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Ask DN: UI kits... are they bad news for creativity?

7 years ago from , Interface Designer

Every day there seems to be a dozen new "PSD UI kits" posted on Dribbble. Ready-coded HTML kits like http://designmodo.com/flat-free get downloaded by thousands of 'designers'. And it seems to be standard practice now to use one of a plethora of frameworks - such as Bootstrap - when building a new site.

I get that designers are strapped for time these days and have to work to tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. Who doesn't appreciate a shortcut? We've all downloaded the odd freebie that will save us some time or effort. I also appreciate that there are thousands of new designers out there who can learn a heck of a lot by reverse-engineering and building on stuff that other people have built.

Perhaps I'm just a bluff old purist who needs to lighten up a bit, but it feels like we're taking this shortcut business a step too far. I miss the good old days when people had to roll their own code and produced their own unique designs.

Am I wrong to fear the increasing homogenisation, or should I embrace the value in this shared knowledge, even if it means losing the originality in my work? I'd love to hear what you clever folks think...

6 comments

  • Tom BryanTom Bryan, 7 years ago

    There's nothing wrong with bashing something out that looks like everything else so long as you're not under the illusion that you're doing the best work you can.

    5 points
  • Jon GoldJon Gold, 7 years ago

    IKEA is great but there's always going to be a role for high-end furniture.

    McDonalds is fine but there will always be gourmet restaurants.

    etc etc

    1 point
    • Joshua HughesJoshua Hughes, 7 years ago

      Absolutely. But is a unique design and purpose-built code really high-end? I'd argue that it shouldn't be.

      2 points
  • Max SchultzMax Schultz, 7 years ago

    I'm glad you touched on the opportunity for learning and reverse engineering - I learned to organize and obsess over my .psd files as a result of a couple nice kits.

    For HTML 'kits' I'll say the biggest advantage is browser/client compatibility and standards compliance. If I have to test my html email I've written from scratch in EVERY MAIL CLIENT I am going to have no time left for design at all.

    1 point
    • Joshua HughesJoshua Hughes, 7 years ago

      Not having to 'waste' time on testing code is obviously a big win, but doesn't that come at the cost of not fully understanding the medium you're working with? If you present your client with that responsive email they requested, but all you've done is changed a few colours, tweaked the padding on a few table cells, and chucked in the new content, how can you be sure that the solution is truly the best one? Is the code as lightweight and well-written as it could be? Have you rejected a more unique, creative design because it's just easier to make the new content fit the framework?

      Templates are a bit like fast-food: you can enjoy reduced waiting time, it looks the part, but it's usually bloated with unnecessary ingredients that actually slow you down in the long run, and you'll never truly know what's in it.

      0 points