed you in the design seat that you sit in today, infront of this masterful work. You feel it’s your time to make your mark in design history and to start a style movement. Most designers hate when others copy their work but you realize it’s the only way to stop UI pollution.

The only question is, “How do I get my design to start a style movement”? Then a light bulb blasts over your head like Fourth of July fireworks. The answer is simple: design a flaw.

Make it Perfect

All designers have different processes for different projects. However, the one thing that never changes is the elements and principles of design. Things like color, shape, texture, rhythm, pattern, consistency, balance, etc… all play a vital role in how great the design truly is.  It’s the fluid formula to a successful design.

Design a Flaw

What if we were to take that perfect design and take away one of those elements and principles? Now I’m not talking about slapping a big pink blog in the middle of a blue design. I’m talking about taking away a simple thing like color meaning in a design.  What if we simply used no meaning of color? The design would still be flawless but the usage of color might be questionable to some. Thus leaving a flaw in the design.

Now what does this say to other designers? This screams fix me. If you have a large enough platform like say, a globally used operating system, and apply this method of single flaw design, others will follow and perfect it.

This sounds kinda crazy right? It’s really not when you think about it. Keep reading your mind is about to be blown.

Example

For example purposes let’s take the most widely used operating system on the planet, Microsoft Windows. Then let’s look at their latest operating system, Windows 8.

Windows 8

When you first look at the screenshot you notice “wow” this is a really nice design. They clearly have used a grid layout to align everything. There is a nice usage of icons to distinguish the different windows or panels. The colors pop as they contrast one another quite well. But wait a minute? Why is Messaging and Maps the same color? The same thing with Store and Games. I understand why Internet Explorer is the specific light blue because that’s the color identity of Internet Explorer. It almost looks like they chose random colors that popped from another and slapped icons on them, or maybe they purposely left a design flaw to initiate a style movement or trend [Mind Blown].

Now Look at Us

Here we are a couple of years later with a number of designs that look very similar to this type of design. We are up to our ears with Flat UI, minimal iconography and big box buttons. All a designer has to do is take the guidelines Microsoft used and apply color theory or more specifically color meaning to their design and Voila! You have an amazing design for us to all enjoy.

Is Windows directly held accountable for this trend? No, I dont think so. But they have definitely made an impact in the interactive industry with their design as others bit their style hard. With a platform that large, it’s hard not to.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you create a flawless design style and want to start a movement, perhaps you should scale back a design principle or two and design a flaw for others to improve upon. Who knows, maybe your design style will be the next movement.

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Mat Helme

Designer, Illustrator, Front End Web Developer, Author & Teacher @treehouse. Follow me on Twitter or visit my personal site at MatHelme.com.

Comments

18 comments on “Start a Style Movement by Designing a Flaw

  1. I am going to make a blog in response to this blog. I think You’ve started something. Great post none the less!

    • Thanks! I’d love to see the blog when you get it up. Keep me in the loop.

  2. I really don’t think it was done as a mistake at all, I think it was done to limit the amount of colors. It’s important to remember that you can’t use a specific color for each box otherwise your brand guidelines would be huge.

        • Yep, I misread your original statement. I definitely agree though. Specifically with Windows 8 powered devices; the Windows Phone 8 is almost non-identical to the Windows 8 Metro UI. Thanks for the clarification! :)

          • No worries, and I agree with your statement about the phone vs computer, the only difference between the two is color though. Its amazing what such a small change can lead to in terms of looks.

  3. One correction: Android is now the most widely used operating system on the planet. [Mind blown?]

    - Ben the Android Teacher :)

    • Well, watch the Apple keynote. Most users are on very very old versions of the OS. #fail

    • Plus, Android is mainly phone based with some tablets thrown in the mix. Windows will always rule the PC/desktop market. Last time I checked as well, iOS, was the most used phone and tablet based OS in the world.

      • The current version of iOS is likely the largest in terms of scale, but if you include all versions of iOS vs all versions of Android its not even a competition, Android sweeps. The reasons for this are two fold, firstly Apple has had a lot of early adopters and while there are people that will continue to gravitate towards their products there is a much larger percentage that are actually leaving them. Also you have countries that are growing that are using Android far more than iOS.

        Now, if only I could find that link to all those numbers…

        • Well I agree. There are many versions of Android… But, that is not necessarily a good thing. Too many different versions or iterations of an operating system causes fragmentation. Fragmentation is a nightmare when it comes to app development, there is almost no way to plan properly. You can never plan what device or version an Android user may be using, which can cause problems such as; resource management, resolution planning, module emphasis abilities, etc. While I would love to see Android knock iOS out of the market… One point that I believe we can all agree on is that Android’s market is fragmented, whereas iOS is not. With the lack of fragmentation, Apple will always have a large user group and even greater ecosystem.

          http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/4fb3df97ecad04ef32000003-610-/android-fragmentation-chart.png

          Hopefully we can see Windows 8 knock Apple out of the market and make way for true innovation.

  4. I give all credit to Apple for bringing SVG to WebKit, one of the main reason for flat icons exist and widely used on the web : D

  5. Really very fantastic blog post. This article is very much impressive for me. You inspiring me lot. A big thanks for sharing with us !!

  6. As an avid Windows 8 user, I would love to say that the Windows 8 Metro UI is beautiful and the layout is even more interesting. I have to admit though, the amount of productivity that was lost due to removing the Start menu and having to go through the Metro UI or File Explorer to do work is a pain. But, the design is awesome. For those of you whom like the design of the Windows 8 Metro UI, check out these Metro inspired frameworks others on the web have put together.

    http://metroui.org.ua/
    http://aozora.github.io/bootmetro/
    http://ui-cloud.com/metro-ui-css/

    • Use Win + Q; That keyboard shortcut is 10 times faster to the start button to me.