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Design Matters.

August 17, 2004

Though I realize this is largely preaching to the choir, I feel like sharing some revealing comments that have crossed my radar over the past few days.

I’ve observed and participated in arguments where functionality is touted as a prime directive, and visuals ‘are just decoration’. There are people who genuinely don’t understand the influence of how something looks on how it’s perceived by users/viewers/audience/whomever.

Granted, functionless form is pure art, or worse. I believe in balancing the two, and strive to find ways to make them work together instead of at cross-purposes. But reactions to the two successive redesigns of this site over the past few months have been insightful. I believe they go a long way to illustrating that content requires presentation, and function requires packaging.

The statements below are collected from my inbox, and various sites around the web. Some are nice, some are not; the trend is more important than any individual comment, and there’s definitely a trend.

“I just wanted to let you know that your NEW design is awesome!”

“The new Proton layout isn’t finished yet is it? It’s ugly as hell!”

“…better than his last “design”…” (quotes transcribed as written)

“I’m glad he changed it… I was starting to visit less often because some of my confidence was shaken… but it’s been restored now :)”

“Indeed, much better than the last and back on form, fantastic work.”

“Love the new design — didn’t really like the last one (no offence!) but this new version is very readable and pleasant.”

“I love v5; I can now justify coming back to mezzoblue.”

“Love the new redesign. It’s much better than the one you had before.”

“When you redesigned to “Proton” I was initially disappointed with it to be honest.”

“The new redesign looks good, I was getting sick of the old one not working properly in Opera.”

A good design lends credibility. A bad design hurts it. These statements require no further explanation.

Addendum: Not to say that Proton didn’t have its fans. Some did like it, and I’ve had more than one conversation about where it succeeded (and where it failed).

I’m not admitting defeat here; I tried many things, some of them worked, and some of them didn’t. I’ve learned from those that didn’t, and v5 is a natural progression from v4. Believe it or not.