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  1. #61
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    Talking 'bout design

    Hi, I really appreciated the posts in tis forum branch, i do agree a lot of things which have been said here, but i found most of the posts quite separated from what i believe design is about. I wouldn't define it as just a tool for the industry as it appears to be the case for most of the "posters". The act of designing involves more than just to satisfy the client. The end user doesn't seem to be the main interest for some peopls, I couldn't find better words to illustrate what my feelings about what i have read today than those words which i borrowed from adbusters.org:

    "You come up with a stunning package design for a killer product. Your boss is pleased. The client is thrilled. Your design is entered in and wins a prize from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The certificate is hung on the office wall for everyone to see. You're interviewed by design magazines and featured on websites. Your colleagues leave clever voice-mail messages of congratulations. You bask in the glory, and you get a raise. Your firm sends you on an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to attend the American Institute of Graphic Arts' America: Cult and Culture conference.

    Bravo! You can now count yourself a member of the graphic arts community - one of five hundred thousand designers, creative directors and visual communicators around the world, all with a common purpose, all glorifying the virtues of consumer capitalism, all tripping over each other to kiss corporate ass. What do responsibility or ethics have to do with any of this? We're talking creativity here - giving order to information, form to ideas, beauty to expression. This isn't about politics. Let the "helping professions" change the world if they think they still can. They have their job, and you have yours. "

    Never underestimate the power of design.

    I don't mean to be offensive in any way, but i hope that our profession will one day become able to get more involved into what we are actually doing: creating the world we live in. Fil

    Excuse my english.


  2. #62
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    i like your quote filyo

    though i find the whole romantic notion of the designer as the tormented genius/artist who rises above the mundane and the status quo a bit too 'fountainhead' for my taste.

    Youll find many designers saying that theyre part of a service industry and that what we do is mainly meeting the brief & the objectives as set by the client while ensuring that the work is innovative and original. Of course this leads to an industry where we all get together every year and give awards to each other and pat ourselves on the back but thats how it is .

    I ve been reading this article following a conf where Jacob Nielsen presented and seems like Im growing fond of this guy (shock /horror)
    Hes not going on much about flash as he used to, he d rather talk about all those ecommerce sites out there and the ones that bombard users with adverts and popups with yet more adverts -- sthg that i also feel strong about

    anyway here it is:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp...8167-2001Oct24

    a

  3. #63
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    Customer Service


    As a designer I see myself as providing a service in exchange for financial compensation. As such one seeks to know the customers needs, desires, budget and most impportantly, what are they attempting to communicate. With my experience as a designer I can offer suggestions, assist in priorities, outline limitations, give alternatives and produce a solution that realisticly not only meets the customers needs but one that is in the customers budget.

    The part of the job above is one of the most important aspects of being a designer. If the client has understood that the whizz bang site cannot be viewed on a 56k dial up and he is prepared to go ahead then you have done your job.

    The edge that you have as a designer, when it comes to being a designer is your ability to translate his needs into a Flash page and give him more for less. If you are skilled at streaming, used to PNG formats, can compress well and all the other bandwidth cheating devices then you are offering more for less. This goes along with the inventory of widgets that you keep. Adapting those design widgets for each customer and thereby reducing their cost and yours.

    Lastly there is the actual design. The most important aspect is to be able to translate the message effectively. Not every business is going to say, 'I want something creative' (if only they did). An insurance agent will want something conservative, probably with a high dynamic text content. A travel agent will want searchability. Some will have specific target audiences and it is your business to know that audience and how your competitors are targeting that audience.

    In the end the actual physical design, or the fun part, is only 20% of the job. The rest is knowledge transfer and customer service.

    And saying 20% I am being generous!

  4. #64
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    everything is different, every second, every system, every connection, every taste

    i think the point about
    good design is to take as many components and put them in a mix unti you dont know whats in there (like flash for fast gfx, html for usable text, imageready for crisp fast loading images or whatever), but
    it still looks (tastes) great and give you this "wow this is new" feeling.

    the art is to compromise.

    i personally love webdesing because i love to program
    and i love to use new techniques, therefore the internet is the best place, other great ways to do art need more expensive material, such as print, filmmaking and so on.

    why would man become a designer?

    because he (thinks) he can do it better.

    btw - aria you look damn good on this pool-photo
    in the mod-squad!

  5. #65
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    Aria enjoyed the Nielsen article. I would love to make my site accessible to the visually handicapped, and offer translations (and I've tried by keeping most of my text large), but there is a limit to what you can include. And, I am not sure my site would lend itself to some sort of spoken alt text stuff for the visually impaired. As far as translation to foreign languages, to which ones do you offer translation (all of them)? Of course, I am speaking concerning a personal site, with limited space and resources. Most Flash sites tend to be high on the visual impact, with some sound. How do you translate a song?

