‘Creativity over predictability:’ Video from my talk about why web design has lost its creative soul

Last week, Creative Bloq published Noah Stokes’ article on “Why web design is losing its soul.” It’s a good read on exactly the same subject that I’ve been talking about since I spoke at Beyond Tellerrand in Berlin last year.

Video from Smashing Conference in LA

Coincidentally, Smashing Magazine have just released a video of my updated version version of that ’Counting stars: Creativity over predictability’ talk from Smashing Conference in LA last month. I think that this is not only, by far, the best version of this talk available, it’s also the best conference talk that I’ve ever given.


I’ve been thinking about why our work for the web has lost its creative soul for the past year and this talk, and the script that goes with it, is my best expression of why that’s happened. In the talk, I ask several questions:

Could the design processes we’ve come to rely on, particularly in relation to responsive design, have hindered our creativity?

Can our emphasis on human–computer interaction mean that we forget the importance of human–human communication?

Does our reliance on research and testing mean mean that we’re simply delegating decision making and abdicating responsibility for our designs?

Has our current preoccupation with user experience methodologies meant that we’re less willing to take risks?

Have we become so fixated with designing digital products that we’ve forgotten that the web is a medium for communication outside of applications?

I conclude by hoping that we can regain the soul that we’ve lost and that we can make work that’s memorable if we focus as much on creativity as we do on implementation. If we amplify conversations about ideas as much as we do those on process. If we create processes that promote creative ideas from the very beginning. If we remember the importance of art direction. If we make spaces for people with diverse skills to work together, in creative teams.If we remember all these things.

I end by saying that “if we embrace creativity over predictability, we’ll give our work back what it, we and the work itself deserves, its creative soul.”

I’ll be giving this talk again at Smashing Conference in New York in a few weeks and at Smashing Conference in Barcelona in October (where I’ll also be announcing something else that’s special too.) I hope that I’ll see you there.

Smashing Book 5

In the meantime, I’ve turned my script for ’Counting stars: Creativity over predictability’ into a chapter for Smashing Book 5, “Real-Life Responsive Web Design” and I’ve added to it sections about creative briefs and encouraging a more creative commissioning process. The hardcover book is available to pre-order and will be released in June.


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