Being Creative by Example. Should I Use This?
|Should I Use This?|
ell... this is too cool for me I guess." Such is the typical response of a novice designer who's just got acquainted with some of the most impressive design show-offs. And I must admit that this attitude is justifiable to some extent. Indeed, most of the sites we're crafting are for laymen, not designers, and you cannot reckon on the artistic taste of your audience any more than on the number of colors on their displays.
On the other hand, let's admit that it is prominent designers that influence the preferences of the public and make them develop over time. Many things that now look as if they've always been around were once a novelty, and not always of a respectable sort. Believe it or not, plain vanilla sans serif font, less than century ago, was considered almost as avant-garde as Cubism paintings, and it required a lot of time to get everybody accustomed to the sans serif look-and-feel.
So do not borrow a thing you don't like; but please don't be quick in deciding that you don't like it. Spend some time meditating on an unusual design; try to analyze your feelings: maybe it is nothing but an effect of the thing being new to your perception? Can you possibly guess---or feel---what caused the designer to choose this layout, this color, this font?
It may happen that after a while you'll find yourself much more tolerant to the new design idea, and maybe even like it---which is when you usually stop thinking about the artistic taste (or lack thereof) of your audience and start enjoying the newly found plaything in your own works. Congratulations---you've just made a big step towards real professional design. The next big step will be when you discover something unique yourself.
When trying to build effective sites, remember that "practical" (as opposed to "artistic") is good only as far as "impractical" is bad. If your site fails to accomplish its goal it is bad, no matter what artistic revelations it may present. The inverse is not universally true, however. I could say that the main difference between good and bad designs is in how artistic they manage to be while remaining within the constraints of practicality.
Revised: Mar. 23, 1997