Field Guide to Overused Design Elements 1

When you design for certain industries for a long time you sometimes find yourself designing in ruts. Design elements become crutch-like. The funny thing is that due to whatever it might be, whether you believe in the power of semi-homogenized cultural thinking or the similarities of the human brain & thought between people, you can see these over-used elements everywhere after you see them once. It is kind of like buying what you figure is an obscure vehicle only to drive it around and see that model EVERYWHERE.

Bringing this home, I’m going to talk about one that I see all the time. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling anyone out. I am just fascinated in it’s nearly omnipresence. In-fact, I have to admit that I have used it as well…

I don’t know what to call it – maybe swoop-bump? It’s easy to see why it gets used. It’s got an interesting curve that kind of recalls the easy Confucian balance of the yin-yang. Sure, that’s waxing a bit poetic, but it does also recall the sine wave-like sort up and down – which is how it is drawn probably every time. One Bezier point in the center and a touch of the handle bars and BAM!!

It has positives, to be sure, that lump on the top is excellent for calling attention to a logo and the concave portion makes room for those terrible bullet points. The swoop-bump also gets you a big swatch of that brand color down the side, as well.

The best part? IT MEANS NOTHING!!! That’s right, it’s non-threatening and casts no allusions to anything else, it’s just… Swoop-Bump(!).

The Graphic Design Swoop-Bump(!) can be spotted in Target’s store brand items (in ‘design-friendly’ horizontal) as well as certain Rubbermaid Paint Items in Walmart and is also common in food packaging.

Please feel free to add other places where you have seen the ever-present Swoop-Bump in public in the comments.



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