There is an old Harry Chapin song called ‘Flowers are Red’. It details a story of forced conformity – in it, a teacher tells a creative lad, “Flowers are red, green leaves are green, there is no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen.” In a world where creativity is just as often spurned as it is cherished, the song’s message about being careful not to kill creativity in our youth still rings just as true today as it did decades earlier. Creativity should be celebrated but when it comes to web design and content creation for businesses, not only is it not embraced, it isn’t even worth considering.
The most popular websites in the land conform – they conform to what Google deems good design, to what users are used to, to what technologies are able to effectively showcase their content, and how shareable something is. And while there are thousands of very creatively done websites, that creativity means little without equally relevant content that gets people to your website to share that content. The system just isn’t made for amazing web design or complex content – it is made for amazingly shareable content that is easily presented and simple for both people and search engine spiders to understand. It is made for standardization, easy crawlability, etc. Conform or die – or worse, work hard and never have your work seen.
Chapin at the end of his song says, “But still there must be a way to have our children say – There are so many colors in the rainbow, so many colors in the setting sun, so many colors in the flower and I see every one.” I hope my kids hear that message loud and clear and never fall under the tryanny of a strict boss or doltish teacher, but I also hope they don’t grow up to work with websites – there is no room out here for anything other than red flowers, green leaves and standardized web design.