UX: Brutalism with Zeros and Ones

May 12, 2022

Get ready for the appearance of everything online to change. Again. In a design-jargon-packed article, Hype4 Academy’s Design blog declares, “Neubrutalism is Taking Over the Web.” UI styling tends to settle into a pervading theme for about seven years at a time, after which audiences (or is it designers?) get bored and seek a fresh look. Since Google’s Material Design style took over the Web, the theme has included rounded edges, subtle gradients, and glowing shadow effects. It is a style writer Micha? Malewicz describes as “candy-like.” Apparently, though, all that is about to be knocked aside by a much less gentle aesthetic. Malewicz writes:

“Neubrutalism, or Neobrutalism as some people call it, is a mix of regular brutalism in web design and more modern typography, illustration and animation standards. … Brutalism is a 1950’s architectural trend that was abandoning all decorations, and creating brutally simple buildings made from concrete. They often weren’t even painted to emphasize their brutal nature. So big, brutal blocks of concrete. It was the architects showing they were bored with the status-quo and trying something different. That feels very similar to the current search for the UI trend to take over design. But how does that transfer to the web? Some forms of brutalism have existed in graphics design before, but they often broke most of the typical layout rules, with huge text blocks often getting out of view. It was mostly popular in poster-design / graphics-design but some attempts to use it on the web existed as early as the late 90’s. Neo brutalism ditches most of that and merges traditional layout concepts with super-high contrast, solid, often purposefully clashing colors and simpler, yet quirky typography.”

The write-up goes on to describe this “ugly on purpose” style in depth, with plenty of illustrations and even a video. Neobrutalism’s hallmarks include super-high-contrast (some would say clashing) colors, sharp shadows, and thick fonts. We suggest curious readers, particularly any involved in UI design, check it out for themselves. Just watch out for flying buzzwords.

Cynthia Murrell, May 12, 2022

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