11 tell-tale signs your designs are dated and how to fix it
Think of those questionable Isabel Marant sneakers. Yes, the ones that started the trend for wedge sneakers back in 2012.
Most of us would like to forget the global craze over wedge sneakers, and, most likely, wouldn’t wear them today. Right?
So why do so many businesses and designers keep dragging dated design trends into their visuals in 2022?
In this article, we share a list of 11 signs that your designs are past their expiry date, and tell you exactly what to do about it. Because, well, every anti-trend can be replaced with a trend!
Open your VistaCreate artboard and let’s modernize those dated designs together!
Sign 1: Your abstract projects focus on low-poly designs
Low-poly art is a form of digital design that uses a low number of polygons to produce semi-realistic images with a minimalistic, angular effect.
The major appeal of this style is that it’s abstract, which gives designers freedom of expression and the ability to create unconventional images that will attract attention from their target audience. On top of that, it also gives designers an opportunity to mimic the cutting-edge 3D effect, without actually rendering a 3D image.
Back in the day, low-poly designs were everywhere — posters, magazine covers, flyers, social media posts, logos! In fact, it used to be one of the hottest design trends in… 2015. Yes, 7 years ago.
While we believe that trends are cyclical and things that were once popular will eventually come back into fashion, today, low-poly is currently perceived as out of date.
This, however, shouldn’t scare you off from going for abstract styles — they’re pretty much timeless, you just need to choose a variation that’s in today.
Trendy design alternative to low-poly design in 2022: Trendy zine style; abstract shapes.
In 2022, one of the hottest design styles is trendy zine. This style’s signature elements are funky shapes; unconventional, playful fonts; and unexpected combinations of objects and stickers.
Here are some examples of abstract designs to draw inspiration from:
Take a look at these VistaCreate templates:
Sign 2: You’ve added an arbitrary pair of crossed lines to your latest design
The concept of using crossed lines in design (especially in logo design) isn’t new. In fact, it wasn’t new even when it first went mainstream back in 2013. While it’s difficult to say who exactly came up with this viral design, the majority of versions claim that its history dates back to either medieval times, Vikings, or the Roman Empire. So, yeah, the original crossed lines design is pretty old.
But so is the “modern” version of it.
Crossed lines — and many variations of it that include arrows, knives, swords, guns, etc. to mimic a cross — were the go-to design trend of the Hipster era. But, unfortunately, hipsters are no longer hip.
Another problem with this design is that it’s a very straightforward, easy-to-replicate design solution. Because of this, crossed lines have been massively overused — coffee shops, barbershops, beauticians, and other small businesses all over the world have been favoring this design for its simplicity and versatility.
So, if you decide to choose to incorporate this once-trendy design into your branding, it’s likely that you’ll struggle with standing out from the crowd, which can have adverse effects on your brand recognition.
Trendy design alternative to crossed lines in 2022: Parametric patterns.
Linework is still in, just in a different format. Today, for your line-based design to be trendy, the lines need to be morphed to represent different objects.
The inspiration behind this design trend comes from graphs of the parametric equations.
How about these trendy VistaCreate templates?
Sign 3: You frequently use color overlay
Being color consistent is extremely important: you need to develop a color scheme for your brand and stick to it when producing visuals for your marketing activities. Otherwise, you risk losing brand recognition points.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to paint your entire project a signature color and call it a day. In fact, in 2022, the love for once-viral color overlay has faded. Today, overlaying a solid color or a gradient over a picture is considered dated by many.
This is because the muted, colored visuals of this trend are strongly associated with the early 2010s.
Trendy design alternative to color overlay in 2022: Color overlay, revamped.
No, we’re not contradicting ourselves. Yes, we did say that color overlay is a bit old-fashioned. But you can definitely turn this trend around and give it a 2022 spin: just go for bolder, brighter colors that don’t muffle the original design, but make it pop instead.
For example, in the following designs, color overlay is contained by shapes. As we said before, geometric patterns are hot these days.
Sign 4: You’re a fan of duotones
Another design trend that focuses on colors is duotones. The main idea of a duotone design is to limit the color scheme of your visual to two, often contrasting, colors.
