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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard gold trophysilver trophy
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    Debate - Design Is Dead!

    These comments are in regards to the SitePoint.com article 'Debate - Design Is Dead!'.

    Alright! Sitepoint likes to live dangerously, kicking off discussions like this

    Background-wise I'm coming from the same angle as tdev: a developer not a designer.

    Overall, I agree with many of the points he makes but I think it's "design innovation" not design itself that's dead.

    Plagurism, user expectations and costs have stream lined websites into a number of expectable formats. The measure of design ability is how much you're able to make a site look like one of the "big names".

    Originality and innovation have gone though and perhaps that's no surprise. Over 10 years almost all formats have been tried and the ones that survived are the ones people like. If you design an original site now, you've probably designed a site that will drive people away.

    But that's a developers point of view. If you head over to the home page of the worlds favorite web server: http://www.apache.org/ - you'll find a sameful amount of times new roman being employed. That's probably why guys like me don't get asked what we think on this subject.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Personally i think the article written by tdev was a little more convincing then that of myros, unfortunatly

    However I am of the firm beliefe that design is not dead and neither is innovation, 99% of websites may conform to certain rules in the aim of pleasing the end user, however in a medium were you can not gaurantee in anyway shape or form the device, operating system, plugin support, screen resolution, rendering engine (browser) and countless other abnormalities of all users, A website in my opinion that is able to provide features to those who can use them, without detracting from the experience of those who cant, whilst at the same time providing a visually pleasing website is a site that in my oppinion is one that has been DESIGNED WELL.

    Myros mentioned in his article that content is what attracts people to a site. I for one agree whole hardedly, but to discount the importance of design in the displaying of that content is foolish. A site that displays content in an unreadable format, beit to small, to large, in an unreadable font type or posses a low contrasting background are sites that are POORLY DESIGNED now, how can you have poor design if you dont have good design?

    Usability & Accessibility are not factors of development, they are factors of design, Again, poor usability and poor accessibility are not the result of a poorly developed site they are the results of a poorly designed site. A well designed and layed out site should enhance both U&A.

    Design is'nt just about the way a site "looks", Design is about the way a site works! And if a site doesnt work, then its because its not designed well.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Nearly everything in the world has a degree of similarity. For example, my favorite restaurant shares many features with McDonalds... you go up to a counter, order food, you pick it up and take it to the dining area. However, differences in the food and tone of the ambiance make the two places dramatically different.
    If you are general enough, you can eliminate originality in everything. You could say a movie cannot be ground-breaking because it has standard plot elements. You could say that a book cannot be innovative because of the finite limitations of the language in which it was written.

    Anyway, here's where I'm headed: there is room for originality within tried and true constructs. You can give a web page a unique look and feel while using standard web elements. Do most designers actually create something unique? No, and in that sense the "Design is Dead" author is correct. However, good, original, functional designs can and are being made... so design is still quite alive.
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  4. #4
    morphine for a wooden leg randem's Avatar
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    Plagurism, user expectations and costs have stream lined websites into a number of expectable formats. The measure of design ability is how much you're able to make a site look like one of the "big names".
    That's one way of looking at it. Another way might be to say that surfers have grown accustomed to certain things working in a certain way, and designers who are concerned about their site's usability adhere to these ideals.

    Originality and innovation have gone though and perhaps that's no surprise. Over 10 years almost all formats have been tried and the ones that survived are the ones people like. If you design an original site now, you've probably designed a site that will drive people away.
    And by that token, one could say that after hundreds of years, every musical note has been played in every order. Yet there is new music coming out every day... songs you've never heard before.

    Usability & Accessibility are not factors of development, they are factors of design, Again, poor usability and poor accessibility are not the result of a poorly developed site they are the results of a poorly designed site. A well designed and layed out site should enhance both U&A.
    They are factors in BOTH. You can't tell me that a poorly developed site wouldn't be considered "unusable". And accessibility is arguably more a development issue than design. But ultimately, you have to have good design AND development for both of these issues.

    I think samsm hits the nail on the head regarding originality. However, I'd like to add my perspective.

    There are only so many Mozarts, Picassos, and Edgar Allen Poes in the world. Just learning the keyboard shortcuts in Dreamweaver or Photoshop does not make one a design guru. And more importantly, design is still a visual art... one that was traditionally cultivated in colleges and universities. However the dot-com bubble made it possible for any kid with a computer and a warez'ed copy of photoshop to become an overpaid professional web designer, and now we've got people in design positions based on a little experience where there used to be college graduates with color theory under their belts.

    So don't be surprised at the type of "plagiarized" design we see everywhere. It comes from the same "warez" mentality that got most of those people their jobs in the first place.
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    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by randem
    They are factors in BOTH. You can't tell me that a poorly developed site wouldn't be considered "unusable". And accessibility is arguably more a development issue than design. But ultimately, you have to have good design AND development for both of these issues.
    true, but in my opinion what ever is displayed within the browser is the responsibility of the designer (front end), the end user doesnt care how messy your php or asp is, or for that matter what server side technology you use, as they dont "see" it, all they see is the output in html, which in my opinion is an area the designer is responsible for.

