Media overload is causing design “generification”

a white couch with a screen behind it
A bland couch in a stark living room | MidJourney

The notion that contemporary design is becoming generic, homogeneous, and just plain boring is not a revelation. Numerous designers, including myself, have extensively discussed this topic. However, it remains uncertain whether anyone has truly unraveled the definitive reasons behind this phenomenon, or if it is simply a matter of perception.

There are numerous explanations for why many believe design has become bland:

  1. Globalization: The internet has made design accessible worldwide, leading to the sharing of design styles.
  2. Corporate Branding: Some companies opt for safe designs to avoid controversy, resulting in similar designs.
  3. Lack of Creativity: Hesitation to take creative risks leads to uninspired design.
  4. Design by Committee: In larger organizations, designs aim to please everyone, risking originality.
  5. Social Media Pressure: The pursuit of viral content can sacrifice uniqueness.
  6. Educational Influence: Design education can favor specific styles, leading to homogeneity among new designers.
  7. Copy-Paste Culture: Easy copying can stifle diversity and originality in design.

Although these points are compelling, I propose a distinct hypothesis to explain the generification of design — and it all started with the birth of streaming media services.

In my estimation, streaming media companies such as Netflix and Spotify are partly responsible for the generification of design. To be fair, I am not directly accusing these companies of their role in the soulless design we experience around every corner. After all, they are just capitalizing on an expanding and lucrative market.

To explain why these media services bear some responsibility for the boring designs that surround us, I must first paint a picture of the world before the streaming services infiltrated our lives.

As a child growing up in the early ’90s, the internet was just beginning to take shape. At that time in history, most of us obtained our entertainment from the radio…

Categorized as UX Tagged

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