Web Design News 20/04/10

Paul Boag

This week: The dying art of design, the disappearance of flash, tasks not goals, twitters developer tools and google rank by speed.

The dying art of design

There is a great but challenging article on smashing magazine this week for all you designers.

Entitled “The Dying Art of Design” it challenges us as designers to stop focusing on tool and techniques but instead focus on creativity and originality.

The author writes…

The diet of a typical designer is low in in-depth content and high in inspirational lists, tutorials and freebies. A review of blogs and our poll of design professionals shows a clear trend in the informational diet of creatives. They consume a lot but bypass a deeper understanding of design. In-depth articles and case studies are the least-read articles. Over 75% of the articles that designers read are either design tutorials or inspirational lists.

This has certainly been my experience on Boagworld too. My most popular posts have been those light on content and heavy on inspiration.

He concludes my writing:

While modern design tools and resources certainly make our many tasks easier, they don’t always improve our work. Tools and shortcuts are temporary. Great design is timeless. The best tool available is sitting in our heads; we just need to upgrade it once in a while.

Chili-cheese fries on a white plate isolated on a white background.

Chris Bence, Shutterstock

Twitter introduces tools for developers

At this weeks official Twitter conference (Chirp), Twitter announced a new raft of development tools that can be found at dev.twitter.com.

These tools make it easier than ever to integrate twitter into your application or website. In fact it opens up the ability to integrate in ways never before possible.

For the majority of us the most exciting part in @Anywhere that allows you to integrate Twitter seamlessly into your site with just a few lines of Javascript.


New features include…

If you make heavy use of Twitter to support your website then this definitely worth checking out.

The gradual disappearance of flash

I have developed a reputation for being anti-flash. However, when you read the beginning of “The Gradual Disappearance of Flash” you will consider me a friend of flash developers everywhere!

The author begins:

Given the widespread adoption and advancements of modern browsers and JavaScript libraries, using Flash makes little sense.

He then goes on to deconstruct just flash is no-longer necessary including…

  • The improvements in standards
  • The iPhone and iPad lack of support
  • The proprietary nature of flash
  • Progressive enhancement
  • Support for video in HTML
  • And more

Fortunately before he is burned alive by the Flash community he does begin to tone things down focusing on the strengths of flash. However, you can tell his heart is not in it.

Presidential debate with speech bubbles saying flash and web standards

Despite the bias of the article I do feel he has a point. There are fewer and fewer reasons to use flash and no excuse for building entire flash websites.

He could be right, perhaps we are seeing the beginning of the end for Flash.

Old school marketing techniques don’t work online

Talking of uncontrolled rants Gerry McGovern is on good form this week. In his post “Web customers care about tasks, not goals” he shares his experiences of trying to hire a cleaner online…

I was at a house cleaner website and this lady was smiling out at me with her hands behind her head. Hello. I need a cleaner. She’s not going to do much cleaning for me if she has her hands behind her head. And she’s saying to me: “Book a cleaner and get time for you.”

That was a big breakthrough for me. For years we’ve had a cleaner and I never really understood why. But this website educated me. It’s all about time. And then this hands-behind-her-head-big-grinning-lady asks me: “Are you looking for a cleaner?” Well, duh. Actually, no. I’m looking for a set of golf clubs, but for some wholly unfathomable reason I typed the following text into Google: “house cleaner”.

Bok a cleaner and make time for you

bikeriderlondon, Shutterstock

His point here is that marketeers are applying principles of offline marketing to the web. For example conventional wisdom says that you need to sell the benefits (e.g. book a cleaner and get time for you) to the consumer. However, that doesn’t take into account that web users have already recognised and acted on their need by searching. What we need to do is facilitate the fulfilment of that need, rather than create the need in the first place.

Gerry sums this up at the end when he writes…

The cleaning websites I went to told me truly useless things I already knew but didn’t tell me the things I really wanted to know: hourly rates, whether they worked in my area, whether they cleaned on weekends.

I think a lot of us still need to learn these lessons.

Google ranking now affected by site speed

We have known it was coming for a while but finally it has happened: Google now partially ranks your website on speed.

However, no need to panic yet. According to Sitepoint

[Google says] “while site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page” and at the moment, “fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal”.

Of course as they go on to point out 1% of all Google searches would still be a huge number of sites.


kropic1, Shutterstock

Sitepoint goes on to share a number of ways you can improve the speed of your site many of which I mention in my own post ‘5 ways to give your site a speed boost in less than 30 minutes‘.

Looks like performance is going to be the next big thing.