Is being creative important?

I have recently been thinking a lot about how important it is for us to be creative with our sites. In a digital world where it is very easy for your budget to be blown on everything from SEO to mobile support and social media strategy, it seems that trying to be creative may be a step too far for our stretched wallets, especially considering we are in the second half of a major recession. So what is the answer? Create practical sites that are ultimately not very memorable or blow your budget on something really out there, but that doesn’t work all that well on other devices and probably won’t get much organic search traffic (but will get a load of social media buzz…hopefully)?

There isn’t really a correct answer and a lot will depend on how far the purse strings will stretch. In my experience ‘creativity’ can come in many ways. Some of my favourite sites, and those I consider to be very creative, are actually quite simple and have spent the time thinking about the content and persona of the site. Take  http://www.wychwood.co.uk/ (which may say a bit about my drinking habbits!), this is a website that is absolutely beautiful and quintessentially Wychwood in brand. They have included quirky little games and information sections along with the shop (which is their core reason for being on line) in order that the site is memorable and fun. This is exactly like their brand. Now this site probably wasn’t the cheapest thing in the world, and we will draw a discreet veil over the heavy use of flash, but it is creative in a simple way.

At the moment there is a lot of talk about doing really ‘clever’ things…HTML5, media queries for template alteration, interactive video, etc. A lot of the time this comes about because the commissioning client has someone who has a subscription to .net magazine and realises these are the latest things in the developer toolbox, despite not actually knowing what the technology is for. I see it as our responsibility as practitioners to advise clients how best to spend their money, rather than just nodding and taking it from them. I am a firm believer that creativity is not intrinsically linked to technology, despite what many developers might say, although a healthy consideration of ways that it could be implemented do help. Content is king in the end, a site can fantastic but it is ultimately an empty box if the content isn’t there.

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