I think the first date analogy at the start of this article is interesting, but it doesn’t lead to the right conclusion. Sure you need to behave well on a first date, don’t pick your nose, don’t be late etc. In web terms that means making sure you contact and purchase processes work well, look nice and deliver what they promise.
However, conducting a good first date doesn’t mean that you must be wilfully creative. Picking your date up on a tandem would be quirky and original, and that first ride through the rain to the restaurant would be memorable, but maybe not in the right way.
While we are about it, rather than letting them read the menu for themselves, why not just read it out to them – being sure to only read out the section they ask for. That’s creative, and avoids overwhelming them with information. Although it has the side effect of making you look like an ass.
As an industry we need a bit of creativity; we sometimes need to do things a bit differently in order to stand out and to make things interesting. But honestly things are getting out of hand. When the basic interactions that I have with a site (interacting with drop downs, filling in forms) are hard to understand, unpredictable and complex, just to be different, or to look a certain way, then it wastes my time and drives me mad.
Online success isn’t measured by originality, particularly in the parts of an experience where we just need to get something done.