I’m a Web Conservative

At a meetup once, I was asked to define my design style. I answered that I’m a person who grew up designing for the web.

I’ve made my share of posters, buttons, and brochures. I worked on the yearbook in high school, and I was the newspaper graphics editor for two years in college. Yet most of my experience is designing things that people interact with. Usability and accessibility heavily influence the way I design and think about website designs.

As I’ve continued mulling over my “design style,” I’ve come to realize that it’s fairly conservative. For example:

  • I usually use blue links.
  • I almost always underline links that appear in large blocks of text.
  • I stick with a large, horizontal navigation bar.
  • I put contact information in the footer of every page.
  • I avoid “cute” labels and like to stick with the straightforward.

A lot of those examples are straight out of usability and accessibility best practice guides (for example, underline your links!) and I’m hesitant to mess with them.

This means that I don’t experiment as much as some of the cutting edge designers out there. I don’t do one-page websites, and I’ve never built a site with a paralax background. I’m hesitant to do anything that’s too “clever” or surprising. I focus on making designs that still look unique and interesting but don’t vary from an “average” website so much that people will find them hard to use.

These tendencies coexist with an interest in the ever-changing landscape of standards and best practices. I’m not a curmudgeonly caveman insisting on making websites the same way I did in 1997, ((Around 1997 I made my first website…in WordPerfect. Seriously. Then again, all these years later and I’m just using a different WP software—WordPress—to make websites!)) but I’m comfortable staying behind the leading edge in the well-worn paths of previously successful projects.

I won’t be making any major breakthroughs in the design world, but I think it puts me in a good position to make websites that most benefit my clients and their website’s visitors.

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