Duotone gradient was once one of the hottest design trends: businesses from small to big would use duotone designs for their marketing purposes. For example, here’s a visual from Spotify:
The problem with using duotones in 2022 is similar to the color overlay trend — the “classic” duotone gradients often make your designs look muted, which doesn’t work well with the modern longing for crisp, bold, and bright colors.
Trendy design solution for duotones in 2022: Bold duotone, gradients.
You can still rock duotone; just make it look cleaner. Instead of overlaying duotone gradients over your images, design with a limited palette of two contrasting colors straightaway.
Alternatively, you can opt for a muted palette of colors that are just a shade away from each other, like Travis Kane did in his poster design:
The good news is that you don’t need to ditch gradients either. In 2022, gradients are back again, but in a slightly different format. Today, the trend is to use candy-colored, pastel, or neon gradients as a background:
Check out VistaCreate gradient design templates:
Sign 5: Your design inspiration comes from the 80s
We’ve already mentioned that trends are cyclical, so it’s no surprise that designs that were popular in the 80s are back. This retro-trend includes funky combinations of flamboyant colors and lots of mint green, muted hot pink, yellow, and geometric shapes.
Sounds pretty modern, right? That’s because the 80s aren’t exactly an anti-trend like a lot of other design styles and elements described in this article. Designers still use its elements to create trendy, modern-looking visuals. However, if you want to be en paar with the hottest design trends, you should look at a different decade.
A trendy design alternative to 80s inspired designs in 2022: 90s inspired designs and Y2K.
We’re already at the next stage of the cycle, so, today, the trendiest designs are inspired by the 90s grunge vibe and quirky Y2K.
The main elements of the 90s grunge are:
- Dirty backgrounds
- Distressed textures
- Torn edges
- Hand drawn doodles
- Distressed fonts
- Real life imagery and cut outs
One of the most prominent design sub-trends within the 90s design trend is riso (the mimicking of risograph printing, a technique best described as a ‘digital screen printing’). Its signature elements are vivid colors and a specific texture.
If you aren’t particularly fond of 90s grunge, you can go for the ultra-trendy Y2K aesthetic. This one is much brighter, much funkier, and very nostalgic for many.
The Y2K aesthetic’s most distinctive characteristics include bright, obnoxious colors; kitsch textures such as plastic, metallics, and faux fur; and bling visible from a mile away.
To get a better understanding of what Y2K is and how you can use it in your designs, check out our article.
Sign 6: You can’t get enough of hand-written fonts
Hand-written fonts were huge in the 80s and in the early 2010s. In fact, they were so big, we all experienced Lobster typeface overdose.
So, the world got pretty tired of these. The only place Lobster font is still appropriate is the “Live, Love, Laugh” sign. And that’s about it.
If you want to create a modern-looking typography design, this one’s for you…
A trendy design alternative to hand-written fonts designs in 2022: Bold and warped typography.
In 2022, typography is super hot! But for your design to be trendy, the fonts you use need to be bold, either very big or super tiny, and sometimes very warped.
For more information about different fonts, check out our article.
Sign 7: You can’t help a cheeky flat illustration
Ever since large companies like Mailchimp and Slack brought flat illustrations to their interfaces, this design style turned into a trend that kept getting more and more popular. It became the official corporate design style. And we’re all guilty of loving it a little too much 😉
But is it really that timeless? Unfortunately, the answer is no. People are oversaturated with flat colors and simple — although humanized — figures. They want something more advanced and futuristic, something more complex, something that keeps up with the crazy tempo of world digitalization.
A trendy design alternative to flat illustrations: 3D, 3D/2D
Although 3D isn’t a particularly new design trend, it’s constantly changing and evolving, further establishing itself, keeping things fresh.
There are several reasons why 3D is so popular. First of all, it’s very versatile and comes in a number of different formats. Besides, it fits in with another social trend, the Metaverse and NFTs.
Check out our report on current social trends to find out more about the Metaverse, NFTs, and other 2022 trends.
To make your visuals trendier, try incorporating 3D shapes and objects, and layering them on top of each other. A sub-trend that is particularly hot now is inflated, chrome letters that mimic the balloon effect.
