Click to See Complete Forum and Search --> : Design over content?

03-06-2001, 11:39 PM
I am quick becoming dissolusioned with the web in general. People are creating more advanced technology (Viewpoint's Metastream technology for example) and things are getting faster and 'better'. Somewhere along the line design got lost...
The graphical intricacies of a web site are more important than the content.
At the end of the day the internet is just a huge archive of information, a billion books, videos and sound clips. The presentation of the information is important but should we really allow it to take pride of place, the actual data being something added after the flashing lights and spinning logos?
Looking through the site check section of the site only confirms my view. Professional companies are creating flash enhanced sites that simply dont need to be flash, pure HTML would do the job just as well and prospective clients wouldn't have to sit through another intro. Identical in almost every respect to the 10 other flash websites they've looked through that day.
The concensus at the moment is that for a website to be good it needs to be flash. The approach is to whack as much as possible in, 3D objects, intense visual effects and then wrap the content around it.
Spelling and grammar on websites is atrocious even on large supposedly professional sites, something we are meant to be taught from birth has been neglected for a lens flare.

Why not remove the content completely and just leave the amazing interface, would it really make a difference?

Tom Pain

<I never excluded myself from the illiterate, graphics hungry population im taling about so im sorry for any typo's>

03-07-2001, 02:26 AM
I'm currently taking an Internet Marketing course in my last semester of college, I'm an Advertising major, so much of how I think revolves around so much that is related to your question.

We've been talking for a few weeks about what aspects of sites are important, both from a viewer's standpoint and from the creator's standpoint.

One of the key points I keep bringing up to the class, (most of which are not as involved with Internet aspects as I am, many are learning, and I wish they could have seen all the things I've seen, the great people I've talked to, and the amazing, worldwide opinions I've gotten on various things through Flashkit.)
...the key point I keep bringing up is that design has to come first, and here's why:
If you're really intending to make a site that's based around content, you're going to have the content there no matter what. You're main goal is to provide a viewer the content.
But, the presentation of the content is what holds a higher importance than the content itself, because, like I said, if the content is the reason, it's going to be there no matter what.

I often use the following scenario to describe this:

Lets take Microsoft, exactly as they are, good things and bad.
We know that they are a global leader in computer software.
We know that anyone who deals with computers knows who they are.
We can pretty well assume that anyone who deals with computers in some way or another has used a Microsoft product, innovation, or program.
Going off of that-let's imagine that the Microsoft site, graphics anywhere on any packages EVERYTHING that is used in their communications material-is black background with white text, no graphics anywhere. Basic, ugly, boring, terrible to look at.

What will the perception of them be with that look? Remember, they're still the same company as they are right now. Just with much different graphics and presentation, and plain, boring web-site.
What will people think of them? Do you think the lack of interesting graphics will effect a person's perception and opinion of the company?

I think YES, it would. The graphics and visual communication of anything play a strong role in retaining visitors.

I know this is not exactly what you were looking for, hopefully it's something meaningful. Many companies are getting lost in the race for innovating their websites, because many times they have programmers who either dislike multimedia elements, or they have people who basically know only one thing: Put everything catchy on the site, let's do what others are doing simply because they're doing it.

I'm a firm believer in doing things for a reason, and I'm an even firmer believer of never letting those reasons be "because someone else is doing it."

I've just come out of a situation where that was a frequent theme, and I did not enjoy it.

Well, hope that's of interest. There's tons more where that came from.

Take Care,


03-07-2001, 05:55 AM
The contents are important. However, the design is king. We ARE selling a product, even if it's ourselves through a portfolio or millions of books through a huge database. But if the design is not correct (and we are not just talking about nifty interfaces and cool intros, but also about the general layout that helps navigation), the surfer will simply leave the site in despair ...

Look at Amazon.com... you might say that the design is crappy. But it is great for what it is, with a couple or 3 of clicks you always get wherever you want to go! That is great design!

Maybe we are confusing things a bit, relating "design" to "in spectacular fx" and the lot.

Good design is more than nifty effects... :)

03-07-2001, 06:01 AM
I agree completely... design is MUCH more than nifty effects, its just convincing the masses of this thats the problem.
Too many tools too little thought and process.

03-07-2001, 07:06 AM
An interesting discussion.

I don't personally see how design can ever come before content. Design IS content surely. Design is merely a technique or method or procedure for getting content on the screen.

If your content is a catalog of 750,000 books then a good design would be one that allows the user to find any one of those books quickly and intuitively.

