Dive Into The Evolution of Design Industry | Socialnomics (2022)

“Failure is built into creativity… the creative act involves this element of ‘newness’ and ‘experimentalism’; then one must expect and accept the possibility of failure.” ~ Saul Bass

Throughout human history, the world of art is continuously changing—be it in style, capability, or adaptability with the technological advancements in the world. From Picasso’s visual masterpiece, influenced by the World Wars and the revolution of design to be influenced by the advanced tech world, the last decade has been like a roller-coaster ride in the design world.

Consider this: it is the last night of the year 2009, and you are about to give your big speech about what the future holds for design in the coming decade, making some predictions about the development in the design industry.

You declare some extraordinary futuristic predictions which have missed its mark in the industry; however, you realize that 2010s has indeed been an uneventful decade. It might not be as incredibly futuristic as you imagined, but the revolution of the industry and technology has modernized design to a great extent.

Welcoming a new decade of design, let’s discuss the evolution of graphic design since the year 2010.

How Design Has Changed Through the 2010s

Uncountable changes can be seen through the last decade that has evolved a designer’s relationship with technology. Through the 2010s, the digital sphere has experienced rapid growth that is challenging a designer’s capability to adapt. Described below are some of the challenges of the past years.

  • The Age of Smartphones

Come to think of the “rapidly changing tech,” smartphones are the first gadgets that come to mind—given how often it asks for system updates. For designers, this technology means new possibilities and spaces for design. Not just that, it is the tech that provides a new set of career opportunities for creative minds.


With the introduction of 4G networking and faster connection to the web, the usage of mobile phones has significantly increased. With a plethora of applications available on the internet and accessibility of services at the tip of the figures, a new frontier for visual design appeared, making app designers and responsive web designers essential around the world.

Not only that, the designers today have to focus upon the readability and sparse interface of the designs, paving the way for minimalism and exceptional trends in the industry.

  • The Introduction of eBooks and Tablets

Staying ahead in the competition, Apple released iPad in 2010—yet another screen to take into account with responsive web designs and visuals. With everything that was going digital, it is only a matter of time before books also succumb to digitization.

The shift of hardbacks to eBooks has made the designers take a different approach to design book covers, often needing to focus on digital designs rather than the physical version of it.

This shift of approach led to the trending typographic designs and simplified images, so the book cover designs are easily understood when viewed in a tiny icon on the screen.

  • The Introduction of AR and VR Technology

When the AR or augmented reality and the VR or virtual reality appeared, the world looked at graphic designers to help them navigate the new tech. Back in 2014, Google Glass used the AR technology to integrate app designs to a user’s everyday life. However, due to a heavy price tag attached, it led to its discontinuation.

While this was happening, Snapchat pioneered selfie lenses with face filters using AR, followed by integrals with its adoption of levels. The applications made AR accessible for the users by combining graphic design, video animation, and photography through the way. Not just that, marketers are using the technology to enhance the user experience of the customers through AR ads and applications.

On the other hand, VR technology seemed more restricted to the gaming world. However, with the introduction of Google cardboard in 2014, created a space for VR app designs. The release of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in the later years with the introduction of Oculus Quest in 2019 is revolutionizing the UX trends.

The possibilities of the AR/VR technologies are yet unexplored. The future of technology still has many years to come to reveal its true potential. It can, however, be said that this technology was the proof of an experimental and strange decade.

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The Evolution of Design Tools Since 2010

With the continuous development in the digital world, the tools for designing as well needed some exceptional upgrades to keep up with the pace of the digital world. Let’s look at some transformations in the tools over the years.

  • The Graphics Designing Software

Adobe is one of the exceptional designing software used by professionals. In 2010, it took some critical steps to solidify its place in the marketplace and not to give in to the competition. It reinvented its business model and introduced a creative cloud.

This step made the designers more efficient as they don’t have to buy the license for accessing the software but pay a subscription fee, which made the designers really happy. They provided on-demand updates and emphasized integration between products along the way.

To justify its subscription fee, it promised to update the software frequently and provided the users with some notable developments including:

  • Live corners in illustrator
  • Perspective warp and smart objects in Photoshop
  • Multiple layering styles in Photoshop
  • Curvature tool in illustrator
  • Content awareness features in Photoshop

Besides that, there are competitors such as Serif’s Affinity Model that have risen to Adobe and have received unprecedented success and popularity. Meanwhile, procreate has its claim on the iPads, making it to a portable digital drawing pad.

With the developments in the past years, it can be said that 2010s have spoiled the designers with a vast choice and exceptional features making the design applications more affordable for the users that before.

  • Web Design Tools

In the past decade, some of the significant changes have been witnessed, including website security, page speed loading, content formatting, and HTML5 and CSS3 designs. Not just that, building a well-designed, high quality, and multipurpose website required money and hardcore coders to do the job. However, with the advancements in technology, there are numerous tools which amazing features, simplifying the web development process.

Some of the best website development software such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Wix, WordPress, Weebly, and more, allows designers to code with little to no experience of developing a website. With added libraries and pre-build website templates, it is easier for the users to give their website a professional look.

  • Prototyping Tools

In order to keep up with the design and screen sizes, design prototyping had to cover a lot of ground and without losing any precious time. A number of apps for prototyping, including Sketch introduced in 2010, Invasion a year later, and Adobe XD much later in 2017, came to the rescue.

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These apps are easy to use with a drag and drop interface, simplified canvases, and video animation functions, making it possible to present and test the prototypes.

