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SOME THOUGHTS ON WEB DESIGN

It's a sad old cliché, but how many of us can program our videos without looking at the instructions? Probably not many. When was the last time you used the advanced cookery-pokery widgets on your microwave? I purchased a microwave with just a manual, clockwork style timer and power level dial because I don't have time to fiddle around with nonsensical “advanced features” when all I want to do is blast a tin of beans. The makers of the advanced microwaves lost my business. On top of this, in true viral marketing style, I'm going to tell all my family and friends what a great microwave I have and not to bother with all those expensive, overly-fancy models. Simplicity and ease of use gets the gold star.

As a result of not being able to use this kind of functionality in everyday objects, we're using only a fraction of the “stuff” that surrounds us. We struggle on with our difficult to use devices simply because we've paid for them and by the time we've realised how hard to use they are, we can’t take them back to the shop. Or simply can't be bothered. After all, these things are supposed to make our lives easier, not make them more of a hassle.

Are we stupid? Is it our lack of intelligence that prevents us from taking advantage of these neato technical wonders? Is it our fault we can't work these devices easily? No. It's the fault of us dumb designers, that's who's fault it is.

So we're stuck with our unwieldy gadgets and lifestyle items. Not so with websites. With a website the opportunity to back out, exit via the side door, or simply transport, Star Trek style, elsewhere is omnipresent. In a sense commercial websites are very similar to our consumer gadgets. They provide us with some sort of utility, be that buying a product, finding more information about something, entertaining us… All these things are achieved through our interactions with the site. If the site is as hard to use as our gadgets, who's going to use it?

Does this mean all sites should be purely functional? Should they be devoid of attractive, engaging aesthetics? Of course not. A chair, primarily, needs to be comfortable to sit on, but it can still look great, function brilliantly and be highly desirable for the design-savvy consumer. Why should it be any different for websites?

 

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