First, it was all about small screens. Then, everyone wanted bigger, clearer, and more saturated displays. We wanted one phone to be for personal use while another is strictly for work. Now, they allow for different profiles so that you only need to carry one handset. We used to put so much emphasis on icons that mean business, but now we want them to be abstract and fun. We even want to fold smartphones these days!
With all these changes seemingly going from one end of the spectrum to the other, is anyone actually surprised that muted colours are out and bold colours are in?
Operating Systems Dictate Change
When Android Lollipop was first introduced, everyone noticed how the latest iteration of the mobile operating system veered away from its more structured past and featured abstract icon sets. It looked like a back-to-the-drawing-board kind of change, which took everyone by surprise. It was not long before Android users adapted to the change, as they always do, because we live in a world where we hold new gadgets in our hands every couple of years.
On the other side of the market, iPhone users do not see much change in their Apple phones, but seeing as the core of iOS is simple enough, users were not given many options when it came to customisation in the first place.
The trend seems clear here: Simplify rather than clutter the phone screen.
Changes Trickle Down to Apps…
Along with the simplified operating systems, users also saw changes in app logos. And it makes sense, as apps are designed to complement the environment in which they will be used. Ask any smartphone user in Croydon if the old Instagram logo, which was primarily brown, is any fit for their now more fun smartphone that, coincidentally, also comes in a variety of colours. Instagram’s drastic change marked a new era for smartphone icons. To be deemed essential for a generation of aesthetic-loving smartphone users, apps have to look the part. And so, the exodus of logo changes followed suit.
…Then They Reach Websites
Everyone who owns a smartphone often has it within reach, and they do most of their tasks from there. Companies recognised this early on, which is why they push the idea of continuity between desktop tasks and mobile apps. Anything you have been working on while mobile can be continued when you eventually decide to switch to desktop, and vice versa.
More importantly, the apps you use on mobile often have a desktop counterpart. Naturally, they have a website where users can sign up and do tasks they may not be able to do on their phone. Now, imagine if the changes they made on their app logo did not reflect on their website. That colourful Instagram gradient would look out of place in a brown old-school website. It breaks the continuity, and no company wants that. Therefore, when they think about web design, they think of the mobile environment and make sure their website reflects the changes seamlessly.
Any company looking to update their website only has to look for ideas in the mobile landscape. After all, your very own website will need its mobile version, too.
It is interesting to look at how one change affects other aspects. Truly, we are living in a connected world.