Designers must deal with Internet challenge

So the Internet has finally made design trendy again (Wonder Web, DW 8 August). But your article revealed some of the problems the design world has to face, such as “technology has promised much, few have mastered its complexity or potential”.

Talking as someone who has, here are some thoughts on points made in the piece. “The designer works unhindered by technical concerns” is proof that the Eighties old school still rates itself too highly. No self-respecting Web designer uses an application to author his/her html, or, even worse, gets someone else to do it.

And why the division between designer and webmaster? (A crap term, but surely the “webmaster” is the person who can programme what they design? It’s so naive to expect to be able to get away with anything less.)

The best in this field will always understand how and why things work the way they do, and use this experience as a foundation on which to build “pretty-cool” graphics.

Knowledge of html combined with Photoshop/Illustrator skills is not valued highly enough; so too good cross-platform ability.

“Bin the idea that the printed page can be translated to a screen image.” Respect to AKQA for the BMW Web site, but the key word here is translation. Of course you can translate print to screen. We are talking close cousins here. Most printed documents are now compiled digitally, the difference is one of publishing medium. Clients want/need a cohesive “transmedia” identity.

Print is still dominant in our society, but the situation is becoming more hybrid. I love the Net for its strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t want to make it into something it isn’t. Right now it is surely best used as a supporting media. Translation always results in an evolution or shift of language, but this new language is still up for grabs. If more of the design community stopped lurking and started engaging, I wouldn’t have to make this point. You can’t escape it, print and digital media are locked together.

“Our approach is to grab people early and hold on to their attention.” This seems to be the one unbreakable, religiously held, Internet tenet. Whether it’s “look for the mouse pointer to change to a little pointy hand”, or “download this rude sound file to impress your friends”, or, even worse, some awful themed site, welcome to the lowest common denominator school of thought.

Yes it’s a fact that inefficient download times are the mark of an amateur, but I’ve had enough of Internet hype, it’s just overkill. Give me some well crafted images, organised, useful information, sophistication even!

Hey, rules are meant to be broken.

floater@dircon.co.uk

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