12 signs that you’re a trendy designer

As designers part of our job is keeping up to date with what’s happening in the industry, one aspect of which involves keeping an eye on the latest trends. Although it should be noted that ‘keeping an eye on’ and ‘being part of’ are two very different things.

The popularity of things like Dribbble rebounds just goes to show how inspirational we all find other people’s work. But there’s inspiration, and then there’s derivation.

Have you flirted a little too closely with trends? Here’s 12 signs that you’re a trendy designer:


1. You made a spoof of the ‘Keep Calm’ poster

Keep Calm and Carry On


2. Your go-to font is Proxima Nova

Proxima Nova


3. On Dribbble, you post angled photographs of your user interface designs rather than screenshots

Angled photographs


4. You recently started adding long shadows to everything

Long shadows


5. You’ve written a blog post about flat design

Flat design


6. You’ve made your own series of minimal movie posters

Minimal movie posters


7. Your personal logo features interlocking letters…

Interlocking letters


8. …or a crossed “X”.

Crossed X


9. You’ve released your own icon set

Icon set


10. You’ve designed your own to-do app…



11. …or your own weather app

Weather app


12. You’ve ‘redesigned’ iOS7


How many of these are you guilty of? Are there any other trends that are being abused? Let us know in the comments.

  • ErwanHesry

    ahah funny, well the angled photography and the todo/note app

  • scrim

    i think i’m just a lazy designer. i’ve never been bothered to do any of these…

    • http://www.blackbookoperations.com/ Black Book Operations

      amen! F the mainstream! :p

  • FelixSpoettel

    13. You use unrelated stock-photos from unsplash.com.

    • http://checktheblog.net/ Reeg


  • CooperB

    Don’t forget using ultra-light weight fonts (preferably in grey) with leading at least 250% of the chosen point size.

    • Benjie

      Ah yes, that is a good one :)

  • limbox

    13. You’ve written a post about being a trendy designer ;)

    • Benjie


  • Jay Wilburn

    This was cool, I was 8 for 12.

  • http://www.liamwise.wordpress.com/ Liam Wise

    I love this!

  • Michael Meininger

    You are so dead on. It seems like portfolio networks like Dribble are filled with so many circles regurgitating the same concepts over and over.
    (I know I’ve been guilty of vain attempts to get more likes)

  • nk

    What a bullshit.

    • Benjie

      Uh-oh, did we touch a nerve nk? Or do you just disagree?

      • nk

        It’s the same artsy fartsy ego view as always. Lame.

      • Benjie

        Not sure I follow, but I’m glad we didn’t make you apathetic!

      • nk
      • notsoflat

        i like how you report on this shit, ride the trend wave, then a few weeks later when “flat” becomes played out you make posts like this. I wonder why…

      • Benjie

        I know! It’s almost as if we’re a blogging about trends in the design industry…oh, wait…

  • Benjie

    My personal #13 would be using a pinkish-red colour normally referred to as ‘coral’.

    • http://about.me/evanjacobs Evan Jacobs

      I’ve always been a coral fan. There’s nothing particularly trendy about it, IMO.

      I think muted brights in general could be considered a design trend.

      • Benjie

        Really? You don’t find it jumping out at you again and again on Dribbble or Behance?

        You’re right about general desaturation though, that is everywhere.

    • Ursula Osteen

      Blame that psychology of color meme. Everyone wants to brand themselves “friendly+exciting”. This + flat + minimalism = Predictable Trendy.

  • Benjie

    Yes, that’s the point of the article; we were having a little laugh at ourselves.

    Perhaps we should have said ‘painfully-trendy’ or ‘hipster’ or something.

    Originality is much over-rated and probably doesn’t exist, but following a trend because it’s a trend (unwittingly or otherwise) is indeed boring.

    • http://checktheblog.net/ Reeg

      ultimately, wouldn’t NOT posting this article in the first place be your true intent? why even point out the obvious? just to make fun of it? seems a bit hypocritical.

      • http://bufferwise.com/ Adam Skelton

        It was for a laugh. You answered your own question.

  • Benjie

    From a designer’s point of view, Macs are better hands down. They always have been and until Microsoft address a number of key issues (not least font rendering) then they always will be.

    However, you are right; if you work better on a PC then more power to you. The only thing that counts is the results.

    • Leoni Selby

      Well, that’s a pretty outdated idea..

