Are graphic designers ruining the web?

No, but neither are the Germans up for a bloody big war.

Fortunately, some things move on, unlike John Naughton. Cliff came across this article on The Guardian website yesterday and shared the love (or lack of) for it around the office. It ruffled my feathers to say the least – who are these people that want content only websites? I thought I’d be able to think of some instances that I would prefer simpler websites but I can honestly say that I can’t think of any reasons I’d want to view a text only website over a fully functional, beautiful, all singing-all dancing site.

With any form of considered communication, balance is generally the key to success. A website that is well designed and contains user friendly functionality is usually best balanced with being able to load at an acceptable speed. Studies show that over 60% of people will click away if made to wait for more than 5 seconds for a page to load – you can load a lot in 5 seconds, you don’t need ugly websites.

Here at Firedog, we are guilty of adding to this web obesity epidemic. Our website is has gained a few pounds in the last year, the heaviest page on the Firedog site pages loads in 2.78 seconds, that’s not too shabby, considering it is jam packed with cutting edge technology, caching tools, HTML5, Css3, jQuery and the like.

We understand that 2.78 seconds is a long time to wait in a world that expects everything instantaneously, but it creates emotion, it sparks something in you that makes you want to read on and see the evocative work that we have created. I think that the heavy images make the page intriguing and attractive. We wouldn’t want to do if for every page on a website but for one nugget of pure creativity (it is the creative results page after all) we haven’t made the compromise. This reminds us of Alfa Romeo’s take on function with lack of form: “Without heart we would be mere machines”. How would that translate into the online realm? Yes you guessed it “Without colour we would be merely dull”.

And, this is not to say we are blind to our impact on technology. We’re constantly tweaking our website to get the best out of it, part of this is to shorten load times. The world wide web is going to be more highly saturated in the future, that’s what gets people excited. Everything evolves – therefore so should the web. Without progression there’d be no full colour glossy magazines, just periodicals; there’d be no breaking 24 hour news and The Guardian wouldn’t have progressed out of Manchester to become one of the UKs leading newspapers.

Even the word of God started out as a scribbled scroll and turned into an illustrated and enlightened manuscript. Progression prevails again.

So do we owe an apology to John Naughton or anyone for trying to be progressive, to make the web more visionary and pleasing across a multitude of devices? In a word, no.

And whilst we’re at it, there is no apologising for radar, TV’s, microwaves, the internet, iPhone’s and anything else our open minds and opposable thumbs have dreamt up and imagined.

(Looks like John Naughton has alienated a few sensible folk actually, and has offered some kind of olive branch on his blog : – Ed.)

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