There aren’t too many immutable laws of design, but there is one. Something which is different is always noticed. The lone apple among a ton of oranges naturally stands out. An eagle is more visible than a pigeon. This principle is based on natural human mental editing of information. The brain naturally identifies the things that stand out and are considered relevant. Nowhere is this more obvious than in web design, and it’s reflected in every design element, from SEO to graphics and templates.
Web design is very much based on this principle. Anonymity online, a lack of identity, is marketing suicide. For pro designers, lack of individuality is also lousy business practice. After all, does a client want to hire a standout web designer, or some nondescript non-achiever with no design ideas?
Being different, and working in the market :
Straightforward as all this may seem from the designer’s perspective, the commercial issues are a lot more complex. The problem for designers is being different and working in the online marketplace. The design issues with being different often go over the market’s head. It’s actually basic marketing to let your designs and your product stand out, but some people don’t see it that way.
Perversely, clients tend to want what they’ve already seen. The business client wants a “business type site”, understandably enough, but will want it to look like all the dire, uninspired rubbish that bores clients to death. Other clients will want something that is so famous that it’s either a breach of copyright design or quite literally everyone else on Earth has already done it.
The result, of course, is a design which is either so uninteresting it just gets lost in the crowd, or a sort of design horror story. These things may improve a designer’s counseling skills, but they’re commercially futile. Nothing like this is actually “different”, and if they stand out at all, it’ll be for all the wrong reasons. As marketing, these things are quite useless, and for designers, they’re not exactly portfolio material.
Designing to be different and commercial viability :
The best way to be different and create your own brand is to really develop your creative ideas. This requires a strong sense of what’s commercially possible and a willingness to take some risks as well as good quality control. It may take a while to get your creative ideas accepted but it will be worth it.
Great designs in advertising, marketing and fine art only get into the marketplace as a result of people actively looking for strong design identity. Not coincidentally, these are the great clients, and they’re also usually the ones with excellent business skills. They recognize the value of original design and strong design content.
They’re also highly motivated clients. They’re far more responsive to good new ideas, and far quicker to see the potential of a good web design concept. Remember also that these people are experts in their own fields. The positive response is very good feedback, from people that really know their stuff.
Never get discouraged about your ideas. Whatever the issue, whether it’s Search Engine Optimization, Flash intros or some other thing, design quality matters, and you’re right to be thinking about quality and presentation. After all, that’s what design is all about.