Design as a mechanical process and focussing on the job in hand
Never quite sure if my approach to working with clients is unique. I like to focus on the specific brief and unique business goal of a project. Often clients will reference other websites as a blueprint for what they want. It is true that certain standard aspects of a job might be familiar to a web user such as webforms or online shopping experiences.
However, the danger is becoming too focussed on what others are doing because their project had its own unique set of requirements and budget constraints or technical limitations. What they did might also be flawed as a user experience and so others copied it and then it seems like the norm.
As a designer and developer I focus on the project in hand which has the benefits of greater efficiency and also produces a unique user experience. Yes, some aspects appear as standard practice for design but the reason they are standard I suppose is because internet users got used to that way of doing things.
My approach to design is about practicality and usefulness rather than decoration. I recall years ago when I was still learning the ropes, a very experienced design colleague advised “keep working on the design until you are personally pleased with it.”
That kind of works with art or paintings but I have since formed my own view that design is, in the main, a mechanical process, particularly with website design. My job is to make an internet users life easier. They won’t be wowed by elaborate effects or eye candy but just want to do what they need to do online and get on with their lives.