The Personal Disquiet of

Mark Boulton

Gerry McGovern’s clear lack of understanding

– November 14th, 2005 –

Just spotted this via my feeds — Graphic design plays a minor role on the Web.

Red rag to a bull mate.

As much as I’d like to let this one go, I just can’t.

Gerry McGovern is apparently:

widely regarded as the number one worldwide authority on managing web content as a business asset.

Ok. Shame that someone with this amount of apparent industry clout embarrasses himself with a truly naive observation. I honestly don’t know where to start.

Most of Gerry’s post sems to be slagging off the Communication Arts Magazine awards, which has to be said, don’t really feature a lot of good graphic design for the web. They feature a lot of good graphic design, which doesn’t work well on the web, which is what I think Gerry is trying to say.

This is just priceless:

..Nobody would ever be allowed design road sign navigation that moved. However, when you design moving web navigation you win design awards. Why are so many graphic design experts still clueless about the Web after all these years?

He follows it up with this:

… If the Communication Arts Magazine awards were a parody, they would definitely be deserving of some sort of prize or award. But they?re not, and they do a huge disservice to a discipline they purport to promote.

There are young web designers out there being sent absolutely the wrong message. The Web is, at heart, a task-focused, functional place. If you want cutting edge web design, look at Google, Skype, EBay, Amazon. These websites make money by meeting real needs.

Your website must be useful. It must be fast and convenient, with a navigation that is familiar and simple. The Web is not a brochure, an annual report, or a TV ad. It?s the Web.

I’d like to pull Gerry up on a few things there though. Firstly, ‘The Web is, at heart, a task-focused, functional place.’. True. However, promoting functionality at the expense of aesthetics and user experience is just plain silly. The two are linked Gerry, whether you like it or not. User experience is vitaly important to companies such as Nike. Without their brand, Nike are pretty much dead in the water, like most companies in a highly competitive market it’s what defines them. Now, I’m not excusing Nike’s website and it’s lack of usability, but this kind of website can be achieved — accessible, usable, functional — and still deliver the user and brand experience.

Please Gerry, don’t assume all Graphic Designers are exclusively concerned with the aesthetic. We’re not. Some of us understand what design really is.

Filed in: design.

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