What web designers can learn from great vocal stylists

I recently watched a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) documentary on Nat King Cole, one of the greatest vocal stylists of our generation.  He could take a song, remake it in his own image, and transform it into an enduring classic. A vocal stylist does not necessarily sing brand new or original material. Rather, he or she brings a unique vocal interpretation to an existing composition.

web designers or stylists

Frank Sinatra is also considered one of the great vocal stylists of our time. Like Cole, he would infuse a song with his unique vocal personality, phrasing, and timing. Some of the most memorable musical recordings ever made are vocal stylings.

This reminded me of the current state of web design. For those of us who create websites, we have become, for better or for worse, web stylists more so than designers. Why do I say that? And, is it necessarily a bad thing?

The Age of the Web Stylist

Web design, of necessity, has evolved into a series of predictable patterns. In order to make web design that is familiar and usable by the widest possible audience, much of what we do conforms to predictable patterns. This makes the function of navigation, links and page format largely instinctive. We do not 'reinvent the wheel' each time we create a website. Therefore, we are, like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, stylists. We style existing web compositions to give them a unique personality.

web design stylists

Great Stylists Can Make A Website Unforgettable

Is being a web stylist a lesser occupation? Oh no! Some of the brightest luminaries in the music industry are vocal stylists. They can take an existing song and give it a commercial rebirth.

The tools of web design in some ways limit and define the overall layout and functionality of our websites. However, within those limits, we can still create memorable and unique websites that inspire and motivate consumers. I consider myself, at present, more of a stylist than a designer. I take my own mix of visual charisma, color, and style, and apply it to web design in a way that evokes an emotional response in consumers. The basic tools I use are the same used by all web designers, WordPress, HTML, CSS and responsive design techniques. But the end result is certainly not commonplace! It has a strong emotional 'voice' and visual appeal that is as memorable as a sterling performance by a vocal stylist at the top of their craft.

travel website design - 2016

I invite you to browse this web design portfolio. You will see a variety of websites that offer a world class performance for the most important audience in the world, your customers!

Are We Web Designers or Stylists?