Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How to Prevent Valueless Design

Focusing on social design ...

"How an over-focus on visual design and technology can be like a speech by George Bush: clear and well-executed but valueless when it communicates the wrong message.

In a fascinating piece on the amazing growth of the photo-sharing site Fotolog, Jason Kottke clearly articulates a growing problem in design:

“Fotolog…relative to Flickr…has changed little in the past couple of years. Fotolog has groups and message boards, but they’re not done as well as Flickr’s and there’s no tags, no APIs, no JavaScript widgets, no “embed this photo on your blog/MySpace”, and no helpful Ajax design elements, all supposedly required elements for a successful site in the Web 2.0 era. Even now, Fotolog’s feature set and design remains planted firmly in Web 1.0 territory.”

How do sites with sub-optimal visual design and technology grow so big and become so successful? How are MySpace, Fotolog, and Craigslist so popular in an age that values stunning visual design and amazing technology above all else? Conversely, how is it that Flickr, full of beauty and Ajax, is being overtaken by a site as boring as Fotolog?

Aye, there’s the rub…a rub that defines the current state of web design.

First off, a little throat-clearing. We’re dealing with Alexa stats here, so there are no guarantees that anything is accurate. Just because Alexa shows that Fotolog gets more traffic than Flickr doesn’t mean that it is…it’s kind of like listening to a reporter who usually covers political news tell us what’s going on in Silicon Valley. Suspect, to say the least. But for the sake of argument let’s assume that the trend is right, and that Fotolog is overtaking Flickr in terms of traffic.

... Preventing valueless design
We need a new way of thinking to prevent valueless design. Valueless design is like a George Bush speech: well-executed but wrong. While it may be communicating beautifully on one level, the impact on society may be minimal or, even worse, negative. We need design that provides real value to humans.

The new model as I call it is social design: a focus on the social lives of users, the context of how people live, and the connections they have with their family, friends, and loved ones. It’s about the daily activities that people care about, that make their lives richer, more fulfilling, and that have very little to do with how a piece of software looks or works behind the scenes."    (Continued via Bokardo)    [Usability Resources]


Anonymous Samer Bazzi said...

I agree with you in general, i also agree that its hard to really take alexa stats at face value:

9:22 AM  

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