That bloke Sevitz sent on a link to the following article: The Dangers of Judging Web Designs Superficially. It’s an interesting article which I’d recommend you all read. It’s as much a look at how we react to visual stimuli as it is about web design… or maybe not, but that’s what I took from it..
And that gives me two topics to think about:
1. Prejudice – how we react to “something different”.
2. Information Design – hitting the “sweet spot” of content and design.
I have a simple theory about prejudice. Everyone is prejudice. It’s natural. We ALL judge a book by it’s cover, we can’t help it, human nature has had thousands of years of experience of this (“whoa, that big green thing looks angry, best run”). The key thing is how you react to the initial judgement, the initial reaction, the initial blast of information. Our senses thrive on providing information to our brain, with so much information being passed that our brains have become quite skilled at ignoring large chunks of it, only dealing with the bits (bytes?) we feel are pertinent.
“We judge everything, and we do it as quickly as possible.”
For example, if I were a racist, I would want to process the information about the colour of a person’s skin. As I’m not my brain registers the fact that their skin is a different colour to mine then moves on to something I consider more important (like am I about to walk into that person or what it says on their t-shirt).
The same principle can be applied to websites. Take, for example, Screaming Seed. Peter mentioned it yesterday and my initial reaction was… WHOA my eyes.. too much contrast. On a second visit, the content starts to creep through (and the content is very good) but I still find myself dealing with that initial reaction.
Now I fancy myself as a “not too bad” web designer type person, so anytime I view a website I choose to analyse the design. It’s the way my mind works, the way I have formed it and as, professionally, I have some idea of Information Design, I think I have a fairly good grasp of the basics of the design/content sweet spot. That is my mindset and my prejudice when I look at websites, or user manuals, or any form of instructional document (yes, even posters for events zip across my critical eye). That is my prejudice, and I have to live with it.
Ohh and naturally, as it is my prejudice I can’t apply it to anything I’ve done so feel free to critique this site, or anything else I’ve done (although as this site is changing soon there’s not a lot of point..).
My point is this, we all have our own prejudices, some major, some minor – whether about ‘real life’ issues or something as trivial as choice of font. It’s how we deal with them that is key, how we communicate our reactions a fundamental skill that every living human being should learn.
Anything we say is everything we say.
The article is about web design, but it’s amazing how easily those same principles can, and should, be extended across a whole facet of human topics.