The Digitization of Design Since 2010

Designers are no strangers to developing tech. However, they did abandon the correspondent plane back in the 2010s, by moving to the cloud.

  • Graphic Design Self-Education

With the availability of knowledge on the internet, it is easier to achieve graphic designing education. However, in this decade, online learning has become increasingly common among everyone, from industry veterans to complete beginners.

Many traditional schools such as Harvard and MIT have moved their classes online in the past decade, meanwhile entirely new digital spaces have emerged dedicated to DIY learning such as Udemy since 2010, skillshare, and General Assembly in 2011. It made education more accessible to users while delivering creativity and talent.

  • Online Freelancing

With the development of the interconnected world of social media, it has paved the way for better employment opportunities for the designers. Using Instagram, a picture-centric platform allows the designers to share their work with the followers, giving them an opportunity to be seen by the world.

Not just that, today, there are many websites allowing the designers to create portfolios and shift their work online. Sites such as Upwork or Fiverr enables freelancing designers to develop a healthy workplace with secure overheads and flexible invoicing. It can be said that 2010s only increased the competition for the designers by providing them with great ways to market themselves.

  • Artificial Intelligence

Today industries and businesses are innovating their work with the use of AI technology, and the design industry is no exception. It is an exceptional discovery that can provide assistance to the designers through the software system. It uses algorithms to consider the colors, shapes, texts, and more to create an innovative image.

The power of AI is fast enough to analyze a large amount of data and suggest design adjustments to make improvements in the design. Flexible design prototyping can be done using AI planning tools. For example, Airbnb is generating design ready codes with machine learning and computer-generated AI-enabled wireframe painting. In other words, once the basic design is completed and given a few parameters, a smart AI system can allow the designer to select design options for better presentation.

  • Machine Learning

Machine learning has only evolved design. The launch of Adobe creative cloud and Sensei is one of the greatest examples of the inclusion of machine learning in design. It didn’t just make designing easier but helped the creative minds become more creative at designing.

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Besides Adobe, Google’s AutoDraw is also another creative example that can be used to draw using the primary online interface, and the software gives you multiple icon style possibilities guessing and analyzing what you want.

There is no doubt in saying that websites and tools which claim to use Machine learning to create assists the designers to improve while eliminating the mundane processes that a designer faces and giving them an opportunity to concentrate on the creative aspects of a project.

The Evolution of Design in the Past Decade

Here are some of the styles that dominated in the 2010s

  • Animated Design

Motion graphic and video animation is a huge thing trending in the 2010s. It has made its way to a significant milestone and is poised to reach new heights as designers begin to define the modern era.

It is easier to use interactive and animated logos at various digital spaces to reach the audience; there are many brands such as Google and FedEx that utilizes animation to attract prospective customers to the business.

  • Minimalism

Minimalist design trend is everywhere—be it a logo design, a well-designed website, or a mobile application. They are uncluttered and works well to make you stand out in the market. Although it seems effortless to create, it requires time and creativity to create something exceptional that can speak volumes about your brand and industry. It is the use of design elements that are used to play an essential role in capturing the mind of the viewers.

  • Flat Design

Born to present clean and uncluttered apps, flat designs is one of the biggest trends of the decade. It embodies clean lines and a 2D style that made the design easier to understand and use. It is focused on high colors and typography-focused elements rather than images.

The best thing about this trend is that it is flexible and can easily evolve to become a better version of it. Designers can take the elements of flat design to combine it with the user interface to create a design that is beautiful and functional.

Wrapping it Up

Where the graphic design will go in the future is yet to uncover. Designs will become more personalize and more interactive with time enhancing the user experience if the viewers. With the developing technology and tools used in creating design have made it easier for the designers to be more creative with their work. It might not be futuristic, but the best years of graphic design are yet to come.

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Dive Into The Evolution of Design Industry | Socialnomics (1)
Christopher Thomas

I was always interested in colours and design, and that was what brought me to the field of graphics. I learned to design at first and then went in to explore the field of animation. Currently, I work at Animation Dok as an animator. Within three years of experience, I have worked at numerous projects, and this has enhanced my animating skills.


Why is the design thinking process important? ›

Design Thinking is a strategy for creative problem solving by prioritizing customers' requirements above everything else. It helps to engage a person in several opportunities like experimenting and creating a prototype model, gathering feedback from customers and redesigning the product using innovative solutions.

How important is it to learn the history of graphic design? ›

Graphic Design History Gives Us An Understanding. We can see connections made, how one moment lead to the next, how style and ideas evolved and what influence social environments played.

What is design thinking and innovation? ›

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation—anchored in understanding customer's needs, rapid prototyping, and generating creative ideas—that will transform the way you develop products, services, processes, and organizations.

What is the purpose of the design? ›

An important part of the definition of the word design, is purpose: to intend for a definite purpose, to assign in thought or intention; a purpose or plan of action. Design without purpose is design without meaning or intention. We believe without a purpose there is no design.

What are the 3 most important elements of design thinking? ›

The next time you need to solve a problem, you can grow your team's creative capacity by focusing on three core design thinking principles, or the 3 E's: empathy, expansive thinking, and experimentation.

What is design thinking in simple words? ›

Design thinking is a process for solving problems by prioritizing the consumer's needs above all else. It relies on observing, with empathy, how people interact with their environments, and employs an iterative, hands-on approach to creating innovative solutions.


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