      I’m guessing you’vd never worked on a pc?

      I’ve spent years on both and have found that it’s mainly just what you’re used to.. has no effect on my work either way..

      • Benjie

        Actually I’ve probably spent at least as much time on PCs as Macs. I worked with a pair side-by-side for many years but I was thrilled the day Parallels meant I could shove my old grey box into storage.

        But as I said above, preferring a PC doesn’t make you a bad designer, and results really are the only thing that matter.

      • J S Jim

        Well said…! Mr. Benjie. Thanks for gathering knowledge using PC and Macs that reveals the keen experience about which one is preferable to in Design work !

    • chasen54

      Microsoft has fixed the major font rendering issues in Windows 8…

      • Benjie

        No, they haven’t. Sit a Mac (even one several generations old) next to a brand new PC and compare, the difference is plain.

        I’d love to see an alternative to Macs, if nothing else market competition is essential for innovation. But at present, Windows lags a long way behind.

        I think most designers agree with me, but I’d be interested to be proved wrong.

      • chasen54

        Are you referring to the aliasing of the fonts on a Windows machine? I do agree the standard UI fonts for OSX are much smoother/cleaner looking, but I have no qualms with Windows 8. Switch between OSX and Windows 8 on a daily basis and it’s no where near as jarring (and annoying) as it used to be.

        As a side, I still much prefer using a Mac for daily design work, but truth-be-told Microsoft has made some leaps (even if it was a catch-up move).

      • Benjie

        Too many fonts on Windows don’t retain their character for me. It’s not really an issue, because obviously designs for the web need to work equally well on both platforms. But it does irritate me to work on.

        I have to say though, that to my eye at least, IE has made leaps and bounds in the last couple of versions.

      • http://bufferwise.com/ Adam Skelton

        Yes, IE10 and IE11 at least (and probably 9) have fantastic font rendering. It far exceeds that of Chrome or Firefox. Fonts look just as if I typed it on Photoshop.

      • http://vincelane.com/ Vince Lane

        Having done lots of recent cross-browser testing with a Mac and a PC running Windows 8 side-by-side, I can 2nd this.

  • Benjie

    And of course, redoing your portfolio/blog in the ‘Swiss’ style would be another.

  • JamieWade94

    Love this!

  • Matt Johnson

    I totally agree, this is a designer that just does the same as everyone else…. should totally try creating new trends ha ha

  • aoutt

    If you took away all the pictures, this would be a shitty article of 12 points.

    • Benjie

      If you took away all the content it would be even worse ;)

  • http://www.summitweb.net/seo-inverness-scotland.html Martin Oxby

    I’m so glad I’ve not done any of these. With client-centric rather than trend-centric design done at our agency, I think we provide a better service than always embracing the ‘latest thing’.

    • http://www.lockedowndesign.com/ John J. Locke

      There’s an interesting point there. Client centered design focuses on problem solving of a different kind (real, rather than perceived) and gets far less of the spotlight than product design, which is where you see a lot of these trends show up. Glad there are others who don’t mark out for Dribbble likes and backslapping from other designers. Making a client happy and solving their problem is every bit the challenge that product design is.

      • http://www.summitweb.net/seo-inverness-scotland.html Martin Oxby

        It is – and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t push boundaries and grow design skills, but I think taking your eye of the ‘problem’ – i.e. what will be effective for the client – can lead to all sorts of problems, regardless of how ‘trendy’ your skills might be.

    • chasen54

      Client AND consumer-centric is the way to be. So many designers get lost in their own little bubbles, completely forgetting our purpose….to SELL something (or at least convince in some way).

  • matthew

    I have been really explaining to my clients that a simple design is more.Clean and too the point.I believe clients are truly starting to understand this concept.

  • Fábio Calheiros


  • http://www.lockedowndesign.com/ John J. Locke

    The icon set is the only one I find forgivable. You can never have too many of those.

    • Isis Marques

      Specially if it’s a complete and cohesive one.
      And icons are hard as hell to design…

      • http://www.fasttrackcreations.com/blog Nikhil Malhotra

        Yup its a hard job to design icons.Though I have tried and released a small set of 10 sketched icons on my blog. Let me know your thoughts on them.

    • http://www.fasttrackcreations.com/blog Nikhil Malhotra

      I agree.Even a huge collection wont satisy.

