As the year comes to an end and so do the 2010s (unless you’re counting 2021 as the first year of the next decade) it’s tempting to try and categorize the last ten years into a coherent narrative.

A very general idea of the timeline of digital design trends includes the 1980s. This decade saw the rise of the personal computer and the software that came with it, which led to Adobe Illustrator. The ’90s saw the rise of the Wild West days of the internet, with crazy eye-sore web designs and pixelated animations.

The 2000s saw the rise of social media, with big players such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube appearing in this decade. Personalization in social media design was very popular, with items such as personalized backgrounds and custom layouts with MySpace and early YouTube.

So how do we define the 2010s in this trend of technological advancement? For better or for worse, the best way to define this decade is the standardization and regulation of this technology. The digital world as a whole became more mature.

Flat UI highlighted the end of skeuomorphism in digital design. Instead of buttons with gradient shadows to make it easier for people to transition to screen-based interaction, we now mostly have icons that appear flatly on screen.

Dark mode is increasingly popular and unconventionally styled sites such as DeviantArt turned to a style similar to other social media art sites like ArtStation.

Increased internet content regulation emerged this decade. The increased advocacy for net neutrality in the US in the later half of the 2010s and the exposure of private data showed how fragile this freedom actually is with our digital contributions. The Arab Spring used social media as a political tool. Managing fake news on Facebook, regulating prank videos on Youtube, hate speech on Twitter, NSFW content on Tumblr, and bullying online became more prominent this decade as well.

The 2020s will likely see an increase in the need for AR (Augmented Reality) graphics and a return to skeuomorphism to make AR interaction more intuitive. Digital content creators in general will also increase due to platforms such as Patreon to allow users to make an income while they create what they want.

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