As I was drinking my morning coffee on a lovely Sunday, I came across an article online that really got my attention. It’s called ‘Graphic designers are ruining the web’. So much for enjoying my coffee.
In the article written by John Naughton and published on theguardian.co.uk, the author expresses his distaste for graphic design on the Internet. Basically, his view is that graphic designers are taking away from the integrity of the information by using extraneous graphics to load down web pages – in doing so, crippling the user experience. Obviously, Mr. Naughton doesn’t truly understand what graphic designers do.
As most of us know, web and graphic design is not that simplistic and it certainly has no devious intentions. It’s not about pretty pictures or design for design’s sake. Graphic design is about visual communication, clarity of message and ultimately the audience, market or end user as the case may be – for the given media. It focuses on the flow of information and contributes to the ease of which it can be absorbed by the reader.
The web is evolving much faster than any other form or media and with that comes a learning curve. Designers today are very much aware of this and are creating for the web in order to enhance successful user experience. Graphic Designers are using their skills to provide not only an aesthetic environment but also aid the streamlined flow of content.
When in their infancy, web design and development both had a lot to learn. There was a time when all we did as users was wait for pages to load – even when every pixel was used to it’s fullest efficiency.
The site referenced by Mr. Naughton, norvig.com is indeed quick to load. And visually, if compared to an Excel spreadsheet, it also makes perfect sense. However, there is no real indication of how to navigate the site – it’s just made up of links, and many don’t provide enough, if any, information as to the content they contain. I guess for the user who has all the time in the world, this doesn’t matter. Clarity of information was not something this site deemed important and shows a lack of understanding of the user.
Yes, there are still a great many sites that continue to ‘weigh us down’ so to speak. Although, how many of those are a result of the businesses themselves not improving their sites because they don’t understand how to or believe that it’s a priority? As a result, the majority of users know not to visit these sites. And no traffic, well we all know what that means.
The World Wide Web needs not only be efficient but well designed. It’s end user experience and quality therein will continue to grow as it has been and sites will continue to thrive as a result. And graphic design will continue to play a large part in that success. So what have I learned out of all this? We, as graphic designers, still have a way to go before the public truly understands the value of what we do. Oh, and I also learned to stop surfing the web while I’m drinking my Sunday morning coffee.