15 / Design Brutalism

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the future” of UI/UX design, specifically CSS and web applications, and the evolution of where it is going. Our industry is fast moving, so it’s interesting to try and look a few years forward based off current trends and successful case studies.

Where do I think CSS in heading? Brutalism. I’m not referring to brutalist architecture either - I’m talking about CSS brutalism.

Brutalism is something which rises from the very core of a website: its code. Brutalist websites will tend to have crude, simple markup, inline styles, a lack of optimization, but also nothing complex to weigh things down.
Source: It’s Tough Out There: A Look at Brutalism in Web Design

I have reason to believe that beautiful animations, depth of field drop shadows, liquid” menu systems, scroll hi-jacking etc., will all fade into the void of what-once-was. This isn’t to say I agree with this movement or that I have anything against making the web/applications more beautiful through animated movement and visually pleasing feedback. This just means that I accept it’s passing and am cautiously curious about the role of design in the future.

Load” times

Even as our digital devices become faster and more powerful, applications and websites are being stripped down and optimized further and further. I believe this has a direct correlation to the shrinking attention span of the individual users. People are starting to view time as the most valuable currency on the market; so if your app takes 2 seconds longer to load than a competitor’s - you will lose that user.

Keep in mind that load” doesn’t refer to page rendering in this instance - it’s referring to an added 1-2 second animation when you close that modal or that 2-3 fun bounce animation when the app first starts up. These are the perceived load times the user experiences.

So what does the future look like?

The short answer: bland. The long answer: it’s complicated.

Bland” normally has a negative connotation associated with it, but I’d say it’s actually a good thing overall when referring to the design industry.

Bland is safe. Bland is straight to the point. Bland is clear and deliberate.

An excellent example of a brutalist design years ahead of it’s time is craigslist.

Craigslist

Craigslist is a prime use case of great functionality trumping design trends / conventions. The main focus is getting to the root of the user’s experience immediately, instead of slowing them down with design fluff”.

Don’t stop the beauty

Although I like the idea of the brualist approach, I don’t deny that there will still always be a place for concepts that require greater design detail over functionality. I just personally believe that those examples will be in the minority down the line.


Published on June 5, 2017.

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