I must admit i jumped pretty late on the blog’s wagon. To tell the truth, i wasn’t all that interested to what others were saying, and was spending enough time in front of the computer just doing work. Things have evolved: i run my own weblog since August 2005, at which point i wanted a one-stop place to store what i harvested as useful, interesting pages from the web, but did not want to spend time to do something that already existed with all the wizz features one might ever need. And i’m glad i did: i discovered dotclear and afterwards wordpress, and found these to be well developed projects, well thought-out for their purposes.

One thing lead to another and nowadays i tend to spend (too) much time on other web designers’ blog and i’m having mixed feelings about the web design community, if such a thing exists. It’s not the people i criticize here, it is what they talk about, the discussions they have.
And so it seems to me a disease is propagating on the internet thanks to these blog packages:

  1. A wrong idea about web design: “web design = graphic design”.
  2. Also, a wrong practice of web design: “web development is finding an opensource package, install it, find the plugins i need”.

In fact, it’s not only the blog packages, but all Open source CMS, especially the easy-to-install ones helped propagate the virus. Back in the days at school, if you were caught cheating on your neighbour during a test, or if your copy was resembling too obviously the smart guy’s next to you, you flanked. On the internet, the smart guys are giving away their copies so that everyone does not have to study anymore. I do not wish to question the smart guys’ motivation as it may come from a good intention, but on such a large scale, it is my feeling it is making it too easy for complete tourists to call themselves web designers. What i hate most, is this “uniformity”, this flock of websites that are just variations of the same.

I’ll be probably flamed by saying this, especially by those who got infected. Here, swallow this medicine, careful it can hurt your feelings, get you to question your working habits. Let’s first start with removing the infected cells:

What web design is not:

  1. Web design is not about gradients, shades of grey, 1,2 or 3 column layouts.
  2. Web design is not about “finding the right plugin” : web design is not about switching layout at every post. In fact, a web page is not a “post”.

Now that there is room available in your brain, digest this:

What web design really is:

  1. Web design is a practice of design: a process by which problems receive a response.
  2. Web design deals with the problem of human interacting with information: interfaces / interaction.
  3. Web design responds to the desire of someone having a content to share, and its potential audience of users, and have them find each other across the internet. Some call this “findability“, or search engine optimisation: yes, it is part of the web designer’s job to “design” the way search engine index the website
  4. Web design is also about trying new ways of solving the same problems. Why? Because the constraints of the system evolve: the technology evolve, the context evolve. Christ, even your mum evolve, study the change, and leverage the potentials. (This is the reason why experimental websites are fine with me, because they allow to evaluate the efficiency of a web design idea in terms of usability of interaction and information access.)

One of the key results of web design must be user AND owner satisfaction (1-1 satisfaction)

  1. The website owner is happy not because its website is beautiful, but because its website helps him/her meet the objective it had when initially going online. So much for the gradients.
  2. The website user is happy because it had an objective when first typing the url or clicking on the website link, and it could realize its objective rapidly and without having to think too much on how to do it (unless thinking about how this interface works was actually its intention).

I’m not pretending i succeed in all this – far from it – but i think at least i got the fundamentals right. Like at school, i try my best to improve with each project, to come as close as possible to the 1-1 satisfaction. I mean, every customer has a specific need, i don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions.

Think about it.