    Too bad it's not a perfect world, where the computers could automatically do all this for us. Maybe five years from now.

  6. #66
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    I'd really love to see more posts like these...
    In fact, I think there should be an entire board dedicated to the philisophical aspects of design, as opposed to the technical.

    But in response to the original post:
    Designers are merely tellers of tales. And as such, it is not our place to change the tale, but to merely reproduce it in its truest form. This limitation(as well as others) is what comes with the territory, when you're telling someone elses story.

    We should be so thankful...
    Only in a perfect world, would there be no bandwith limitations, or technical frustrations. But in a perfect world, people wouldn't need designers, everyone would be able to tell their own story perfectly.

  7. #67
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    ok - here's an article i was reading yesterday

    "Design is not a therapy session"

    Web designers need to grow up, leave their inner artist behind and embrace the challenge of usable design. [By Kent Dahlgren]

    A long, long time ago, I made the move from taking art classes to taking Graphic Design courses. If you are a kid who really likes art, Graphic Design is where you direct your creative energy if you want your family to stop nagging you about your future.

    But ... while my family may have been excited about my shift into a field that makes money on art, I wasn't. Not for a long while.

    It irritated me that the instructors spent so much time on "non-graphical" elements of a visual experience. Coming from the self-expressive realm of art, I found this attention on white space and type and all sorts of other non-image tomfoolery lame and boring.

    One instructor in particular was emphatic that the fruits of graphic design weren't for us; they were for the audience, which sometimes included business folks. Fresh from the context of art, this seemed hopelessly "sell-out." Which is a bad thing to be as a youth.

    Then one day that instructor said something I've not forgotten. "Design is the art of effectively communicating a message while making the communication medium invisible." Herein was a challenge, an artistic one, that captured me.

    In retrospect, this painful process of re-directing energy from self-expression in art to effective communication in design was a necessary stage in the development of a Designer (with a capital D). Which is why I think Design as a field is suffering an identity crisis.

    Today we have legions of "designers" who have not taken this step. They lean way too far towards artistic self-expression, because too many of them have never been exposed to classical graphic design instruction. Or, more importantly, have never taken a step towards professional design maturity by realizing that design is not a therapy session.

    And why should they? Photoshop, Illustrator, and a PC, a color printer, and some time makes one a "graphic designer." How can an employer that needs designers tell the difference? "I can hire a guy with a degree for a bunch of money, or hire this kid for far less. From where I sit their deliverables are mostly the same." The market is full of these cheap alternatives, cheapening the name of design.

    A synergistic opportunity between usability and graphic design? I'd say. I think design needs usability, if only to define itself as relevant and important and different from those designers who last year were pumping petrol into lorries down on the corner.

    I don't know who is manning the good ship Design, but the field is suffering from a bad case of dilution, and usability can help get that rudder back in working order. Thinking broad and strategically, I'd expect the messengers who have taken the most abuse (Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman, Jared Spool and the like) to strike a deal with Design - probably at the academic level, but it could also be managed at the grass roots. Call a truce, share some ideas, and everyone benefits: users, employers, and designers themselves, as they are forced to grow into Designers.

    In fact, it appears to me this very process is underway, evidenced by the sales of Jakob Nielsen's book Designing Web Usability, and its use among the design community

    Im looking forward to reading your views and comments on the above - do you feel any 'less of a designer' if you didnt go to artschool ?

    the full article is here
    http://www.shorewalker.com/pages/design_therapy-1.html

    a
    [Edited by Aria on 12-11-2001 at 04:17 PM]

  8. #68
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    interesting thread aria,

    actually thats a point i thought of a lot of times
    and i still cant figure what i am - i just stepped into
    this art and expression thing and went completly nuts,
    did crazy stuff and impressed many people.

    then i got employed for good money, my boss told me i was
    a good programmer but i had to learn a little bit more about graphic-design - "so what - i know photoshop very well!" i thought - but i was just wrong.

    i dont think you have to study design (like going to a university or something) but you should have at least
    one person that is a little bit more expierienced who tells
    you what makes a good job and why.

    so my boss teached me some basics and we discussed some
    design ideas, i think its the best you can do to learn,
    every curve of a car expresses something, every little
    detail wants to say something, the sound of shutting
    a car-door gives it a cheap or a neat feeling.

    actually creativity cannot be learned, but proffesionalism
    must be somehow. thats my opinion.

