Creative Web Design

In the latest Boagworld show Paul Boag and Marcus Lillington are joined by Andy Clarke to discuss the effect of age on creativity. There is an interesting digresion on their opinion of creative decline in web design. The whole discussion reminds me a lot of this:

As amusing as this is, I think that this ignores the advantage that earlier web designers had. The advantage was that their clients may not have understood the importance of their website to their business and how it could effect their company’s reputation and bottom line. It is easier to take risks with another company’s brand and products when they don’t really understand what the whole point of the web is.

Today is different, clients understand how essential their websites are and have many more opinions about them. The need to avoid risk is a huge undercurrent in most web projects. Therefore it is easier to fall back on conventions, whether or not they are actually best practices (I’m looking at you JS sliders). Over time, clients don’t even have to push back against risky ideas, because we begin to censor ourselves.

In a way, it’s a compliment to web design. Clients see websites as essential and more jealously defend them against potential failure. Every truly creative solution introduces risk, and avoiding risk is the foremost concern in most organizations. The biggest risk to web design is if designers stop trying to take risks and do not learn how to gain a client’s trust and sell their best ideas.