Here’s a couple of thoughts on ‘normalised design’.
A circle doesn’t need to be a circle and square doesn’t need to be a square.
Design becomes normalised when you constrain it to proportions and dimensions. Giving yourself an inordinate amount of rules is going to normalise things fairly quickly.
Grid, grid width, column width are now fairly common. I challenge you to work on a grid, grid width and column width after you’ve worked with the content you’re designing rather than constraining your design directly into a grid.
My hope is that it leaves you more creative or gives you more freedom to think about the context of the content you have to use. If it’s imagery, does it have to look the same old way? If it’s content, what type of content is it? Short, long? Headlines, main content? Does it read correctly? Paragraphs too long for reading on the web? Font size, content width… the list is endless.
Instead of fixating on crow-baring your content into a design that looks like everything else because you usually see it like that isn’t a good reason to do it ‘like that’. You run the risk of continuing trends just for the sake of it.
If you ever think you’re doing something because it’s usual, I implore you to get up and do something completely different to what you were doing 10 seconds before it. Always do something for a purpose.
Walk around, take 5 minutes to yourself, go and make yourself a cuppa, kick back in your seat, shut your eyes and visualise anything but usual.
Normalised design is simply ‘usual’. We can do better.