If your content is 5 portfolio flash movies, then a good design is one that complements your portfolio and brings the best out of it on all platforms, resolutions and connections.

I must say, I disagree slightly with mg33 regarding the Micrsoft website.

However I think there is a big difference between design (colours) and UI design (navigation and layout).

Notice also how micrsoft's website also works a lot like there OS and applications. I think THAT is a more crucial design issue.

What is design? How it looks or how it works?

I go as far as saying the order is :

1. Content (it's why people have come to your site)
2. How it works
3. How it looks

I'm not saying that the look of a site is not important. But lets use the earlier point of amazon. Change the Amazon bg colour, table bg colours, text colour and font.

You have a site now that has a new feel completely - although it works exactly the same.

I think it's all about functionality.

The Amazon is easy to use, not too ugly and most of all...fast.

And it's database driven. I'd like to see 10,000 concurrent visitors view a generator driven website with dragable menu's!.

Do you think the OPERATION of the website would affect a persons perception and opinion of the company. I think YES it would, and they wouldn't think it was boring, they'd think it was crap and they'd never come back.

Sutok - as you said we're getting disolusioned with the web. If seen enough 2advanced websites full of pretty much nothing to last me a life time.

Like the Flashkit website. I know how it works and how to get what I want from it. I don't want dragable menus and bevel and drop shadow. I want info. Fast. And this delivers...normally ;)

03-07-2001, 10:07 AM
Originally posted by thomasgmiller
An interesting discussion.

I don't personally see how design can ever come before content. Design IS content surely. Design is merely a technique or method or procedure for getting content on the screen.

I must say, I disagree slightly with mg33 regarding the Micrsoft website.

I'll get to commenting on the first paragraph later in the day. Design is NOT normally content. Your two sentances contradict each other. You say design is content, then you say it's merely a method for getting content on the screen.
Two totally different things.

Second, the only people allowed to disagree with me are phooka, flashguru, and a few others on Flashkit. About 8 people total.
Just kidding, I'm having a strange morning at 7.30am! :)

Welcome to FK, thanks for joining the discussion.


03-07-2001, 10:14 AM
What I meant was - the two things work in unison.

i.e you cannot possibly have design without content. That would be a white screen. And you cannot have content without design. Even this post has been formatted and designed by me - paragraphs....even the odd spelling mistake slipped in for added style :)

That was my point.

03-08-2001, 02:07 AM
I think it depends (and this is a distinction we've not made yet here) on what the content actually is.

If it's text-information as content, that's not design. You can throw that on a white background, and it's not design. I wouldn't call it that, some might, but it's definatly not planned out design. It's just there, on the page.

If the content is artwork, portfolio work, flash stuff, then yes, that's design.
I think the way I'm approaching what is design is the look of the site.
If you create the look of something (good example, go take a look at my site, it has design, the site is designed, but I don't have any content, because I never got around to it, and I'm already working on a new site.)
but don't add content, you have design, and the lack of content doesn't mean that what's there is not design.

I think of the design in terms of the visual appearance of the site-what people see the presented material (I say material here because a focus on content is not always a goal)within.

I think you and i are both making valid points, and this is one of the better discussions I've had on here in a while-becuase neither one of us are really right or wrong.

The one thing I don't agree with is your saying, "you canot possibly have design without content. that would be a white screen."

If you look at my example above of my site-my site has design (about 5 months worth to create that, that's definatly nothing short of design) but there is no content, I'm admitting to that. there's only personal info about myself.

I also made the point that if you put formatted text on a white background, and put it on the Internet, that's content. It does not have design, but it is information that is presented, and it's content.
I guess some would say that content is something that is contained within a front and back, or a container, such as the content in a magazine or book. But in this circumstance, the container is simply the heighth and width of the browser window.
Would you agree with that last sentence?

My final reason for saying this is this: Look at all the novice people who put pages up on the Internet, with information. They just put text up there many times, no different than a word page. That's content, as defined by content being a presentation of information.
These people certainly never consciously designed anything.
But they did succeed in getting content up.

And, finally, look at my situation. I have hardly any content on my site, but I succesfully designed the appearance of it, and that does not depend on content there for it to work (although it would be a benefit for content to be there, and I'm not saying it's acceptable for the content to have never been added, rest assured the next version will be miles above that one)

Do you get my connections here? I'd have to say I don't agree with what you said about design/content and not having one without the other, and I think I've described why quite well above.

