Torn between usability and creativity


#1

I’m currently in the process of trying to finalise a design and approach for my studio website. However, I’m torn between doing something fun, creative, on-brand and different to most websites nowadays, and sticking with a traditional/generic approach to the site that honestly I find boring and ‘by the book’.

For some context, here’s the approach I’d like to go for. Since my branding focuses on a space-theme, I’d like this to carry over onto my site. I’m aiming more for a HUD feel than a typical site, with a ‘fixed’ area into which other content is ‘loaded’. This content would effectively replace the sites pages.

I’ve attached a screenshot of an idea for the navigation, the idea being that even the nav links will be loaded into the space.

However, as you can imagine this approach opens up all sorts of usability issues, and I haven’t considered how this approach could affect SEO (though honestly that is not a major concern of mine since I’ll be marketing in other ways). The site isn’t exactly future-proof either, though I don’t think additional ‘pages’ should be too much of an issue to implement.

Essentially what I want to avoid is doing what every other agency/business does with their site because I’m finding the vast majority of sites now are just so dull. I just don’t want to design sites like that, but I worry I’ll alienate the vast majority of visitors with the functionality of the site.

My gut says to go with the boring option, but my head says do whatever the hell I want.

Any thoughts?


#2

I’m always a ‘go with whatever the hell you want’ kind of person, but I think you have to be prepared to justify that position, and also examine why your gut is telling you the opposite.
I’ve been working on a project lately and it’s been full of these kinds of battles. What looks good vs what makes something accessible.

Perhaps take an analytical approach and weigh up the pros and cons. What percentage of your audience will be UX purists vs people looking for beautiful aesthetics (just for eg).

FWIW I love that screenshot.


#3

Hi Paul,

I’m in a similar situation at the moment- I’m redesigning my website because the old one didn’t exactly serve a purpose and I’m currently torn between a snoozefest and something that really shows who I am. I think it’s possible to achieve BOTH usability and creativity! You can’t have one at the expense of the other but I think there is a happy medium out there waiting to be found. I also think that having both requires some serious creativity and that in itself is a challenge I am happy to accept! Stay true to who you are but don’t sacrifice usability. Besides I think that anything that truly reflects what we are and what we do could never be unusable.

Ashlea


#4

Thank you both for your replies. I think I’m just going to do what I want. Most of my marketing is via word of mouth or through networking events, so I don’t think it’s essential to have a site that is intended to convert visitors since I’m not aiming to capture new business through the site’s traffic anyway.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt as a designer it’s when you’re designing for yourself, you have to be happy with what you’re doing.


#5

Totally agree. You have to be able to launch with pride. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.


#6

There is that Henry Ford quote that comes to mind about if he asked people what they want they would ask for faster horses. I agree with ASHM usability is the parameter - outside that go nuts. Also other constraints/opportunities like devices, accessibility must be considered. A huge part of design is working within the constraints of a medium and utilising its strengths.