Designed for nobody



Imagine you were a big fan of cars and wanted very much to get into the world of car manufacturers. So you go to art school, practice a lot, and one day come up with the single most beautiful car design ever. One that would make the folks at Ferrari or Lamborghini turn green with envy. So you go with it to a factory and show it off. Everyone goes "ooh" and "aah"... until an engineer points out how there's no way to fit an engine under that gorgeous hood. Can you guess what would happen?

They'd laugh you out of the building, that's what. And they'd be right.

Look. Design is a nebulous term. There's no one accepted definition. But artsy high-concept crap nobody can understand or make use of is definitely not one of them.

Except that's what a lot of people think design is, ever since Frank Lloyd Wright created his superb but uninhabitable Fallingwater house. And so you end up with websites that look great, but are unreadable, unnavigable and definitely don't scale.

How else? Back when I was still in the business, a web designer's tool of choice was Photoshop. Yep. They didn't so much design a website as paint it. Paintings are nice, you see. They don't have to stretch and zoom, grow and shrink, or shift around like a transformer.

Websites must be able to do all that and more. Especially nowadays that mobile devices outnumber PCs by an order of magnitude at the least. And web designers hate that. It offends their artistic sensibilities.

If you ever saw a website with too long a sidebar, or too short a sidebar, or an ad banner that's breaking out of its box and trying to hide off-screen in shame, that's why: the great designer had no idea of the real content people were going to put in. Perhaps because they were never told. But who cares, right? We'll just fill the boxes with nicely balanced amounts of nonsense text. What do you mean, it may not be as nicely balanced in production?

Lorem Ipsum was a mistake.


Tags: website, critique