Reading my book this morning, I came across a paragraph, written by David Jury, that stuck with me.
Challenging the status quo is, undoubtedly, part of the service provided by graphic design. But here, we need to distinguish between creativity and originality. It is possible for originality to be no more than the rearrangement or a recombination of existing elements into a different pattern. Originality alone is vacuous, since a "solution" need only be unconventional or different to be original. A creative solution will have varying degrees of originality, but it will always have purpose and be useful. With creativity, I see no reason to differentiate between fine art and applied art. In fine art, just as in typography, surely, originality alone is banal, no more than novelty. To be creative, originality must serve an intellectual and/or practical purpose
I read it twice more, then sat and thought about it. That last sentence pretty much sums up my attitude toward design.
To be creative, originality must serve an intellectual and/or practical purpose.
Most designers who work today strive to make "pretty" websites, thinking they are creating the high design that clients hired them for. I hate to say this but I'm going to anyways. Most of these "pretty" sites are Flash-oriented ones. There. I said it. Flash is an amazing technology that, when used properly, is groundbreaking. But more and more I'm seeing sites that just don't understand how their visitors will interact them. I've found myself on these sites having no idea where to click, what is supposed to happen, sometimes not even knowing what I'm looking at!
Roger Johansson posted a rant the other day on his site along similar lines.
This excuse is normally used by visually oriented Flash designers or ad agency art directors that create design profiles which simply do not work on the Web. Instead of adjusting their design when they are made aware of the problems, they stubbornly push ahead and make users think and work harder than they should have to in order to use the site. If your design - or you as a designer - cannot handle the fact that the Web is the Web, please do everybody a favour and stick to the safety of your printed brochures.
At this stage of the internet, user patterns have been well-defined. Being creative within those patterns is what makes good design great. There is a certain amount of "creative throttling" that we, as designers, need to understand and use.