‘Unique & different’ is often a drawback – at least in the Usability arena.

If we assume that ‘web design’ requires some focus on usability (and I do), then one of your first challenges is to approach the challenge with the humility of ignorance.

Learn the boring-old-Best-Practices of proven patterns first.

Bear in mind that there are plenty of people who’ve been in your same position. They’ve already come up with plenty of New!Fresh!Dazzling!Disruptive! Design Styles.

Here’s the punchline: Those designs have been field tested. If they didn’t become patterns, best practices, or standards – then there’s probably a couple of good reasons why.


I came into this area of work originally as a visual designer, when that was one of the few labels we had for this kind of work.

  • I like to believe that I’ve got some talents
  • And I’d love to impose my creative vision on my clients


  • My career has been a process of learning to accept – and embrace – higher priorities
  • focused on customer/user-centricity
  • proven by research & analysis & testing
  • embodied in a knowledge base of patterns and best practices

Recognize that style assumes a little bit of hubris (a little goes a long way). And – “Welcome to the club“.

in my opinion: Understanding UX

Folks who know: Nielsen Norman Group: UX Training, Consulting, & Research


In the practical world of business (i.e. Who’s got the money), Clients will rarely say to you – especially as a noob, “Give me a makeover. Do whatcha want. I put myself (and my budget) in your hands.” Pleasant assumption, but not likely. More often than not, your deliverables will be shaped by compromise.

Hone your advocacy, negotiation, and adaptability skills.


The Value Proposition of Style

I propose that the quality (of the design of a hammer, for instance) lies more in its functionality & utility than in its paint.

Will you get some sales on the basis of “It’s pretty!”? Yep.

In practical terms:

  • You need to ask yourself if those folks are your target audience.
  • You also probably realize that your competitors can slap a nice new coat of paint on their stuff fairly quickly. Where’s your competitive advantage then?

Styling is important. And it’s valuable. But it’s not a strategy.

** Exceptions: Fashion. Cosmetics. Luxury products. In these arenas styling is an actual industry.


I’ll settle for a website that is …

  • coherent
  • concise
  • well-structured
  • well-written
  • self-aware
  • has relevant links to appropriate material
  • allows me some agency

‘up-to-date’ and ‘modern’ are nice, too



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