Data-led or creative design

The Web ahead podcast is one of my favourites and in #75 Andrew Clarke talked to Jen Simmons about the direction web design has taken and how the “creative” side of web design is being silenced compared to what we consider user experience.

“I worry though, that as an industry we’ve become so heavily focussed on conversations about data-led design and subsequent implementation issues, that we’ve stopped talking about the aspects of design that give our work soul.”
Andrew Clarke.

An example of this focus could be this article in which the role of the UX designer is portrayed as someone that stablishes how a product feels, while the visual designer “just pushes pixels”.

A website can be a place where people read or do things, a social network, a service, a restaurant’s menu, a hotel’s front desk... and those are different things.

In that same sense, the strategy and approach of a project will require a different mindset depending of the website’s nature.

But ask a web designer nowadays and she’ll tell you that her job is to “solve design problems”. As designers we want to be linked to Dieter Rams rather than Don Draper. Starting with me, but thinking this way for everything we create online is missing the point.

Sometimes you will be designing a product or service and it will require user research, prototyping, testing and feedback. Fine. You enter booking.com to find a hotel room, you use your Bank’s website to do transactions you would do at an office. Therefore when designing a digital product you must base all your decisions on research, data and testing. There is little room for the creative flair because that can lead to failure.

Don likes creative strategies."

But other times you need to design with a creative direction, some sort of Don Draperness, asking “what is it that the brand wants to comunicate?” In this case, **having a great idea will be more important** than pure UX driven design.

Designing with a creative direction is not the same as designing a product.

For a Restaurant website your goal would be more than showing the address or the food they serve, You’ll want to transmit the “atmosphere” of what it is to have dinner there, the decoration or the kindness of the bartender. And that is not a data driven design decission.

So don´t be ashamed if you just want to be creative, be a great web designer with creative ideas but choose your projects accordingly.

Do you agree that creative strategies are laying low these days?