Web design techniques seem to advance on a regular schedule. What was considered good design five years ago is no longer seen in the same light. As designers have learned more about good user experience (UX) principles and the market is shifting to a more global, more mobile one, design elements have changed drastically.
Once you learn the basics of how to code and design, you should still seek to grow as a designer and learn new and better techniques on an ongoing basis. One of the best ways to achieve this is to study some of the more popular designers out there. See what they are doing and how you can implement their best techniques into your own work.
Trends change from season to season. For example, typography has become an extremely important element and this will continue throughout the next year. As a designer, you need to be aware of what is trendy but not follow the trends. You’ll always be a step behind as those trends change so frequently. However, studying the trends allows you to come up with fresh ideas that advance those trends.
In order to get a firm grasp on design, here are some trendsetter designers you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on.
1. Keetra Dean Dixon
Keetra Dean Dixon is a New York based designer who has won a number of awards for her designs, including the U.S. President’s Award. She uses a hybrid design/art background, so her designs have a truly unique look to them. She focuses in particular on design for a participatory culture, having even written a book on the topic.
Here bold use of color and abstract shapes has a definite couture art flare that works well for young, cutting edge companies. If you want to design for companies started by millennials, Dixon’s designs are a good study in fresh, young, intuitive design.
2. Marcin Wichary
Marcin Wichary is a designer, writer, and typographer, meshing both design and content elements to offer the complete website package for his clients. He worked for Google as a UX designer, so he knows a thing or two about creating a design that works well for the end user and drives conversions.
One of Wichary’s strengths as a designer is his typography skills. He explains how choosing the right font makes all the difference in design work, right down to the user experience. What you can learn by studying this designer is that implementing a specialized skill – in his case typography – can make your designs really stand out from the crowd.
3. Linda Eliasen
Linda Eliasen is a designer and an illustrator, which allows her to pull in unique illustrations into her designs. She’s worked at Squarespace and Dropbox, but she started by serving as an intern at Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Her designs reflect a young, fresh take on life. You can view some of her design work and illustrations, which include everything from an illustration of a Swiss Army knife to a drawing of a cat with laser eyes.
Studying Eliasen will show you how bringing in unique artwork can help make your designs unique. If you aren’t an illustrator, then simply adding some unique photographs or hiring an illustrator can make all the difference in your designs.
4. Thomas Kronbichler
The founder of Studio Mut, Thomas Kronbichler, is a designer who uses graffiti elements in his overall design work, giving them a unique and edgy look. Kronbichler has been recognized for his unique designs both through securing clients such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the city of Trieste, and through recognition with a Certificate of Typographic Excellence from the Type Directors Club New York and 100 Best Posters Award of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
What you can learn from Kronbichler is that you should stick with the type of design you are drawn to. He is drawn to graffiti, and his designs reflect that same type of style.
5. Rob Hampson
Rob Hampson is a UK designer, who has specialized in working with a specific industry – music. He is the head designer of The Bot Platform and Landmark. Previously, he worked at We Make Awesome Sh. You’ve perhaps seen his music label designs for Sony and Warner or brands such as Samsung. He specializes in UI and UX.
The key thing you can learn from Rob Hampson is that he specializes in what interests him most, becoming famous in that particular industry. This is a good way to seek out clients that you’ll enjoy working with, because you simply choose an industry that you’re passionate about and where you feel you can add value.
Studying these five designers will help you learn basic typography skills, how to put a unique spin on things, and how to specialize in a niche industry you love.
If you want to continue to grow and improve as a designer, you must study those who are known for their excellent design work. In doing so, you don’t want to copy their techniques but learn what makes them unique and apply that to your own world view and life experience so that your designs stand out from other designers’ work.