Guidelines or personal style?

PenguinManiac

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The web has been dominated by material design and flat design in the past few years, especially with the rise in popularity of Android. This makes it easy to come up with a professional look and to keep your website's looks up to date, but they can detract greatly from a website's originality. There have always been more or less common trends in web design, but nowadays it seems to be more prominent than ever.
Are such guidelines good enough to be followed or would you rather break free of them? Flat design has become popular for a reason, and its sleek elegance is a lovely eye candy, but can we really give this up for the sake of creativity? Can we even come up with something new without going back to the times when pages were overloaded with effects and decorations of all sorts?
 

tim_cloudcone

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I personally don't like websites that use design guidelines like material design. If it's a web app or some kind of a web based panel, I can see how using something like material design would be beneficial as the developers don't have to spend too much time on the design.

But I believe most other types of websites should have their own identity. Unique and clever design can go a long way in serving the purpose of a website and will also make it more interesting.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
How about user-friendliness and usage guidelines? Google's guide to Material Design mentiones specific color pairs, which shades to use, how to combine them, how many you should pick and so on, but they also mention some tips that could be applied universally to make navigation more enjoyable. The section about white/black contrast in relation to text and background and how you should never go with full opacity to avoid too strong contrasts, which results in an overall more pleasant look, has really stuck with me and I try to keep in mind anytime I deal with this issue.
Plus, would adopting such guidelines just partially be better? Or do you think that common elements take away from a website's uniqueness, no matter how small they are?
 

tim_cloudcone

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tim_cloudcone
Yeah I think you're right about partially adopting to guidelines. They have obviously spent a lot of time and resources researching about those guidelines which affect the user experience. So using them on our design will be beneficial for us. Things like avoiding strong contrast can also be applied generally to most designs. So you can incorporate them in your design and I don't think small things like that will take away from the website's uniqueness.

I was mainly referring to styling (things like buttons, shadows, colors etc.) in my previous reply. I like material design on my phone and on other websites by Google. But when it comes to styling, I think you shouldn't be afraid to explore and experiment with new and different things.

For an example, Instagram completely re-did their design last year. The new design is all about the UI not being distracting from the content. It's simple and minimalist but yet elegant. A design like this wouldn't be suitable for all websites/apps. And completely sticking to something like material design probably wouldn't have helped them in achieving their goal with the redesign.

Anyway, this is all just my opinion. Other people might have different views on this.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
Yeah, applying guidelines rule by rule ultimately makes for dull websites. They may be functional and nicely designed, but surely they won't be memorable, and that's an important requirement to achieve success with a website.
This is especially true for colors. I mentioned Google's suggestions as far as color palettes and combinations are concerned, but I personally dislike their colors. I find them to be too saturated, although functional to make content stand out, and I've progressively steered away from them.

I like Instagram's new style too. It's sleek and elegant, and it manages to convey the vibe the developers clearly wanted to give off masterfully. It would have felt much more anonymous, had they gone with standard material design/flat design guidelines.
 

juanmarcuz

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I think there are proven guidelines that works. But we all wanted to think outside the box. Only those who defy the norms gets to be really successful in any venture. So dare to try your creativity.
 

Nancy G

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The guidelines given are time tested and proven effective. What is important is you keep your target market in mind and the benefits they derive. Your website should be user friendly always.

Dare to be different and break from the norm. You can always do that but be ready to anticipate risks. If successful, the effects are far reaching not only in terms of gaining more business for your company but also in being recognized as a trailbrazer in the industry and in web design. This is what makes the leader standout from the followers.
 
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