Everything You Know About Web Design is Wrong


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From the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, TX. For the full article, see http://www.dswillis.com/sxsw/everything.pdf

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  • This is a beautiful page, isn’t it? But it’s just print in disguise with a tiny ghetto for Web-unique content and Content organized like a print magazine.
  • Washingtonpost.com was one of the first and is one of the most respected online newspapers, but it’s just print in disguise. Like the Harry Potter site, Web content is a secondary element. Headlines dominate, but headlines are just a commodity in this century.
  • The Web NOT medium in it’s own right … but it’s close. The presentation of the Web is still stuck in the thick foundation of existing media.
  • Not first time new century begins with a potentially unique media. In1915, Film first transcended the existing media: DW Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION. Introduced a grammar for film.
  • Flickrvision: Geo-located photos on Flickr What’s going on here? We are voyeurs, but NOT in a sexual way. We like to watch others, especially at most honest and raw. Flickrvision = insight to who posts on Flickr.
  • Web content gets smarter every day. Data that knows a lot about itself with metadata: “I am … Matrix, sequel, film character, Ray-Bans” Code languages like XML: “I am … an address, a description, an opinion from a trusted source” Self-aware data running around = mischief ex: Googlebombing.
  • Context is everything, right? If a user got to this image through …
  • … this Web site, they would have a certain set of expectations
  • But what if …
  • … it was something more like this?
  • So far, online publishers = CONTROL context because “That’s what publishers do.” But that’s what they did for print The Web = single user and the choices they make. The user’s got the mouse and they’re not giving it back
  • So what’s really going on with when we “MICROBLOG?” NYT Clive Thompson = ambient awareness, knowledge gained by body language, etc. Each mundane tweet is like a dot in a pointillist painting. Aggregate = sophisticated portrait
  • 21 st century content NOT chunks of type Rollercoaster NOT the tracks People design rollercoasters, theme parks, line processes BUT can’t design how I feel in the seat of a rollercoaster OR how the air feels at a particular moment OR what I had for lunch 21 st century content = interaction itself
  • What if Hotel Benjamin extended the Web-cam novelty from the late 90s? Constant views of key areas – lobby, bar, exterior. Trivial, from traditional view of content but AMBIENT AWARENESS = for place rather than person What if the provided Very specific research/product info about pillows? Opinions from across the Internet (not just from guests) What if there was a live connection: Start relationship with Sleep Concierge, Catalyst = practical, BUT relationship with hotel ensues
  • Newsrooms=Content engines = Awesome potential, BUT has to cut free from its print foundation. What if newspapers elevated Web-native content and finally treated headlines like the commodity they are?
  • If newspapers NOT headlines, but content engines then when an event happens, they could flip the inverted pyramid and hack out event nuggets. Metadata becomes connections. As soon as event occurs, relevance to other events, not just a one-time feature, EVENTS WEB = more and more powerful every day. No paternal editor: User creates context for their own experience
  • Change = disturbing, evolution = scary. And 20 th century design isn’t going to get it done this century. Design NOT ABOUT making it pretty. Print-in-disguise Web = elegant and beautiful failures hide in plain sight. More than ever, visual = means to an end. Design solves problems. Designer needs to define problem. Designer needs to produce solutions to the problem.
  • 1995 was a free-for-all. The commercial Web emerged and suddenly everybody was a designer and a business strategist and a content manager. This freaked out a lot of people because change is disturbing. Over the last 14 years, organizations and individuals have tried to get back to some structure.
  • For the 21 st century, jumbalaya is likely to be much more appropriate. You can ID ingredients as they go in, but then they all blend into one set of flavors.
  • Some controversy about DESIGN THINKING. It’s a trade-off: design gets in on the ground floor, but you invite a much wider group into the design process. The biggest challenge? PROTECTING EXPERTISE
  • Everything You Know About Web Design is Wrong

    1. 1. EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT WEB DESIGN IS W RONG Dan Willis, Sapient South by Southwest 2009
    2. 2. Print in disguise
    3. 3. Print in disguise
    4. 4. Everything we know about Web design is all that we knew about print design
    5. 5. Birth of a Nation, 1915 “ ... a new way of communicating a feeling, an idea, a fact - one plus one equaled three .” Daniel Arijon, Grammar of the Film Language
    6. 6. “ one plus one equaled THREE” The grammar of transcendent Web design <ul><li>Ambient awareness </li></ul><ul><li>User-created context </li></ul><ul><li>Random voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential content </li></ul>
    7. 7. Random voyeurism
    8. 8. “ ... Found notes and letters open up the entire range of human experience; they offer a shortcut directly to people’s minds and hearts ... we feel connected to this person we’ve never met before and probably never will, and in turn, to all people .” Davy Rothbart, creator of Found Magazine
    9. 9. <ul><li>Ambient awareness </li></ul><ul><li>User-created context </li></ul><ul><li>Random voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential content </li></ul>The grammar of transcendent Web design
    10. 10. Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content “ This reflects a fundamental shift in power from author to reader and from authority to popularity.” Peter Morville, Ambient Findability
    11. 11. <ul><li>Ambient awareness </li></ul><ul><li>User-created context </li></ul><ul><li>Random voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential content </li></ul>The grammar of transcendent Web design
    12. 12. User-created context
    13. 13. User-created context
    14. 14. User-created context
    15. 15. User-created context
    16. 16. “ When you try to control the interaction and tightly manipulate the outcome of the experience, customers tend to rebel .” Adaptive Path’s Subject to Change
    17. 17. <ul><li>Ambient awareness </li></ul><ul><li>User-created context </li></ul><ul><li>Random voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential content </li></ul>The grammar of transcendent Web design
    18. 18. Ambient awareness
    19. 22. <ul><li>Ambient awareness </li></ul><ul><li>User-created context </li></ul><ul><li>Random voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential content </li></ul>The grammar of transcendent Web design
    20. 23. Experiential content
    21. 24. <ul><li>Ambient awareness </li></ul><ul><li>User-created context </li></ul><ul><li>Random voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware (but uncontrollable) content </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential content </li></ul>The grammar of transcendent Web design
    22. 28. Car bomb kills 4 Terrorism Middle East Explosions 2009 attacks Israeli/Palestinian relations Syria Oil IRA Hezbollah Munitions Nobel Peace Prize winners 2008 attacks
    23. 29. “ We're in the midst of an evolution, not a revolution.” - James Levine
    24. 31. Tbsp Unsalted Butter 1 Cup Andouille Sausage 1/2 Cup Onion, Diced 1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, Diced 1/2 Cup Celery, Diced 2 Tbsp. Garlic, Minced 1/2 Cup Tomatoes, Diced 1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce 1 1/4 Cup Chicken Stock 3/4 Cup Enriched Rice 1 Cup Chicken breast 2 bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon ground sage 1 teaspoon file powder 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    25. 33. <ul><li>Tips for Transcendent Web Design </li></ul><ul><li>Organize cross-discipline teams; exploit and protect expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Design for specific users and their specific needs </li></ul><ul><li>Embrace your ignorance </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be distracted by business models that don’t begin and end with the user </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be distracted by technology </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be distracted by failure </li></ul>
    26. 34. ARTICLE - http://www.dswillis.com/sxsw/everything.pdf eMail - [email_address] Twitter - @uxcrank