  9. #69
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Aria
    ok - here's an article i was reading yesterday

    Im looking forward to reading your views and comments on the above - do you feel any 'less of a designer' if you didnt go to artschool ?

    the full article is here
    http://www.shorewalker.com/pages/design_therapy-1.html

    a
    [Edited by Aria on 12-11-2001 at 04:17 PM]
    Interesting article, which raises some good points. However, I don't think useability and Jakob Nielsen's name always need to be said in the same breath, as I disagree with a lot he says.

    As for art school, I think the things I found most valuable about my experience, even less so than the actual courses I was taking, was the experience of being exposed to enforced deadlines and the ability to be in an environment where I wasn't "the" artist, but instead "an" artist. In other words, I could learn not only from the instructor but also from the students around me (though when it came down to it I was measuring my work against myself, not theirs). Also the ability to get an honest critique was beyond the price of admission - especially in those classes where your skills were different than your classmates. And here's where we address useability.

    The thing that irks me about people like Jakob Nielsen is that they seem to want to impose a codefied set of standards upon how to and how not to work. Far more important, I feel, is to perform useability tests amoung real users and not get caught up in "your vision" - either you are making something for users, or you're making it for just yourself (limiting your audience a great deal, natch. ). The important thing is to escape an environment where people know and understand what you are doing - if I posted a site on here with glowing animated buttons and hooge type, everyone would know what to do. The typical user, however, would probably put their fist through the screen. That's not to say I shouldn't do things that way, but at least I have an idea of how people will react, without understanding that "well, it's really tough to use a pixel font in Flash...".

    I think that content and design are inseperable - even the most abstract works have a meaning behind them. The key here is defining your meaning before pursuing the project - I think that is lacking in a lot of work being put out now. People are too tied up in "making cool Flash" than telling a story. Just going through the motions. So again, in all things, content is king. Storytellers have been around since the beginning of time - the medium might change some aspects, but at a fundamental level, it won't change how the story is told.

  10. #70
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    It's all about usability and expectation. If a site is easy to use and intuitive, people will stay, even if the content is experimental. If the user expects one thing (i.e. a quick, painless shopping or searching experience) and gets something else ( http://www.evilpupil.com ) then they're not going to like it, even if it's engaging and well thought out.

    I still don't see the need for crappy navigation on experimental sites. Why make it opaque for the user? Why not give feedback on where they are, where they've been, and where they can go? Why not make all parts of the site accessible from any other part?

    You can still have experimental content as long as the user understands what they're downloading, and how big it is. I see no reason to hide these things from the user just to be "experimental".

    anyway,
    design is art is the client is typography is whitespace.

  11. #71
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    sorry i arrived so late in the game, but i just wanted to comment on how great this tread is and and how well it realates to me.

    first of all the similie of the designer (flash designer) to a swiss army knife, ... Brilliant!! i had some friends over the other day who are consultants and who do coding for a living, and when they saw my actionscripting and html books they nievely commented that they thought I was "just a desinger", how insulting!!! when you work with flash i believe it is imparitave that you know how it's working in order to have some sort of control over what you are creating (not saying i'm a expert at coding or anything, but at least i have a concept of it and can look at something and understand what is going on).

    secondly, the reference to Once-upon-a-Forest also directly realted to me. more than a year ago i randomly came across that site (before I knew of flashkit) and that is what inspired me to learn flash. it is amazing. The people that are content to their blockbusters and their hum drum malls proablably wouldnt' appreciate it, it seems to be the american way, but whom ever desinged/ programed it... genious. cutos to them!! (wish americans would appreciate good design like the europeans sometimes)

    Then, designer as a communicator... well that's what i do. I work in advertising and i'd be the first one to say that the design i do for a living is not cutting edge or something to drop everygthing for. But, it is the stuff I do and think on the side i feel has much more artistic merit. In the real world i feel designers have sucome to what clients need or think, not what the desigers think. it's a constant struggle (tough of war so to speak) between designers and the client. what you come up with is about somewhere in the middle. I applaude people in design and flash that come up with inovative designs and concepts. It is the people that do somethign inotvative and controversial that start the waves and trends that everyone follows. Perhaps it is the time that we break out of this postmodernism movement to the next new thing. I dont' know... just a thought... almost 2002 maybe it's time.

  12. #72
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    Trends appear to point to the fact that content is going to be more and more important in the coming years. With increased processing power and bandwidth, the consumer is going to being expecting a more active and entertaining experience on the net. I think that's where Flash is going to shine, but only if we continue to consider the enduser and their experience. So I think it comes down to a balance between innovation, usability and appropriateness to the message being delivered.

