On Design

Anyone who knows much about me as a web developer will know that I am not at all a web designer. I’ve never had the eye for creating a good design, although I dare say I can spot a good design when I see it. That being said, I have on occasion been “forced” to design. This usually happens because there is no one else to do it and there were no good commercially produced designs available to me. In these cases, my designs were acceptable (for instance, though by no means impressive.

See, I like to think that I’m a very practical person. I don’t see a need to decorate things, I just want them to work as conveniently as possible. In college, my dorm room walls were completely bare, except for a semester schedule. It was a very functional space, not an attractive one. I have maintained this aesthetic when designing for a “limited audience”. For instance, the admin panel for Cowabunga’s playground is not something one would call good looking, but it works very well, and has saved the staff there many hundreds of hours in part due to its simplicity and ease of use.

On the other hand, there is something very satisfying about a beautiful website. If nothing else, it tells you that someone cared enough about the site to make it look good. Heck, I’ve done it with this site, and I do like the outcome. The problem is that good design is hard. Even if I was good at website design, it would take up a lot of time that I could spend working on functionality. That is why I am always as selective as possible with where I apply my design paintbrush. If I’m working on a simple site that does one thing, I design myself as best I can. If I’m working on a more complex site that will still only be seen by a few, such as a limited admin panel, again I will do the work myself, though I’ll put more work in to the functionality than the design. But for a big project that will be released to the public, hopefully for use by many, I’ll plunk down money for a high-quality design by someone who knows what they’re doing. Because I usually don’t.

The latter option was my choice when it comes to my latest project, on which I intend to post very soon. It’s nearing completion, and it looks and works beautifully. Keep an eye out!

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