posted by Veerle Pieters
04 December 2008
You sometimes hear that there isn't a lot of innovation in web design if you compare it to what has been accomplished in the print world. The thing is that print has been around for ages and is fully matured, but the web is just out of its nappies and just starting to grow up.
On trying to be innovative
Designing innovative websites isn't easy, no matter how good you are as a designer. Creating or trying for that matter is a process of trial and error. We already talked about the launch of this site in this previous article, but in case you didn't read it, the main purpose was to launch something different, and hopefully be innovative along the way. The site has been online now for over a month, and we like to believe it succeeded in reaching our goals. Requests are way up and many people take the effort to complete the contact form to tell us it really is very nice. Many of the galleries and inspiration sites picked us up. Not that our intention from the start was to be featured on those, but we like to believe it is some sort of indication that it is being liked.
A few examples of galleries that showcased our site
Everybody is a critic
It's true that it is a nice ego strike if your work is being liked, but when something is good the doors of a complete other face of the Internet shows its nasty side. If you start reading some of the comments in these galleries, you'll meet the nasty and anonymous side of the Internet. To me it isn't a surprise anymore since I've been around for while. I guess jealousy brings out the best in some people. The only way to deal with this is to develop elephant skin, or ignore them. The energy that those people put into writing this would be better suited in creating a design that is something better instead imho.
A few days ago, Drew McLellan launched another year of '24 Ways To Impress Your Friends', great articles for us web designers. The site got a very exciting fresh design by Tim van Damme of Made by Elephant. It didn't took that long before I start seeing a similar pattern appear of people venting the nastiness. Comments started to appear like:
wtf have 24ways.org done to their website this year? mental note to not hire "made by elephant"
http://24ways.org/ looks awful.
What is up with the design of 24ways this year! ack!
Sorry to bitch, but this years @24ways design is not cool. Also, it has severe cross browser issues. Content is good though.
Something new takes time to get used to
I'm always surprised by the speed that people judge a site. They've seen it for a few seconds, and already an opinion has been formed. When I look at a design of a site, I don't immediately vent an opinion, but I take it all in slowly and start to think of what could have been on the mind of the designer. You have to use it a few times first and when that phase is out of the way, you truly can start forming an opinion. The above kind of remarks take the web nowhere, and it only scares newcomers of what kind of feedback to expect when they try something out. I've talked about it on the blog. Critiquing isn't easy, in fact it is hard and takes time to do it in a way that the creator can learn from it.
Pushing the envelope
The funny part is that it is probably the same people who are saying that there isn't any innovation in web design. When somebody uses experimentation, originality, and progressive web design, they bitch about it. You can't have it both ways people. We should be glad there still are people willing to try, because the truth is that the vast majority of web design is boring. When some rare innovations like 24 ways come along, we should be glad and take notice and be inspired. Who cares that it doesn't work in all browsers at launch. My hat is off to Drew and Tim for daring to be innovative.
Call to action
Let us grow up to reach the maturity of the print world and learn from it, but we will make mistakes along the way by trying. Experimentation and innovation is all about, trying something new, being different and imaginative. Don't let the criticasters scare you. In fact, ignore them all together unless what they are saying has value. Don't be afraid to go flat on your face by trying. For example I already know when I will redesign my blog, that there will be comments of people saying "pfftt, the previous design was way better". These thoughts will not stop me from trying to be creative. Remember, if nobody tries anymore the web is at standstill and that's not what I want. Like I said before my hat is off to those who try. Go explore and be creative and to hell with those criticasters :)
Some tips that I use
- Think outside of the browser canvas
- Don't get stuck by asking yourself 'is this possible with CSS?'
- Dare to experiment with non-traditional grids and typography
- Don't be afraid to try to reflect your personality in your design
- Get inspired by offline things and print design
On a side note my article is up at 24ways.org, it is about creating Geometric Background Patterns.