WordPress Web Design: What Happened To Being Creative?

goodwebdesignpracticesTrends come and trends go. This is true even in the world of web design, even WordPress web design. The fact of the matter is there are more WordPress designers using pre-built frameworks to customize their work. This is quite fine and often a way to help streamline work. However, the work is different from 2 years ago, 5 years ago, and even 10 years ago. Late 2013 and early 2014 have ventured into what I call a lull in creative design.

In a lot of ways, web design and development has improved. Technology has improved too. Technology is a wonderful thing The brightest people out there have brought speedy Internet, mobile browsing, responsive design, great graphic editors, and much more!

So, why has web design at this point taken a turn for being less creative? Good design relies on a balanced use of color, images, text, placement of website elements for effective conversion, texture, and attention to web accessibility. The most notable types are design trends in 2014 that are being used are:

  • Flat design
  • Lots of white space

Flat design is where the only design elements involved is color without an embellishments like transparency, drop shadows, gradients, or textures. It is solely flat color. White space is the empty areas around elements. Sometimes you can use white space to your advantage in drawing together a site. However, too much white space gives a floating type feel.

Both of the above trends, especially for a long time web designer, are fairly drab and have a disconnect with many people.

In an age where branding is important, flat design doesn’t carry that pop. It doesn’t work in all niche. There are some well executed flat design sites, but there aren’t many that are impressive. And having too much white space can be detrimental too.

As for white space, the same can be said. There are site that have a brilliant balance, but there aren’t that many. There’s no need to have 40 pixels of padding around elements. In smaller resolutions, this is a pain as it makes the area that much smaller. In some cases it could look clunky. Even the best themes out there, I have to tweak the theme in order to take away unnecessary and excessive padding.

Some designers believe that if they get creative, it will hurt the load time of the site. Well, you’ve got 5 seconds to work with on load time and even so, remember a lot of people have some really fast Internet. Yes, there still is dial-up, but even that number is shrinking. Then, there’s mobile browsing, so you can create a site or use a plugin for that!

Don’t be afraid of design. Your website is not like the old gaudy MySpace or GeoCities days unless you make it so. There are far more sophisticated tools and graphics to use. There are really talented graphic designer and web designers too!

I’m challenging web designers, specifically WordPress web designers to get rid of the box, and get more creative. Encourage clients to get excited about branding their site to be something memorable for everyone, not just another bland and disconnected site.

What other trends do you see in web design or specifically WordPress web design that you don’t like?


  1. says

    Well said, and so true! WordPress with all the benefits it brings has in some ways reduced creativity to recycling the same predictable layouts. Creating responsive websites in WordPress can hinder creativity even more if you don’t have unlimited budgets for coding.

    I have found that looking for inspiration beyond the typical stock photography and hipster/instagram photos is essential to create work that touches the hearts of viewers. For one of my portfolios I borrowed inspiration from 300 year old portraits from Old Masters. The layout is predictable, but the images give my website a handcrafted and humane feel.

    • says

      I think web designers truly need to learn out of their comfort zones with designing. I think the most creative sites I’ve done are ones I’ve converted fro really well done PSDs.

  2. says

    first, I like to welcome you back from your vacation (hope it was a healthy, happy and great one:-)

    Second, I love to read your articles so full of useful information that I have no idea what is all about and as I read I say to my self “how come Nile know so much that I do not know?”

    The answer is always the same.. YOU study and practice and teach all what has to do with WP and much more.. I on the other hand, stumble along with what ever I happen to learn the hard way since I cannot follow instructions as easy as so many other people..

    My way of learning takes 10 times longer then the “normal” way of ;learning.. but hey, that is my style and at my age, changing to any other one is out of the note book hahha 🙂 NOT because I do not learn any thing.. but I just learn what I need and at my pace…

    I truly command you for sharing so much knowledge here and at no cost, anyone who is dedicated to learn.. reading your instructions would help tremendously.

    THANKS so much again…

  3. says

    Flat design is surely the trend after Apple flattered almost everything from its operating system to its website. Same with Microsoft..
    I have gave an assignment to a developer to make a custom theme for me and I have asked him to make the theme flat and awesome!

  4. says

    The trouble with flat design is that the flaws of a design cannot be hidden – it’s right there for you to see. When done well I like it – it has a very modern/new feel to it – but most are copies of what apple is probably spending millions on – and the copies just are not that good

    Same on whitespace. You do need to have the elements on a page room to breathe – but spare/simple designs are very hard to do well.

    Give it a couple of years and the design leaders will do something new and we’ll all want to follow.

    Honestly – although I agree with you on this – the trend I can’t wait to disappear is rotating banner images on the home page. So much data that says they don’t work – and yet owners and designers are still using them .

    • says

      I’m not certain that all sliders don’t work. I do know from many that I’ve seen, they aren’t, and that’s because they haven’t been utilized properly. I’ve seen those stats as well and I think a better implementation would be better, like something with a better call to action. I’m not going off of facts, but I’m fairly certain 95% of sliders aren’t being used effectively. And there are few sliders like Slidedeck that allow HTML elements in them too.

      However, I’m not ready to totally give them up. I just strongly advise on most sites that the client not use them and let them know by showing them the facts.

  5. says

    Wonderful information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend, I have read atleast 7 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that I had been looking for, I’m already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again.

  6. imran says

    Hey Nile , what a great information you have . I like this. I came here by mistake, but now , i realize its not a mistake , its my Luck . Thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    I kinda dig the flat design, if done right. But it is true that WordPress has taken creativity out of design. How many different ways can you really change all those cookie cutter themes? I use WordPress because it is quick and easy to deploy, and it’s true I have gotten away from really being creative.

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