Creative website design is (almost) dead. I blame the Internet at large. But, if I am to be truthful, some of the blame also lies with clients. Whether due to the prevalence and success of WordPress or a plethora of easily applied themes and templates (HTML5 included). A tour of the Internet in almost any industry reveals websites that don’t differ all that much. The majority of folks who come to me for a website or updated presence, spend hours upon hours looking at their competition and template sites to find just the right “look” (that is exactly the same as everyone else’s “look”). Clients looking for a new website need to let some of their chosen designer’s creativity shine through. You’ll thank us for it!
Ecommerce, social media, product pages, marketing landing pages, blogs, business directory websites, portfolios, personal sites, message boards, and even video sharing platforms are all conforming to the standard layouts prevalent in each industry.
Roadblocks to creativity in website design
I’m just a guilty of conforming as anyone else. When a client begins the search for a web designer, they have expectations of what they will find. I use many common layouts and design elements on this site. In part because it’s easy but also because it’s what clients expect to see when searching for a website designer. Get too creative and clients will leave. Truth be told, often times designers have some really exciting ideas for a client site, but they feel bound by what the client believes is the standard in their given industry.
Over at the InDesign Blog, they lean toward blaming this lack of creativity on designers not having the luxury of time or money to conduct thorough research. I do agree time and money restraints can be a roadblock to unconventional design. But more frequently clients equate the success of large sites like Amazon or Youtube, and those like them, with the perceived possibility of success on their own website. It is up to designers to tell clients this doesn’t have to be the only way. In fact, setting yourself apart, while maintaining easy of use and clear flow for visitors can and should be considered.
Clients: please put some of yourself into your website
I encourage creative website design with my clients anytime I see there might be an opportunity. While I often serve industries that don’t lend themselves well to being too creative, there is always some bit of space for creativity on every website. For instance, take a look at the DropBox Help Center. I love the hand drawn icons and graphics on this page. It adds personality and a bit of fun to a website that admittedly isn’t the first site I would think of as a place to unleash one’s creative genius. Another excellent example is Books@Work. This site has beautiful line graphics and a slightly different design scheme and interface. The Google Design Blog is another with no shortage of innovation and creativity. These are just a few examples of successful websites that use creative design and innovation without sacrificing conversion or usability.
Put some of yourself in your website. Your clients will respond to it. If you’re uptight, let your designer do uptight, with some fun and innovation. If you’re whimsical and artistic, let your designer rein you in a bit for usability’s sake. Do your best research, but balance that with something that sets you apart. People searching for providers in your industry will remember that. Most of all remember sites like Amazon and Facebook are not successful because of their creative websites, they are successful because they have a product that folks want. Remember “Whatever you do, do it well.” definitely applies to getting a new or updated website. You know your product and your industry, but your designer knows design. It’s important for you to trust the design process and maybe let go a little. Let your designer do what they do well!