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January 13, 2020

Breaking the “Rules” of Web Design

Art is subjective. Pretty much anyone you talk to would agree to that.

But what if you “Art” is a Home Page? Would you even consider websites as a form of visual art?

With a quick Google search, designers can be bombarded with infinite advice on how you should design your website. Countless experts telling you the ins-and-outs. Conservative “thought-leaders” sharing their success stories and how they are concrete solutions. But this simply shouldn’t be the case.

Much like art, web design evolves and preferences change year over year. But how does this happen? Well, it happens when you break the “rules” of web design. Intentionally, or not.

And while this process naturally occurs as a result of design staleness, there are few who actively look to innovate. We want to see that change.

We suggest designers explore and change the game!

Why Would You Break the Rules?

While not all rules should or need to be broken, there is something special about fringe innovators.

In today’s age of quick access, simple solutions, and hasty releases, we often forget to think outside of the box. In terms of web design, our habits have run amuck on originality.

We like to say that every brand has its own persona, but you wouldn’t feel that way looking at the barely discernable corporate websites that often feel and operate exactly the same.

In fact, when looking for a designer, search engines can easily return several large template website builders, such as Squarespace, WiX, Divi, and GoDaddy.

While these companies have revolutionized how the average business can develop their own website, the service provided is exactly what they advertise – a template.

Don’t get us wrong – there is a time and a place for template designs and your local “Mom and Pop” shop can make great headway into digital marketing with these tools. However, there is a void where ground-up design once stood, and this creates a tremendous opportunity for designers and business owners looking to break the status quo.

Simply? There is a need for more trailblazers.

What Rules Should You Break?

When we say “break the rules”, we, of course, mean taking a calculated approach to design. Test and measure every change you make.

There is a difference between innovative design and distracting mistakes. Designers need to understand why rules are set in the first place before attempting to change the wheel. Much like painting, there are fundamentals that masters of web design have refined from using what works.

For instance, you wouldn’t want to hide your navigation from website visitors. What would be the point of their visit?

Assuming that you have more than a basic background in web design, let’s get into the breakable rules and some that are not.

Horizontal Scrolling

Plenty of websites have used abstract scrolling in the past, however, it never seemed to catch on in mainstream web design.

In an effort to shake up the norm, horizontal scrolling can work very well when used sparingly. Switching a panel (row or section of your page, depending on your vernacular) to a horizontal scroll path will help break visitor’s auto-pilot whilst perusing your web page.

Carefully measure what effect a horizontal scroll can add to your website. For instance, if you use it to feature products, how many more products were viewed?

If implemented correctly, visitor’s attention will be pulled back to the website and away from the mindless spinning of their scroll wheel.

Dark-Mode Design

For many years, it was recommended to keep designs on light backgrounds with contrasting fonts that could be easily read.

In fact, today, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines still require a minimal 4.5:1 contrast ratio between the two elements. But that doesn’t mean designers can’t invert their colour schemes.

While legibility should be one of your most important goals when developing a website, society isn’t bound by the traditional 9-to-5 it used to be.

A sizeable amount of website visits is made after hours on cell phones and tablets. Providing users an alternative dark-design is a quality-of-life benefit you can explore if a majority of your traffic is late in the evening or overnight.

Several companies have picked up and implemented this style in recent years, however, dark backgrounds are far from the norm.

Colour Experimentation

At the beginning of web design, not too many had a foot-hold on how a website should be sorted, hierarchy-wise. This either leads to overly-crowded web pages or incredibly basic layouts.

Today, we may have met a happy medium with content structuring, but there is still a lot to be explored in the world of colour.

Colour can help identify or segregate information, as well as establishing call-to-actions, visual hierarchy, and excitement. Experiment and find out what combinations and transitions you can add to create visual intrigue.

Ditch The Grid

While we don’t suggest eye-balling all of your design, having elements sit outside of normal grid constrictions can add gravity to your work.

Helping to pull your eyes, visual hierarchy has been a topic of discussion since websites were being created. Generally, choosing a random website, you can print out a homepage and map where the designer had their gridlines and how that aids in your consumption of their content.

However, what happens if we blur these lines? Designers have an opportunity to create

Web Design Rules You Should Never Break

You have probably heard of the term K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid).

A helpful key acronym to keeping your designs in from becoming wild, simplicity also means constraint. While pushing the boundaries of web design, there are certain rules that shouldn’t be broken.

If your website is too hard to navigate or makes users have to think too hard, traffic will inevitably migrate to a friendlier interface.

In efforts to keep viewers on your pages, here are some elements that should stay true to the status quo.

Sales Tools

Call-to-actions, complaint forms, chatbots, and lead generation forms are the end goals of your website. Depending on your industry, the translation from a website, to lead, to sales associate might behave differently. However, if your design does not guide your consumers to these sales tools, or if they are too complicated to even use, your business will inevitably lose potential revenues.

Designers can play with the artistic elements (contrast, colour, etc.), but why design an elaborate contact form when the concept and objective are so simple?


This one should be self-explanatory.

If your design complicates navigation, you’ve done something wrong. After all, what is the point of your website if your users can’t delve into your content?

Keep navigation in a clear and recoverable portion of your design. Feel free to make it pop with design choices or have it there for its practical uses, but ensure that your navigation does its base function before anything else.

Understand Your Audience

A website can be compared to a drill.

You never necessarily need a drill. What you need is to accomplish your objective – which for this example, would be creating a hole.

A business’s website should never just exist for the sake of owning a website. It should be designed and tailored for your audience (AKA your end objective). If you can’t consistently answer Yes to whether a design element will be representative of your target customers, then it shouldn’t be implemented.

Super colourful and happy imagery when you’re a divorce lawyer? Probably not going to resonate well.

Minimalistic white design when you produce horror films? This won’t add to the excitement.

Be mindful of what your business is trying to accomplish, and match design attributes that suit the culture of your product and audience to whom it represents.

Professional Websites Created Outside of the Box

Look – We get it.

Sometimes it is acceptable to have a simple and functional website. Not to mention the time commitment that comes with original designs. It isn’t for everyone.

But for those of you who yearn for a striking and unique website, look no further than the Geeks!

Geek Power Web Design has years of website design and development experience across a multitude of industries.

Whether you’re a local plumber or a worldwide software provider, we have creative and marketable designs suited for your audience!

Call us today for your website consultation and get your design project started right away!

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