How Far Should You Take Your Creativity?

How Far Should You Take Your Creativity?Creative people always try to think out of the box and look for the next brilliant idea. We want to create something so unique and incredibly outstanding that it makes the rest of the world pay attention.

But how far is too far? How much can you stretch the boundaries of convention? Where is the point when it all breaks down in functionality, usability or effectiveness and just becomes confusing?

What good is anything if no one knows what it is or what to do with it?

Architects and Engineers Don’t Get Along

A friend of mine is a structural engineer. He designs the framework of many big, flashy signs seen outside casinos in both Las Vegas and around the world.

He’s good at his job. He knows how to make a structure sound, whether it’s a simple bookcase for his office or a 70-foot chandelier in a posh lobby. He understands how loads and stresses work, what holds up in a hurricane and what crumbles with the slightest shake of the earth.

I often hear my friend complain about the architects he works with. Many of them make his job difficult because they don’t seem to care about structure – they only care that the signs look good. They want it pretty and spectacular – structure be damned! That brace on the south wall? No, we can’t have that. It destroys the aesthetics!

Where Should You Draw the Line?

I read a post over at Vandelay Design that listed 25 websites with creative layouts. I looked at the websites on the list and there were indeed some pretty incredible layouts.

The sites were stunning. They were creative and unique. They had depth and texture and great design galore…

But I couldn’t help thinking, were they practical? As far as user-friendliness, functionality and usability goes, I doubt any would survive one of our drive-by site critiques. The designers wanted to push the limits so much with amazing imagery that they seemed to be forgetting a site needs to be user-friendly too.

Here’s an example. When you land on Colour Pixel, you’re blasted with a bright orange pixelated background and so much visual activity that the Las Vegas Strip pales in comparison.

It’s creative, yes. But as a site visitor, where do I go? What do I click? That’s not good for a site that boasts user interface design. And many of the other sites gave me the same impression.

Cool to look at. Hell for visitors.

Make It Work Together – Or It Won’t Work At All

A site with unique design that’s also user-friendly isn’t impossible. Functionality doesn’t have to be boring, and design doesn’t have to be out on the fringe of Alice in Wonderland.

Keep basic conventions in mind. They’re there for a reason. You could have the most amazing graphics on your site, but if people can’t figure out how to find what they need, the site is useless. And a useless site doesn’t bring in great sales.

Remember to include familiar elements even when you’re being creative. Visitors need guidance, and they don’t want to think.

And you don’t want to shock people so much with your awe-striking design that they’re knocked on their ass and can’t get back up to hire you.

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.