Is it possible to be too creative? Could being too creative kill a website design? Those are the questions we’ll explore in this article.
If you’re a web designer, it’s because you’re highly creative. That’s what led you into becoming a web designer. However, creativity isn’t an end in itself. As you continue in your design career, you need to remember you’re designing for the user.
The psychology of the user is somewhat difficult to understand. But you can always count on the fact that people are lazy, and it’s a face that they’ll take the way of least resistance when working on a task.
If you create highly complicated layouts, offer solutions that are too creative, or reinvent wheels (so to speak), then users will have a difficult time and they won’t thank you for it.
The Balance Between Creative & Useful Designs
Just how can you go about creating a balance between designs that are creative and beautiful, but yet useful, while making it easy for the user?
Start Here: The Prototype
Did you know that users take less than 50 milliseconds to decide on whether to leave or stay on a site? You have only that long to make a good first impression. That’s it.
Not only will the user decide to stay or leave, but they’ll form an opinion about your brand and product in that short time, too.
Site users expect and prefer websites that are simple and familiar. This means the site should be easy to use, but also look similar to other sites they use. If you go against this, and the design doesn’t meet the user’s expectation, your site will not be successful.
For instance, consider most of the sites you’ve visited recently. Chances are they have a basic layout. A blog may have the content to the left, navigation bar at the top or the upper left of the screen, and a side bar on the right, where you can sign up for their newsletter, find announcements and more.
The layout is basically the same for each business, whether that’s a dentist’s office or an automotive store. While there will be some differences, the general layout is what most users will expect, including you.
When a site doesn’t follow the user’s expectation, they become frustrated and annoyed. If you make them work too hard to accomplish their desired task, you’ll lose them.
This opposite could be the case if you’re designing a site for other creatives or peers. These site users will expect a little more creativity from a website.
So, when it comes to designing a site, start with a prototype. This way it’s easy to make changes and alterations and try different ideas. The goal is to come up with a beautiful design that can some originality, but it should also include the basic layout that users expect. Avoid being too creative. Meet the user’s expectation, and they’ll be happy, and the site has a better chance at being successful.
Make It Easy—Not Challenging
Remember we said that users will take the path of least resistance to accomplish their task? Then don’t make them think. Instead, keep everything simple and easy to make the user’s job easier.
When creating the design, remember the layout your audience will expect. Try to stay with some of the more popular design layouts. For instance, keep navigation where it’s easy for the user to find quickly.
And by all means avoid reinventing the wheel. That’s been done one too many times. However, remember that some target audiences do expect more complexity and more content. If the audience is expecting in-depth information, then the site may be more complex than average. However, if the site is for entertainment purpose, keep it simple.
Consider creating the path of least resistance and making the navigation and other site elements easy and fast for user to figure out. Make it simple and don’t challenge them.
Be Creative with the Visual Design
Here’s where you can use your creativity. The visual design includes such elements as color schemes, fonts, spacing, visual balance and more. Remember to keep it simple, so find fun ways to simply the design. In fact, keeping the design simple will often challenge your creativity—so enjoy! Remember less is more, but that “less” needs to do more.
Consider ways to make times shorter, with fewer steps. Help find a way for users to creatively complete their tasks. In fact, sometimes breaking the visual patterns you’ve created can be a great way to direct users to a call-to-action.
Have you seen those creative portfolio websites that have signature navigation methods? For instance, you may have seen a horizontal scroll, rather than a vertical one. These are great fun and it’s OK to includes these elements or the right audience.
In this case, you could enjoy some creative elements on a site made for other designers. That’s OK; however, don’t use this type of design element on a site meant for average folks. They’ll be horribly frustrated, not thrilled, like your design buddies.
For instance, these types of design elements will not work on a hospital or local chamber of commerce website. The reason is because site users need to access the information they need quickly. It could be they need contact information for a person or business. If you make these types of sites too creative and innovative, people will be frustrated and will quickly leave. You want to avoid this type of issue.
Summing It Up
In conclusion, when designing a website, avoid being too creative for the wrong target audience. Always keep your target audience in mind. Meet the needs and expectations of the site users every time. This way, you’ll not only have a more successful site, but users will come back for more.
When a site offers the information the user needs, and you, the designer, makes the site easy and fast for the user, then you’ll have accomplished the ultimate goal—make the user happy. And you can still use creativity in the design, just use it sparingly and possibly consider “breaking” your design with unexpected design elements to draw the user’s attention to a call to action or other important information.