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Gloss V2.0 Sweeps In?

Posted by Andrew Faulkner on November 14th, 2006.

Andrew Faulkner is the admin at fadtastic. Andrew prides himself on standards-based, accessible web design in the city of Nottingham, UK. He believes in aesthetically pleasing accessible design and that 'standards compliant does not equal boring.'

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A nice old skool article on one of the loveliest of trends: Gloss. Glass. Aqua.

Whatever you call the shiny trend you can’t deny its popularity. One could say Apple pioneered the look some years ago now. But as of late I’ve seen designers go to more effort to produce a new glossy look. It seems that adding a sweeping curve will rejuvenate the much used trend. Some examples to explain what I mean:

I could go on.

Now I believe designers tend to have a love/hate relationship with the trend. It’s one of the Marmite trends in my opinion. I happen to to have adored the gloss trend for a few years but recently I found myself realising that it wasn’t as original anymore. It started to lose its appeal.

So i found it rather refreshing when a new wave of gloss trends hit me this week. My love for gloss has been rekindled after almost fading away.

My question to the gloss lovers out there: Do you think this will rejuvenate the trend? Do you like it?

And for you gloss haters: Does this affect your opinion of the trend? Do you feel it’s a bit more original now?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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( 23 so far )

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23 Responses to Gloss V2.0 Sweeps In?

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Like any other technique, I think it’s golden, if it’s executed good, and the style has to go hand-in-hand with rest of the style. Adding gloss, just to add gloss, isn’t good anywhere.

Tor Bollingmo
November 14th, 2006
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A “sweeping curve” is new? I’ve been seeing that for quite some time now and have to say that, while much better than the original “Aqua”/”Gloss” look, it is still quite unoriginal.

Paul Armstrong
November 14th, 2006
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Paul,

The idea may not be new but I only recently realised how many sites have started using it. Up until now it’s been rather rare in my view.

So you have used it. Do you like the trend? Do you think it will rejuvenate the gloss concept?

Andrew Faulkner
November 14th, 2006
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My problem with the “sweeping” gradient in, say, a button (like the first example…Triple Crown) is that it looks…wrong. Like there is a nonsensical “reflection” going on in the glassy surface. Whereas with non-sweeping glossy buttons, done well they’ll pop-out (and look a bit like they’ve got some volume), the swoopy overlay seems to flatten the shapes (or, in my expert opinion, make them look weird).

Tim
November 14th, 2006
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Tim,

I guess another issue with the sweeping effect (like the one in Triple Crown) is that it is difficult to make it scale. I think that’s why many designers opt for a simple gradient to achieve a glossy effect - it’s repeatable.

Andrew Faulkner
November 14th, 2006
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I’ve always liked gloss, but have only used it a couple times. To me, it looks clean, modern, without being overly complex. It ads a nice point of interest without really drawing your eye away from the focus/content of the page.

Alex
November 14th, 2006
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Gotta go with Tor on this one… ANY design technique can look good if it’s executed properly, and ANY design technique can look terrible if it’s not. You can pick the right typography, color scheme, and layout for a site but if your padding is off or your layout looks like s*** then the whole thing looks like s***.

And on the opposite hand, you can pick poor typography, a wonky color layout, and if you piece it together correctly it can still look decent. That is what a real designer can do, people who design to look like every other Web 2.0 sites out there aren’t designers at all, they’re just followers.

Mike Rundle
November 15th, 2006
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And on the opposite hand, you can pick poor typography, a wonky color layout, and if you piece it together correctly it can still look decent.

This is sometimes the hardest thing to do when working with a naff brand.

Andrew Faulkner
November 15th, 2006
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I agree that any design trend can be done poorly or well, and I don’t particularly care for the design of any of your example sites. It seems to me they have all used gloss for the sake of the trend, rather than for the sake of the overall site design. That is, I find the gloss to be distracting. Using a trendy effect more skillfully doesn’t make it more appropriate.

Steve
November 15th, 2006
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Good point, Steve.

In your view, when is it appropriate to use gloss then? On a particular type of site or is this irrelevant?

Andrew Faulkner
November 15th, 2006
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If you want to have websites that look exactly the same, it’s great!

Meep
November 15th, 2006
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Meep,

I don’t quite follow that. The three example sites look totally different but all use gloss to some effect. I disagree and I would say that many other factors make a website look the same.

Andrew Faulkner
November 15th, 2006
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design in a style when it is appropriate to do so, who cares if it looks like X or Y. as long as it suits and that is up to a good designer

Johan
November 15th, 2006
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Andrew,
I think glossy is appropriate for any site for which it suites the design strategy. I like the design methodology in which the site goals are set out, followed by design strategy. Design tactics would be decided last, being informed by the goals and strategy. I consider glossy to be a tactic, that is, it is used to achieve something else, not itself. When I see glossy things in a site and they don’t appear to be part of an overall strategy, then I have to wonder why they are there. Is it a strategy poorly executed? Or, is it gratuitous use of a trendy style?

