The argument against beautiful web design | Hello Starling

The argument against beautiful web design

The argument against beautiful web design

Is beauty making content less engaging?

Posted - 12 February, 2014

Oliver Burkeman recently wrote a blog on the Guardian arguing that the trend for minimalism wasn’t that good a thing (see here, here and, ironically: here). Essentially, he claimed that the beauty is making the content less engaging – with the clean white spaces perhaps providing less texture with which to grab the attention of the reader.

 

At some level I admired the sentiment. Especially since I’m the sort of luddite who prefers to digest his news in print (who mourns the move from densely packed Broadsheet to Berliner and Compact) and who can easily spend a happy hour browsing an old Wisden, not least for the pleasure to be found in the crazy paving approach to typeface and font sizing.

 

Despite this I still disagree with his argument.

 

The online format is unique. That it is influencing other mediums might be unfortunate (see your favourite newspaper producing another listicle for evidence), but it doesn’t mean that it is doing something wrong. It is simply responding to its own pressures and environment. Screens are, despite improvements, not as easy on the eye as print. You want the information to be simpler, quicker to consume. Also, our reading habits change online. We read far more briefly (I don’t think TLDR was a widely held concept before the 90’s), and with reduced attention – change is only a click away. The information on the screen must be instant, nothing should get in between your website, your content and your reader. Design can either impede or clear this path.

 

Finally, you may be reading this on a desktop, alternatively you could have found your way here via a tablet or a mobile. Responsive design doesn’t need minimal design, but it helps.

Fashion in web design is a fickle thing, pulled one way and another by ease of use, wider design trends and technology. The important thing is to keep on top of all three factors. And, naturally, to be as original as possible.

 

 


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