Wish You Were Here

Posted inObsessions
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compuserve ad, circa 1908 BC.

compuserve ad, circa 1908 BC.

Based upon the fact that I am apparently scaring the pants off designers by thundering down to them that they have to deal with the web: okay, fair. Maybe I’m beating the drum a little hard. Lemme list out the reasons why i keep yelling about this.

  1. The web sucks because designers have had too little to do with its development.

So, yeah. That’s about it.

You think I’m joking; I’m so not. The web is much, much better than the ridiculous little communities that came before it, like bulletin board services and Usenet and AOL and CompuServe and GEnie, and so on—but it’s still so rudimentary in comparison to what it should be. So rudimentary, in fact that it took until just this year for Adobe to hammer home the point that we need things as simple as free-form shapes of text, not just boxes. Engineers just plain lack the essential visual skills designers have. Some of them can’t visualize a damn thing.

Let’s list out another few things that need a designer’s mind to get better.

  1. The friend feed. Only an engineer would think it’s an adequate idea to take a million disconnected thoughts, smash them into one long, mathematically filtered column, and just say, here’s what’s going on in real life, right now. That doesn’t even make sense.

  2. Blogs. Blogs kinda started out as a designer toy, but their visual development died before the format was adequately completed. Now we have a front page that everyone sees for like five seconds, followed by a black hole of content, and the only way to find things is search by text (which is useless if you post mostly pictures) or poke through the archives, page by page. Awesome idea, guys.

  3. Comments. Who, exactly, decided it was a sensible idea to stick unsequential, unrelated paragraphs of text at the bottom of an article, and mix them with conversations happening inside the comments? So ridiculous. why aren’t comments a panel that sides over the article, only partially obscuring it, to clearly show they’re not as important as the original written content?

These are all nuances that coders just don’t get. Sometimes they simply don’t understand that putting things next to each other in a visual space causes a relationship, because they work with the information on a totally different level. Designers understand how that visual space works, and it’s just killing the web that there’s so much unordered, unfiltered cacaphony going on.

Help mature the web, designers! Tell a coder to sit down, shut up, have a nice cold Pepsi Max, and wait until you’ve designed it to make some damn visual sense.