People tend to use premade CSS frameworks for everything today. They are easy to use and the documentation is extensive. CSS frameworks have became so widespread that some may think that this is the way everyone should make a web site.
If you are using these CSS frameworks, especially popular ones like Material design, you are practically stealing visual identity from the company it was made for. In this case, you are using Google’s design system, their brand colors and pretty much everything else with the exception of their logo.
When it comes to other popular frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation, problem is that you are using same styles as hundreds of millions of other web sites! Try to grasp how big is that number and what does that do to uniqueness of those styles.
Most important problem - Your company don’t stand out in any way, it is not memorable and you are not creating brand awareness. If you want to create your own brand, especially as a startup, you must do it right from the start, because it is extremely hard to change user opinions or behaviors afterwards.
When you come to the point in your work where you have to make changes to your established design, probably because you want to make some improvements based on feedback or data, those changes are usually small and subtle. At that point, development of your own design system is very risky because it may alienate large portion of your current users who already got used to your site or app.
At the same time, your popular app based on Material Design, for example, is promoting only Google and Android. They get brand recognition, fame… all of it.
Try out this experiment - pick a few non-Google web sites or apps, from the same industry, made with Material design and place them next to each other. Take a look at them all. Try to remember as much as you can about them in a few minutes of using them. After a week, try to remember if there was anything specific about their design that stands out, that you can visually connect to that specific brand it was made for?
You will certainly have a hard time remembering. Imagine what effect would that same experience leave in average customers mind.
- Creation of admin panels, that are not intended for large audience or public use
If you want to create some prototype extremely fast, like a mock-up of your future app, it is ok to use finished CSS frameworks. You can compare this part of the development process to creation of mock-ups during the design phase of your work. Finished design won’t remain the same as a mock-up, in the same manner as the finished app won’t remain the same as the UX prototype.
For the part of your apps, that are not made for public, like admin panels for example, it is not that important to have everything unique regarding styles. It would be nice to have, but it is usually not critical for business or brand awareness.
Take great care, because at this point you are getting your customer accustomed to these styles. If they tend to work in admin panel a lot, those styles will become very close to their liking and after some time they may ask you to design front-end in the same manner. Good luck explaining to them anything about brand and design at that point.
If you don’t make a habit of creating and offering unique styles to customers, you are doing them disservice in the long run. Hire a web designer or UI designer & developer, and integrate them with your development team. It is not that hard. As a result, you will create more value for your customer in the long run and your company will become famous for delivering unique and quality solutions.
Take a look around and you will see that we desperately need designs that are different from Flat, Material, Bootstrap, Apple guidelines...
Web designer and front-end developer since 1998.
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