I always thought the term “CSS galleries” was a bit of a misnomer. I have no idea who came up with that phrase, but it really makes little sense. Those galleries were not just showing off “CSS”, as the name implies. But I guess because of the CSS boom that was happening around 6-7 years ago, the name seemed to fit and nobody had a problem with it.
There are two areas we can look at when talking about simplicity: The product itself and the way it’s presented.
Often we hear about concepts like minimalism, reducing clutter, generous use of white space, and so forth. Those are design principles often applied to websites, UIs, and promotional materials. But unless you’re doing something like creating WordPress themes, those aren’t your products; they present your product.
I’m reading an old article on A List Apart by Andy Rutledge called Contrast and Meaning, which, before getting into the meat of the content of the article, lays the foundation by defining communication fundamentals.
I honestly can’t stand the thought of creating a new design from scratch. It’s bad enough that I’m not a formally educated designer (last I checked, buying design books on Amazon does not constitute a formal design education), but on top of that, I just don’t have the ability to innovate. Almost everything I’ve created […]
I don’t know how many times I’ve redesigned this site over the past 4 years, but here’s another one, just launched this morning.
Layout-wise, there’s nothing really all that different. It’s more of a different skin than anything, and (out of sheer laziness) the comments and footer area have pretty much remained the same. Basically, I got tired of the dull looking header/sidebar in the previous design and wanted something cleaner and with a little more color.
Aesthetics, organization, structure, compatibility, mobile-friendliness, best practices, minimalism, typography, color choice, drop shadows, rounded corners, responsiveness, usability, user experience, CSS3, HTML5, jQuery — none of those things is integral to what ultimately falls into the category of “good design”.
What matters the most — that is, what truly puts anything in the category of “good design” — is whether or not the thing you’ve designed achieves the end result you desire.
In our industry, those who are well-trained in the principles and strategy of design (no, I don’t think I fall under that category) put much emphasis on the potentially powerful effect that a good design can have.
Design that is arbitrary and unplanned might succeed simply because of its ease of use, or its familiarity. But design that is well thought out and planned with specific goals in mind has the potential to cause users or customers to make decisions that they might not normally make.
Yes, I suppose this is a form of manipulation and some people might not agree with it. But I think as long as you stay within certain boundaries, manipulation through design doesn’t cross any lines, and it’s really just a tool at the disposal of the website/owner/designer.
It’s been quite a start to this week since the publication of my article on Smashing Magazine called The Case Against Vertical Navigation. I really didn’t expect this type of response. I assumed that what I was stating was a fairly commonly held view among designers.
Since there have been a lot of criticisms of Smashing Magazine over the past year (mainly because of endless “list” posts), Vitaly Friedman was more than happy to publish an opinion piece on a specific aspect of design. So, if you haven’t read the original article yet, please do. And please read Kyle Meyer’s response to my article, which I will be responding to here.
I’m glad Kyle posted his response; as Jacob Gube mentioned in both SM’s comments and on Kyle’s site, this type of discussion is good, regardless of who is right and wrong.