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How Much Do Standards And Trends Dictate Your Web Design?

  • How Much Do Standards And Trends Dictate Your Web Design?
    [See the full post at: How Much Do Standards And Trends Dictate Your Web Design?]

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  •  Melody

    I think that old saying is true, don’t remember it verbatim, but the one about reinventing the wheel..
    Everyone holds on to trends at some point, it’s a natural part of design and marketing, I think we’re just tired of regurgitated design..

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Yes, in many ways we have to fall prey to the fact that “there is nothing new under the sun”, but the idealist and artist in me believes there is much originality that remains untapped and part of the problem is our tendency to look to others for leadership and trends. I guess I just would like to see more leaders and less followers. Do you think it’s possible?

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  •  Rob

    Just because you see the design more frequently doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing or bad for the clients needs. There’s a balance in everything to be strived for. I think you almost put down the “copying” and devalue what designers do for a living. I don’t think innovation or creativity results in things that are usable, readable, or make great sense ALL the time. It’s a dangerous road to devalue yours or someones work because of this.

    Certainly it’s important to push the limits and try new things search for new inspiration and avoid close minded thinking but you must ask yourself… are you getting paid to do that? I think if a client comes to asking for something outside the box that costs go outside the box… not as a penalty but everyone should be compensated for their effort and this is no different.

    I agree with you calling out designers, asking them to break the mold but at the same time creativity exists at many levels and many people still value and appreciate what we designers may “regurgitate”.

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  •  Christian

    Great article. Touched on all angles.

    I have to say, I am greatly impressed by any design I come across that is new to my eyes – whether I think it works or does not… whether its my taste or I think its ugly. Originality is an art in itself.

    I have been designing websites for years and will be the first to admit I am the type that is inspired by anothers great works, not copying but more just a spark to get the wheels spinning. Anyone who can create something from nothing has God-like abilities.

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    I agree, Christian. I am just as ‘guilty’ as the next designer for putting out web designs that are not entirely original. And I marvel at those who can. I guess I wrote this as more of a ‘thinking out loud’ kind of thing, wondering what would happen if we all put in that extra effort to delve within rather than looking around as much. Thanks for the comment!

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Rob,

    I too, am a designer, and, as I said, I am one of the ‘culprits’ at falling into line and cranking out the ‘usual’. Maybe you missed that or I didn’t express it clear enough.

    Is an original creation, unlike any other, of more value than a multitude of look-alikes? I would have to answer, “Most definitely!” But does it mean the others have no worth or are wrong? My answer would be “Absolutely not!” There are so many factors to weigh in web design, including the client’s needs, which you pointed out. In the end, the client’s needs combined with the designer’s expertise and input should provide the best possible results for the context.

    We quite possibly come from two different camps, since you imply that getting paid is a top priority. I have the same priority, but maybe a little lower on the list, as I would like to strive to produce high quality, original and creative work regardless of the payment. Some of my best work has been pro bono, and some of what I might consider more of a copycat style has paid extremely well. I am not a freelance designer to get rich. I do it because I love it, and it so happens I do a good enough job to provide for my family – bonus! This attitude doesn’t make me ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than anyone else – it’s just my personal value system. We may be different from each other, but that doesn’t make either one of us wrong.

    This whole post is written from an idealist point of view. Do I honestly believe every single web designer could drop what they’re currently working on and change the face of the internet by delving deep within themselves to produce inspired and original work? Yes, I believe it’s possible. Do I think they will? Probably not, unfortunately. But I’m an idealist, and I like to dream. Perhaps I could have framed this post a little better so that could be understood.

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I assure you, I am not attempting to devalue anything anyone is doing. Just trying to get us all to look at things from different points of view.

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  •  Dietmar

    The only think that dictates my web design is the seo and usability aspect. All those nice ajax empowered navigations, those nice rockwell headings done with images… I think, webdesign is more than design. It’s the combination of design, usability, clean & valide code, and, of course, seo.

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  •  Vikas Ghodke

    Great Read. Thanks for this awesome article mate.

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  •  Can Aydo?an

    Great article. Thanks!

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  •  Elena

    It’s really interesting article. Thanks for good information.

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  •  Sumiyo Amano

    Great article and choices of websites. It’s refreshing to read a topic like this. I agree that we sometimes get caught up in creating sites that are “safe”. But deep down in our creative hearts, we want to spend more time exploring and having fun with the canvas we are given. Taking that extra step sometimes is not possible due to project budgets and timelines. But, I think we can always have a pet project or two that we get to play and act/design outside the box 🙂 Thanks again for the great post!

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  •  Cape Cod Web Design

    Minimal standards compliant sites are the future! Very good read, thank you.

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  •  Mitch McLeod

    I agree with @Dietmar.

    A lot of websites look awesome, but are crowded with ads and things that aren’t relevant. They simply try to do too much on the one page.

    Websites need to be as user friendly as possible regardless of what style the site is. If it takes more then a few seconds to work the site out the user will close the site and move on.

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  •  John Paul de Guzman

    I think, to move forward to the future, we need to integrate these trends and available technology and explore what are the possibilities. You can never blame other of following trends and be stuck with it, because sometimes it makes things acceptable not only in a marketing perspective but also it makes them “cool and up to date.”

    We can never build 21st century technology using 1900 tools. As a designer, we should be exploring things and risking our comfort levels to go beyond what is there.

    Trends are signs that we all change and grow. It shows possibilities and great creativity. But we need to succumb the bandwagon to unlock greater creative potentials.

    But the question is, who doesn’t follow the trend? We are all guilty as charge. It makes us look good and on the top of our game.

