Saturday 25 February 2012

Journalism [sic]

A week is a long time in blogging, and certainly too long to react to a newspaper article from last Sunday, especially when so much has been said elsewhere. And although when I read John Naughton's piece in the Observer, titled: 'Graphic designers are ruining the web', my reaction was immediate and I wanted to post about it, a busy week has got the better of me. But it is still in me, and I need to get it out. So as I snatch a few moments here, (still busy—more on that in a later post), find below a direct rebuff to Mr Naughton, in bullet points:
  • Good design recognises the need for accessibility in web pages and will allow for users to customise a page or switch to a text version should there be a need. Blame Flash and designers who design for themselves above the end user, not graphic design per se.
  • On the "print counterparts" comment: The Guardian website's print counterpart is one of the best designed newspapers ever. Unfortunately, I don't have time to go into why, I'll save that for another post, but needless to say, The Guardian understands the value of design, both in print and online. Just speak to the head of the design department next time you are in King's Place and he'll tell you why.
  • Technology has allowed for better web design, and more image rich sites, granted, but good design still considers download times and bandwidths. Again, blame inconsiderate designers if a page doesn't load, not the trade they ply.
  • You don't consider visual language to be information? Hmmm. Then you probably have never even considered that there is a language system to be decoded in graphic signposting systems. This also implies you clearly don't understand semiotics. You therefore do not have the knowledge to be able to judge such things.
  • The bit about Flickr and Futurists—your point here is what, exactly?
  • "I'm a minimalist: I value content more highly than aesthetics." This is an oxymoron. Minimalism is an aesthetic design decision, not a by product of a lack of a thought process.
  • The website you champion is a navigational disaster and clearly doesn't present a friendly interface or clear understanding of information hierarchy. Pity the dyslexics who would like to access its content.
  • It is not the designers who dictate the content of websites, so why even mention 'LOLcats' and Internet shopping?
As I've said here before, and it is one of the central themes through the essay I wrote to accompany my McJunk book, graphic design is a much maligned discipline, and there are good reasons for this. But if graphic design is going to get a kicking, then at least let it be critically informed and not a piece of nonsense such as this article is. And so, to one last bullet point:
  • Poor research and inadequate understanding are ruining journalism.

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