In a recent post on Reddit there was a question about whether or not the poster should learn more CSS in order to create more unique headers that would make his/her designs stand out. (See the original post here)The OP was using Bootstrap or MDL frameworks to make nav bars but they were a little predictable and boring. This got me to thinking about the necessity of having unique nav bars and headers.

Here are some thoughts.

  • Unique is not always good design
  • Headers and navs are some of the first things to load so you don't want to get too fancy with the code, otherwise, you'll get a bottleneck on load.
  • Some of the largest companies in the world have "boring" header navs
  • Getting too crazy with the navigation will slow user efficiency

My advice to the OP was to get really good at creating 3-5 common types of headers and stick with those--even if they are a little predictable or boring. The whole point of patterns is that they are predictable. On the Web, predictability is a welcome addition to a website.

Think about it in the real world. Would we want signs to be creative or clear? If we don't have anywhere particular to go, creativity is awesome. If we desperately need to find something quickly or efficiently, we need clarity over aesthetic. Good design can do both. Bad design can make everything worse.

I wonder if there are others out there who feel that the Web isn't creative enough. I have felt that way. I also recognize that there is a big need for clarity and that aesthetic can be injected all along the way while still maintaining clarity for the user. If the site is about creativity and showmanship, go for the crazy stuff. If it is about getting things done, the aesthetic needs to be in partnership with--and not in league against--the goals of the user and the website owner.

I hope we can all accept that there is a place for solid (dare I say boring) design and aesthetics.

Do aesthetics trump boring? Is it more nuanced than that? What are your thoughts?

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