This is a rant.
Design is a mis-used word today, and leads to much confusion in the Web industry today. I consider myself a “Web Developer”, because I’m a developer. But people categorise me as a Web Designer. Yes, I design things, but I don’t do asthetics as well as I do functionality.
According to Web Design From Scratch, Design is a spectrum. Something that is well designed will be an appropriate balance between Asthetic design and Functional design. Designing the Asthetics is the art of creating something visually conveys an emotion or brand. Designing the Function is the art of making something useful.
Even though I’m a programmer and focus on the functional end of the spectrum of design, I rely on the so-called “Web Designer” (who is in charge of asthetics) to make the application look good, and every time in my life I have been sorely disappointed.
Why is this? Web Asthetic Designers too often focus on the “wrapping of the content”; That is to say all they do is the graphics that surround a body of text. They might stipulate a font, colour and point size for the text, but that’ll be it.
What about Bullet points? Blockquotes? Sub-headings? The asthetic design of web forms? Text-boxes? Buttons? Photo positioning and balance? Captions? Source Attribution? Even simple things like link colours are sometimes forgotten.
Too many times I have recieved a “letterhead” — a webpage design that is essentially a blank piece of paper save for an asthetically pleasing header and navigation. Don’t get me wrong, I need someone to do that part, but I also need someone to tell me how to fill that blank space in a manner that doesn’t clash with the template.
As a programmer who appreciates asthetically-pleasing, yet gloriously-functional-design, but as someone who is less capable to create the asthetics (but doing his best), I would appreciate a web designer who can provide a great site presentation and provide a style guideline for laying out content within the template they provide. Is that too much to ask?
People say you can tell when a programmer has designed a webpage because it doesn’t look pretty. One web agency I worked for it would call it “Programmer Art”. But I can tell when a designer has half-designed a webpage, because the programmer’s user interface is clashing with the design of the site.
Oh, and don’t think I’ve forgotten that Programmers also have a responsibility to make their applications user friendly. But that’s a whole different rant.