No question about it, web design is an art.
Finding the right blend of style and usability is a delicate balance that few, if any, fully master.
Which is why I am so tired af reading bullet-pointed lists demanding what you should and shouldn't do while building your website. These dictators of web design are under the mysterious illusion that they have stumbled upon exactly the right balance of functionality and beauty.
Do you think Michelanglo painted his Sistine Chapel after reading an article entitled, "10 steps to perfect renaissance art"?
Hmm. What these designers are really saying is, "My view of what makes a good website is more valid than yours and any opinion to the contrary is doomed to failure".
There are no right and wrong ways to design a website. Every technique you have ever been told is wrong, can be utilised succesfully in the proper setting. And, equally, every technique you have even been told is right, can be a complete failure in the hands of the inept.
Next time you read an article on web design, remind yourself, this is just one opinion. Not the right one, not the wrong one, just an opinion.
In fact, better yet, stop relying on the articles for ideas. Instead, spend your time visiting websites that exist in reality, not in the mind of the imaginationless writer.
Visit web sites designed by the amateur coder and visit websites designed by professionals. The internet is brimming with original ideas and they are not the sole domain of the expert. Anyone can come up with something new or different.
If you are building your own website, visit a few hundred others first. Pick out the good, the bad and the ugly and use this as a springboard to create your own masterpiece.
If someone with more experience wants to offer you advice, listen to it, but don't automatically assume that they must know better. Have the courage and conviction to experiment and decide for yourself what works.
Because although the techniques of art can be taught, the imagination of art cannot.
David Congreave is owner of The Nettle Ezine, the newsletter for the home business -- online.
David lives in Leeds, in the United Kingdom with his wife Leanne.