Are Geometric Shapes The Next Big Trend in Web Design?
In order to really understand geometric shapes, you first need to know about organic shapes. Pretty much everything in this world is an organic shape, meaning that it’s naturally occurring; imperfect. Irregular or asymmetrical are two other ways to describe organic shapes. Geometric shapes, on the other hand, are uniform — they consist of straight lines and curves.
In rare (and beautiful) occasions, geometric shapes can occur naturally, for example in the form of snowflakes, crystals and diamonds. More often than not though, geometric shapes need to be created digitally with a design tool of some sort, which may be the reason why the Sketch App logo incorporates a diamond.
Geometric shapes can be used to build a visual identity, and they’re becoming more and more common in web design due to their low-bandwidth consumption in comparison to heavy photos, which are usually more detailed and take longer to download.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that geometric shapes are becoming much more common in the world of web design.
Google’s Material Design
Material Design by Google is a visual identity (as well as a set of design concepts) that had a strong influence on the Android Operating System for handheld devices. Android 5.0’s (Lollipop) backgrounds consisted of multiple geometric shapes, and we’re now seeing the trend evolve even further in the newly-released Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).
Material Design serves as a basis for an abundance of stunning themes, resulting in designs that are classy but delightfully lightweight, and with a strong focus on user experience too.
Polygons consist of at least three straight sides, so technically a triangle can be a polygon, although it’s more common to see them with five or more sides in web design.
When geometric shapes first began to emerge in web design, triangles weren’t as common. However, many trends begin to simplify over time as we adapt them for usability, and so triangle backgrounds are seeing more traction these days.
Isometric projection is the art of using geometric shapes to give the illusion of 3D. Isometric comes from the Greek term meaning “equal measure”, because the angle between any two of the three axes is 120 degrees. Isometric shapes (even though they’re really a collection of shapes) don’t require light and shadow to make them appear 3D, meaning we can use them to add three-dimensional depth while still keeping the visuals “flat”.
Monument Valley is a very well-known (and award-winning) game based solely on isometric visuals, and their website uses a vibrant header background with intense triangle shapes as well.
Geometry has always been the core of website design. Most icons are digitally created (as opposed to hand-drawn) and the various blocks that make up a web design are mostly square.
However, the birth of certain trends (such as “flat design” and it’s less-flat successor, also known as Flat Design 2.0) have further spawned sub-trends like geometric shapes. Furthermore, the rise of SVG formats have made their implementation far less complex.
Have you had a chance to break into the trend yet? Are geometric shapes yet another web design fad, or is there some usefulness behind them, despite being a visual aesthetic at heart?
Daniel Schwarz is a full-time design writer and digital nomad. He’s the founder of Airwalk Studios, a company that recently switched their interests from freelance design to content creation. Now they’re working on writing books and magazines for design enthusiasts. Daniel is 25 years of age, originally from London.