Scott Stevenson provides a very interesting essay, Satisfying UI Design is Often Illogical, discussing the impact and need for UI changes and the expectations of and reactions by the market to those changes. The entire piece is well worth a read by anyone interested in design and user experience, with many valuable insights. One of my favorites though is encapsulated in a single line: “The real goal is user satisfaction, and some of that is really illogical and messy.”
Matt, the creator of WordPress, is laying the groundwork for a theme marketplace, the beginning of which he shares in his post Marketplace Idea. The idea is solid, and a step I’ve wanted to see for a while. I design and build my own themes, and will likely do so for a long time to come, but I have never built a theme to give away due to time constraints, so I’m not firmly in either target audience for the service. From this outside (though firmly in the ‘I love WordPress’ camp) vantage point I see some great benefits from this service:
- The amount of people developing themes will increase, as professionals will be able to justify the time spent on theme creation. If billable hours are important to you, knowing that you are creating a product is worth spending some unpaid time up-front.
- Following from the last point, the more professional developers and designers that are involved, the more high quality themes will be available.
- Blog themes will gain in value. While I am a big fan of giving away work, having produced a couple of small plugins and scripts myself, it is important that we establish the fact that good work is worth paying for, and great work doubly so.
- Good designs that are “retired” from a site could be put into circulation as a theme. I’ve had a couple of designs that I have replaced because I wanted something new on a site, not necessarily because the old design had any major flaws. Knowing that I could earn money, benefit others and/or gain recognition, I’d be more willing to spend some time making the small changes required to place it on the Marketplace. I’m not sure how this point relates to the requirement that the theme has not been published before.
- This is a great promotion of open source code, without sacrificing the earnings that should come from hard work.
I’m really curious to see how the pricing will play out. Will the system set a price, or a set of prices, or will each theme producer set their own? Knowing only that a subset of users will have to pay to use your theme provides an interesting twist to setting your price and deciding on how much work to put into each theme.
I’m also excited to see how people make names for themselves, building reputations with the themes they produce. This could produce a neat cottage industry, or it could reduce the value of design and development in much the same manner as the “get a whole site for $500” services that have existed for a while. The latter doesn’t worry me very much, as quality stands out, and I know quite a few top notch folks who make their living producing great work at fair prices far above the outsourced rates.
Mozilla Labs has launched Prism, which is an application, based on Webrunner “that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop” They are approaching the solution in a different manner than Adobe’s AIR and Microsoft’s Silverlight, choosing to harness the power of the Web, which they call “a powerful and open platform for this sort of innovation” ultimately aiming to “identify and facilitate the development of enhancements that bring the advantages of desktop apps to the web platform.”
It’s interesting and exciting to see another contender working on the Web app to desktop app bridge. It’s even better that they won’t require developers and designers to come up to spread on yet another language.
Thanks to Rick for the heads-up on this one!
Jeff Croft has posted a very interesting article, The new layers of web development, presenting a view of the Web development landscape that’s been simmering in the back of my head, but that I’ve never been able to articulate in any coherent manner. Ultimately, my view that balance is good, all the more so when developing in the real world of corporations large and small, is based on discussions such as the one that has formed in the comments of the article.
HTML isn’t built for purity. So we might as well stop saddling it with those expectations. When the “pure” structure is stored somewhere else, the markup is just a translation. Use the best-available language to capture the essence of the structure in a medium-appropriate presentation. And if some of the subtler semantic nuances get lost in translation, well that just comes with the territory.
You tell him I said to take a long unstructured walk around his city. Talk to strangers. Take pictures. Visit at least one museum. Pretend like he’s from somewhere else for an hour. Stop in a park to read Raymond Carver’s “What we talk about when we talk about love.” outloud would be rad, but I leave that up to him. Go into a music store, find two people who seem completely different from him and buy whatever they are buying. And then end his travels at your house where he’ll tell you the story of his day over a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin. The story should last as long as the bottle.
Maggie, the fifth commenter on the article One List to Rule Them All
I link to the article for the commentary more than the post, which is a brief rundown of resources for people interested in Interaction Design. The heart of the matter is the fact that Maggie’s instructions apply to anyone interested in becoming a designer, whether print or interactive, an architect or for that matter a strategist of any field.
We all follow the precedents of those who came before, but we lose sight of the road others walked before us, and the paths others take alongside us, as we look toward the road we must walk ourselves.
I recently discovered a great link in my design feeds, pointing me to the site I Love Typography, which is well on its way to becoming a great resource for designers and all those with an interest in type The most recent post, Who Shot the Serif?, is a tremendous introduction to the terminology used to describe serif fonts and makes any typographic discussion a bit more accessible to those without formal education in the field. Add a pinch of humor, and you’ve got a rocking article! Check it out, even if you aren’t a designer, you’ll learn something interesting for the day.