Mon, May 1, 2006
"Add 10% more design."—3:34 PM
There's a ridiculous debate about whether "too much design" can sink a website. It's as preposterous as it sounds, and it's meaningless, but I jumped in because what else do I have to do on a Monday but fabricate reasons not to write about Survivor?
This isn't a comparison between too much design and not enough design. It's a comparison between good and bad. A site that forces visitors to endure a 10-minute Flash intro before getting down to work is bad because it isn't functional.
That's why it's silly to use Craigslist as an example supporting the fallacy that people prefer sites without design: design is part of what makes Craigslist successful. In its case, the design is an "undesigned" look (or, to use an actual word, "minimalist"). If it were truly an undesigned site, the categories wouldn't line up in those nice little columns. It's just a functional, graphic-free design, and that's working for them - so why undergo some drastic overhaul?
Basecamp isn't flashy (no swooshes at all!) but nobody would call it undesigned. People who don't know what they're talking about just don't realize that design can be done well enough that it doesn't seep out around the seams. "Design" doesn't necessarily mean drop shadows and big, chunky Helvetica. Good design doesn't have to look designed.