  • Leoni Selby


  • Iain MacDonald

    You say all of these as if they’re a bad thing. Personally, I disagree. While it is silly people just go with any of these things, but these are all entirely subjective and down to personal opinion as well as context, and I don’t see why we need an entire article that could potentially insult its audience as well as starve the air of better content.

    Yes, there is a lot of people that abuse those things, but it doesn’t mean any of these are wrong. Parody or not, a lot of people can see this article as cheap, as well as bait. I think the time could have been better used doing something else than having cheap shots at how people do their works, their presentation as well as popular forms of expression in design as if they’re wrong, when they aren’t.

    • Benjie

      It’s obviously a subjective thing, but we like to poke a little fun at ourselves every now and then, it stops us becoming too dour.

      Naturally there’s a place for everything under the sun.

  • Dani

    Hahaha funny. Where did you take the 5th screenshot?

  • Gergely Fabian

    Your switched to Proxima from Trade Gothic

  • mielnicz

    Question – in 4, center picture, what is the font name ?

  • Ryan Lynn

    I haven’t done any of those things. Phew!

  • chasen54

    Avoiding trends is trendy =p

  • chasen54

    Absolutely agree. I’m so sick of seeing the same shit on Dribbble. Seriously. I understand that trends pursue a certain popular look and feel, but to what extent? I laughed at the angled shots of comps…I do that so it gives the “in process” look…

  • chasen54

    Yep. I recently went back and started using my PC again (even though I use a Mac as well) after I rebuilt and upgraded my whole system for a 1/4 of the cost of a new Mac Pro. Windows 8 is a fantastic stop-gap to getting the usability of OSX (hot corners especially) and the smoothness and boot time as well.

  • Rob

    I never used any of these. I do use icon-fonts but I take the ones that are exsisiting and all the other points I just find not nice looking.

    I might not be trendy but I design site the way I like them and, first of all, my clients like them.

    After all are the clients paying my rent, right :)

  • graccers

    Trendy, or sheepy? Also I REALLY dislike the whole keep calm thing now!

  • Felipe Salton

    this is a reality!

  • Isis Marques

    It’s not exactly, but it seems as Honey Script to me! =)

  • Justin Easthall

    Flatter than flat artwork! GUILTY!

  • http://www.madanpatil.com/ Madan Patil

    He he … really funny reading it. Good list of observation of being trendy these days. This gives some light on current trends too. Seeing lot about flat designs, minimalistic logos and interfaces everywhere.

    Very interesting!

  • Benjie

    Thanks for all for all of your comments! What I find so fascinating about them is that some people think ‘trendy’ is bad, and some people think the exact opposite.

  • Nathalia Villaseñor

    I’m guilty of number 5! x)

  • http://www.ducktoes.com/webdesign Ducktoes Web Design

    Guess I’m not trendy, yet. Lol.

  • http://joshmedeski.com/ Josh Medeski

    This was a fun read, thanks Sam!
    p.s. I’m not a trendy designer according to this article. I only tried #3 once and didn’t find it very cool :)

  • Anthony Errickson

    Woo Hoo! I’m a client client centered designer and I have not made any of these. Although, I do still have some “trendy” issues for my own purposes. I mainly have those so I have the ability, knowledge, and versatility to be able to make that “trendy style” if the client is looking for that. Most of time I try my best to keep them away from it though.

  • Sixxiron

    You had me at Proxima Nova… #sorry #notsorry Great post!

  • Rick Moore


  • Max Monastyrev

    I’m not a trendy designer…sad face.

  • Alessandro Quartz

    So true. I still remember in the mid 90s my first ever design job. The Creative Director was this middle aged man who looked more like an accountant, the other workers were all in their mid to late 30s, all were family men and all of them came from the traditional print design studio era as well. No massive egos, no trend following. Also the designers were far more down to earth and most considered it just a job and not a lifestyle. Then the late 90s and early 2000s happened and the first batch of kids after fame came along. All of a sudden we have rock star designers..and most of them were just appropriating each others work OR ripping Designers Republik and then trying to pass it off as their own style.

    Fast forward 10 years and we have a situation were these ctr-v bots just rip trend after trend yet they walk around thinking they are creative and innovative geniuses.

    I want to see more innovation less imitating.

    Anyway top article!

