Interesting Feedback on Boring Site

An interesting thing happened on Cameron Moll’s Authentic Boredom site the other day: readers clamored for more. After writing an good Photoshop how-to article on a technique that he used in one of his projects, Cameron received a level of feedback that you don’t see much of on design blogs. His readers wanted more than just a “how-to”, they wanted to know “why”.

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An interesting thing happened on Cameron Moll’s Authentic Boredom site the other day: readers clamored for more. After writing an good Photoshop how-to article on a technique that he used in one of his projects, Cameron received a level of feedback that you don’t see much of on design blogs. His readers wanted more than just a “how-to”, they wanted to know “why”. (despite the title of the article declaring it as a how-to)

I read several design blogs like Cameron’s, and from time to time I pick up a useful technique, but I usually don’t see comments like this. I’m wondering if this is the result of the amazing amount of information out there: we have so many highly-focused blogs that people are learning very quickly and tool learning soon becomes old hat. For example, “photoshop tutorial” returns 9 million+ results on Google. They won’t all be actual tutorials, or even good ones, but it certainly isn’t hard to find many decent ones. After you’re comfortable with the tool (Photoshop has been around for years), as I presume many of Cameron’s readers are, techniques aren’t really all that interesting anymore.

Tools are easy, or at least they take a finite amount of time of learning to use them well. It’s the theory that’s hard and takes a lot of time. Imagine how many people out there are writing programming code to do something that just isn’t useful. Imagine all the dot com busts and billions of lines of code created by brilliant programmers who didn’t know what to make, but they sure knew how to make it. In this case, Cameron’s readers wanted to know why he would make certain design decisions instead of how he actually implemented them.

Also, Cameron commented that he thought that there would be as many readers who wanted to know the “how” as wanted to know the “why”. This may be true, but because I haven’t seen many comments like the ones left on this post I wonder if we’re witnessing a subtle change in the type or quality of content that designers are looking for. Could it be that because of the quality of personal blogs that people’s expectations of them are rising?

The “why” will always be interesting. Why did you choose that typeface? Why did you choose those colors, that layout, that shape, etc. That’s the real insight, the most important factors in the design. It’s kind of like life and relationships: the “why?” is the interesting and important part.

Published: May 23rd, 2005

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