Web Design Isn't Easy

Album Cover: Black Holes and Revelations

"Come ride with me through the veins of history. I'll show you a god who falls asleep on the job."
Muse / Knights of Cydonia

Posted on July 24, 2005 3:21 PM in Web Design
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Before you choke on your Cheetos, note that the title of this post isn't "Web Design Is Hard." Okay, now we can begin.

I was reading an article about wireframing and prototyping in HTML when I ran across the following:

In some circles, HTML has acquired the reputation of being a time-consuming, difficult undertaking best left to developers.

My question is, in what circles? I guess taking context into account, I can see why usability folk might be scared to venture into the web design world, especially if they're stuck in their Visio ways. However, in nearly every circle I've been in, the exact opposite is true. HTML and more generally speaking, web design, have taken on the reputation of being easy.

In the software development world, which is a world I live in for at least 40 hours a week, I consistently hear references to the ideas that building web pages is trivial and that web developers are a dime-a-dozen. I suppose I can agree with both points, the latter simply because it is undeniably true and the former because I have been building web pages for eleven years.

The distinction that needs to be made is that good web designers and developers are not a dime-a-dozen. In addition, designing and building good websites is most certainly not trivial, even for someone who has been doing it semi-professionally for as long as I have (or longer).

Typically the people that say things like "we can just throw a web page together – it's simple" end up producing pages that look something like this. Actually, that's being generous.

I always take statements like that with a grain of salt, because it's just like hearing someone say "I am a C++ coder and write programs all the time." Then you take a peek at the code they've written and find a bunch of stuff like this.

The truth is, there is an artistic side to web design and development that most people just don't have. If I've ever had it, it was a struggle to attain and very fleeting. I believe there is an artistic side to programming as well, and it's easy to tell when someone has it. It's easy to tell when they don't too. The problem is, you can often get away with not having the artistic side in the programming world – the same is not always true in the web design world. It's just a fact, most people will naturally respond to a site like | seriph | in a way that they won't to a site like yoda.com (though you have to admit that site is pretty hilarious).

So in conclusion, if you're one of those people that tends to write off web design as something trivial, only for those who "aren't smart enough to write real code," go pay a visit to mezzoblue, SimpleBits and Stopdesign (feel free to check out their source code too) and then come back here and tell me why.

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