Breaking Design Rules

I’ve been getting into web design more and more these days. I mean, in-between moving into a new apartment, the various random holidays around now, working 8-5. You know. Web design is really interesting in that it blends graphic design and programming and demands quite a lot of the designer (or team of designers) and presents some really interesting challenges (e.g. architects never have to worry that different users of their building will see different things based on the configuration of their eyes…) I’ll spare you further elaboration.

As he tends to, Jason Kottke linked to a really interesting website, which, as he notes,

breaks pretty much every rule that contemporary web designers have for effective site design. The site is a linear progression of images, essentially 30 splash pages one right after another. It doesn’t have any navigation except for forward/back buttons; you can’t just jump to whatever page you want. July barely mentions anything about the book and only then near the end of the 30 pages. There’s no text…it’s all images, which means that the site will be all but invisible to search engines. No web designer worth her salt would ever recommend building a site like this to a client.

And he’s completely right. Believe me, I’ve read enough web designers’ writings (and boy do they looove writing about it) to know that they would turn up their noses at the idea of this. Yet I wonder if they would when confronted with it face-to-face. Because the site works, Kottke continues,

because the story pulls you along so well….The No One Belongs Here More Than You site is a lesson for web designers: the point is not to make sites that follow all the rules but to make sites that will best accomplish the primary objectives of the site. (emphasis added)

Which is a terribly good point. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid of the web design community; they have mantras that they repeat and follow, not blindly, but with an implicit understanding that they are not to be violated without a really compelling reason. And sometimes, when you do that, you miss the point.

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