We get better design when we comprehend our medium. Yet even at this late cultural hour, many people do not understand website design. Amongst them can be found a few of our most prominent organisation and cultural leaders, including a few who have an extensive grasp of style– other than as it connects to the web.
Some who do not understand web style nonetheless have the task of producing websites or supervising web designers and developers. Others who don’t comprehend web style are nevertheless expertly charged with examining it on behalf of the rest of us.
If we want better sites, much better work, and better-informed customers, the requirement to inform begins with us.
Choosing realty to architecture
It’s hard to understand website design when you don’t understand the web. And it’s hard to understand the web when those who are paid to describe it either don’t get it themselves, or are required for industrial reasons to reduce a few of what they understand, highlighting the Barnumesque over the dazzling.
The news media too often gets it wrong. Too much internet journalism follows the cash; insufficient covers art and ideas. Driven by editors pressured by publishers stressed over vanishing advertisers, even journalists who understand the web invest the majority of their time blogging about deals and pricing quote dealmakers. Lots of do this even when the declaration they’re quoting is patently self-serving and ludicrous– like Zuckerberg’s Law.
It’s not that Zuckerberg’s not news; and it’s not that organisation isn’t some reporters’ beat. Focusing on organisation to the exclusion of all else is like reporting on real estate offers while neglecting architecture.
And one tires of the news narrative’s one-dimensionalism. In 1994, the web was weird and wild, they informed us.
When absurd predictions die ridiculous deaths, nobody resigns from the newsroom, they just throw a brand-new line into the water– like marketers replacing a slogan that tanked. After years of news commoditization, what’s incredible is the number of good reporters there still are, and how tough lots of try to lay precise info before the general public. Sometimes you can practically hear it beneath the holler of the monstrous and the remarkable.
THE SUSTAINABLE CIRCLE OF SELF-REGARD
Each year, marketing and design publications and professional organizations hold contests for “brand-new media design” judged by the winners of last year’s competitions. That they call it “brand-new media design” informs them absolutely nothing and you and me everything.
There are exceptions, for the most part the creators of winning entries see the web as a lorry for advertising and marketing projects in which the user passively experiences Flash and video content. For the active user, there is video gaming– however what you and I consider active web usage is limited to clicking a “Digg this page” button.
The winning sites look magnificent as screen shots in shiny style annuals. When the winners become judges, they reward work like their own. Hence sites that behave like TELEVISION and look excellent in between covers continue to be developed, and a generation of customers and art directors thinks that things is the cream of web design.
STYLE CRITICS GET IT WRONG, TOO
Individuals who are smart about print can be less brilliant about the web. Their vital professors, developed to perfection during the Kerning Wars, smash to bits versus the barricades of our profession.
They question aloud how we can take pleasure in working in a medium that provides us less than absolute control over every atom of the visual experience. These are the juniors, the style students and future critics. Their viewpoints are mainly of interest to their teachers, and one prays they have excellent ones.
More advanced critics comprehend that the web is not print which limitations are part of every style discipline. Even these eggheads will often give in to fallacious comparatives. (I have actually done it myself, although long ago and strictly for giggles.) Where are the masterpieces of website design, these critics cry. That Google Maps might be as agent of our age as the Mona Lisa was of Leonardo’s– and as brilliant, in its method– satisfies many of us as an answer, but might not please the design critic in search of a direct parallel to, oh, I don’t understand, let’s state Milton Glaser’s renowned Bob Dylan poster.
Typography, architecture, and web design
The trouble is, web design, although it employs elements of graphic design and illustration, does not map to them. For a web design, like a typeface, is an environment for somebody else’s expression.
Architecture (the kind that uses steel and glass and stone) is also an apt comparison– or at least, more apt than poster design. The designer creates airplanes and grids that help with the vibrant behavior of individuals. Having actually developed, the designer gives up control. Gradually, individuals who utilize the building draw out and add to the significance of the designer’s design.
Of course, all comparisons are gnarly by nature. What is the “London Calling” of television? Who is the Jane Austen of automotive design? Madame Butterfly is not less stunning for having no car chase series, peanut butter no less yummy due to the fact that it can not dance.
SO WHAT IS WEB DESIGN?
Web design is not book design, it is not poster design, it is not illustration, and the highest accomplishments of those disciplines are not what website design goes for. Although websites can be shipment systems for video games and videos, and although those shipment systems can be charming to take a look at, such websites are exemplars of video game style and video storytelling, not of website design. What is web design?
Website design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; show or adapt to private voices and content; and alter gracefully gradually while always maintaining their identity.
Let’s repeat that, with focus:
Website design is the production of digital environments that assist in and motivate human activity; show or adapt to individual voices and material; and change with dignity gradually while always retaining their identity.
SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY
Great website design are like fantastic typefaces: some, like Rosewood, impose a personality on whatever material is applied to them. Others, like Helvetica, fade into the background (or attempt to), amazingly supporting whatever tone the material provides. (We can argue tomorrow whether Helvetica is truly as neutral as water.).
Which website design is like that? For one, Douglas Bowman’s white “Minima” design for Blog writer, utilized by actually millions of authors– and it seems like it was developed for each of them separately. That is fantastic design.
Great web designs resemble fantastic buildings. All office buildings, however unique, have lobbies and restrooms and staircases. Sites, too, share commonalities.
An excellent site design is completely private, it is likewise a great offer like other website styles that perform similar functions. The very same is true of excellent publication and newspaper layouts, which differ from banal magazine and paper designs in a hundred subtle information. Few commemorate terrific magazine designs, yet millions consciously or unconsciously appreciate them, and no one regrets that they are not posters.
The inexperienced or insufficiently thoughtful designer complains that a lot of websites utilize grids, too many websites utilize columns, a lot of sites are “boxy.” Efforts to avoid boxiness have actually been around since 1995; while periodically successful, they have frequently produced visually wretched and unnecessarily unusable designs.
The experienced web designer, like the talented paper art director, accepts that numerous projects she works on will have headers and columns and footers. Her job is not to whine about emerging commonalities however to use them to create pages that are distinctive, natural, brand-appropriate, subtly remarkable, and silently but clearly interesting.
If she accomplishes all that and sweats the details, her work will be lovely. If not everybody values this charm– if not everybody comprehends web design– then let us not cry for web design, but for those who can not see.