I’d like to start by saying that I am not, nor do I pretend to be a graphic designer. I don’t do beautiful illustrations, logos, or graphics. I am not in the business of creating nice business cards, or great corporate identities. I do web.
I see a lot of graphic designers who develop wordpress themes, and other kinds of web related designs. I want to concentrate on wordpress themes, because that is what I’ve been dealing with lately. It really makes me tired, bored, sick, and it frustrates me when some guy who has been doing graphic design all his life comes to me and tells me: “The sidebar looks 2 pixels to the left on IE6.” The web is like that; dealt with it.
I blame the guys who like everything with tons of eye candy. Those people who think it is really cool to have a stupid menu flying around are the ones destroying the precious web. What ever happened to sites that just worked? That were beautiful, functional, user friendly, and resources friendly. I admit it, it is pretty cool to have webGL, CSS animations, canvas coolness, and other tons of nice features, but you don’t have to use them all at once. Those tools should be only that: tools, but instead, they’ve become the website itself.
The root of the problem, I believe, is graphic designers, and graphic designer wannabies that once learned about jQuery, or some other of those toys. They thought, “look, I can make a big poster that moves!” I would like to salute them all with a huge facepalm.
When real web designers design, magic happens. We think in elements, not just colors and lines. Real web designers have a pretty good idea, not only of what is possible, and what is not, but of the amount of work and resources that something would take. We don’t think about an animation in terms of $(‘#elem’).animate(), but in terms of timeouts, loops, calculations, site repaints, usability, and accessibility. How does this animation help the user? How does it not help? What happens if the user is blind? What happens if the user has some kind of body movement difficulties? What happens if the user has and old computer? What happens if the user is using an old device/software? What happens if the user’s computer is doing some sort of heavy computation? At what point do we stop this animation and fall back to a more resources friendly version of the site? There is much to consider to have time to worry about 2 pixels on the sidebar.
Real web designers know their site won’t look the same everywhere. This shadow won’t come out on IE6, but that is OK, because I’ve designed the site in such a way that even without the shadow the site looks beautiful, and more importantly it works. Real web designers know that it is more important to save an http request and a few KB than to force that shadow to appear on IE6. The website will not look the same everywhere, and real web designers know that. This is what allows them to designs websites that look beautiful everywhere, even if they don’t look the same. We build for the user.
You are more likely to receive a complaint saying “Your website takes ages to load,” than one that says “on firefox the sidebar looks 2px to the right.” Please, learn how to design websites.