Over the past six or so months — actually I think it’s been since I went to An Event Apart Chicago ‘08, which makes sense — I’ve had sort of a design awakening. As long as I’ve been creating things on the Internet, I’ve always leaned toward the developer side. After all, I came to it after taking classes that required programming in C and Java, so naturally I gravitated toward PHP. But that conference made me start to realize how important design was.
It was one of those things I always knew in the back of my head, but never really thought about, how with almost everything you use or see somebody has specifically given thought to how it should look, so that it will be as visually appealing as possible, easy to use, and help you get whatever you need accomplished (whether or not they accomplished those goals is another matter, at least assume they tried). Now that’s a big part of what I think about when I walk around.
Example: I went to dinner with about 10 or so people a few days ago. I was sitting near one end of the table, and behind a person at the other end, maybe 8 or 9 feet away from me was an old poster for some street fair in the 1980s. The last hour of dinner I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from this poster. Every time I stopped talking to someone my eyes would inevitably go back to it (of course I foolishly didn’t think to take a picture of it). The thing I noticed was that from the distance I was, I could still see the drawing (of a Toronto trolley car) on it perfectly well, and could also read the name of the event and the dates on which it took place. There was other writing on it, what looked like names, but that info was obviously less important because it wasn’t visible from where I was sitting. I kept thinking how someone had purposefully thought about what information was most important and made sure to design the poster so that people glancing at it from a distance would be able to discover that information. Yeah, it’s a small, basic thing, but it’s the kind of thing that I’ve started to take note of and think about when I’m trying to design a site. Baby steps.