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That said, it's a great place to get a web-savvy non-designer's perspective on design ideas. Since most folks aren't designers, it's a valuable point of view when you're designing a commercial/mass-appeal site...
But the folks here can still speak web-ese fluently while they slam on your aesthetic standards. ;) Nothing I hate more than trying to squeeze useful information out of a critique when the critic refers to 404 links as "fatal errors." (Gawd, that just struck terror into my heart when I heard those words...)
I see there are great uses for flash, but I see there are issues with SE spiders being unable to read flash material effectively.
I'm sure there is a balance and no doubt FlashLady your opinion on the board will get us closer to that balance no doubt ;)
I've yet to learn flash but I will eventually....and to answer the thread question I do everything (to try it once at least, but I like trying to write better code as opposed to a nice eye catching site).
...this whole "coder" vs. "designer" thing is a bit strange, really. I once decided not to take a job in a web shop, primarily because the "designers" were all in one room with photoshop, and the "coders" were all up on the second floor with hotdog (was it hotdog? hotmetal? hot-something, anyhow...). I couldn't imagine cutting the site design process in two parts like that. I couldn't stand turning a design over to someone else to code, and I couldn't stand coding a design I didn't have the creative freedom to "tweak".
For a designer -
If they were painting with oils, they would learn all they could about the medium. Same thing with web design - the medium creates limitations AND possibilities. I know that I often compromise my aesthetic wishes to the functional requirements of the web.
For a coder -
When a design has a really strong impact, they should let themselves be challenged to deliver it as effectively as they can. Because I stay involved in both worlds, I love the challenge my creative, visual side can give my left-brain, coding mind.
For a content creator -
Knowing the medium is essential for really effective content. For instance, it's a lot better to create your own short paragraphs and headers than to surrender that control to an editor.
A lot of the "it's hip to use itsy-bitsy type" also infects the Flash crowd, and neither is good design, as it ignores a constraint of the medium for the sake of a particular look. This is fine in school, or hobby stuff, but unless you know your entire audience is viewing on very low resolution monitors, it is striving for effect facilitated by ignoring basic criteria. (I have used flash quite a bit, not knocking the program)
This is a good place for designers to learn their "materials", sort of like an an architect getting out of the studio and framing a house.
And perhaps for coders to learn something about design, which is a large and subtle field of knowledge not easily grasped by a bit of "on the job" training.
Small font is fine and dandy if you allow it to be changed, I have my monitor at 1600x1200 and I can't read a damn thing without squinting since they have the size locked.
There are too many graphics, it is slow loading even on cable. Graphics are fine, but that site has too many images doing nothing useful other than over the top asthetics.
You're not going to start a Mac vs. Windows thread next, are you?
No. But I will just say that, according to my reckoning, most Mac-designers test their sites to make sure thay work on PCs, but I hardly ever see a PC-coder / designer testing their site on a Mac.
*sigh* - Bring on the burning responses to that one ;)
I don't think that "everyone" was slagging off pixelsurgeons design, let alone from a graphical point of view. They simply pointed out its functional problems. It's obvious that the aesthetics of the site perfectly match its target audience, but the impact will still be improved by placing a bit more weight on the ergonomic aspects. The two sides don't have to exclude each other, and their new demo page shows that they understand the issues at hand.
Personally, I'd never design a site, or anything, for that matter, in such a baroque style. But this mainly shows where my educational and professional influences come from. The design philosophy I have grown up with is that the best design is invisible. I have found this to be a very valid approach both in my original field of work and in the side branch of typography that is called web design.
Ooohh! Them's fightin' words! ;)
Really though, I consider web design more of a typographers' nightmare than a branch of typography. Until computers came along, there really was no field of design that so intimately integrated aesthetics and interactivity... it's a new and fairly unique animal.
From what I have read from typographers, is that their attitude is mostly a frustration with the limitations of the web.
As far as coder verses designer, I am neither. I piddle around with both in order to try and deliver my content in an as accessable a way as possible. And while my content is of paramount importance to me and my site, I admit that this coding and designing stuff has allot of appeal. And of course, WW adds to that appeal, providing a great resourse for neophites like me.
I would class myself as code-centric, though i think a site should have a visual coherency, with sharp graphics, to me the content is the core of the page rather than the design, unless one is trying to sell design. Part-time, i deal with companies that want SERP results, and a resonable looking site. So though i am not trained in either, i do both, on small scale sites.
It is a feat to get a designer's vision into something that works on the web without losing the heart of it. A little tweak here or there to get things so you can cut them without having 500x500 jpg's that are so heavy you can only see them on a really fat pipe.
