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Designing Expectations and the Blogosphere

September 03, 2004 | View Comments (41) | the scholar

If you ever sketched a picture that you were proud of and kept it to yourself you understand how enjoyable creating art is. If you create a great web design that goes untouched and unseen by the blogosphere then you are free from critiques and analysis. If you are happy with the design you will stay happy with it and design remains fun. aclepsa.com

However, one day you decide to enter the blogosphere and attempt to make a name for yourself. As a company we wanted to create a blog to showcase our thoughts because we always have something on our minds. Blogs also helped get us recognition that a traditional website would be unable to provide. The company Business Logs reaffirms our belief in the power of blogs, but I digress.

You design because it is fun. It is both exciting and frightening to look at a blank screen with the understanding that you are expected to create something spectacular. In the blogosphere there will be expectations whether you choose to create them or not. Andrei built up expectations so quick and so fast that he was unable to live up to them. How could you blame him? Some expectations simply cannot be met.

The problem though isn't with the expectations, the problem lies in the fact that these expectations can cripple your passion to design. How many designs a year do you think 37signals and Happy Cog put out a year without showing anybody? Sometimes you just like to do what you love without hearing the criticism from the peanut gallery. True on the web your work will always be public, but in the blogosphere your work gets put under a microscope.

Andrei's version 2 was put under a grand microscope where every detail of the design was analyzed and dissected. Everyone had an answer. Many of the comments relayed the expectations of the writer mentioning that they expected more out of such a great designer. It's scary to think that people can build these expectations up for you and if you don't live up to them you let them down and in turn could quite possibly let yourself down.

I don't think criticism should go unheard, but sometimes we forget about what we are criticizing and who we are scolding. I can look at any design by 37signals, Bowman, Shea and countless others and tell you how I left with a “meh” feeling. If they ask for a critique I could provide it to them with the knowledge that I would be giving my insight into what can be improved, not what should be improved. We are all designers and many times we forget the torture we put ourselves through just to live up to our own expectations. Why make life even more difficult for others?

If we ever ask for your opinions and thoughts we hope that you share them openly by telling us what could be improved in a particular design. Understand that we will take that as your opinion and nothing more. We don't want to hear what you “expect” from us because we know that no higher expectations can be placed upon us by others that we do not already place upon ourselves.

Bowman's Bleached

August 31, 2004 | View Comments (46) | the scholar

White is always our recommended background of choice. It's simple. It improves legibility. It just works.

Bowman has temporarily gone “bleached” and reading the comments made us laugh for a bit because people act as if he were the first and only person to break a site down to its basics.

We always encourage designers to look beyond making something pretty and go back to the basics of the site. Sure Bowman is going to go back and add color, but how much would that enhance the site? I am sure he is asking himself that question right now. When you have a design so simple with great content you tend to find that everything just works.

More people listen to Bowman so maybe they can see the lesson to be learned in his bleached experiment. Unfortunately, I think that people will simply try to imitate it. A white background and black text is easy enough to do in your stylesheets, but implementing it so that it is beautiful is an entirely different challenge.

I am not saying that no color should appear on any site as color has many different functions. I am simply trying to convey the fact that many designers look at the building of a site as being which color should be worked with. Instead, if you look at what we have or what Bowman has or even Scrivs you can see that at the very least you now have a well organized blank canvas to color on.

Bowman's bleached again shows the beauty that seems to get hidden in simplicity. Many of commentors mentioned how they wished the web ventured back towards minimalism. We don't think it should because each site serves it's own purpose. As long as we don't begin to go overboard on the design and forget that we have people using our sites then using color is fine. Also keep in mind that minimalism does not necessarily equal white background and black text.

Silence

August 31, 2004 | View Comments (46) | the scholar

Nothing has been said for 6 months. 6 months is a long time for a blog and I don't even expect anyone to still be reading this. Getting back to writing should be fun. We have been working on a lot of projects during this time that have helped us grow as individuals.

We went through phases where we were sick of design and decided to branch off in other directions. For about 6 weeks we just stop designing all together.

We had high hopes of redesigning a new site every 2 weeks and even though we knew how challenging that venture would be we told ourselves we would do it anyways. We failed.

Since we started we worked closely with 2 clients and the funny thing is we shouldn't even call them clients since we didn't charge them a single penny for the work we did. Insane? Of course, but that is the kind of mood we were in.

We have failed at many things over the last couple of months, but those failures have brought about even greater success and we wouldn't change a thing. We fell and got back up. We sat back and watched the web grow with interest.

So now we turn back to elementary to get to writing again. It's a new day.

pMachine Store is an exclusive club

February 24, 2004 | View Comments (28) | the dunce

We were looking into the new ExpressionEngine blogging software by pMachine and wanted to see what methods of payment they accepted. Why don't websites tell you straight up what type of payments they accept without making you click to the order form to actually see it? Some customers like to see a PayPal button and in fact this could encourage some impulse shopping for PayPal users. But that isn't the point of this entry.

We clicked on the purchase button for ExpressionEngine and were greeted with this page. Why would anyone deny the user a quick chance to purchase their goods? When getting ready to purchase something online you should stay away from asking for information till the very last second. To go even further though and tell us that we have to be a member to purchase your software is definitely pushing it. This just gives the site a bad experience overall.

Good thing our local mall doesn't require membership just to walk around and browse.

We are learning

February 23, 2004 | View Comments (60) | the dunce

Scrivs decided to post an entry today that screams at us basically. We think we have the aesthetically pleasing site so that should be enough to drive people to us right? Wrong. We lack the content that people lust after. We have only ourselves to blame (and some of our clients as well). Wednesday you will see a new 26 in 52 design (we promise) and probably another one in the following days.

Some other things of note:

  • Scrivs says it then Shea says it. Programmers program. Designers design.
  • Amen. We have sinned in a past life and are now paying for it in the present.

Advice: Never allow yourself to think that a project is going to be easy when a client is describing it to you. It never is.

DoNotAskTog

February 13, 2004 | View Comments (21) | the scholar

First we have a hard time understanding how a person involved in one of the most famous usability groups around the world is writing an article telling people why they wouldn't want to shop online. Shouldn't he be fixing these sort of things so that there are not any problems at all? We usually do not like to write stuff publicly arguing the views of other professionals, but really this article got us so upset that something had to be said about it.

Continue reading DoNotAskTog »

Late Again

February 06, 2004 | View Comments (56) | the scholar

We have been busily finishing up with some client work, while also entering the beginning stages for new client work. The end result is that we have neglected elementary and were unable to do a site for the 26 in 52. However, we vow to catch up. This is a semi-useless post that we told ourselves we would never do, so to add some content we would like to wish you a great weekend.

You can contact us at thegroup{AT}simpleydone.com