Steve
November 15th, 2006
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I think that a glossy effect is similar to other effects that are being used nowadays — gradients, diagonal lines, dotted lines, drop shadows, rounded corners — and any of them can be used effectively if they’re used properly and with a reason. If you’re doing a serious site for a lawfirm then reflections and rounded corners everywhere don’t convey the overall look you should be trying to produce. If you have a software company that makes cool Mac apps, then it’s appropriate to be influenced by Apple.com’s design with rounded corners and Myriad Pro, for example.

Mike Rundle
November 15th, 2006
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I’m in agreement with a lot of what Mike R has been saying. Every site needs to have a personality. Personally, I think its easy to spot the ‘followers’ because everything seems to lack the personality.

As for the different design patterns - I think it’s just like a debate about which programming language is better. Truth is, there is no right or wrong way - but there are people out there who can severly mess things up simply because they lack the knowledge or experience. So, it really does come down to the execution.

A true designer knows how to solve problems. They know how to architect a site and put the pieces together. Part of that is knowing what design elements to use where.

So, thats my opinion :)

Nate K
November 16th, 2006
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> Every site needs to have a personality.

Identity design is part of the branding

A designer needs to have personality (read: talent) to achieve quality design.

Johan
November 16th, 2006
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Personality is a great thought. Cheers Mike/Nate. I could go on (a lot) here but I think I’ll save this idea for a post in the near future. Cheers guys.

Andrew Faulkner
November 16th, 2006
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Trends are deadly for a casually-trained web designer like yours truly. On one hand, there’s a strong temptation to indulge in the trend too quickly without proper consideration. After all, MOST of the sites I see are pretty well done, and if all these pros are following the trend, who I am to deviate?

Then there’s the other side that pulls equally hard, and that is my compulsion to always be original and creative and inspired. Jumping on a trend just for the sake of looking current may be perfect for when the creative well is bone dry or if time constraints dictate less experimentation.

As for the glossy trend itself, I’m OK with it. It just looks good..the gradients and shine…but it’s not for everything. If nothing else, it’s 100x better than the annoying pixel graphics/pixel fonts/totally unreadable trend that swept the nation a few years ago!

Clinton
November 17th, 2006
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In my humble opinion, gloss is simply the next step in the natural progression of trying to add dimension to the flatness of the web. Drop shadows, bevels and embossing were the original effects to do that, and Fireworks and ImageReady helped perpetuate that trend.

Now the “gloss” coupled with gradients and such has become the more refined method to accomplish a faux 3rd dimension. Some have taken gloss to such extremes as to mimic interfaces of physical, real-world devices. Go check out The Skins Factory to see what I mean.

I don’t think gloss will ever go away, though it will continue to evolve from its present form. I speculate that texture and non-uniform elements will become more and more prevalent as we have already seen in the evolution of the ‘grunge’ movement. What is grunge other than trying to make things look weathered, worn and textured? That will continue to carry over into the more refined realm as opposed to being the staple of the goth-artist-musician realm. Non-uniformity (is that a word?) will make its way into gloss and the sweeping curve foreshadows this truth. Anyone familiar with photography and studio lighting knows that a row of 6-7 glassy buttons in the real world would not emit such uniform reflections as seen in the web world. I have a beautiful silver cell phone that looks perfect from afar but upon closer inspection, reveals little dings and flaws in its finish from being dropped or put into a bag with my keys, there are teethmarks on the antenna from my children gnawing on it, there are scratches on the face of the LCD. This is the type of thing I am talking about. Anomalies, flaws, dings, scratches, that will find its way into gloss.

So there it is. I predict that ‘gloss’ and ‘grunge’ will merge to some degree and while those doing so may not necessarily know exactly why they are doing it, they are simply trying to replicate a more real-world view in their designs. Nothing stays glossy forever unless it is untouched and unused… Chew on that one for a while!

Mark
November 18th, 2006
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Trends are deadly for a casually-trained web designer like yours truly

Clinton - great point there. It’s easy to get sucked into using design trends just for the sake of it without knowing why a particular effect works for a design.

So there it is. I predict that ‘gloss’ and ‘grunge’ will merge to some degree and while those doing so may not necessarily know exactly why they are doing it, they are simply trying to replicate a more real-world view in their designs. Nothing stays glossy forever unless it is untouched and unused… Chew on that one for a while!

I certainly will! This is an interesting idea, Mark. If you or anyone has an example of a current design that uses ’scratched/imperfect gloss’ then I’d love to see it. I don’t think we have any in the glossy part of the gallery yet. I’d love to see an addition.

Andrew Faulkner
November 20th, 2006
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I just don’t get it. It’s like the bevel/drop shadow craze. To me it means nothing. Sure, it looks good on some things, but I think people are just not thinking creatively. “Mmmmm . . . how can I make this look better? I know! I’ll had gloss and a reflection!”

billy
November 22nd, 2006
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‘add’ not ‘had’

billy
November 22nd, 2006
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