.net’s currently running an interview I did with Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the most famous web designers of them all. The piece regards his recent redesign, which has proved divisive. On first seeing it, I was certainly taken aback by the MASSIVE TEXT and the seriously stripped-back layout. But then on mulling it over for a bit, I decided not only that I liked it, but that the redesign of my own blog probably needed another look.
Oddly, my own unreleased redesign chimes in part with what Zeldman says in the interview. I now do most of my reading in Instapaper and that’s because it strips crap from web pages, and the new layout I’d crafted went part-way there, if not quite as far as Zeldman did. It needs to go further.
To be fair, this blog at least doesn’t have much crap, but it has a few things that are essentially irrelevant (not least the search, which does a worse job than Google at getting relevant content). Elsewhere, though, the web is frequently a mess, with sites bombarding us with tiny text and adverts. The take-home, ultimately, of the Zeldman interview is this:
If we don’t focus on the content the reader came for—if we continue to bombard and bamboozle our users with cluttered interfaces that satisfy stakeholder committees but frustrate the people who actually want to use our sites—our users will retaliate by removing our designs altogether.
In a sense, it’s about the same things that make for good design everywhere: focus; elegance; simplicity. Websites shouldn’t be the modern equivalent of a broadsheet newspaper—cramped design; tiny text; ads peppered about the place. They should be beautiful, usable and, where relevant, entirely new. It’s time to cut the apron strings from media’s past.