Another branch of this trend are virtual influencers. Hyper-realistic 3D images of brand avatars that can represent your brand in the Metaverse should be on your to-do list if you want to keep up with modern trends.
Sign 8: You’re convinced that less is always more
People were fed up with complexity, so they decided to cut down visual noise, remove unnecessary elements from their designs, and keep things simple. That’s how minimalism originated.
Today, however, after several years of minimalist design being the hottest trend, it’s getting a bit used up and boring. It no longer lets designers truly express themselves and show off their skills. And it’s not representative of the capabilities modern graphic editing software provides designers with either.
So, designers seek alternative methods of expression to impress their audience and stand out from the crowd.
A trendy design alternative to minimalism in 2022: Maximalism, anti-design.
Naturally, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction of minimalist design, maximalism. These days, cutting-edge designers are fond of multi-layered, complex, intricate, and very detailed visuals.
Some of the most popular design techniques are collaging and digital scrapbooking. Bold and loud colors, a variety of fonts, layered images, and double exposure are all very popular.
Another trend that juxtaposes minimalism is maximalism taken to the extreme, anti-design.
Anti-design is a design trend that rejects all conventional design rules and principles such as visual hierarchy, and despises traditional aesthetics. Instead, it favors challenging, “ugly”, innovative layouts. It’s intentionally loud, obnoxious, and messy to combat conformity. It’s raw, unapologetic, edgy.
Some of the style’s favorite elements are distorted experimental fonts, chunky shapes, scribbles, numerous colors, and the absence of symmetry and balance.
Sign 9: You use different “glitch” effects in your designs
Glitches, distorted images, lens flares, and other elements that mimic computer malfunctions or film crinkles were a manifestation of human superiority back in 2019, when people were still fearing a robot takeover.
Today, we’ve come to terms with the idea that digitalization of the world is inevitable, and accepted the fact that AI is already a huge part of our lives. And while we still aren’t sure if apps like DALL-E 2 are going to make designers majorly redundant, we learned to love technology.
Hence, the once popular glitch effect is now not that relevant. Designs that use it may come across as dated.
A trendy design alternative to glitch effect in 2022: UI digitalism.
When we said that people have learned to love computers, we weren’t joking. In fact, the love for them is so potent that UI digitalism, a style that mimics website interface, has become one of the biggest design trends in 2022.
So, if you want to up your designs, we recommend looking into adding cursors, buttons, app notifications, search bars, and other elements of website interface into your next visual.
Phew, that was an impressive collection of design anti-trends in 2022. Now, let’s look at two more signs that your designs might be dated, but ones that aren’t associated with a specific timeframe.
Sign 10: Your designs are the polar opposite of your competitors’
Don’t rush into telling us we’re wrong about this one. We, too, value uniqueness. In fact, we even wrote an article on how to make your designs unique if you work with templates. Check it out! And make sure you give our library of templates some love, too!
Standing out from the crowd is an amazing thing. Every business should try to highlight what’s unique about them, and design is a great way to do it.
However, if you analyze your competitors’ websites and social media, and find out that their designs have nothing in common with yours, it might be a sign that you’re missing something.
This isn’t necessarily a tell-tale sign that your designs are dated, but it’s definitely a sign that you should do some research to see if there’s a big new design trend that you aren’t aware of is going around.
Luckily, you don’t have to dive too deep in order to find out what’s trendy at the moment. Go straight to the VistaCreate blog to learn all about the hottest marketing and design trends.
Sign 11: Your rebranding isn’t reflected in your designs
In case your business has recently gone through a rebranding, it’s vital that you adjust your designs to reflect the new brand well. You need to make sure that all the visuals you put out are aligned with your brand image, tone of voice, and translate your values.
The easiest way to stay on brand when creating designs for your business is to use VistaCreate’s Brand Kit feature. Thanks to VistaCreate’s Brand Kits, you can upload all your branding elements such as your brand logo, fonts, and colors to the editor, and apply them to all your designs in a matter of seconds.
In fact, thanks to Brand Kit as a Fast Style feature, you can apply your branding elements to any ready-made design project or our templates, and have a unique branded design almost immediately.
Et voila! 11 signs later, you should have an idea of what a trendy modern design looks like and what mistakes you need to avoid making if you don’t want your designs to look dated.