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    SitePoint Wizard gold trophysilver trophy
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    Yet there is new music coming out every day... songs you've never heard before.
    True. Like this one.

    Problem is when no one questions the format any more - designers or consumers.

    Why is it nearly every song is under 5 minutes long, comes out first as a single then as an album with 8-13 other (<5mins) songs and tastes alot like McDonalds burgers: the same.

    Design in this sense becomes about quantity not quality or originality.

    Innovation within that context is merely about using red where everyone else used blue, which isn't really innovation.

  7. #7
    morphine for a wooden leg randem's Avatar
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    true, but in my opinion what ever is displayed within the browser is the responsibility of the designer (front end), the end user doesnt care how messy your php or asp is, or for that matter what server side technology you use, as they dont "see" it, all they see is the output in html, which in my opinion is an area the designer is responsible for.
    That's a little too closed-minded an opinion. What, for instance, would happen if the PHP (or JSP or ASP) developer on the back-end messed up the interactive search code? Or had a poorly constructed algorythm determining what database content to display? The end result is a site that is unusable, and that the designer has no ability to repair.

    Design in this sense becomes about quantity not quality or originality.

    Innovation within that context is merely about using red where everyone else used blue, which isn't really innovation.
    True. And proof of my former statements as well. There can only be one Kurt Warner, only one Brett Favre, and only one Donovan McNabb. This leaves a sort of "sameness" to be shared by guys like Drew Bledsoe, Brad Johnson, Elvis Grbac, and Rich Gannon. Does that mean these guys are bad quarterbacks? I'm betting they could still out-throw you...

    The world can only have a handful of true innovators - Michaelangelo, DaVinci, Tchaikovsky... but there are millions of John Smiths, Joe Johnsons, and Tom Andersons.
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    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by randem
    That's a little too closed-minded an opinion. What, for instance, would ..<insert large random snip>.. the designer has no ability to repair.
    yer sure, i wasnt trying to say that development had no effect, i was just trying to show you where i was comming from with my earlier statement

  9. #9
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    I don't think design is dead at all...

    It's all to do with user interfaces, not just the backend, how the user clicks and navigates is all included with design, it's not just the images, for the average user they dont give a rats ar*e about the PHP or ASP running in the background, the most common comment people will say is "that site looks really good!" not "wow, that PHP coding is a masterpiece"

    Of course you have to have content to match your design, no good having an awesome interface and nothing to go with it

    But we have trained people to look for the menu on the side, the logo at the top and the content right in the middle. The same way every car has it's steering wheel and doors in the same place

    But really, if design ever becomes dead -- look forward to your times new roman plain black and white websites

  10. #10
    morphine for a wooden leg randem's Avatar
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    But really, if design ever becomes dead -- look forward to your times new roman plain black and white websites
    ...if you're a Windows user... <grin>
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  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    I think a paraphrase of "is design dead?" would be "is design stagnant?". Reverting back to older styles of web design would indicate that design never lived .

    On that note, here's a question of my own: Are we ever going to see a reshaping of the user experience on the web? Right now the experience is built around the header and the navigation bar. That (and variations thereof) account for 95% of all business sites (informal poll of my own brain). Does/should the future hold something different?

    In reference to platinum's car example, I've heard about a possible move towards a helicopter - style joystick instead of the stearing wheel. For hypothetical puposes, let's say that happens. At that point, what will the web look like?
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard gold trophysilver trophy
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    Are we ever going to see a reshaping of the user experience on the web?
    Interesting question! I reckon alot of navigation systems are defined by that fact that the default "tool" of the Internet is the mouse.

    If say speech regonition tools improve alot or even something that monitors where your eye is looking comes about, then navigation systems change big time. Design revoltion!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict goma's Avatar
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    AsI see it, design is making something useful and attractive while conforming to certain limitations. Like when you design a toaster, you're given the general dimensions, ergonomics and a number of factors the designer has to work with.

    Same with the web. We're given resolution, file size, browsers, platforms, devices and a host of other limitations and designer have to craft sites that take these factors into consideration. Usability and accessiblity are another set of factors and more thorough developer and designers create their products along these lines as well. Again, this is design. Creating something along limitations. The flipside is art, which has no limitations.

    I think the article did bring up certain valid points but overall the "design is dead" statement is sweeping and overly simplistic. If we were to conform strictly to Jakob Neilsen's uncompromsing vision of the web, then we'd be back to grey background and HTML 2. Designing for the average user, yes, but designing for the most stupid as a benchmark? If Neilsen had his way, we'd all have the information we need but the web would be extremely boring and eventually it would probably wither and die.

    On the other hand, I've seen really way out "cutting edge "sites with absolutely cryptic navigation. But then again, they're targeted for specific avante garde audiences so usability takes a back seat for aesthetics.

    It's all a matter of moderation. Too much of Neilsen and you'll look like his site. The other end of the spectrum would be this .
    http://www.soapbox101.com


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