When somebody hires a graphic designer they expect to get their money’s worth. Sometimes this translates into a desire to create something unique and out of the ordinary. After all web design should be creative, right?
The fact is that the majority of websites employ very similar approaches for achieving the same goals. Years of experience have taught designers and developers that for some things there really is a best way to do them or a few standard options that cover most cases.
Unexperienced developers who are trying to break into the business will often try to please the few clients they can get by trying to follow their instructions to the letter without suggesting better approaches when appropriate. They are particularly reluctant to flat out tell the client that doing things the way they want is just not possible, not because it’s not theoretically possible, but because it would cause problems down the road.
Sites developed with this approach can turn out to be hard to navigate, inconvenient for the user or just plain ugly.
Often clients will request Flash intro’s or landing pages. If you’re creating a book or magazine then you need a cover and table of contents and a web site is similar right? Yes, but it’s not exactly the same, and you should take users directly to relevant content instead of making them wade through preliminaries. If you pick up a magazine you don’t have to first turn to the table of contents before going to an article. You can always flip to content right away. It’s not a perfect analogy but I think that it is sometimes helpful to think about these parallels.
Recently I had an experience where a client insisted on having the customers to their online store enter their credit card information in an early stage of the checkout process even though almost all online stores leave this step for last. When the customer finalizes their order their credit card information is submitted to the payment gateway for authorization and it could come back declined. The client didn’t like the fact that the customer would have to go back so many steps to revise their credit card information but this situation could have been avoided if they had not insisted in doing things differently.
Now there may be ways to do things that nobody has thought of yet that are better than current industry standard best practices. If you come across one then of course you’ll want to be the first to use it. Just make sure you aren’t fooling yourself, check out what everybody else is doing first before you decide that your new way is better.
Some sites present special cases and may require doing things differently also, just make sure an unusual approach is truly warranted before proceeding. You are doing your client a favor if you can dissuade them from setting up something out of the ordinary that will cost them more money down the road when they realize they need to pay some one to redo it with a more standard approach.