One of the most dangerous traps that many designers fall into is the trap of unoriginality. While it is easy to simply emulate the popular styles and attempt to use the things which have worked for you in the past, embracing a viewpoint which values stability too much can put you in the position of creating stale content.
When looking to design a functional yet stylish product, there will inevitably be elements borrowed from your own work, and the current popular trends. This happens for two reasons. First, if you need to accomplish something and know of a safe way to do it, it can be appealing to simply copy and paste this method into your design. Whether it be the placement of graphical elements, or the way in which a site is laid out, it can be easy to retreat back to what is known to work. This can help you save effort when designing, and allows you to ensure that your clients get a final product which will not disappoint. Second, borrowing elements can be an attempt to borrow from design lessons learned through observing other successes. Like every industry, web design goes through phases, where based on the current platform limitations and popular trends, many stylistic and functional choices will be mirrored across popular web platforms.
Unfortunately, mindlessly following trends and using previously known methods also stifles creativity. On the web, it is necessary that you have a functional site which can accomplish the goals of your visitors. But in order to stand out, you must also be willing to improvise and experiment. In this way, a little bit of experimentation can be a low risk, high reward play. As long as you ensure that basic functionality is retained, changing design elements in novel and creative ways can help your website make waves, and gather attention far beyond its original audience. In this way, you can blend the integration of safe and established design elements with novel ones designed to push the envelope of technology and software.
The point is, the best designers are able to do more than simply provide an adequate product which is consistent with the current population of websites among your competitors. A great designer will be able to take all of the great principles of design which are currently popular, and create something unique, something which pushes your website from average to exceptional.
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