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  • Aashish Manchanda

The Evolution of Design: Dumb Creations

The past ten years have been a roller-coaster ride in the design world. With a new decade of design on the horizon, we’re going to help you take a long look back at the evolution of graphic design from 2010 to 2020.


An eventful decade in design


It’s New Year’s Eve 2009, and you’re a designer welcoming a brand new decade in graphic design. You find yourself making loud predictions about what the 2010s will deliver (you’ve also had a fair amount of champagne).



This expensive smartphone fad, you declare, will never last. Instead, you predict that physical devices will disappear altogether, and everyone will be designing on holographic screens. Typography won’t matter with Binary as the language of the land. And design schools will become irrelevant as people will download information Matrix-style directly into their brains.

Now 10 years older, you can’t believe that person was you—who even does that at a party? While most of your predictions missed the mark, the 2010s were no less an eventful decade in graphic design. It might not have been as dramatically futuristic as you imagined, but the decade revolutionized the modern designer’s relationship with technology in many ways.


How graphic design tools evolved over the decade —


With digital spaces growing at an exponential rate in the 2010s, designers found their workload on the rise, and their toolbox had to undergo some upgrades itself to keep up. Let’s look at the ways that the tools of graphic design transformed over the 2010s.


Graphic design software


For a while, the words “professional design software” and “Adobe” had been practically synonymous, and in the 2010s, Adobe took steps to solidify its hold on the marketplace. In 2011, Adobe reinvented its business model with the introduction of the Creative Cloud.


Instead of a single purchase software, this gave users access to all of its products for a subscription fee, making updates available on demand and emphasizing integration between products along the way. Many designers were none too happy, and to belay these concerns and justify subscriptions fees, Adobe promised to update its applications with more frequency than ever before. Notable improvements over the decade include:

Content Awareness features in Photoshop (2012) Live Corners in Illustrator (2014) Perspective Warp and Linked Smart Objects in Photoshop (2014) Live Shapes in Illustrator (2015) Multiple layer styles in Photoshop (2015) Curvature tool in Illustrator (2017)




These apps have drag-and-drop interfaces, simplified canvases, and animation functionality that make it possible to showcase and test prototypes in rapid-fire. They must have been doing something right, considering their popularity went beyond prototyping to many designers favoring Sketch for web design over grandaddy Photoshop.


Online freelancing


Though the social media revolution had already kicked off in the previous decade, it ramped up in the 2010s, largely in designers’ favor. Instagram kicked off in 2010, popularizing image-centric social media, and its user base had soared to 80 million by the time it was acquired by Facebook the next year.


The 2010-2020 decade in graphic design: that’s a wrap! —

So there you have it: everything that happened in the 2010s as it relates to graphic design contained in a single blog article. There’s not a chance anything was left out due to length constraints or this author’s forgetfulness, so we can all move on and look forward to the 20s.

Of course, if you happen to think of one or two other events of the decade, let us know in the comments below.

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