I appreciate the fact that this thread differentiates between the two because I think they are each a unique skill. The designers I've known would not call themselves coders even though they have made some sites. I would never call myself a designer even though I have done the design for a bunch of sites.
I always appreciate a well designed yet functional site, makes me think a good team put it together.
<rant>I always look at the ads for jobs and the criteria are always "we need someone who's formally educated in graphic design and php". Always makes me shake my head and wonder if they even have a clue that those are two different people.</rant>
Well, if the heart and soul of your design disclipline is type... fonts, sizes, positioning, color, etc., of the words on a page, having your palette suddenly restricted to the three-to-five most common computer fonts, the infuriating limitations of text sizing across platforms & in different browsers, the web-safe color palette, and the fact that nothing will look the same on someone else's computer...
It would be like telling a performance car designer to find a way of winning the Indy 500 with a lawnmower engine and a go-cart frame. I bet he'd get an attitude too. ;)
Even so, Web site design is different from graphic design, it has to consider problems such as 'where am I?' more than a newspaper, magazine or poster designer normally does.
If a high proportion of people here find themselves "slagging off" arty Web sites, it may in part be because a lot of us are independent webmasters, or are responsible for the marketing success of Web projects.
When you count your success in traffic, conversion rates, gross sales or net profit, you tend to care much more about how well the thing works (can people find us and spend with us) than how pretty it is, or even whether it has the 'wow' factor.
I appreciate those who work with more traditional art forms but my passion is code.
False premise. There is no such difference. Design is coding is design is production is maintenance is a website -- they are hardwired together.
You know how you know? Look at the disproportion number of graphics sites that are filling the .com morgue.
Design poster child sites like the famous EyeCandy - dead and buried or resold into commercial slavedom along with thousands of others. No other sector of the internet has seen so many failings as the graphics sector. I just link checked a long bookmark list of graphic design sites I've not updated in 3 years. 131 out of 187 commercial .coms are gone. Quite a few of the domain names appear to be available for registration.
Why? No one wants to use eye candy sites. They want to use sites that are - well - usable. Graphically designed sites have good wow factor when launched. Wait six months and see how many regulars the design site has before declaring it a success or a failure. If it is a success, I'll guarantee you it is not because of the design, but because of the content. AvanteGaurd design doesn't build a following, content does.
One look at pixel surgeon, and its - never again. 150k home page (or was it more?). With 75-80% of the web at 50k or less - whew, who would ever come back to that?
Google has proved - gratuitous graphics are out. Low key, fast loading, obvious sites are in and what work long term.
> and literally everyone in there was slagging off their design -
> yet they are one of the biggest success stories of the
> web-design portal world.
Because most of the folks here work from the start phase to the checkout phase of site production and know inherently what is and isn't going to work. Pixelsurgeon has some good content - but why would anyone set through it to see unreadable micro fonts on a fuzzy background. But hey - cudo's for the design - it looks great! ;)
Most of us here are responsible for the commercial success or survival or bottom line of a site. In my case, Im designer, hack coder, graphics maker, copywriter, an author, editor, researcher, editor, promoter, SEO, marketer, strategic planner, accountant, but hey NONE of those matters compared to my major role "profit center manager". Ie; If we dont make profit, none of the rest matters!
Pixel surgeon looks fantastic. On a dial up for Thailand however i had to get a cup of coffee before it laoded. No problem, I doubt Pixelsurgeon was designed for me. If Ps' target market are all on high end machines with fast connections and buy from sponors or pay a membership or something, and are used to small text then its great from a survival view as well.
Which is why Flashlady, that you love it so much. Love is irrational - it blanks out rationality.. and thats not being rude.. but you are looking at PSurgeon from the perspective of a designer, and maybe a graphic designer at that. For that it probbaly scores 10/10.
But rather than WMW people mainly being coders, I think we are more of less all rounders, as brett says - false premise - and as tedster says - the team part is important. Many of us try to view sites holistically. And as all-rounders im sure most here would say that the site is aesthetically pleasing, but we would panic if ever asked to make it pay or otherwise lose our job.. which is the reality of many around here!
As for myself, until such time that the internet is almost like TV, I would be a full-pledge web designer. Slave to the camera/tool.
Until such time, (I should be dead by then ... maybe)I prefer to be a half coder and half designer. With the web standards needs full implementation and most WYSIWYG don't, i would rather still view the code from time to time and tweak and do some parts if needed.
If you're a web designer that is a slave to your WYSIWYG tool, I feel sorry for you.
I cannot accept that a web designer be only as good as the WYSIWYG tool that he/she uses. What a shame.
Be the master of your tool.