Skip to content

Design ruining the web? Come on Mr. Naughton

I recently read an article by John Naughton (Article) – Which claims that graphic designers are ruining the web.

There are so many issues with this blanket statement that at first I thought it was a joke. Clearly Mr. Naughton was poking fun at something else or trying purposefully to raise the amount of people who would read his article. (Job well done Mr. Naughton). I then began to rethink this initial thought and believe that Mr. Naughton actually believes this notion. He really believes that designers are ruining the web.

I humbly fall on the ‘you have no idea what you are talking about’ side. Firstly, Mr. Naughton you are about 15 years late with this statement, either that or you are rehashing a Jakob Nielson argument from back in time. Next, while there are many trained and untrained designers who are indeed creating terrible web sites and pages there are many more designers working hard to create well designed experiences and websites.

For instance lets take writers as a random example, one could say that writers have single handily ruined society by writing articles that are poorly researched or by running with stories that are skewed towards a view point. But that would not be the entire story. There are bad writers and there are good writers. Even great writers.

Next Mr. Naughton points out that “weight” (he is talking about load time) of pages has increased due to the graphic designer. Again this thought is 15 years too late. The connection speed that the internet runs at has also increased exponentially allowing not only graphic designers to add more weight to pages but also to allow technologies to increase such as streaming HD Video to a handheld device.

Lastly Mr. Naughton, minimalism is a design aesthetic. Being minimalist refers to an approach of organizing information, and while you are more than welcome to align with one type of movement or other please do not offend minimalism by suggesting that Peter Norvig’s site is minimalist. It is not. It is in fact sans design or aesthetic. Peter Norvig’s site does not fail because it isn’t good looking it fails because it is almost useless because content and information is hard to locate and absorb as a user. I imagine however that Mr. Norvig really doesn’t care.

Graphic design is an easily twisted discipline by self labeled practitioner’s who have no idea what they are doing. The goal of graphic designers is to create order out of chaos, simplicity from complexity and to create a great user experience. The web is a big place and it needs organization. Graphic designers who are trained and achieve these goals are changing the web and allowing users to locate and find information quickly.