Web Design is Misunderstood

Web Design is Misunderstood

The perks: doing what I love anytime, anywhere, in anything. The hazards: in pictures below.

Web designers don’t fix computers

Small talk with a web designer by Cameron Adams

What’s so difficult to understand about web design—or any other type of web profession, for that matter? Is the thought making money off of “virtual” creations (that sounds so retro) so difficult to reconcile?

I don’t even try to explain it to other people anymore because it adds to the awkwardness.

And although I do know enough about computers to be considered the de facto tech support gal among peers and family, I’d rather not get my hands dirty pulling out cables or ridding your hard drives of nasty viruses because you were surfing for porn.

See also: the Pinoy version of the image above, by Rico Sta. Cruz. Check, check, check, check, and check.

What’s wrong with clean?

Simplicity Requires Courage by Frank Chimero

I keep getting feedback that my web designs are “too clean”. I’m far from minimalist, but what’s wrong with clean? I think I’ve found the answer: people are scared of simplicity. Nature abhors a vacuum, lonely people stuff themselves with ice cream and chocolates, and social networking profiles need to be filled with as much blinding and deafening crap as possible. They tend to overcompensate for things that they don’t have. Things like substance.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Two different passages by Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry, both so apt for design.

Web design is not easy

Time Breakdown of Modern Web Design by Michael Vilain

Web design is probably not as hard as brain surgery, but with Internet Explorer’s uncanny inability to comply with web standards, combined with the multitudes of individuals and business that still use it, creating good websites has become a life-threatening matter. It explains why some use the wrong ingredients for the job: flat images for text, tables for non-tabular data, or Multiply for online shops. And of course—as others will argue—Flash.

And it doesn’t really stop there. A web designer must be competent both technically and aesthetically, from graphic design to copywriting to programming to user experience to online marketing to entrepreneurship.

Clients are almost always a pain

Freelance Freedom #65 by N.C. Winters / FreelanceSwitch

Web designers and clients should both realize that it takes two professional parties to produce a successful website. Clients should not depend on web designers to come up with their own company slogan—unless it’s part of the deal, in which case costs a lot more. And please don’t ask web designers to make up imaginary content for the website. Web design is so named because it is dependent on content. Content determines design.

Placing low-resolution images inside Word and Powerpoint files, stealing images from other people’s sites, expecting sites to automagically appear at the top of search engine results with close to zero SEO efforts, running off without paying for the project—I could go on.

It’s worth it…right?

(Insert awkward pause.) Of course!

11 replies

  1. “I think I’ve found the answer: people are scared of simplicity. Nature abhors a vacuum, lonely people stuff themselves with ice cream and chocolates, and social networking profiles need to be filled with as much blinding and deafening crap as possible. They tend to overcompensate for things that they don’t have. Things like substance.”

    Now that’s poetic :) And fairly spot-on, hehe.

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  2. Pingback: Web Designers are Misunderstood as… at chrisprasojo.com/blog

  3. I love the “Breakdown of Modern Web Design” image! I rarely find myself wishing a low, painful and torturous death on Bill Gates but on the people who thought that creating IE is their biggest contribution to mankind. (He’s part of it, of course, but at least Bill Gates is not alone :D)

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  4. @Corsarius:

    I love it when people quote me. And call me poetic. Hah.

    @Fubiz:
    Thank you!

    @mae:

    You should visit Wisdump this very instant and join in the kvetching over there. It’s IE6’s seventh anniversary, after all!

    Reply to this

  5. Interesting post. Do you know that I actually think what-ifs a lot of times? What if I were a freelance web designer like you and another friend of mine? What if I weren’t in the corporate world.

    In fairness, the thing about clients being always a pain — I think it’s the same everywhere, regardless of profession. If you’re in services, then you have a guaranteed problem. Clients you enjoy working with? They are gems.

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  6. @Aaviel:

    Tweety!!! Yes, it’s the same for me, constantly. Miss na kita.

    You’re right, they’re still clients. I just want at least an ounce of commitment on their part, you know? Both parties are businesspeople, so they should act accordingly.

    And yes, like gems, good clients are very rare.

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