Is web design stuck in a rut? Are we being as creative as we could be?
During a few days of browsing the works of others and the projects we’ve done here at Frantic, I've discovered a bigger pattern that has emerged over the years.
We tend to take the trends that shape the websites – the big intro pictures, scrollable lists, feeds and cards of content – for granted and not question them. This is one piece of proof that the web as a medium is maturing to a stable format. But stable doesn’t mean that the designs always have to follow a certain pattern. In web design, the technology has always set constraints to the design – and that is just fine. But having said that, we need to keep pushing the constraints to the limits to achieve new things. It’s the beginning of 2014, so it’s a good time to start refreshing the way we work.
Let’s be brave
Next time the site sketches start with a big featured image and continue with the patterns of familiar elements, take a step back and try to come up with a couple of different approaches and see how the alternative solutions could work. Try doing a couple of Sketchboarding sessions to get as many ideas as possible to the table. Sometimes the obvious and the familiar blind us from fresh ideas. Changing tools and methods can help bring fresh views to the design as well. The idea is not to force out something out of the ordinary just for the sake of it, but to see past the first ideas that come up and thus maybe create something new. Going with something unfamiliar takes guts – but the web is a perfect environment to test out new approaches.
Break the rules
While the bootstraps and patterns help us to come up with solutions that work, the friction caused by breaking the rules and surprising the user can result in increased social sharing or even better: bigger movements like the now famous “Konami Code”. Remember to help your clients understand the value of breaking the rules, as contrast differentiates you from the rest, draws attention and creates emotion. And emotion is the glue that keeps the users interested in your message.
Bringing back that craftsmanship
Web to me is a handcrafted world and all about the people making it a better place. There's a big difference between building on top of someone else’s work and creating something yourself. Creating new things from scratch let’s you explore much more. I like to think that it’s like playing with the smallest LEGO blocks: with them you can create anything.
So now it’s time to sketch, draw, code and design. Be inspired and find your own path to the great designs of 2014.