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    I agree, Dietmar. The combination of so many different aspects needed for a successful website sets web design apart as a unique beast. So I guess these are elements that must dictate our web design. It makes me wonder how much we might allow them to dictate and limit us beyond what is the reality, perhaps using them as an excuse? Food for thought…

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Good point! Having at least one “pet project” that allows the creative and experimental juices to flow would be a great way to delve into the unusual. It would likely influence other projects with your discoveries as well!

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Haha! That should be a bumper sticker or an inspirational framed poster for the design office: “Minimal standards compliant sites are the future!” That’s great – thanks for the chuckle. 🙂

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    That’s probably another reason we stay “within the boundaries” of what we understand that visitors to websites are willing to do and experience. I wonder if users would not be so quick to give up and move on if less websites looked the same and they became accustomed to a new experience every time?

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  •  Chris

    I think you bring up a lot of good points in the article. But it would be very difficult to listen to someone who has done such a great job taking all of their “inspiration” from Smashing Magazine’s blog. Maybe you can free yourself of these standards and trends next time you create a re-design.

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  •  Amber

    I think a great way to break-on-through, is to look outside of web design for inspiration. My most recent client wanted something DIFFERENT. BIG. NEW. Well, I actually went went somewhere very tradtional to find inspiration…the museum! I got great ideas about color, composition and layout, without being influenced by other web designs. Finding inspiration from other web designers is great, but sometimes we can’t forget where we came from, you know…we first started getting inspiration from a tangible world, not a digital one. Great article though! Thanks

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Just to clarify, Chris: I am a guest author on Pelfusion, so your thinly-veiled (and not surprisingly anonymous) attack is just plain wrong. But thank you for taking time to read the good points.

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  •  Dylan

    Brian, this is actually the first article of yours that I’ve ever read, but I’d like to express my “2 cents”. First of all, I doubt you will even “approve” this post, and I assume it will be quickly deleted (or “edited”) if you do. Anyway, your writing style comes across as very “pompous” and “arrogant”. I understand that you have industry experience, but constantly citing yourself and your accomplishments (you being a web designer, blog author, guest author on Pelfusion, astronaut, cowboy, former NFL runningback, etc) especially while belittling anyone who doesn’t agree with you (See the post by the “Chris” gentleman, and “Rob” to a certain extent), just isn’t professional. Your site does, “by the way”, slightly resemble the original design of the “Smashing” Blog, but I’m sure you already knew that.

    Aside from that, the article “is” well-written and informative. However, since I am a professional copywriter, I’d like to inform you that “quoting” non significant words in your posts and comments doesn’t help the reader. I really just imagine you constantly “air-quoting” with your fingers during normal conversation. Also, when you quote “words”, it should be to imply a different connotation of the word, rather than its normal usage. You should probably “cut that out” in future posts. Although you likely know this already, as you are also currently a Copywriter, English Grammar Professor, Quantum Physics & Thermonuclear Engineer, and ominous deity. Keep up the great posts. Food for thought…

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Dylan,

    Thanks for your input. As I mentioned to Chris (above) this is not my site, so it is not my design. I am a guest author so I am unable to edit, delete or do anything else with comments, nor would I if I could because I believe a true discussion should be wide open for anyone to express their opinion, even if it’s something I disagree with or is an attack on me personally. As far as I’m concerned, you are more than welcome to express yourself however you choose.

    I’m not sure how my comments are “belittling” Chris or Rob. I think if someone disagrees with me or attempts to insult me, I should be allowed to respond, don’t you? I admit, it is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people leave insulting or belittling comments but avoid identifying themselves with a legitimate email or website link. It just seems cowardly – as though they want to say their piece and disappear, rather than have a constructive discussion.

    I would love to hear more of the details of how you have formed your opinion of me, but I imagine that if you took the time to get to know me you would probably change your tune, since I am most definitely not the person you have perceived. Still, you have helped me to see myself from another viewpoint that I have never been challenged with before, and for that I am grateful. I hope I can learn from it and become a better writer and person through the process.

    Thanks again.

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  •  Ferman

    i would like to say only about design….the resemblance you see in design is due to navigation bar only. I have to mention here before the navigation of SM was different, but mine is same for last 12 months, and they changed to the current one…i am not saying they copied my navigation style what i am saying is they just followed the new trend of WordPress navigation…rest there is nothing similar in design

    thanks for you comment Dylan i take everything positively :), just dont’ be anonymous when you comment…it fakes you

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  •  Sahan

    Yes, it’s true that it’s hard to do a masterpiece from scratch and people go and look for inspirations, and not only you 95% of designers change the designs he sees, actually he redesign the inspiration (sometimes). But what will happen if something like this happened, you get an idea from others. some other guy also get an idea from yours and so on, wow what will be the outcome if the original inspiration goes in 20 hands ? . The thing I’m trying to tell is, if few people create a one design it’ll be a good one, if one person create it by him self… you get the idea

    Also what’s the design you created.. 🙂 ?

    (Sorry for my english)

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  •  Brian McDaniel

    Good points, Sahan. I have not personally designed any websites that I would say break out from the typical trends. I have created a few with elements I haven’t seen before but I would not be so bold as to think I originated them. That is one of the reasons I wrote this piece – to challenge our thinking (including my own) and to get us all to consider trying some new things.

    Thanks for the comment!

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  •  Tom

    I agree, people should think outside the box, use their own inspirations to guide them (depending on the project of course). On one hand, businesses tend to like the standard, they don’t feel they have to push the boundaries.

    Secondly though, if someone did something completely original one day and no-one copied or used some form of inspiration from it, then by definition wouldn’t it become a design failure? Otherwise, how do we define it as a success.

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  •  elizabeth

    This is my first time reading this blog. Definitely won’t be my last though, really enjoyed it.Can’t recommend this blog highly enough. Yet another great post.

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