Let me know what you think! :)

>>Quite enjoying this, glad to see someone else thinking about this. And definatly cool to see right off the bat from a new member.

OH, one more thing. I'm reading your last post again where you say, "even this post has been formatted and designed by me" I'll bet you didn't do that consciously. It just happened-just typed the response, hit submit, there it was.
On the same note, I've seen this topic before-people saying that text formatting is design, that their placement of text somewhere is their design. I don't totally agree, and I think since you've read what I said about what design is you'll understand why I say that.
I think it's a cop-out to say that text was designed-especially in cases where it's not a conscious effort, and by this I mean a human has relied on the functions of a software program to align and format their text.

Again, nice discussion, I'm looking for a good comeback :)

Take Care,


03-09-2001, 04:23 AM
"The graphical intricacies of a web site are more important than the content."


how can anyone claim that design is more important than content? it's absurd. there has to be a REASON for a site to exist. that in and of itself is content. if there is no reason to exist, there is no existence.

look: design is important. it's what we do. it's what we defend, day in and day out when a client says "But look at how well Yahoo works, and it's got hardly any graphics". >>>Shudder<<<. Yahoo. But Yahoo is still around because it DELIVERS CONTENT. it provides something useful to a large audience. would you ever go to Yahoo or any other site if the information was outdated or if you could never find what you needed? Would you ever buy a magazine if 50 out of 55 pages were blank? Not likely. content is king.

design is NOT, however, the lowly serf in the web heirarchy. a good design consists of not only pretty buttons and splash pages, but a spectrum of issues including but not limited to easy/logical navigation and a unified artistic theme that carries through the entire site.
Design is here to make the web experience more visually friendly, IMHO. it is an important and vital part of any site. it can make my beanie babies smuggling ring look like more of a blessing to mankind than the red cross. but it has to WORK and PRESENT AN IMAGE.

of course it all depends on your perspective, if i may totally switch sides now. my personal site is designed for one purpose: to make me look like a fabulous artist and designer. i am not interested in keeping current world news and stock quotes on my site. because i am PRESENTING MY CAREER, i present the actual product of what i do: a website that looks stunning(well, we hope :) ). but it is STILL THE CONTENT that is most important, even if that content in my case IS the design.

so in closing i say this: build a pretty site with nothing useful, and it'll get you nowhere. build an ugly site with something useful, and you'll get somewhere. build a fantastic beautiful site with useful content, and you'll be driving a bentley in no time. :)

design + content = success

03-12-2001, 03:56 AM
Content is king.

03-12-2001, 03:58 AM
Take a look at http://www.amazing-bargains.com

horrible design, one of the best database driven sites out there.

Delivers what it's visitors want.

03-18-2001, 06:19 AM
I'm only young.
And very new to the whole web design thing,
but the question I ask is

"What is the real question here?"

Why do we use the internet?

To search through masses of sites to find information.
Is this not the same as going to the library and searching through masses of books to find what we want.

Now, I believe that content is more important then design myself. I am a student and right know I "Should" be researching info on Alpacas. But I'm here instead.
Why am I here?
Because I have been bored out of my brains reading through countless pages of information.
Plain text, no fancy graphics nothing even close to design. I think the site I was at before was against design because I have a killer migrane.

But as I read this long discussion I am thinking to myself.
Hang on my headache is gone. It's gone because I have just realised that I have all the information I need.

I have everything to right my essay on funny looking camel things from a few terrible looking web sites.
And a few informative books.

Dammit - I've strayed off the track here.

When we all went to the library to look for things, we all had no problems, and you couldn't get more boring and ugly then a huge book with the only thing colourful being the front cover.

But why did u pick up that book?

Because it had a colourful front cover.

So the way I see it.
A web site is a more 'convenient' from of book. It's just another thing in the growing digital and technological age which is making the human race a bunch of lazy fat slobs.
(Hey, I'm one myslef)

So my sites, work like this, and the site I prefer to view.
They all have a nice looking cover, are easy to read. The information is easy to find and there is just enough design to keep me there but not to much or too less to make me leave.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the flash intro, and the first time I ever saw one. I watched it 20 times over. Thinking wow, that is so kewl.

But the novelty has worn off. Everyone (nearly) has seen them. And that rarely they come across one that excites them anymore.
I'm not excited by them.
Are you???

If your not, then why are you still making them?

Thats my young inexperienced 10cents worth.
And hell with my Australian Dollar, thats not very much at all. :-)


(Feel free to rip the s*** through it)