One thing you learn as a web designer is that everyone has a creative streak. Most of us think back with a lot of joy on the afternoons we spent filling in pictures with crayons. Unfortunately, business owners and executives don’t often get a lot of outlets for those same talents and impulses in their grown-up lives.

This matters because those feelings can come back to the forefront when it’s time to design a new website. Sometimes, clients ask us for things that are “edgy,” or “unique,” and make specific suggestions on how to make that happen. Their ideas are fun, and often original, but they aren’t always useful.

The fact of the matter is that a website can actually be too clever, to the point that it hurts the usability and marketing potential of each page. Here are a few of the reasons why…

Too Much of a Good Thing

Innovation is a great thing, especially in the creative world of web design. However, too much innovation leads to something that’s bizarre and unpredictable. If your design is so unconventional that customers don’t understand it, then they aren’t sure where to click, or how to interact with your website. Then, how can it generate sales or conversions?

Experimenting with different layouts is fun, but we wouldn’t ever advise a client to sacrifice usability for design. At the end of the day, you’re creating something for your business, not a personal art project.

Stick to What’s Known

When it comes to things like links, menus, and features, clients sometimes dream up ideas that they themselves are the only ones to understand. This, again, is both creative and counterproductive. We all use the web so often that we are familiar with its language. We know what it should take to move from one place to the next, or find the information we are looking for.

If customers have to “learn” your website, then you are asking for trouble. They are more likely to take their attention (and money) elsewhere than they are to spend the time needed to figure things out.

Study the Analytics

Contrary to the way it may seem, we aren’t telling you to simply stick with the same kinds of web design principles that everyone else is using. Instead, our advice is to make out-of-the-box decisions carefully and deliberately, and then see if the results make sense.

One way to do this is by paying close attention to your web analytics. By going behind the scenes and into the numbers, you’ll be able to tell where customers are going on your site, and which ideas they are responding to. Then you can figure out what’s truly innovative, and which “improvements” are just getting in the way.

A bit of originality is a great thing in web design. Go too far, though, and your website starts to be confusing – or even frustrating – to the customers you want to impress. So, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and make some recommendations to your design team. At the same time, though, be open to their feedback if they suggest you might be taking things a little too far.