Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The next trend in website and user interface design: real

I was reading an article at SAI Business Insider today about how much the authors of Angry Birds are probably worth ($2.2b) and it reminded me that I wanted to do a little write up about some upcoming design trends.

In an increasingly digital age people seem to be drawn to the nostalgia of simple, elegant, and real. As a population here in the United States we seem to yearn for a time when technology and machines were still possible to understand and when things were "real".

There is a trend in online games and interfaces of incorporating "real world" interaction. A good example of that is the smash hit Angry Birds, where users must use a combination of puzzle solving, timing, and 2-dimensional physics to slingshot birds at structures guarding pigs. (Yes I know how dumb that sounds, but it's actually pretty fun). I think the distinction that made Angry Birds a smash hit is because of the way it let people use a touchscreen on a tablet or mobile phone to replicate the 2-dimensional physics found in the real world. 2-dimensional physics are the same ones that would be found on a Billiard table, or a pin ball, or classic arcade games like Asteroids -- but those physics were lost in most modern video games. Other games like Sony's smash hit Little Big Planet is another example of employing physics and simple machines to solve problems.
(And from what I understand Sack Dude from LittleBigPlanet has a whole series of new games and endorsements coming out.)

Keep in mind the games that exist today will have an influence on tomorrow's fashion, style, and technology. For example I've often said that texting wouldn't have been nearly as popular with kids if they hadn't already developed mad thumb skills playing Ninetendo, or PlayStation.

I think young adults - specifically those who have now grown up in a world where any answer was only a Google away and email is "a relic from the past" that they need to use only to communicate with Mom and Dad. This next, upcoming generation of consumers has never even heard of Napster, or AOL Instant Messenger. They know there was an internet before Myspace, but they really can't imagine what people did with it. I think they have a certain degree of fatalism with regard to the obsolescence of their own digital childhood and that makes them drawn to things that appear to be real (and therefore more likely to withstand the test of time).

So if your web-business involves being on top of design trends for young adults, then it might be time to consider incorporating more of those 'modern' reinterpretations of real world physics and materials into your user-interface and website design.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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