Weblog of Edwin Martin, webdeveloper

  1. You are not a webdesigner

    “The saddest thing of being a frontend developer is getting designs that could’ve been for print. Every time.”

    When I started making websites in 1994, all designs I got could just as well been used for print. Okay, there where some buttons and a form, but that’s as far as it got regarding interactivity. I thought: “once the designers learn about the possibilities of the web, they’ll make the designs more interactive”.

    Years later, in 2005, I was part of a small team creating a new music website. I worked closely with the designer and we made a website that was very interactive: there was a lot of visual feedback. The resulting website was cutting-edge.

    Finally designers understand the medium, I thought. I was so wrong.

    Now it’s ten years later. All browsers support smooth animations and cool effects with CSS, canvas and SVG. Browsers can do what Flash used to do. And more. And still: most designs I get could’ve been for print as well.

    If you make a design with interactive elements and you don’t specify what happens when the mouse hovers above it, you’re not a webdesigner, but a print designer. If your design has one fixed width, you’re not a webdesigner, but a print designer. If your design has fonts that can’t be licensed for web, you’re not a webdesigner, but a print designer.

    Of course it can be a conscious decision to make a sober site without interactivity. And a website doesn’t have to look like the Flash animations we used to see. But visual feedback is not a gimmick. It enhances usability and improves the user experience. Learn what is possible on the web and make webdesigns, not print designs.

    To get an idea what’s possible, here are some links.


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