  • Alessandro Quartz

    My biggest gripe with the trends atm is how long shadows have become a must have in interfaces and logos. I had one designer come up with an interface using long shadows. It was inappropriate and not needed but he tried to argue his point about using it. I simply told him we can’t afford to re visit the interface in 3 months time when the long shadow trend becomes obsolete. He didnt say much and came back with a flat UI that looked like he got it from dribble.

    • Ricardo Zea

      Long shadow design is dead now if you ask me.

  • Stephen LeMaitre

    “this is just a desinger that does the same shit as everyone else”

    That’s kind of the definition of ‘trend’, no?

  • http://www.evg3.com/photoblog CyberGus

    I think this is more related to “age”. I’m 40 and I saw very similar stuff about 10 years ago (with exception of mobile GUIs). Young designers seem doomed to repeat the same as a kind of social integration, more than design innovation.

  • Barry

    Not being a young or trendy designer, I expected a clean sheet, but you scored a direct hit with number one! Admittedly, the Keep Calm poster was a client request. See my untrendy design at http://www.behance.net/AdamsonDesign

  • Dana

    ha! so true!
    2 secs on dribbble and you see so many of all these…

  • Neil Cooper

    Ha ha ha ha! I’ve literally just designed a weather app using Proxima Nova as one of the base fonts. – Great font.

  • AlienDezine

    LOL. The logo ( one of my earlier sites) todo / notes , and own icon set (s)

  • http://www.lionleaf.com/ CT Web Design

    love your list – share more!

  • shahrouzvarshabi

    Didn’t make sense…

  • http://www.angelaacevedo.com Angel A. Acevedo

    haha not sure if I should be embarrassed or honored my long-shadow wolf is on there. Great post!

  • http://checktheblog.net/ Reeg

    “You have written a judgmental blog post telling other designers what they are doing is wrong.” – Jack [3 days ago]

    That’s exactly what’s happened here. Its a sad day when fellow designers claim to have the intention for creativity and inspiration of original work instead of following design trends, yet fail to convey that intent. instead, what the writer has elected to do is condescend beginners who train themselves using said design trends and poke fun at a font that is the furthest from “trendy” (among other things I completely disagree with). Truly sad. This could have been written in a much more positive and suggestive manner.

    “Using Proxima Nova too much? Try Cabin from Google Fonts.”

    … or something to that effect.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  • Erica Jaclyn

    Love this so much!! Device (eg flat iphones) mockups mentioned yet? Some of us often take ourselves and our work too seriously, it’s great to step back and laugh at yourself more than once in a while. Trendy or not, no one is perfect. We all fall victim to relative “inspirations”. Great design is often inspired or evolved, no matter how ya look at it.

  • certifyD

    Hilarious and true. I must be the most uncool designer around.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    I would expect a designer – trendy or otherwise – to know a “crossed x” is called a saltire.

  • notsoflat

    1 Sign that you are running a list spam blog

    • Benjie

      You know, for someone who professes to hate this blog, you post here an awful lot…

  • Yemista

    simply cool Sam…

  • vcohen

    only 1 of 12. I used Proxima Nova just once.

  • Rakel

    I wish I could freakin’ get an account on Dribbble. I don’t know anyone cool apparently.

  • ArleyM

    13. You take photos like the banner of this site, with items you commonly use (must include at least one Apple product) are arrayed nicely, often on a wooden surface.

  • terisadesign

    How about using noisy grunge texture, or texturizing layout to emulate screen printing? Maybe that’s just a Nashville thing?

  • Designbuddy

    Funny post. Guilty of 1 of 12 (Proxima Nova use on my website)…yet I didn’t do it out of trendiness. I just think it’s a good, easy to read typeface, as are Gil Sans, Helvetica, Nexa, Gotham and Open Sans; which could also be considered “trendy”.

  • Dima Temchenko

    Not enough time to do all this useless stuff

  • David

    OMFG – I have my own todo app!!!!

  • Surrealtopia

    I love being an anacronic designer.

  • avisioncame

    What about arched type over a date with light weight arrows and the Langdon font

  • Daniel Sandvik

    Done absolutely none of those. Most of the list items actually pisses me off when I see them on dribbble, such a damn cliché.

  • MetalDesign

    Funny article, however I find the premise that in order to be a “trendy” designer, you must turn yourself into an Apple fanboy hipster, a false one.