Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.
This was the mantra of my college 3D Rendering and Animation instructor. He was usually talking about using cheesy camera effects like lens flares, or crazy stock textures that came with the software we were using.
In my 12+ years in the design and advertising industry, “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should” has become my own mantra. For example:
Yes, you can have an all-Flash website. It will look so cool, and provide such a fun user experience. It doesn’t mean you should. Keep in mind that anyone checking out your site with an iPhone or iPad will be out of luck, unless you have set up a non-Flash mobile site. And other users may be required to first update their Flash player before viewing your site, which can be annoying.
Yes, you can have 45 links on your website’s home page. It doesn’t mean you should. Unless you’re a news blog or e-commerce site, it’s probably not a good idea. Too many options can overwhelm and confuse visitors. Usually, the goal of a website is to guide a person to do something specific, like buy a product, pick up the phone and call the business, fill out a form, or go to the business’s physical location. Limiting links on your home page will help increase conversions.
Yes, you can design a crazy, out of the box, break-all-the-rules website. It doesn’t mean you should. If it doesn’t fit in with the client’s brand or how they need to present their message, you need to listen and balance your design with the needs of the client.
Yes, it may look like there’s a spot on your brochure where you can add more text. It doesn’t mean you should, unless there’s good content in that text. There’s nothing wrong with a little white space to let copy breathe. Empty text that is only there to fill up space will just distract from your message.
Yes, I’m sure your friend’s nephew can build you a new website for $100. It doesn’t mean you should hire him. Unless he’s an experienced marketing pro offering you a sweet free-lance deal on the side. Even so, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Yes, you have a nice digital camera and can take your own product photos. It doesn’t mean you should. A commercial photographer understands lighting and knows all the tricks to make your product look its best, which in turn, helps you look your best.
Always ask yourself, am I doing this because I can or because I should?