  13. #73
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    well said.

  14. #74
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    this is a very interesting article, http://www.alistapart.com/stories/bathingape/

    i think it raises a lot of valid points, so many web designers seem to ignore the fact that design is an industry, that there are more mediums designers work on than the screen and that there is no god given right to create 'art' (decoration) with your design. People should be creating good design.



  15. #75
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    Aversion, that's a great article with a lot to digest. "Stylist" I hadn't heard that term addressed in a long time. Hollywood uses them consistently to market their talent, and they have a certain prestige and acknowledgement in that circle.

    I think as the computer graphics field ages, there will also be more labeling and tiering in the field. Every kid with a computer in their room, will not feel empowered to declare themselves a "designer".

    A designer should be one who creates in order to meet a need. A truly great designer would accomplish that with a certain grace and concern for staying true to the end product without throwing in extraneous material just to impress the masses. "Craftsmanship"--a pride in your craft and it's integrity, that's what made Eames era furniture and appliances so great. They got rid of the fluff and looked more closely at utility. Yet the designers also considered their market and constructed items out of materials that allowed for the items to be affordable. So, too they worked within constraints, and used these same constraints to come up with items that were utilitarian, fresh yet graceful, all without pretense.

    Thanks for sharing the article.

  16. #76
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    i agree, so much web design is not design at all unfortunately...

    design is a craft, far more than it is an art. Design has a purpose, for the most part a practical purpose, and web design consists of construction - information architecture. The way in which we present the content we are charged with is the measure of the designer in my eye.

    there is certainly plenty of art in web design, but the art must come second to the craft.



  17. #77
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    Well, in keeping with my trend of raping other sites for their links and maintaining memes, here's a great article I found on Flazoom today titled:

    Taking the Flash out of Flash
    by Craig Kroeger
    (Yeah that miniml guy. )

    http://www.reservocation.com/essay_12_10_01.html

    A lot of it is common sense stuff that we should all already know, but the article is a quick read, consise and well-to-the-point. Especially when (if you think about it), some of his contemporaries don't necessarily follow the basic principles.

  18. #78
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    there seems to be some prob here -posting this to show pg4

    a

  19. #79
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    darn it- i thought i could start cleaning up pg4 from irrelevant posts when it went back to pg3 as it was before. Ill try again later
    Posting to show pg4 *again* --sorry peeps

    cheers

    /a

  20. #80
    Retired Mod aversion's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CNO

    http://www.reservocation.com/essay_12_10_01.html

    A lot of it is common sense stuff that we should all already know, but the article is a quick read, consise and well-to-the-point. Especially when (if you think about it), some of his contemporaries don't necessarily follow the basic principles.
    it's a good article and people certainly need reminding about the basics, there is so much 'fluff' in design, the important thing for all designers to remember, as he says in the article is "form follows function"

    i hate sites with mystery-meat navigation, spinning logos and all that tripe, it is just so unnecessary... designers seem to be think that spinning flashing 'cool stuff' is more important than the basics of design, such as typography - which is so lacking on the web in general. I mean, how hard is it to name your links?? Why do so many designers feel the need to make you rollover a button before telling you what it does?? It's just pointless 99% of the time. Then you click a link and the menu disappears and there's this little button saying 'menu' which you can click on to bring it back

    a study i read (and yes studies can be useful) found that 80% of 'average' users make up their minds what they are going to click on before moving their mouse, forcing them to mouseover every button before they can 'map' the options in their head is just bad design.

    i don't want to rant, seems like i'm always ranting, but to me, all this 'decoration' should merely be texture, the function of the site should not be inhibited and the usuability should not be ignored. Usability is not a bad word, it's not something to be avoided, it's something to be learned and appreciated. Usability is not not jacob neilsen.

    Texture is where you build up your 'look' and your atmosphere.

    i'm not against innovation and trying to change the way users experience the web but you have to persuade them to do it, challenge them in a way that will interest or amuse them, don't expect to piss them off and get anything back. If you want them to try new things, make sure you reward them, make sure that you make it clear what they did and what the consequences were.

    none of this applies to personal sites, no one should tell you what to do with a personal site, just make sure you have something to say.

    i'll just repeat what i said in an earlier post:

    design is a craft, far more than it is an art. Design has a purpose, for the most part a practical purpose, and web design consists of construction - information architecture. The way in which we present the content we are charged with is the measure of the designer in my eye.

    there is certainly plenty of art in web design, but the art must come second to the craft


    [Edited by aversion on 12-29-2001 at 09:38 AM]

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