ARCHIVE: May, 2006

Designing for Change

Designing for change is one of the new hurdles of designing for the network.

Back when print designers made up the majority of web designers, designs didn’t change after they were delivered. That’s because the practices of print design were carried over to the Web. Print designers are set on a project, they work through it, and deliver what becomes a final printed design. At this point, their work is done and they can go work for another client or on another project.

So some web sites created by print designers were set in stone, so to speak, and never touched again.

Time has shown, however, that the most successful web sites are the ones that constantly adapt to the needs of their audience. Today’s site is different than tomorrow’s. Chances are that the sites you use the most are ones that change on a regular basis. MySpace, Amazon, CNN, blogs, Boing Boing, etc. All of these sites are different every single day…or even every single hour!

It is still the case that interface designers (many of whom decended from print) are brought into a project, asked to create an interface, and then move on to something else.

I think that over time this will become less and less the norm. Designers will increasingly be part of the permanent design team, or perhaps hold an advisory role, simply because they need to be around to change their work over time. At the very least, they will have to create interfaces that can be easily modified by others who continue to work on the project after they leave.

That leaves designers with the problem of how to create interfaces that are adaptable to change, that can be modified when necessary, that don’t require another complete redesign to fix. That’s a big challenge going forward, and one that continues to creep into conversations I’m having with folks working on web apps.

Why Bad Design Still Exists & Other Thoughts (podcast)

A quick interview I gave recently.

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Does Google Succeed Despite Bad Design?

Why the popular opinion that Google succeeds despite bad design is wrong.

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7 More Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

A second helping of reasons why web apps fail.

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Good News

I recently rebooted my Powerbook after 56 days of uptime. This means that my Powerbook was on and running for almost two months without a hitch. And that’s with me using it approximately 12 hours per day. And now I’m back up to 10 days uptime already…

Adam Green’s OPML Camp is slated for May 20th in Cambridge, MA. It looks like a great event, and further solidifies Boston as a burgeoning place for techies. Unfortunately, I can’t go because of family reasons…but I hope everyone has fun.

Speaking of OPML, have you shared yours yet?

Speaking of sharing, now has a Don’t Share feature. I’m using it more than I thought I would.

The Ugly Design Debate took a turn for the better this past week over on Jason Santa Maria’s site. Jason articulated the argument very well, and the comments stayed civil and enlightening. I particularly like Christopher Fahey’s comment (#53) in which he points out that we’re mostly talking about style preferences (which are as varied as the New England weather). In the end, I don’t think anybody is really arguing for ugly design, but rather for unpretentious design. I used the example of your favorite local diner…none of them are pretty, and that’s partly why we like them.

Want AJAX tutorials? Max Kiesler has aggregated a ton of them. Nice!

Ryan Carson has a brilliant idea for web apps. Charge more money.

Here are a couple posts I wrote recently for Brain Sparks:

Jeff Croft has a great writeup on how he used Django, a Python framework, to build his site. Not everyone is crazy about frameworks, however, as Eric Meyer wrote recently. As a programmer, I can say that if you were migrating toward MVC anyway, then the frameworks coming out now are great and will be an easy switch. If MVC means nothing to you, and you’re not used to building web apps, then you’re probably going to nod alot when reading Eric’s post. I’m happy that he was able to use the word flummox.

Finally, Bokardo has a bunch of new readers and I just wanted to say Welcome. I also want to say Thank You to my existing readers. We’re starting to amp up the discussion here, and that’s great. Feel free to drop me a line anytime, and please let me know how I can improve.

7 Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

A few ideas about why some of the web apps out there fail.

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The Lesson

Personal value precedes network value.

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Shouldn’t the Wisdom of Crowds lead to better politicians?

Rui Alou asks a great question in response to my recent post on aggregating individual wisdom, wondering why, if the Wisdom of Crowds is valid, do we continue to elect poor politicians? Presumably, voting in a democracy is aggregating individual wisdom, because each person has their own individual views and an equal vote. (and presumably, there are good politicians out there just waiting to be voted in).

The answer to this question is why the Wisdom of Crowds is a counter-intuitive, dangerous and powerful idea. In reality our democracy does not harness the Wisdom of Crowds effectively, because it does not recreate the three conditions that are needed in order to do so.

Continue Reading: Shouldn’t the Wisdom of Crowds lead to better politicians?