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As the world becomes increasingly competitive and fast-paced, entrepreneurs and design agencies have found “best practices” to be the right strategy to stay safe and not risk anything.

Or this is what they think.

These tried-and-true techniques have been proven to work in various situations and are often hailed as the key to success.

However, in the design industry, best practices often have a different effect. We risk stifling creativity and originality by following the same old methods repeatedly. We become too focused on what has worked in the past, forgetting that consumers and their needs are constantly changing.

Not to mention the world itself.

Challenging the Status Quo

Is it wise to blindly follow these so-called best practices without considering each situation’s unique needs and circumstances?

First, let’s see what the common ones are:

  • Relying too heavily on customer feedback and user testing, potentially sacrificing creativity and innovation;
  • Strictly following industry trends and conventions rather than breaking away from them and trying something new;
  • Following established design guidelines and templates too closely, potentially stifling originality and creativity;
  • Focusing solely on usability and user-centered design, potentially ignoring other design considerations such as aesthetics and branding;
  • Following accessibility standards and best practices to the letter, potentially ignoring the unique needs and goals of the project and target audience;
  • Following a specific design process or methodology too closely rather than being open to flexibility and adaptability.

These can be helpful and even yield great results in certain circumstances. But blindly following them risks producing cookie-cutter designs that lack originality and personality.

The key is using best practices as a guideline, not an unbreakable rulebook. They should be used to inform a creative process, not replace it.

Who’s making the first steps?

It’s the client’s responsibility to challenge best practices and explore new, innovative avenues, or should the design agency take the initiative in this matter?

It’s a two-way street.

Clients should be open to new ideas and trust the design team’s creativity, knowledge, and experience. That’s why communication is vital.

The client should provide the team with as much context and detail as possible. This will help inform their decisions and ensure everyone is on the same page.

At the same time, design agencies must be aware of the risks and rewards associated with challenging best practices. They need to be confident in their skills and trust that their decisions will produce great results.

You have to be the hero

The age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is often adopted to avoid risk. Unfortunately, this outdated notion can be more damaging than beneficial in the long run.

Regarding creative design, relying on tried and tested methods prevents progress and innovation. It’s essential to take chances, think outside the box, and try something new to stay ahead of the competition.

For example, a company that is pleased to follow best practices and stay within its comfort zone runs the risk of becoming obsolete in an ever-changing market.

Designers must be brave and bold to create something truly special. They must be confident to challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs must support the creative process and trust their design teams to make decisions informed by best practices but unencumbered by them.

It takes courage to be the hero, but in this case, it could be the difference between success and failure.

We must be the heroes in our stories, not simply followers of best practices. After all, the brave and daring make history, not the timid and risk-averse.

The reward

The risks of challenging best practices are, of course, real. But so, too, is the potential reward.

Designers and clients must understand this before committing to making a change. They should weigh the pros and cons objectively and assess how likely the risk will yield a reward.

For example, while designing a website that breaks away from industry conventions might be risky in terms of user experience, it could also yield huge rewards in branding and aesthetic appeal.

If the risk is taken, having faith in the creative process, the rewards can be much greater than if the design had conformed to best practices.

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